This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got John Brock, a Product Manager for Salesforce Anywhere. We talk about this amazing tool and everything it makes possible.

Join us as we talk about all of the amazing ways Salesforce Anywhere can save you time and help your users and how you can get started with the beta today.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with John Brock.

A more powerful and personalized Salesforce experience.

“The real premise behind Salesforce Anywhere is trying to create persona-focused experiences for Salesforce and really make Salesforce more focused on the end-user,” John says, whether that’s you, the admin, or your service agents on the front lines. It lets your users customize and personalize their experiences without requiring a bunch of extra work on your end. “When you’re administering a large org, or even a small org, it’s really difficult for you to know exactly what every sales rep will need,” John says, “so why not let Salesforce do it for you?”

One feature that’s been a hit so far is personalized alerts. “When Salesforce data changes, often that means something to a user that’s looking at that particular record or that piece of data,” John says, “today, Salesforce reps are creating reports to watch changes to their specific opportunities or the accounts they’re monitoring, but the retrieval model is pretty manual.” That probably means an admin had to spend time putting those reports together, and the end users are scouring them each day for changes. Personalized alerts makes that whole process a lot simpler, and is scalable no matter how many users you have.

How you can get started with Salesforce Anywhere.

All of this is trying to decrease the time admins spend hitting the clone button for the umpteenth time and focus more on high-value jobs. This also extends to actions. Salesforce Anywhere monitors the changes individual users are tracking and automatically suggests actions to improve their workflow, with a little help from Einstein.

“When I joined the Salesforce Anywhere team a little over a year ago,” John says, “we were trying to figure out what were the ways that we could make the experience for end-users more efficient, easier to use, and more personalized.” This started out as a chat-focused interface, but although it made some things a lot easier, it was too disorienting for general use. That kernel of an idea, however, became an app to actually get more feedback and make Salesforce Anywhere even better.

The Salesforce Anywhere beta is available right now in your Salesforce Setup page for a huge number of customers, so you can start saving time. If you don’t have it, you probably need to sign some beta and pilot terms and conditions. Either way, we’re looking towards the Spring ‘21 Release to bring Salesforce Anywhere to every org.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce:
Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I’m Gillian Bruce and today we are going to talk about Salesforce Anywhere. One of the awesome new innovations that are coming to you as an admin, there is, I can’t even tell you like the amount of hours that I can just envision every admin saving with this feature is mind-blowing. Today we have John Brock, who is one of the amazing product managers who is in charge of this product, joining us on the podcast to talk to us about what it is, what you can do with it as an admin, the value propositions and a little bit of a fun story about the evolution of Salesforce Anywhere. Without further ado, please welcome John to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce:
John, welcome to the podcast.

John Brock:
Hello? No, I’m just kidding. I can hear you just fine and thanks for having me. Coming alive to you from my basement here. Sounds like the audio from here is better.

Gillian Bruce:
I’m also in my basement. It’s amazing what basements can do for audio engineering. Thank you for spending time in your basement talking to me in my basement. I appreciate it.

John Brock:
Absolutely. I’m sure some of the listeners are also in their basements enjoying this great episode.

Gillian Bruce:
Where else do you go to listen to podcasts? In your basement. On that note, let’s introduce you a little bit to the listeners today, John. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

John Brock:
Sure. John Brock has been in Salesforce oh gosh, probably close to nine years and I actually have some history working on admin related products. One of the first teams I was on, I helped to build profiles and permission sets and specifically some of the metadata API capabilities for those features. Very near and dear to a lot of our admins’ hearts.

Gillian Bruce:
I’m hearing people already wanting to join the John Brock fan club so thank you for that work. What are you doing now?

John Brock:
Yeah, so now I am a kind of switched to a product role a few years ago, and now I’m helping run product at a little division inside Salesforce and we’re making the Salesforce Anywhere product. And been working on this for a little over a year and really excited. Hopefully some of the announcements at Trailhead made it your way and hopefully you’re going to be seeing more and more coming out about Salesforce Anywhere in the next two months, because that’s pretty exciting and just glad that I can talk to you today about it.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah. Salesforce Anywhere is way cool. I got really excited when I saw it because I immediately thought of how much admins are going to be able to get real value out of this. Can you give us a little overview about what Anywhere is?

