Posted: 03 Nov. 2021

The IT Leader’s Guide To The Salesforce Platform Roadmap

At Dreamforce '21 I got to watch a presentation the “The IT leader’s guide to the Salesforce Platform Roadmap”. If you’re an IT leader yourself then this is a must watch video to get to grips with what’s coming up on the Salesforce roadmap. Here you can find an overview with my thoughts and opinion.

For the Administrators

Belinda Wong (VP Product Management, Salesforce) introduced us to some useful and innovative updates to make things more declarative than ever on the platform.

  • Multi-object pages (pilot Summer ’22)
  • Admin filterable related lists (GA Summer ’22)
  • App builder for Slack (GA Spring '22)
  • Flow Orchestrator (pilot Spring ’22)
  • Einstein document reader (pilot Winter ’22)

Multi-object pages (pilot Summer ’22)

Creating objects in Salesforce is super simple and creating relationships with others is even easier. However, one of the complaints I’ve heard from many users is that sometimes it’s too “click heavy” in order to view all of the related information. Saving clicks is important especially for service centres where time matters. With Multi-object Pages gone are the days where users have to first find the related record, click the link, and then click back. This update allows administrators to declaratively add related record data right on the detail page layout. 

This is definitely one of my favorite updates in the roadmap as it lowers the chance of creating custom functionality to simplify accessing data and will immediately help end users.

Admin filterable related lists (GA Summer ’22)

Just like with the previous update, showing the relevant information to end users is important for productivity. When we have related information to an account or any other object in Salesforce, there can be lots of data within the related lists. Filters can be applied within the app builder to only show specific records already, however currently all related lists components on the page layout of the same type would share the same filters. Admin filterable related lists enable administrators to add to page layouts multiple related lists for the same object, but with different filters being applied. This is great for showing a specialized view at a glance, again saving end users time.

App Builder or Slack (GA Spring ’22)

Using the App Builder in Salesforce is part and parcel of how administrators tailor user interfaces to meet end users’ needs. And now it’s becoming available to Slack!

Slack users will be able to open customized user interfaces using a slash command all configured using the Slack App Builder. Administrators will be able to drag and drop standard Slack elements, be able to incorporate Salesforce data, and customize the layout of forms.

Whilst I’m not an active Slack user myself, I’m happy to see new updates are coming to the product which aligns this to the rest of the Salesforce eco-system.

Flow Orchestrator (pilot Spring ’22)

Winter ’22 brings us the beta of the long anticipated Flow Orchestrator. Although this sounds like a fancy wording for rearranging flows, it’s actually a very sophisticated answer to a need previously met with code: “unifying complex processes”. Processes with a complexity that goes beyond what a simple flow can solve.

Now that classic workflow rules are close to retiring, the Flow Orchestrator gives us the flexibility to enhance and replace the good old Approval Processes we find scattered around our orgs. It provides the means for structuring approvals, work queues, notifications and custom processes (through flows) based on record changes! This means that it will be a LOT easier to view and manage approvals and work steps related to a business process. Monitoring is also part of the deal: admins can identify bottlenecks and intervene where necessary.

With this, pretty much all process automation will be moved to Flow – a very nice prospect indeed!

Einstein document reader (Pilot Winter 22)

Now this is a very interesting update on the horizon. The ability to use the power of the platform to automatically parse and extract data from offline documents and be able to use the flexibility of Flow to further process the document. This opens up a lot of new possibilities of improving the workflow of organizations which depend on processing documents, potentially saving a lot of time and reducing data entry issues.

Administrators only have to upload a sample document and let Einstein document reader suggest variables which can then be utilized within the rest of the Flow. Very simple, but very effective tool for administrators to be looking out for.

For the developers

There are some really exciting updates shared by Ryan Ellis (SVP, Product Management, Salesforce).

  • Code builder - AWS (Beta Spring ‘22)
  • Salesforce Functions (GA Winter ‘22)
  • CLI unification (GA Winter ‘22)

Code builder - AWS (Beta Spring 22)

Pleasantly surprised to see in the roadmap that Code Builder is now coming to AWS. For those who are not familiar with Code Builder, check out Introducing Salesforce Code Builder. It’s basically VS Code and all of the relevant tooling for Salesforce projects packaged up and deployed in the cloud. Of course I’m oversimplifying here, but it opens up a lot of potential for scaling teams.

Previously, Code Builder was only available for Microsoft Codespaces. This now brings new possibilities for organisations to deploy their tooling to the cloud.

Salesforce Functions (GA Winter 22)

My colleague Sejal Gada just wrote about her experience with Salesforce Functions from pilot phase. This is something to watch! We now have a new and flexible approach to how to enhance the capabilities of Salesforce implementations. What’s certain is that we will be writing about this topic more in the upcoming future!

We finally have a release date for when Salesforce Function’s will become generally available (Winter ’22) and shared with us were some information about supported programming languages and new data resource options. 

