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Accelerating the Salesforce ecosystem by unlocking it’s “hive mind”

Accelerating the Salesforce ecosystem by unlocking it’s “hive mind”


Director of Product Strategy

Last Updated:

September 6, 2022

Hive mind (noun): a collective consciousness, analogous to the behavior of social insects, in which a group of people become aware of their commonality and think and act as a community, sharing their knowledge, thoughts, and resources. (dictionary.com) 

Imagine if we could view Salesforce orgs collectively, not in isolated silos. What questions could we answer? What anti-patterns could we uncover? What decisions could be guided by these insights?’

In the thriving, but often siloed, Salesforce ecosystem, breaking down the barriers of individual orgs and tapping into the collective wisdom of the community can be a game-changer. In this article, we delve into the concept of the 'hive mind,' exploring how shared knowledge can help accelerate the Salesforce ecosystem and empower every Trailblazer to get more out of their Salesforce investment. 

A new perspective

Before joining the Salesforce ecosystem, I was a Staff Scientist at Stanford University/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Almost 20 years ago, we used clustering algorithms and neural networks to process large data sets, identifying similar exposures to reconstruct images and classify airborne particles.

When introduced to Salesforce 10 years ago, I looked at it through the same lens. Since everyone is building on the same multi-tenant architecture, how could we apply these clustering concepts to identify similar businesses automating their processes in the cloud? This idea was further cemented as I worked with >500 customers as a Solution Engineer, seeing the same patterns over and over.

Silos create disadvantages

As architects, admins, and consultants we often hear questions like "What are similar businesses in our industry doing?" or "How do our strategies compare to others?"  Given Salesforce's vast array of standard features, these queries seem straightforward – after all, solutions often build on existing foundations. Yet, the reality is far more complex.

Consider three distinct scenarios: 

  1. Consultant in a large firm (with over 1000 employees), 
  2. Consultant in a small firm (less than 50 employees), 
  3. Architect or admin in an enterprise organization

As consultancies scale, the total knowledge regarding a particular industry or cloud grows due to the large number of projects completed and easy access to peer expertise. This creates an inherent advantage, even in comparing an architect in scenario 1 versus 2.  Enterprise architects face a different dilemma. Although they have deep industry expertise, their scope often lacks the breadth gained from diverse projects and rapid peer learning. 

Having navigated all scenarios during my tenure at Traction on Demand (now part of Salesforce Professional Services) and at Hubbl Diagnostics, I recognized the power of this 'hive mind.' However, it's crucial to note that this knowledge, while advantageous, is confined within each consultancy or organization. Breaking these barriers and connecting diverse industries remains a challenge.

How do we level the playing field?

To accelerate and uplift the entire Salesforce ecosystem, we must unlock the 'hive mind' and extend its benefits to all Trailblazers. However, there are barriers to unlocking this information. We can not compromise the central tenet of Trust in the Salesforce ecosystem. We cannot compromise customer data or reveal sensitive code that could jeopardize intellectual property. 

So, what can be done? The power lies in the metadata. 

We can gather and anonymize aggregate results of Salesforce org metadata configurations – not the code itself, but the analysis of its configuration. This method can even encompass certain data aspects like object record counts. If we provide a comprehensive quantitative and objective view of how a business process is configured in the cloud that is accessible to all, the entire ecosystem benefits.

How will this help?

  • Data-driven decision making: If we do this for all orgs in the ecosystem over time, we can measure averages and uncover trends by classifier. This enables direct comparisons between individual orgs and ecosystem averages, unlocking a new level of data-driven decision making for organizations of all sizes.
  • Empowering Trailblazers: We’re able to address the question, "What’s next?" by drawing from past customer experiences, ensuring accessible knowledge for all architects and promoting equal opportunities within the Salesforce community.
  • Quantitative insights: Accurate benchmarking of entire orgs or specific metadata subsets removes uncertainties. This clarity provides substantial evidence for engaging executives, encouraging investments in technical debt projects. It resolves concerns about org complexity or migration, enhancing data-driven discussions for informed decision-making.
  • Well Architected Framework enhancements: Aggregated metadata reveals unique anti-patterns, establishing a valuable feedback loop. These insights seamlessly integrate back into the Well Architected framework, fostering continuous improvement and offering valuable learning opportunities for all Trailblazers within the Salesforce ecosystem.
  • Improved stakeholder communication: whether it is between a Salesforce product owner and executives, within a development team or center of excellence, or even between an enterprise and consultants, the level playing field of quantitative and objective data makes it much easier to communicate with an increased level of trust.

The hive mind in practice

Let’s walk through an example of how an aggregate set of anonymized Salesforce org metadata can uncover actionable insights.

Installed packages are in every Salesforce org. They contain valuable packets of code that can accelerate a business’s capabilities. However, those installed packages often don’t receive the necessary care and attention they deserve. This results in a very common anti-pattern: installing packages in your org but not upgrading them to a newer version.

According to the 2023 Benchmark Report on Salesforce Optimization, on average:

  • 99% of orgs have installed packages with newer versions available.
  • Salesforce orgs have 14 installed packages with newer versions available.
  • 8% of these packages are both out-of-date and haven't undergone security review.

Here enters the hive mind, a collective database of all installed packages and their versions. By tapping into this extensive knowledge pool, org administrators can easily identify disparities. Even if a package's publisher hasn't updated their listing, the hive mind's data reveals if an org is running an older version compared to the rest of the ecosystem. With this information, administrators can take proactive measures, ensuring their business runs on the latest, safest, and most efficient versions of their packages.

Accessing the hive mind with Hubbl Diagnostics

If you’ve made it this far, I hope your wheels are turning on new ideas about how we can all unlock Salesforce’s hive mind and raise the entire ecosystem by comparing individual Salesforce org configurations against an aggregated metadata analysis of all orgs. We all—from architects, admins, developers, to the businesses we support—will benefit from embracing this mindset. 

The great news is that we’ve already built this machine learning-first platform, Hubbl Diagnostics, and you can access it for free. Get started here.  

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