I just returned from Salesforce.com's annual user conference in San Francisco. It's astounding to me how much this conference has grown and changed over the years; the speakers, the sessions, the parties and rock concerts, the partner expo, and the much anticipated product announcements. I have to admit there are times when I miss the familial feel of old days, but it's also been really exciting to watch Dreamforce become the "must attend" event of the year for over 45,000 people.
Rather than trying to recap everything I saw and learned this year, I've decided to focus on one area that is near and dear to my heart, data. My favorite session at this year's conference was the "Roadmap Sneak Peak: The Future of Analytics in Salesforce" led by Mr. Thomas Tobin, Director of Product Management at Salesforce.com and data guru extraordinaire. This session moved quickly and was packed with information. I did my best to take notes and keep up. As with any roadmap there are likely to be changes, but I'd like to share with you some of the features introduced that I'm most excited about.
Exception reporting - Partially addressed with custom reports but not fully. Have you ever been asked to run a report of all accounts without an opportunity? How about leads with no scheduled activity in the next 30 days? Salesforce feels our pain.
Custom Reports (one parent, many children) - I love this. At ReadyTalk we have several custom objects tied to our contact, or customer records. Currently I have to run multiple reports to see all of their relationships with us. Now I'll be able to look at individual web and audio usage, along with their customer survey responses, and see if their participating of any of our product pilot programs. All in one report!
Joined reports - No more dumping multiple reports into excel to show metrics on a single data point. In the not too distant future we'll be able to run those reports right in Salesforce and group them by a common field, like account owner, or opportunity close date. Nice.
Some other cool enhancements we have to look forward to include "bucketing" or creating custom report fields without having to add them permanently to a record object. Dynamic Dashboards will allow us to filter multiple dashboard components by a single filter field. And how about uploading external data sets into Salesforce as a single reporting source for all companywide metrics. Salesforce as a Business Intelligence tool? Bring it!
Any administrator who loves the reporting and dashboard features of Salesforce, but also knows their shortcomings, had to walk away from this session with a smile. I know I did. In fact it may have been the first time that the entire development team was on hand for a breakout, and received a standing ovation from the crowd when introduced. Well done guys. See you all at Dreamforce 2012!