John Brock:
Sure. The real premise behind Salesforce Anywhere is trying to create persona specific experiences for Salesforce and really make Salesforce more focused on the end user. And maybe that end user is you as an admin or maybe it’s your end users, the actual sales folks or the actual service agents and helping make that Salesforce experience a little bit more tailored and a little bit more customized and primarily more personalized. How do we make Salesforce more personalized for each of the end users that are using it without requiring just more and more effort from the admin?

John Brock:
Obviously we want the admin still to play a huge role and permission and administer and control security, control access, things like that. But when you’re administering a large org or even a small org, it’s really difficult for you to know exactly what every sales rep will need, so why not let Salesforce kind of infer and determine what all those individual users may need within the guidance and framework that the admin kind of creates. And so that’s kind of the mission and vision for Salesforce Anywhere is really making more tailored and personalized experiences for anyone that’s interacting with Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce:
That is awesome because I think I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of admins over the years and one of the things I think I consistently hear is, “Hey, I’m one admin and I have so many users and so many different use cases so help me do my job efficiently by helping make their user experience better and helping them get their jobs done quicker.” And so, so many of the things we talk about on the podcast are things like, hey, dynamic forms and actions are super exciting, because it helps you prevent you from creating hundreds of different pages. But I think when we talk about Anywhere, what you said is delivering that personalized experience without having to basically do that for each individual person as an admin, but using the power of Salesforce to help make that happen. I’m in like all admins would be in for that.

Gillian Bruce:
Tell me a little bit about what that specifically looks like, because this is new. I know we talked about it a little bit and Release Readiness Live not too long ago. We did make some announcements at Trailhead DX, but let’s kind of dig in and talk about specifically what that looks like as an admin for what is Salesforce Anywhere? How would I use it for my users? Give me an example.

John Brock:
Yeah. One of the main value props right now that we’ve been getting a lot of traction with customers when we talk to them every single day about is a personalized alerts. When Salesforce data changes, often that means something to a user that’s looking at that particular record or that piece of data. And today, oftentimes sales reps are creating reports to watch changes to their specific opportunities or their accounts that they’re monitoring. And the retrieval model is pretty manual. These end users, sales reps they’re monitoring their own list views, their own reports, probably reports the admins had to set up and they’re monitoring those reports on a daily basis and trying to decipher what changed between yesterday and today or last month and this month or last quarter and this quarter. But instead with personalized alerts, an end user is able to tell Salesforce Anywhere what changes they’re interested in receiving notifications about.

John Brock:
One of the big use cases internally that our own sales leaders are using is basically a field on the opportunity called the next steps field. Next steps field is a notes field that the individual sales rep kind of updates to give a pulse check on how the opportunity is progressing. And so the sales manager, that’s kind of leading the patch and watching their number for the entire quarter, is watching those next steps to see if there’s any red flags or to anticipate problems that may be coming up that may push the deal out. They basically need to watch those next steps and see if anything changes or if there’s a positive update, if they can help even accelerate the deal further. A lot of sales managers have updates so that whenever that next steps field is updated, they instantly get a push notification on their mobile device and then also inside of Lightning, a notification comes to the new Salesforce Anywhere alerts feed that allows them to see that change.

John Brock:
An individual sales rep, they may be looking at different fields. If they’re working on a service case, for example, with a few different folks and one person changes the status to high priority or escalated, they need to instantly be notified of that so that maybe their SLA changes or they need to send an immediate response to an exec or the customer. And so now they get that real time notification versus having to manually monitor data. And then for an admin, the real power and benefit here is that the end user is configuring that criteria. Maybe one user wants to be notified when the case escalation status gets set to sub zero, but another user only cares about it if it’s sub one. And so, as an admin, traditionally, you would have to be configuring rules and process builder flow that are very specific to these users. And if you have a large number of users, that just doesn’t scale. This allows the end user to specify what data is important to them and really customize that alert for their use case.

