An inaugural CRM Analytics Ambassador & Salesforce Solution Architect
Lauren struck me as an awesome and open-minded community mate. She came to the Tableau Conference and was so full of #DataFam energy. She made the crossover to the #DataFam, completely committing to the experience and the joy of a Tableau Conference. Does it matter that she comes from the Salesforce world and is not a Tableau-dominant #DataFam member? No.
We need to work together to extend our universe and impact. Besides that, the #DataFam is an inclusive environment. Why not make it even more inclusive to those outside the direct Tableau universe? #BetterTogether
Adam Mico (AM): For an extended period of your career, your work has been CRM-focused. How did you get your start with CRM, and have you always worked with Salesforce?
Lauren Mills (LM) (LinkedIn | Twitter): Oh, I like this question because I always enjoy hearing how other people start with Salesforce. Mine is not that exciting, but I'm sure you've heard the term "accidental admin," which is basically what happened to me.
I haven't always worked with Salesforce; I began my career as an ERP consultant working with a product that was once owned by Intuit, then Activant, and is now Epicor Eclipse ERP. This was back when consultants were true "Road Warriors" traveling back to back weeks. When the time came for me to settle down, I transitioned to Operations Manager of a distribution customer using Eclipse. Eventually, the parent company sold-off the distribution branch, and I moved into their corporate IT department, working with SAP. Somewhere between 2010–2011, and I remember this part very distinctly; our IT leadership had purchased Salesforce CRM and was looking for someone to implement it… I was the only one who raised my hand. And I haven't looked back since.
AM: Currently, you work as a Solutions Architect with IBM? Has CRM always been natural?
LM: Because I've always been in the space of technology solutions, it was just another system to learn. Also, because during my first gig, I was working solo to implement the solution, I really had to make a lot of discovery to teach myself the ins and outs of the platform… there was no such thing as Trailhead at that time. So I feel that this extra work helped me understand the platform's fundamentals and carry that forward through the years.
AM: Most of my readers are from the Tableau universe — what can a person who works with data visualization gain by learning working with CRM Analytics?
LM: Ahh, I love this question because they are different and have significant value in their own space.
Historically Salesforce has mastered the ability to make its products easy to use and accessible to the masses. Think "clicks not code" but translated to data… you already have the skills needed to be successful on the platform. So jump on Trailhead, sign up for an org, read through the documentation, and play around. It might look and feel different, but from a data viz perspective, there are also similarities. You'd be amazed at how fast you can model, solve and bring insights to your users.
What you gain is transferable skills in a space you already know… but more importantly, what's to lose?
AM: When did you become a Salesforce Analytics Champion, and what do you recall about finding out?
LM: I was part of the inaugural group of Analytics Champions back in 2018 (it might have been 2019! I can't remember exactly)
Of course, I was very excited, but it was much different back then, and one of the activities I most enjoyed participating in was these local workshops that Salesforce would host to train users on their products. When these would come to Houston or nearby in Texas, I would work with the product owners to help facilitate the classes. This was great as it provided learning for the community and also allowed interaction and dialogue with folks from different industries/sectors/companies of all sizes to collaborate and share use cases.
I wish they would bring these back. :)
AM: A little over one year ago, Tableau announced that Analytics Champions were transitioning to Tableau CRM Ambassadors. I shared a blog post on my thoughts back then in this article. It was a bit of a change for a predominantly Salesforce crew — how did you feel about it back then?
LM: Honestly, I can't say that at the time, I had strong feelings one way or the other, BUT since integrating more with the #DataFam in the past year, I think the convergence of the groups/people has been transformative. Let me tell you why…
I've never had a strong online presence (Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc.), and it's just not my preferred way of collaborating. re: my above response about volunteering at in-person learning sessions. Traditionally in the Salesforce-sphere, this is where the recognition and camaraderie reside. I am there but a bit on the sidelines.
Then this past year, I was fortunate to attend TC22, and I met the most fantastic, brilliant, sincere group of Tableau ambassadors, visionaries, data engineers, and data cheerleaders ;) the level of excitement and engagement that the #DataFam has is incredible. So in hindsight, I think the Analytics Champions are the ones to benefit by being welcomed to the established Tableau Community.
AM: Since it's been over a year, what are your thoughts on the recognition programs from Salesforce vs. Tableau — in particular, what is one takeaway from Salesforce's program vs. Tableau?
LM: Great question. If we are specifically speaking of the Analytics program, I think for Salesforce and the Analytics Champions, it was still in the infancy stages, combined with changes at the top regarding the product owners and evolving strategies. The Tableau program feels more established but has an added challenge of fitting into the larger Salesforce ecosystem.
Salesforce knows the power of communities! Regardless of product or cloud, the local user groups always look for presenters. Salesforce provides us with a budget and the ability to host (virtual or in-person) meetings. This is an excellent way for program members to speak on the power of data! As ambassadors, we need to engage with users. I would recommend that members of the Tableau program take advantage of opportunities within your local Salesforce groups, ask to participate, present, and showcase what you know.
Short Answer… Get involved! And outside of your single product, Salesforce offers that opportunity.
AM: You went to the Tableau Conference in 2022 as an ambassador. It was terrific to see CRM representation at the conference. What were your three takeaways from the conference?
- The people — the #DataFam rocks!
- Braindates — I loved this activity and think there should be a place for it at Dreamforce.
- CRM Analytics vs. Tableau → Where, When, and Why — there is still general confusion on the similarities/differences/use cases. I'd say the confusion is widespread among customers, users, and the community.
AM: The greater Salesforce communities have been slowly blending but are far from one community with unique personalities. Since you are in a unique position of being part of both communities — what is one thing that Tableau could do to engage Salesforce users better, and how can Salesforce engage other communities with more impact?
LM: Ohhh, great question; I feel a little in the hot seat. Short answer for both… cross pollinate. haha
From the Tableau side, I think there is so much opportunity to get involved with the Salesforce user groups. They are established, and you will find that data transformation and visualization is applicable at all levels. It's an existing framework that you can utilize and socialize Tableau throughout the ecosystem.
From the Salesforce side, knowing most of your customers are already using Tableau, it's important to recognize there is a place for both within a company. Get involved in the online conversations that are a bit outside of your normal group. The Tableau community also has a strong presence on Twitter, engage with the people there, and puts effort into conversing with others… we tend to collaborate within our comfort zone.
AM: Are you attending Dreamforce in person this year; if so, what are you most looking forward to for Dreamforce 2022?
LM: I am attending San Francisco this year; it will be my 9th Dreamforce, and I look forward to having face-to-face conversations with old and new connections!
I think my answer to this would be slightly different over the years and it differs based on where you are in your career journey. In the beginning, I would only attend the HOT sessions; I'd collect all the books, whitepapers, and content I could load on my back and carry home. There was; yeah, of course. Therefore, I've spent less time in sessions but more time volunteering in areas like the hackathons and community sessions. At the core, its always been about the connections you make and the conversations you have had.
AM: The Red Hot Chili Peppers are performing at Dreamforce this year. Do you have a go-to Chili's song (mine is this one)?
LM: Soul to Squeeze