Meet the New Salesforce: a First Look at Lightning

August 26, 2015 Nicole Klemp

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When Salesforce has a big announcement to make, they like to make a splash. On Tuesday, users across the globe streamed “Meet the New Salesforce – LIVE from San Francisco.” The event featured a “lab coat” themed pre-show hosted by Gillian Madill, followed by commentary from Salesforce executives and a demo of Salesforce Lightning, the company’s newly redesigned CRM.

Mike Rosenbaum, EVP of Sales Cloud said, “Every once in a while in your life you get the chance to work on something special.” He described Lightning as a completely new user experience for Salesforce and said it “will change everything you do with our products.”

Salesforce’s SVP of Sales Cloud Product Management, Will Moxley, took the stage next for a demo of the 1st release of the Lightening Experience, which includes a slick new look and beefed-up functionality. Some notable updates to the CRM include greater customization of Charts, and the Sales Path — a component borrowed from Salesforce1 —  that makes it easier for sales teams to move deals forward. Users can see how long a deal has been stuck in a particular stage and see a snapshot of opportunities and contacts, without ever leaving the account. Another new feature is the Pipeline Board, which summarizes what deals need to be followed up on. And based on raucous applause from the audience, a big hit with users is the new ability to drag and drop opportunities into different phases.

Shawna Wolverton, VP of Product Management, showed off some of the new functionality in the Lightning App Builder and Lightning Components. The App Launcher will now display all of the apps you have built or connected, as well as reports (which will be more customizable than before) and dashboards at-a-glance. You can easily drag, drop, and resize components, and you can now have more than 3 columns on your dashboard (another big hit with the audience). Users have been clamoring for more customization on the homepage, and Salesforce listened — you can now drag and drop any of your components onto the homepage.

A viewer question was posed about VisualForce, and whether or not developers should still be focusing on it. According to the Salesforce folks, VisualForce will still be around for a “long, long time” but people need to understand that “Lightning is where we’re headed.” Developers should start turning their focus to Lightning over VisualForce, to create a more immersive experience for their customers.

The Lightning Design System, Salesforce’s answer for building “pixel-perfect apps,” is the brainchild of Craig Villamor, Salesforce’s Chief Design Architect. His idea was to get designers to write code that developers can reference directly inside of Salesforce, and make it available to other developers and partners on github. The Design System will feature a collection of design patterns and components, perfect for developing apps that cater to the Salesforce user experience.

Salesforce invited Blakely Graham, co-founder of Bracket Labs, to speak on her experience working with them behind the scenes on the Lightning project. She called it an “intuitive and elegant platform,” and said “I was like a kid in a candy shop.” Graham is excited about the ability to bring components into the records page, and that the sales team can see exactly what’s going on with their customers at any time. Her advice for other partners: jump right in and test out your environment with a pre-release org.

Based on all this new functionality, it’s clear that Salesforce really listened to their users as they created the Lightning Experience. It’s useful and intuitive for developers, admins, and power users alike, and will help people do their jobs more efficiently. The interface is slicker, prettier, and more customizable, while still staying true to the CRM that put Salesforce on the map way back in 1999.

So you’re excited about the release, but what can you do to get ready for Lightning? Salesforce had that covered as well with these 3 next steps:

  1. Take advantage of world-class training with Trailhead
  2. Request a pre-release
  3. Register for lightning sessions at Dreamforce

If you are attending Dreamforce this year, we would love to chat with you about your thoughts on the new Lightning Experience. Stop by and see us at booth W301 and in the DevZone, or register for one of our Appirian-led sessions!

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