Dreamforce 2017 for Kids of All Ages
Hello, everyone. I hope your family and friends, your pastimes and your professions, and you yourselves are doing wildly well.
That’s probably an odd way to start off a work article, but I mean that. In my own neck of the woods, the past few months have been a whirlwind of wonderful stuff. I had a great series of family trips to Glacier, the Sierras, and Kaui, sprinkled strategically around an equally great year of rugby trips. The kid is in 8th grade but is still on course to be an inquisitive, well-rounded contributor to society. The wife’s career descent into the world of grass-fed beef still fails to lure in my semi-vegetarian tendencies – but she loves it. Just ask her. While I’m at it, here’s to all of us exploring new and not-so-new aspects of life to dive into, discover, and devour, and here’s to always looking forward to the next day.
And I haven’t even GOTTEN to work.
And in some ways, that’s a relief, right? Too many times, encounters with others blast past the niceties of “How are you?” and barrel straight into “Work work work!” Don’t get me wrong – I get it. Working in Silicon Valley in the cloud enterprise software world, I appreciate how fun, frenzied, and often farfetched our day jobs (or at least our versions of them) can be.
In fact, just a few weeks ago, fresh from incredible events with our deep ecosystem of partners, came the welcome news of the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Five9 is humbled to have earned the confidence of our customers and our market, being recognized for the 3rd year in a row as a Leader, and ranked the highest in ability to execute.
As a product manager at Five9 who stands in front of and alongside my customers, that’s what stands out about us -- execution matters. Execution requires not only knowing what features to offer, what flows to set up, what widgets to configure. More importantly, it requires having the capacity to care about what those features, flows, and widgets mean to the agents, their business lines, their customers, and the outcomes they all demand.
That’s the world we live in, between the worlds of personal life (Hawkeye football!), and professional (traffic jams!), astride the worlds of Silicon Valley (AI! Blockchain!), and contact center (um…AI! Uptime!).
But I digress. And so, a few weeks ago, back from a series of excellent weeks, prepping for a call in advance of a welcome weekend, that kid I mentioned earlier entered the workroom with his tablet. “It looks like your work is paying off”, he said, waving an article about our Gartner position. I chuckled and said, “If you think that’s cool, check out what we’re doing for Dreamforce….”
Now, he doesn’t quite know what Dreamforce is per se, but he gets it (after all, his science fair project last year was building a RaspberryPi mobile phone). He knows Dreamforce means “Dad is gone for a week.” After reading him a safe harbor statement, I show him a few things we’re working on with the product. It’s great, engaging stuff for omnichannel contact centers to engage the customer of today and tomorrow. He gets it.
And then he says the coolest thing – “That’s neat.” Then pausing, with what I’m increasingly convinced is a line he heard me ask him 100x during his science fair projects, he leans in and asks “What are you going to learn while you’re there?”
I chuckled, again, and not for the last time. “My friend, that’s a great question.” I set down his tablet, clearing a spot at the desk for him. “Let’s look.”
And we did look. Father and son. One generation to the next. Human with human – a great approach to take, whether you’re attending Dreamforce or planning your weekend. And having said that, at the risk of burying the lede, consider this a joint recommendation from children of all ages on what cool things you might want to check out while at Dreamforce.
1. Build a robot?!
Seriously? And here I am, trying to convince my wife and child that I actually have a demanding job, making the world safe for customer engagement.
2. Lightning Experience
We’re all humans here, I suspect. And there’s a reason that my day job focuses so heavily on respecting agents and customers by providing – wait for it – engagingly FUN experiences that empower them to get things done.
That’s where Lightning comes in. We were the first contact center solution to be Lightning certified, but that’s old news. Lightning innovations from Salesforce and their ecosystem are growing by the day (swing by the Service and Lightning Demo Jams to see ours in action, just as one example).
But just like the kid needs to set the table if he wants to get to the entree, your business can take simple, pragmatic steps to set your Org’s table and move to the Lightning Experience dessert.
Remember Hello World! From freshman year Pascal (which, true story, got me suspended from West Point...)? Remember the paths and possibilities it opened or closed, depending on your coding exploits? Consider this Trailhead session in which you build a Hello World! Lightning component as simply one of many examples of easy, unintimidating journeys down the path.
4. Blockchain in the real world
My kid reminds me often to check the dollar value of my cryptocurrency accounts. I usually don’t, not because I passively drip "invest," but more importantly because (insert lecturing voice) “Currency is the most obvious and least impactful application of blockchain technology."
So then. If you’re tired of being lectured by a parent, Warren Buffett, or your local barista, you should instead check out this pragmatic talk from Balaji Srinivasan on what blockchains actually mean today for businesses of all kinds.
5. Monday night. Connect with folks.
At least one kid’s dad is off for food and drink with friends who’ve collectively known each other for probably 250 years. You should as well. San Francisco is a great place for food and drink – unless you’re a picky 8th grader whose idea of fish is a California Roll drowning in soy sauce.
6. Go by AT&T Park.
For some reason, there hasn’t been much activity there this Fall. Wait ‘til next year. Sigh.
7. Contact Center
On Tuesday, Check out Five9’s and Santa Cruz’s own Darryl Addington (okay, and Brian Schnack) on how modern business is engaging the needs of the modern consumer.
But don’t just take it from them. Outside of immersing yourself both on-site and online with Trailhead, check out agent productivity sessions like this one.
8. Demo Jams
Who needs the Gong Show?
Want to see enterprise and consumer technology in 3 minute sessions that range from spasmatic to spectacular? Witty to cringe-worthy? Epic to “whoops – my connection froze, now what…oh well where’s the beer”?
Of course you do -- especially if you want to cheer on a certain merry band of contact center professionals making the world safe for amazing agent and customer experiences. So come to the Demo Jams, spanning wondrous solutions spanning Service, Sales, Marketing, Admin, and Lightning.
You can’t make the Michelle Obama & Marc Benioff keynote? Maybe you’re holding out for someone else to make a surprise appearance? Pay attention to the headliners, but don’t forget about the product keynotes and roadmap sessions. For example, after checking out the Service Cloud roadmap which we just happen to be doing some pretty cool enterprise-grade things with, check out how to work with Einstein and Chatbots.
Hug a vet. Or better yet, make a positive, welcoming work environment for Veterans, their families, and human beings in general.
11. Hit the expo
Roam the floor, visit booths (especially #447, Moscone South), and ask folks 1) whether and 2) why they’re stoked about what they offer this amazing world of ours. A lot of us truly believe what we do, as do our customers -- and it shows.
And pick up bags-full-of-tchotchkes.
The truth is, it’s a busy week. So be mindful about it. Ask yourself in your best parental tone, “What are you going to learn while you’re there?” Make the most of it for your business, for your career, for what you yourself deserve to experience.
Then make it happen.