Supported programming languages will be:

  • TypeScript
  • Apex
  • Java
  • JavaScript

And interestingly, new data resource options are being teased in future releases. Such as being able to integrate with Postgres or even Kafka!

Definitely an area to keep an eye on!

CLI unification (GA Winter 22)

This is where I see Salesforce attempting to pull together their cloud products together and it’s good to see. Each cloud’s product’s CLI will now be unified into one (this includes Heroku, MuleSoft, and even Salesforce DX), and with that simplifying maintenance and bringing the products even closer together.

Whilst it may not be the most exciting update to see yet another CLI tool, it does show that special attention is being given to developers to help simplify their toolset. This is great for developer experience and I’m sure we’re going to start seeing great plugin’s coming up soon!

IT Overall

There are some major updates on the horizon in this area shared by Rohit Meta (Senior Director, Product Management, Salesforce).

  • Hyperforce
  • Backup & Restore (GA Winter ’22)
  • DevOps Center (GA Spring ’22)
  • Preference Center & Privacy Analytics (GA Spring ’22)

Hyperforce

Quite possibly one of the biggest updates on the horizon, the ability to deploy a fully managed Salesforce instance into the public cloud! But it’s more than being able to deploy the public cloud, it’s also about overhauling the entire stack to be more security focused than ever. 

So what does this mean for us, the IT leaders? It means we can have Salesforce deployed to a public cloud (AWS only initially) and have the data residing where it matters to satisfy local laws. It also potentially means more flexible limits, but we will have to wait and see regarding this. 

This isn’t going to be one large update from Salesforce, but rather incremental updates transitioning all of their products to a shared infrastructure design one at a time.

Highly recommended to take a look at the help and training material to find answers to common questions.

Either way, this is definitely something to keep an eye on in your IT roadmap.

Backup & Restore (GA Winter ’22)

An important aspect to any implementation is having a good back and restore process in place, and it’s been a missing part of the core platform for some years. A while ago it was announced Salesforce would no longer be offering professional services for restoring of data, leaving a potential ticking time bomb for organizations which have nothing in place. 

Great AppExchange products do already exist to fulfil the gaps, but they have the disadvantage of typically sitting outside of the Salesforce trust zone. For customers which are sensitive to where their data resides these products can be off-putting. 

Going generally available in Winter ’22 is the new Backup & Restore product from Salesforce. Now administrators can define how frequently data, files, and their metadata should be backed up through recurring schedules using policies to indicate exactly what should be included. 

When things do go wrong (and they unfortunately will eventually) administrators can select which backup to use and decide which objects or records should be restored. Restoring looks simple and easy to use, and it will be interesting to see how this works with record ID’s and other constraints.

DevOps center (GA Spring 22)

I’m a big fan of DevOp’s when the right tools are there to support the process. Salesforce already has an integrated way of releasing updates declaratively by using change sets, but these are problematic and can be incredibly frustrating to use. What projects really need is version control and an automated way of propagating changes through to production.

Enter the new DevOps Center becoming generally available in Spring ’22. If you’re familiar with Heroku pipelines then this will be extremely familiar to you. Administrators will be able to define new pipeline stages using clicks not code. Within each stage you can define what options should be applied, such as running unit tests and much more. DevOps Center will connect to Github and deploy your new features automatically. 

This is definitely something you want to consider having within your toolset.

Preference Center & Privacy Analytics (GA Spring ’22)

Privacy is important to us all in this digital age we live in and controlling how we manage why and how organizations use our data is as important as ever. The new updates for Privacy Center from Salesforce really takes it to the next level for administrators to simplify how consent forms are managed, which channels they apply to, and more critically allowing different versions of terms and conditions to be created.

Privacy Analytics also receive new dashboards and reports to analyze which channels are being used to help tailor the experience for your users.

Wrapping up

We have a lot of updates coming up on the horizon from Salesforce. If you haven’t seen the presentation from Dreamforce, then I’d highly recommend taking a look.

Use this as a great opportunity to be prepared and start defining your own roadmap within your own organization to include what’s coming up from Salesforce to make the most of the platform.

Contact

Adam Marchbanks

Adam Marchbanks

Senior Manager

For over 12 years I’ve been delivering Salesforce implementations and I have several different roles range from development, quality control, being a technical and application architect. Internally I am responsible for our developing our Salesforce and Heroku engineering capabilities. This involves continually developing and training our team members and ensuring we deliver the highest quality projects to our clients. In addition I also enjoy writing about technical articles and sharing updates on my personal website (https://www.quirkyapex.com). Here I share updates about Salesforce and add demo’s on what’s possible with the platform.

Joris Westerveld

Joris Westerveld

Specialist Lead

Joris is a senior Salesforce engineer with deep knowledge and passion for both technical and declarative platform capabilities as well as peripherals like CI/CD and Enterprise Design Patterns. Ask me about flows! Crazy about drums, fermentation and Lego! Salesforce trailblazer link: https://trailblazer.me/id/joriswesterveld