Gillian Bruce:
I’m just imagining the hundreds and thousands of hours this is going to save admins from building custom flows and process builders.

John Brock:
That’s one of the main hopes is allow the admins to do the things that are really high value and not spend time hitting that clone button on the process builder flow screen to create next steps update for West region two section A, B2 version three. It’s just not a useful spend of their time as an admin, but also you can’t tailor it. Let the end users tailor it for exactly what they need whenever they need it.

Gillian Bruce:
Well and for user management too. You don’t have to worry about setting up, when you have someone new join the team, you don’t have to add them manually to whatever that process is. They can self select, which is really taking a huge burden off of the admin so thank you.

John Brock:
Yeah, exactly.

Gillian Bruce:
For what you guys are doing.

John Brock:
Another item that I just want to highlight too, is that, we know that there’s actions that you as an admin have configured in your org, but there’s also specific actions that your users are probably doing on a very repetitive basis. And so, we’ve tried to personalize those as well. Kind of to your point about saving time and making it a more personalized experience for the end user, just like we talked about those alerts and monitoring all the data changes happening on Salesforce, we actually monitor those changes and infer actions that may be helpful for the end user.

John Brock:
Those sales reps that are updating that next step field that I just talked about, they’re now in Salesforce Anywhere are going to get presented a suggested action that would be update next steps. And that suggested action would allow them to edit that one field or update that one field without navigating through a few different pages or clicking a full edit view. They can just simply make that single field update. It suggests actions to improve the end user’s workflow and that’s all sort of inferred and done through machine learning and using Einstein to make those predictions about what may be useful or helpful for the end user.

Gillian Bruce:
That’s awesome. How is this related then to Einstein next best action? Or is this the same technology there?

John Brock:
It’s different technology, but they could be, in a sense leveraged together and you could use flow to orchestrate some of these actions if you will, but next best action is really looking holistically at a business process and kind of presenting those next best actions, maybe in a flow type manner or a screen flow, if you will, to the user. Our actions are very specific at this point. We hope to expand sort of the scope, but right now they’re pretty much scoped at updating a single field is kind of the main meat of it at this point. But obviously that will be expanding over the coming releases, but ours is very tailored to triggering an update based off of what you’ve done in Salesforce before.

Gillian Bruce:
Awesome. Okay. Thank you for that clarification because I’m like, hold on a second, we’ve got something that sounds similar. Let’s make sure we make it clear what the differences are there.

John Brock:
Well, one of the hardest things is naming.

Gillian Bruce:
We have a lot of fun with that here at Salesforce, don’t we?

John Brock:
We do.

Gillian Bruce:
John, I would love to take advantage of having you on the podcast to get a little bit more of the story behind the kind of evolution of Salesforce Anywhere. I know when we had Release Readiness, not too long ago, we got a few questions about Chatter. How does that relate to Salesforce Anywhere? We have a story about kind of how Chatter came to be. Can you maybe give us a little bit of an overview of why we’ve got this product? Clearly the business value is awesome, but we like to take advantage of getting product managers on the podcast to get a little bit more behind the scenes. What can you tell us about the kind of evolution of Salesforce Anywhere?

John Brock:
Sure. Happy to share some and I don’t know how much of this I should be sharing, but trust that our tight knit community here can decipher and remember all our safe harbor sides, if you will. But when I joined the Salesforce Anywhere team a little over a year ago, we were kind of in the market fit research stage, where we were prototyping a lot of different ideas and trying to figure out what were the ways that we can make the experience for end users more efficient, easier to use, more personalized. And so, one of the paths that we were going down was really building a robust chat solution. Having a chat very deeply integrated with Salesforce and having almost a chat first experience for Salesforce. That presented a number of challenges, not only for us technically, but for our users and for our admins and for the end users that we were interviewing.

