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Is it time to move to Salesforce Lightning?

Salesforce Winter ’18 has now been rolled out across all Salesforce instances.  As you have noticed, Salesforce Classic didn’t get many feature updates, and almost the entire release is Lightning Experience focused.  You might have noticed the trend over the last few releases – seemingly everything Salesforce has done has been labelled ‘Lightning’ or only available for the Lightning Experience…  So is it time to move to Salesforce Lightning?

How did we get to this point?  It feels like only a little while ago, we were all talking about key missing features.  We will take a look at the history of Salesforce and how Lightning came to exist.  What features are now available to you in Lightning Experience?

Stepping back in time…

Back in 1999, things were different.  Let’s take a step back in time…

To connect to the internet, if you were lucky enough to be able to get it, your computer had a modem which made really funny noises and it could take a minute or two for it to simply connect with your ISP.

Nokia 3310
Not an iPhone in sight… Even the 3310 wasn’t available in 1999!

Mobile devices looked quite different.  There were no iPhones or Android’s.  Even the Nokia 3310 hadn’t been released… It was released in 2000!

The world used Lycos, Hotbot or Yahoo to search… Google had only started in 1998 and not many people used it (or even knew what Google was!)

Do you Yahoo…?

But 1999 also revealed Salesforce to the world.  And over that time there has been a number of UI improvements but the core of Salesforce has always been the navigating via tabs.

Old Salesforce User Interfaces: Pre-Lightning UI

Salesforce: a brief history…

The world has changed considerably since 1999.  And so much of it, for the better!

Internet in many offices now is super-fast broadband, some would even say “Lightning fast” (#sorrynotsorry, I couldn’t help myself).

Internet speeds on mobile are also significantly faster and now we take for granted the ability to use internet on our mobile devices (let alone being able to stream Netflix on a mobile device).

As a result companies switched to a ‘mobile first’ approach to development, Salesforce included.  This resulted in spending a number of features that became exclusive to mobile devices.  And as the Salesforce1 app on mobile devices continued to evolve the desktop version started to really look dated.

Some people even resorted to using the “One App” on desktops to gain access to these new features.  This was mainly to test app features, but none-the-less there were stark differences between desktop and mobile.

And over the last few years we can even add into the mix devices like smart watches, which allow us to be even more connected to our work.

Introducing Salesforce Lightning

This is why Salesforce needed to evolve again..  Enter Salesforce Lightning Experience (otherwise referred to as LEX for short).

Lightning Experience across all devices…

It was designed as a way to unify the interface across all devices.  While also introducing a new wave of web technologies to the CRM for admins and developers to be able to leverage.

Lightning Experience (LEX) promised a whole new interface and way to interact with Salesforce.  When launched it was features like kanban boards for sales to manage their pipelines, news highlights & account news, sales path and being able to put graphs on list views which caught the eye of most admins and developers.

That isn’t even mentioning the new design framework and components which let you extend the functionality on pretty much any page.  Lightning Experience suddenly expanded the world of point and click admins!

Lightning – started with a flash…

As with any transition though, not everything was working as expected.   Lightning Experience was quite cumbersome and sluggish to use.  And so many features of what became Salesforce ‘Classic’ weren’t even available in the new user interface, as an example Forecasts wasn’t available at all.

Since being introduced as part of the Winter ’16 release, Salesforce was aiming for feature parity with Salesforce Classic within 2 years.  Over that time there have also been a huge number of improvements made.  Which begs the question, is now the time to move to Salesforce Lightning?

Salesforce has not only improved how Lightning loads, but improved how Lightning looks and also introduced a range of brand spanking new features to Salesforce platform and only available in Lightning (looking at you Salesforce Einstein).

Salesforce Lightning versus Classic

Over the last two years the list of missing features in Lightning has been thankfully shrinking.  As you can see from the Salesforce feature comparison, we are fast approaching the milestone of feature parity in Lightning Experience.

Clearly Salesforce isn’t just looking at feature parity, with Lightning “exclusives” such as Dialer, Assistant, new dashboards (not with just three columns) and even new report graph types are being released only on Lightning.

Move to Salesforce Lightning for features like Kanban
Salesforce Kanban and list view graphs (Source: Salesforce)

You can also forget about using Salesforce Einstein sales features if you haven’t migrated…

Looking at the list, there are still some specific exceptions.  But not being able to migrate to Lightning Experience due to a missing feature is now mostly a thing of the past for organisations.

Final verdict

Lightning Experience has come a very long way since it was first released, and is now ready for most organisations to make the switch.

Standout features in Lightning Experience do grab the eye of users and admins alike.  This is quite beneficial as it can help drive user engagement and adoption.  And ultimately this can help make the change to Salesforce Lightning an easier process.

But now is the time to start planning the upgrade to Lightning Experience.

Remember though, you do have to plan carefully for it (which we will cover in the next post).

Most organisations should now be able to start using Lightning without having to keep switching back to Classic.  Even if there is a feature still missing, the Lightning Experience roadmap shows the future product releases.  Check it out to see if your missing feature is about to be released.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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Adam Gill

I have been working with the Salesforce platform for over seven years now. My background includes a variety of CRM projects and experiences (both greenfield and legacy), covering a variety of industries. I currently have 4x certified, though always looking to increase that count! :-)

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