September 24, 2015

Dream Force
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Dreamforce, the annual week-long conference held by Salesforce. The event delivered over 1,500 sessions for more than 150,000 attendees covering topics across the professional spectrum.
Why was I there? At AHM I am responsible for the Product Engineering team that builds the AHM CentrisDirectTM product, a compliance platform for healthcare professional interactions built on the Salesforce platform. Because of that foundational connection, Dreamforce is very important to what we do — an opportunity to take what we know about the needs of the Life Sciences industry and gain fresh insights into the growing capabilities of SalesForce.

I spent a good part of my time at the conference in an area dubbed the “Developer Zone”. This area focused on training, and provided hands on exposure to the latest tools, technologies, and architectures provided by the Salesforce platform. Salesforce has invested heavily into a developer training program branded as “Trailhead” and put a lot of emphasis on increasing awareness of this valuable resource which is free to anyone interested in the platform:

One of the primary reasons AHM chose to build CentrisDirectTM on the Salesforce platform is the rapid pace of innovation it provides. For example, Salesforce delivers three platform releases a year that expand the number of features available to ISV partners like AHM. That, in turn, helps us to build new features that are relevant to our clients. Dreamforce helps to make us aware of the full breadth of the platform and allows us to dig into the details for features we think will have the largest impact on our product and clients.
At last year’s Dreamforce, I was inspired by a session on how to apply continuous integration in the Salesforce cloud environment. We leveraged what we learned there and now have a fully automated continuous integration process that streamlines our product development process. This year I focused on attending sessions geared toward independent software vendor (ISV) partners, new platform technologies, and the platform “roadmap.”
This year I was especially excited to learn about some new platform features that will provide us with additional tools for configuration management: Branch Orgs and native version control. These features will give us additional flexibility and control of our software code management and release process.

Many of the sessions I attended focused on the new Salesforce Lightning Experience user interface, which provides not only a new look and feel, but a new way to develop and deliver user interface components that can be shared between both mobile and web applications. I believe this new technology will have a huge impact on CentrisDirectTM and will allow us to converge our mobile and web user interfaces over time.

There were also numerous sessions on development patterns and best practices that my team will take back and apply at AHM. All in all, Dreamforce was a great opportunity to network with Salesforce MVPs and the Salesforce development thought leaders that were presenting. If you weren’t able to attend Dreamforce this year, you can find video for many of the sessions here:
While we wait for the next Dreamforce, we will be hard at work imagining — and delivering — a better product for all our clients!

Contributed by:

Bryan Lilley

Bryan has been leading the development of AHM’s software product portfolio for over 12 years. His 20+ years in the software industry brings experience across a broad set of enterprise platform architectures, from the days of client server to our current world in the cloud.