Parker Harris wants to reverse the scenario: “What if software was not something you go to, but something that comes to you?”

“Keep talking, I’m listening” Parker Harris said leaving the computer screen. Ten seconds later, he’s back with his Trailblazer hoodie in his hand. “It’s TrailblazerDX, not Dreamforce. A hoodie and t-shirt is as dressy as it gets.”

The co-founder and CTO of Salesforce is days away from hitting the stage at TrailblazerDX 2022. And yes, it’s a real scene. This year’s event brings developers together in person and online, with an expected attendance of nearly 5,000 people.

Harris joined this conversation from his home office in San Francisco to share his thoughts on automation, innovation, and how the Salesforce platform adds speed to both.

Q: Automation is everywhere these days – how is automation changing the human-computer equation?

What if enterprise software wasn’t something you proactively logged into or enabled, but rather something that only came to you when human intervention was essential? That’s the power of automation.

We see automation as the orchestrator, able to pull people in at specific times when human sensitivity is needed for decision making or an approval.

We see automation as the orchestrator, able to pull people in at specific times when human sensitivity is needed for decision making or an approval.

There is huge potential with automation and AI. You can automate processes and workflows with little code, or you can do it with no code at all. With Flow, for example, you can automate processes with a point-and-click tool. And by doing so, you can create much more productivity in your business or create incredible value for other businesses if you are a consultant. I think everyone is always looking for ways to increase productivity. So why do it yourself if you can let the computer do it for you?

Q: Slack is going to be a big part of TrailblazerDX this year – especially the Slack integrations. What will this open on the platform?

Imagine if you could bring everything you work on in Salesforce — all those apps, workflows, forms — into Slack.

Many Trailblazers know the power of the Salesforce platform. They understand how to create what we call “applications”. You think of those built with the lightning interfacefor example, and you may have workflows or forms, or integrations that import data from other sources.

Slack, on the other hand, has a more chat-based interface with powerful workflow capabilities, and sometimes you can enter a modal or bring information to your own window.

92% of automation users are more satisfied with their productivity.

See research

We’re exploring new ways to bring Slack and Salesforce together to create one powerful platform. Imagine connecting the workflow from Salesforce to Slack, then approving it with a slash command. From there, all you need to do is quickly open a modal to see just enough information about this opportunity: “Great, I see it. I’m fine. Click approve and I’m done.”

Q: Digital transformation is accelerating with no signs of slowing down, and developers need to innovate fast. How can developers innovate faster?

We want to resolve issues quickly. We want an amazing end-user experience. And we want it to be simple and beautiful.

Just because we could do something complex doesn’t mean we have to do it or it’s better. It shouldn’t come down to ego – we all love code and think about a flawless script, saying, “Look at this incredible amount of code I wrote today. Look at the volume!”

We want to resolve issues quickly. We want an amazing end-user experience. And we want it to be simple and beautiful.

Instead, I celebrate when my developers release code. If they can remove the code, the results are much simpler. I can understand it faster. It will be more efficient. That’s the beauty of low-code and no-code tools – you’re going to go faster, your business is going to be a lot happier, and you’re going to be able to iterate a lot faster, with less custom code to maintain.

When it comes to TrailblazerDX this year, I encourage the entire developer community to ask, “How can we use Salesforce to innovate to keep moving the needle while reducing or eliminating code?”

Q: What thoughts or advice do you have for people without development experience interested in how the Salesforce platform can provide new opportunities to find work, improve their skills, or even grow their careers?

My short answer is definitely a nod to Starting point and the Pioneer communitythat walks people through their learning journey with Salesforce.

But really when I think about it, it comes down to having an impact. We all fundamentally want to impact our jobs, and the Salesforce Platform and Salesforce Ecosystem enable people to do that through Trailhead.

Q: Recent MuleSoft Search showed that 93% of organizations say it has become more difficult to retain qualified developers. What is the impact of the “Great Resignation” on the developer community?

I think everyone really needs to think about themselves, their own health and balance. I like to say that I’m always looking for balance, but I’ll never get there.

At Salesforce, we do some cool things like have an asynchronous workweek, which we call “Asynchronous week.“We have moved from an in-person meeting culture to an online culture [during the pandemic], but we are now considering each individual video call and considering whether it should go live. Instead, it could be a chat, a shared document, or even a video clip in Slack.

The developer community is global. They don’t all live in the same place, so asynchronous tools allow them to work at their optimal times, across time zones, and with what’s going on in their lives.

We all need to experiment and iterate on it. Maybe you should go old school and talk to someone on the phone; go out for a walk and talk. You may find that you focus better on the conversation than if it’s another video call.

Q: Thinking about the next five years in technology, what excites you?

I’m definitely looking at the metaverse, looking at where blockchain and some of these new technologies are going, and where Salesforce can play a role.

Right now, I’m mostly excited about data platforms, and our Customer data platform specifically. CDP provides the data for marketing automation. It helps businesses create a single source of truth about who their customer is, then personalize every interaction with AI. And underneath, there’s incredible open source technology and open standards.

Think about the proliferation of data – it comes from devices, customer activities on websites, or physically enters stores, call centers, etc. All of this information is very important in shaping the customer experience.

Every business builds or operates a data platform. We also have amazing partners like AWS, Snowflake, Databricks, Google and IBM providing data platforms.

The power of these data platforms and their shift to a more real-time nature – which has been my vision for decades – is coming together now. We can capture and unify all data from anywhere and offer our customers a single source of truth across our entire Customer 360 platform.

We enable customers to harness the full power of Customer 360 in a way that enables developers to quickly build, integrate and automate apps across the Salesforce ecosystem – Salesforce, Slack, Tableau and MuleSoft.

I spend most of my days with experienced Salesforce architects thinking about our future in this space. It makes you really jazzed up.

Q: What concerns you about the evolution of technology over the next five years?

I have concerns. I think the internet is global, but nations look at the world a bit more from a sovereign and national perspective. So when it comes to technology, how do we think about data sovereignty and data privacy and data locality in this future world? that’s why hyperforce is such an important innovation for us. We can scale our infrastructure quickly and securely using public cloud partners anywhere in the world where our customers need them.

While I’m excited about the potential of data, it can also be misused. We must lead with our valuesand not just our technology, to ensure that when we provide these capabilities to our customers, we also provide our customers’ customers with transparency and trust in how their data is used.

Towards the end of the conversation, barking echoes in the background. “That’s my dog ​​Sadie. She’s 14, still a truck driver,” laughs Harris.

When Sadie joined the Harris family, Salesforce became the first enterprise cloud computing company to cross the billion dollar mark in annual income. A far cry from today, where the company made $26.5 billion in revenue in its Financial year 2022.

But what brings Parker Harris the most satisfaction in the company’s 23-year history isn’t revenue.

“I am most proud of the impact we are having as a company. Marc’s vision to integrate philanthropy from day one into our 1:1:1 model. It cemented in our culture this idea of ​​doing more with this company, this fundamental mindset of giving back.”


Join Parker Harris on TrailblazerDX April 27.