Elevating the Admin: A Look at the Evolution of the “Cloud Admin”

April 5, 2016 Jiordan Castle


I’ve become increasingly interested in job titles over the last few years, especially as roles like “Brand Evangelist” (aka brand advocate) or “Director of First Impressions” (aka receptionist) have become commonplace. Are these trendy new names a product of the millennial takeover? Are companies simply trying to find new ways to inject more creativity into the mundane? Nowadays, it seems to be technology itself that dictates this kind of cultural shift when it comes to naming a role. In many ways, as our technology becomes more advanced (and as more jobs become more reliant on and rooted in technology), so do our job titles. But none more so than the beloved Salesforce admin, which I would like to dub the “cloud admin” of the future.

Why we rebrand job titles at all

Recently, Peter Coffee, VP of Strategic Research at Salesforce, wrote, “We’re creating new functions, to handle unfamiliar responsibilities, more quickly than traditional naming processes can keep pace and bring forth job titles that we all understand. Bad names lead to bad outcomes, or at any rate to distorted and probably unfortunate behaviors.” Our interest in the rebranding of job titles has more to do with a shift toward new skills and responsibilities — a nod to our increasingly apparent move to the gig economy model — not the creation of entirely new roles.

For everyone afraid that robots will take our jobs someday, consider this from famed futurist Thomas Frey: “When we automate jobs out of existence, that doesn’t mean there is no work left to do. We are freeing up human capital, and this human capital can be put to work creating millions of new jobs in thousands of new industries.” We didn’t always have data scientists and developers; the Salesforce admin, a cornerstone of many successful businesses today, didn’t exist 20 years ago. As we automate jobs, we’ll shepherd new workers into new jobs — jobs that haven’t yet been thought of, or still have a long way to go until they become marketplace necessities.

From Salesforce admin to cloud admin

At a Salesforce conference in London last month (aptly named “London Calling”), Coffee says that during one of the day’s breakout sessions, someone raised the question of whether the commonly used title “Salesforce admin” was self-limiting. He writes, “Does it prevent both people and technology from living up to their full potential?” For workers whose roles are equal parts administrative and strategic, those 2 words do little to enlighten people to the powers and responsibilities they possess within an organization. Coffee asks, “Should these people preferably be called ‘business analysts,’ ‘business partners,’ or something else that reflects their readiness to discuss process improvement — and not merely to assure record-keeping accuracy, or run reports and generate forecasts?”

My answer is yes. While the term “admin” has become sort of a necessary evil in its own right — both connoting a relatively low level on the pay scale and a handle on important record keeping and organizational skills — a Salesforce admin is another matter entirely. This is not your 1950s secretary; this is your company’s Salesforce secret weapon. And still, the title doesn’t quite do the job justice.

“Cloud admin,” though still host to the latter term “admin,” implies a greater breadth of cloud knowledge (arguably more impressive than simply putting “Salesforce” at the front of a job title). This is a next-level admin, one well versed in keeping the keys to the cloud and unlocking its power for everyone in their organization. As the cloud evolves, so do our needs, and certainly, so do our admins.


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