John Brock:
And it turned out that having a chat first or chat focused interface, wasn’t really what folks found the most appealing. And so, over the course of a few months, we kind of rotated, tested out a few other ideas and we came out with the Salesforce mobile app and we were really emphasizing and putting a lot of engineering effort on the Anywhere mobile app as a way to develop and deliver these ideas, these prototypes, these ideas very quick, very fast, get it in the hands of users in a much more efficient way, iterative way you should say then using say the Salesforce one mobile app release vehicle, because we know admins have customized that. We know that there’s businesses that depend on that to run their business every day so we didn’t want to introduce new features as quickly as maybe our plan kind of necessitated.

John Brock:
And so we built a separate app to ship these features and get specific feedback on the features we were building. And so that mobile app was really kind of chat forward. And even today still, is a little bit chat forward but is being de-emphasized a little bit in favor of more of the alerts, the actions, a more robust or faster search experience, but also as we all were aware, everyone’s kind of work habits changed in March. And so through that evolution in March, our focus kind of shifted a little bit away from mobile and more into Lightening. We were already investing in Lightening, but as more and more people were spending time working from home, we saw the need and requirement that these great Salesforce Anywhere experiences be directly embedded and built into Lightning almost faster than mobile, because the way we were all working was dramatically different than a few months before when I joined the team and we were prototyping some of the ideas.

John Brock:
We really accelerated the Lightening integration efforts. And so now, there’s chat, there’s alerts, there’s subscription management and other things that are coming to Lightening that are built directly in, bringing that Salesforce Anywhere experience directly inside of Lightning, in addition to the mobile app that we also have. Definitely a few iterations and changes and any good product person will be the first to admit that you’re never done finding your product market fit. It’s all about improving and iterating. And so, it’s just exciting to be on the journey and kind of see how the product evolves.

Gillian Bruce:
Totally. I love the fact that you shared that story because it shows, I personally love that because it shows how quickly the team, our team, Salesforce, your team specifically, kind of responded to what’s really happening in the world. Nobody since March, not many people are going to onsite visits or hopping on an airplane and so they are on their mobile device trying to get work done. I think that’s really interesting to see that story reflected in kind of how you shifted the product. And I think it’s a true Salesforce story so thank you for sharing that. And I think it’s really interesting too, to think about the behavior. And I think every admin has dealt with a similar shift. Admins who were maybe in the office and able to kind of see what people were doing by going and having coffee with them, or kind of hovering over their shoulder, doing what we call SABWA, Salesforce administration by walking around, has now morphed into SABZA, Salesforce administration by Zooming around.

Gillian Bruce:
And so I think it’s really interesting story to see how your team shifted along with that shift, because I think Salesforce admins have experienced a similar shift and kind of probably reprioritized some things based on that, in the same way that your team did. That’s very cool. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that.

John Brock:
Yeah, of course.

Gillian Bruce:
John, I can’t let you go without asking you some fun, silly questions because these days we could all use some fun, silly questions. You said you’ve been at Salesforce quite a while. I think you’ve been in Salesforce almost as long as me. I just hit my 10 year mark earlier this year.

John Brock:
Oh congratulation.

Gillian Bruce:
Thank you. I would love to know as we’re reminiscing our days in the office.

John Brock:
Uh oh, here it comes.

Gillian Bruce:
What was one of your favorites in office snacks? Because I’m missing those these days quite a bit.

John Brock:
One of my favorite office snacks? Well, I don’t know if I can, I won’t give you a specific snack example, but maybe I have a snack story that could be even better.

Gillian Bruce:
Perfect.

John Brock:
One of the first years that I was here, the engineering team was much, much smaller and we were spread across a few floors in the Landmark Building at 1 Market. A lot of our admins have probably been there, probably have seen it, but anyway, so we were all, I distinctly remember on the eighth floor and quarterly, we would have snack eating contests. And basically it was a competition who could eat the most of one type of snack. And usually there’d be themes. One quarter it would be who could eat the most Gummi Bears or who could eat the most Doritos. But the one I remember most distinctly is that we did a competition where you basically got a sample of every snack. And so you got a bag of Doritos, a bag of Lay’s, a cup of peanuts, whatever it was. And there were about probably 20 different things. And I think there was only one person that made it through the whole way, but it was just this terrible mix of sweet, savory, salty. It was just terrible. And it was pretty fun to watch.

