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Dreamforce 2021 for the Nonprofit and Education Sectors: A Hybrid Experience

Dreamforce 2021

Some of our Goodies received an exclusive invitation to attend Dreamforce 2021 live in person! While this was undeniably exciting, it was also slightly worrisome thinking of the large crowds and packed events of years past taking place in our current pandemic environment. But the truth is, the Salesforce team did an amazing job of making attendees feel safe. A few of the Goodies were able to attend, and we were all required to take multiple pre-arrival COVID-19 tests and tested each day onsite as well. Testing was rigorous and security was tight, but it allowed our Goodies to feel safe while fully participating on campus. Special invites to the in-person event were sent out by Salesforce to Salesforce MVPs, Community Group leaders, and product champions. It was great fun seeing all of the gold hoodies and Community Group leader sweatshirts together, and it was truly inspiring to see that much Salesforce knowledge and experience together in one place. The ad hoc conversations centered around how we’ve all grown up together in the Salesforce ecosystem and the limitless career opportunities that now exist served as validation of what a good decision it is to invest your career into Salesforce. The Dreamforce 2021 line-up did not disappoint with announcements that continue to show Salesforce’s investment in their product and their customers’ success.

Marc Benioff’s Keynote

Marc Benioff’s keynote address focused on The Playbook for the Trusted Enterprise and the five themes we must all adapt to in order to become a trusted partner for our customers:
  • Trust
  • Customer-first
  • Digital HQ
  • Health & Safety
  • Sustainability
“Salesforce isn’t a business, it is an economy of trust,” shared Benioff, going so far as to rename the community of Administrators and Architects who identify as Trailblazers to Trustblazers. By prioritizing customer success, ensuring all customers can be successful whether teams work in person, remote, or hybrid through a platform for a Digital HQ, and Salesforce’s commitment to the greater good through public health, safety, and sustainability, Salesforce will continue to elevate itself to more than a business.

Slack-first Customer 360

Years ago, there was a shift for all development to focus on a mobile-first user experience, which is to say all applications should be centered around how they would appear and operate for someone on their phone or tablet. Similarly, Dreamforce 2021 put a large focus on Slack-first development. Beyond an application in a stand-alone silo, Salesforce encouraged us to think, instead, how can Nonprofit Cloud and Education Cloud architectures utilize Slack? We’re very excited about the potential with Slack and can’t wait to show you the creative ways it can be integrated into your organization. Stay on the lookout for exciting new opportunities for integration with other applications that will provide you a single source of collaboration.

Tools for Admins & Architects

As the platform has expanded, the use of Salesforce has expanded to break down departmental silos within organizations. More governance and cross-cloud architecture have become necessary, and ultimately more data is being created – a nice problem to have – but those who support implementations need tools to work more efficiently. Multiple sessions addressed these challenges and announced new tools for our Admins & Architects including native Backup & Restore functionality, a new partnership with LucidCharts, and details on AWS & making high volume data implementations easier.

Nonprofit Cloud

The Nonprofit and Education sessions were available on Salesforce+, an all-new streaming platform, that gave attendees a curated, digital experience in their interactions with Dreamforce. The sessions surrounding the Nonprofit sector were focused on the idea of creating tailored, digital experiences for both an organization and those they serve. During the keynote, we heard an incredible, narrative demo that walked us through how nonprofits could use a combination of Slack, Experience Cloud, Einstien for Nonprofits, Elevate for Nonprofits, and Marketing Cloud for Nonprofits to create seamless experiences. We know how impactful Experience Cloud, Elevate, and Marketing Cloud can be for our donors, volunteers, and constituents, but what I found incredibly interesting is how Slack was used to help consolidate technology systems. The demo showed how Slack integrated with the nonprofit’s Case Management module and gave the caseworker notifications on case updates. The caseworker was able to edit, send, or update the case directly from Slack! We also heard from International Justice Mission – a great organization with a critically important mission. Make sure to check this session out if you are in the process of making the case of Salesforce to your board. In addition to giving information on how Salesforce helps accelerate their mission, they spoke to the ‘how’ behind receiving internal and external stakeholder buy-in, as well as tips for change management.

Education Cloud

The focus for Education wasn’t limited to one product or area of the student lifecycle, it spanned across campus from Recruiting & Admissions to Learner Success. All departments were again encouraged to think about how they could lead with a Slack-first mentality to continue to improve communication and adoption. For Recruiting & Admissions, the Admissions Connect roadmap places the student experience at the center, illustrating how to level the playing field for all prospective students no matter what access they have to technology or resources to help them navigate the application process. Announcements included a mobile-first approach to Admissions, an Applicant Experience Portal, and pre-configured chatbots to help answer applicant questions on topics like Financial Aid. For Learner Success…well, it wouldn’t be a Salesforce announcement if they didn’t rebrand Advisor Link (we kid, we kid). What used to be Salesforce Advisor Link (SAL) was previously renamed Advisor Link (AL). This announcement, however, is more than a renaming, it is a rebranding to Student Success Hub, and there is a lot of excitement and approval from the community that “Hub” better reflects the aggregation of the valuable student data that lives in applications all across campus and Salesforce’s value to analyze and act on that full picture of a student. The announcement of the new name Student Success Hub was accompanied by a deep roadmap including Retention Tools, Success Plans, out-of-the-box reports, and Tableau visualizations, a mobile-first Scheduling Wizard making it as easy as possible for students to connect with their Advising teams, and of course, Slack integration to ensure all of the faculty and staff working with students can collaborate to give them a seamless experience.

Guest Speakers

All Salesforce events, but especially Dreamforce, leave you feeling optimistic and your bucket full from the great people we get to reconnect with each year who remind us how lucky we are to have the opportunity to be part of this amazing ecosystem and apply what we know to our customers’ success. The guests this year really embodied the enthusiasm of Ohana, most particularly special guest speaker Jason Sudeikis. The actor and comedian spoke of the importance of playing a main character (Ted Lasso) who wasn’t a villain, and he is a lot like everyone’s favorite football coach in real life. It was very inspiring to hear him address how mental health, especially mens’ mental health, can be explored successfully as part of a show about an athletic team in such a traditionally masculine setting. If you weren’t able to catch it all live on the new Salesforce+, we’ve shared more details on these highlights, and more, in our webinar. Wacth on-demand where the Managing Directors for our Nonprofit and Education Industries dive into what these announcements mean for our customers and friends in the Nonprofit and Education sectors. You can watch the on-demand webinar below.