Friday 1 January 2021

2020 Year in Review - Part 2

Three months of lockdown took a toll on the grounds of the beach house!


April was notable for a full lockdown in the UK, which moved everything that wasn't nailed down into the virtual space. The London Salesforce Developers had their first event run on Zoom, which gave us significant pause for thought as we'd seen a number of reports of Zoom bombing in the media and were keen not to be another example of lax security. Todd Halfpenny and I had a couple of trial runs were we locked everything down and then tried to cause trouble, which were calmed our nerves. Like many things, it's very difficult to guarantee it won't happen, but if you make people register, maintain control of microphone and screen sharing, and be ready to boot anyone that steps out of line you can be fairly confident you won't have a disaster. We had a great turnout to hear Anup Jadhav talk about event driven architecture, no doubt helped by the fact that everyone was stuck at home. We also welcomed attendees from around the world, which was an unexpected upside. The networking in this first event went on for some considerable time, as everyone was a bit starved of company and needing some form of human interaction. This pattern didn't continue though, as people adjusted to the new normal pretty rapidly. 

At BrightGen we took the view that you can't over-communicate when you are working remotely, so each team had regular social/coffee break calls and there was a company-wide pub quiz at regular intervals. Again this turned out to be something that wasn't required every week, but while it was needed there was plenty of it. Probably the hardest aspect was onboarding the new joiners - building those key relationships is harder when the casual conversations around the office aren't possible. On the upside, we saw a huge surge in lunch and learn, both in terms of sessions and attendance. With so much time on our hands, we were keen to make good use of it. We also had the virtual Grand National sweepstake - no prizes in this format, so obviously for the first time in my life I had the winner - Potters Corner!

In an announcement that surprised nobody, Salesforce announced that Dreamforce would be virtual in 2020, as would all their other events. 


Emboldened by the success of our first virtual meetup, the London Salesforce Developers pressed on with Devs Love Low Code Too, presented by Narinder Singh. Another great turnout, with attendees from around the world. We were also remarking how much easier it was to organise these events when you don't need a venue and catering! "Have Zoom account, will meetup" was now our mantra. 

Come the 13th May we weren't stuck in front of our screens for quite so much time, as the lockdown started to slowly lift and we were allowed out for exercise as much as we liked, including meeting one person outside who wasn't part of our household! It was like Christmas come early (and pretty much identical to my actual Christmas it turned out).

Jodi Wagner and I onboarded two new teachers for Speaker Academy (Amber Boaz and Julia Doctoroff) so that we could split into EMEA and US cohorts. Somehow this took a four hour Zoom call, and in my case a surprising amount of rum and coke.

Salesforce launched to help companies return to the office, which in hindsight seems quite optimistic. Gavin Patterson continued his rise to fame at Salesforce, becoming President and Chief Revenue Officer. 


The London Salesforce Developers June Meetup saw David Reed join us from the USA to present on Automating the Development Lifecycle with Cumulus CI - something we'd probably have struggled to achieve in person! The Speaker Academy signup for the EMEA cohort attracted 50 applicants for 6 spaces and we kicked off the first session on June 4th.  The restrictions relaxed further in the UK and we were allowed to travel as far as we liked for exercise, although we still had to return the same day. 

The Summer 20 release notes became available in beta, starting another of the thrice-yearly races to get the first blog post out about the key features. 

The much anticipated TrailheaDX took place, re-imagined as a virtual event that bore a striking resemblance to the actual event but with more of a marketing spin. It's fair to say the response to this was positive, but it was nothing like as well received as the in-person event. The chat aspect seemed particularly problematic, descending into an avalanche of spam after a few minutes. Moving events online wasn't something that only Salesforce were wrestling with - I attended what seemed like hundreds during this time and nobody really came up with anything different to a mix of recorded and live sessions, and a virtual expo that wasn't well patronised. 

But the days were long, the weather in the UK was glorious, the COVID-19 case numbers were dropping and it looked like things would be opening up more in the near future.

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