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Salesforce Lightning Is Here to Stay and Better Than Ever: News from Dreamforce 2016

posted on October 24th, 2016by Jenn Dwyer

What Salesforce Lightning Will Mean for App Developers

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Well, Salesforce Lightning certainly did! At the past 2 Dreamforce conferences, Salesforce has unveiled versions of Lightning, an updated, more customizable user interface.

In just a year, I’ve seen Salesforce dramatically improve Lightning. It has transformed from a promising but limited product into a ready-for-prime-time platform that I’m proud to apply for my clients.

If you’re a Salesforce App Innovation Partner (formerly known as an ISV Partner), you can’t afford to ignore Lightning. In fact, all apps on the AppExchange need to transition to Lightning by February 2017. Apps that aren’t Lightning-certified by that time may face serious consequences, like removal from AppExchange listings. Any non-ISV company that uses a Salesforce system, or plans to, should also consider Lightning, since it represents the future of the platform.

You may be skeptical about Lightning. I was too, but I’m a believer now. So, instead of giving you a standard press release, I’d like tell you how I overcame my reservations about Lightning.

Dreamforce 2015: Initial Release of Lightning

Salesforce Lightning was amazing last year—in theory. At the Dreamforce 2015 launch, the demonstration quickly won over my colleagues and me.

Lightning offers a whole new look and feel for Salesforce. It also comes jam-packed with powerful new features and benefits, such as:

  • Filters you can add to reports with fewer button clicks
  • Charts that display in reports without you needing to hit the “Customize” button
  • Dashboards with completely customizable components (no more 3-column restrictions!)
  • Page layouts with components, rather than sections, that let you refine how and where users could view individual record data
  • Newsfeeds that allow social media accounts to scroll across a homepage in real time

Dreamforce 2015 attendees returned to work and excitedly began to experiment with Lightning on our own. That’s when we encountered the limitations of the first release.

The main problem was that it was only compatible with core Salesforce features and functionality. If you had apps installed, and most of us do, the reality of Lightning didn’t live up to what you’d imagined. You couldn’t switch between apps.

For sales and marketing, the lack of access to key features of Classic Salesforce proved a major drawback. You couldn’t use marketing features, access Campaigns, or provide quotes.

And you were in trouble if you hadn’t memorized what the icons looked like for all objects. The standard tabs across the top of the page were gone. There were only icons to navigate with.

After an hour of tinkering in 2015, I gave up. The product couldn’t meet my clients’ needs or mine. I’ve been using Salesforce for almost 10 years. And I found that I couldn’t even get around the platform, let alone set it up for customers.

Fortunately, I hadn’t heard the last of Lightning.

Dreamforce 2016: A Game Changer for Lightning

The Winter 2017 release, previewed at Dreamforce, highlights one of Salesforce’s greatest strengths: its willingness to address customer feedback. Lightning represents the evolution of Salesforce and showcases the platform’s ability to grow and increase efficiency.

The 2 biggest issues with the initial rollout of Lightning were the difficult navigation and the limited core functionality. Salesforce listened to us and reverted back to traditional object tabs across the top of the screen. You don’t have to memorize icons to get around anymore.

Lightning now allows us to switch between apps. I can swiftly move from Sales to Service to…. whatever we’ve installed that’s currently Lightning-compatible.

The latest Dreamforce release included even more new features, such as the Marketing Cloud Content Builder. Previously, if you needed to create an email, you’d have to log into Marketing Cloud to create the content, then switch back to Salesforce to send it.

With Lightning, there’s no need to log into 2 separate applications. You can handle the whole content creation process directly within Salesforce Lightning.

Now I’m glad to be rolling Lightning out to several new clients and considering our best strategy for updating existing clients.

Are you ready for Lightning? We’d love to help you move your Salesforce system onto the new platform. If you have an app on the AppExchange, we can get it updated by the February 2017 deadline. Contact us today.

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After more than 8 years of working with Salesforce, Jenn can adapt the platform to a wide variety of contexts. She has tackled projects in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors and across multiple industries, including software, finance, oil and gas, and real estate. Jenn has earned several Salesforce certifications: Sales Cloud Consultant, Developer, Administrator, and Advanced Administrator.