Gillian Bruce:
That is amazing. I don’t know how I missed those. I feel like I should definitely been a witness to at least one of those, but that’s hilarious. All right. Well, that’s not making me miss Salesforce office snacks very much so thank you for curing me of that. John, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I’m really excited about Salesforce Anywhere and I know admins are really going to get some value out of it. Before we wrap up, how do admins get started with Salesforce Anywhere? Where do they go?

John Brock:
Yeah, great question. For a huge number of our Salesforce customers, the beta experience is actually available. If you go into your Salesforce setup page that we all know and love and if you search for Salesforce Anywhere, hopefully you’ll see the Salesforce Anywhere set up node in that kind of left hand node picker. And you can go ahead and walk through the onscreen setup steps there and it should be basically a one click setup process and should be pretty simple. If you don’t see it, it basically means that we need your org to sign some beta slash pilot feature terms and conditions. If that’s the case, you can work with AE, sign the pilot terms and then that Salesforce Anywhere beta setup page will appear in your org. And then, forward looking statement, but we’re looking at kind of 230, meaning what is that going to be? Spring 21?

John Brock:
The February major release is kind of the one that we’ve kind of penciled in for a more broad availability and hopefully in GA state. Obviously don’t purchase based off of that, but just a little preview. That’s kind of what we’re penciling in. If you’re not able to sign beta terms or if you have restrictions, you can look out for that coming up in a major release. But your AE can definitely get you on that process and then the product team is also actively monitoring the Trailblazer community groups. If you post on the community group, we’ll be happy to respond and get your questions answered there as well.

Gillian Bruce:
That’s awesome. Yeah. And there’s actually a great blog that someone from your team put on the admin.salesforce.com site, my favorite website, specifically outlining the steps that you do as an admin, which are real simple to kind of get everybody up and going with Anywhere. And definitely that community group, the Salesforce Anywhere Trailblazer community group is a great place to go as well. Thanks again, John, so much. I really appreciate your time. I appreciate you sharing the story of Salesforce Anywhere and I’m never going to miss office snacks.

John Brock:
Well, thanks for inviting me. And maybe it’ll help us both when we go back into the office to remember that story so we avoid the office 15 that may happen when we have the snacks at our fingertips again.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah. I’ve already got the COVID 15 going, so I don’t need any additional. Anyway, thank you so much, John. I appreciate it.

John Brock:
All right, thanks for having me.

Gillian Bruce:
It was a pleasure getting to talk to John. I actually think he was hiding in a storage closet in his place. Thank you for hiding in the storage closet so that your audio sounded pretty good for the podcast. I know all of us listeners appreciate that. For some of my top takeaways from my conversation with John, first off, John is a long time awesome admin advocate. He is formerly known as the perms and profiles guy, but hey, guess what? Now he is your Salesforce Anywhere guy. Make sure that you take the opportunity to connect with him on the Trailblazer community, because you’re going to want to know what John is working on.

Gillian Bruce:
Okay. Anywhere is an amazing tool. It’s going to save you so much time as an admin, especially if you’ve got more than 10 users, let’s be honest. It’s going to be huge because it enables your users to customize how they get notified, what they get notified about, so that you don’t have to build processes and flows to get those notifications customized for each use case. Really going to be an awesome tool there. It’s in beta now for almost everyone as John’s said. If you don’t see it in your setup menu, you can work with your AE to get access to the beta. And hopefully, as John said, forward looking statement, we will be GA for everyone in the hopefully next release, Spring 21. Again, safe harbor forward looking statement, all of the things.

Gillian Bruce:
Anyway, thank you so much for listening to this episode. As always, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, you can go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I on Twitter. You can find me @GillianKBruce and Mike Gerholdt our cohost @MikeGerholdt. You can find our guest today, John Brock on Twitter @_JohnBrock. That’s J-O-H-N B-R-O-C-K. Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. Hope you enjoyed it and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.

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