Salesforce Lightning has been described as the most significant update to its user interface (UI) in the company’s history, but has lightning struck twice for its customers?

Salesforce Lightning is a next-level platform designed to replace Salesforce Classic. Its promise is to offer a UI that is more flexible, mobile-friendly, and appropriate for supporting today’s data-driven enterprises than its previous incarnation.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Salesforce Lightning is flexible, mobile-friendly, and ready for today’s data-driven enterprises” hashtags=”tech, UI, cloud,”]

Last year, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff said Lightning is “The biggest change ever done to the company.” That’s a lot of change of taking in. After all, with change comes risk. Is there enough that needs updating to justify dealing with the challenges of change?

Appearances count and so does usability. Getting the UI right is a critical factor in securing user adoption of new technologies, and driving positive business outcomes. Illustrated by data from our recent The State of Salesforce Report, it showed that when salespeople believe they can run an entire sales cycle from their phone, their companies are three times more likely to see cost reductions and twice as likely to see revenue gains attributable to Salesforce.

Whilst Salesforce Classic was at the forefront of the cloud revolution, today’s mobile-centric users are looking for intuitive and more easily customisable UIs.  Designed with feedback from 150,000 Salesforce customers globally, Salesforce Lightning is intended to provide that. Custom development becomes less code-dependent. Users can modify and personalise dashboards, as well as drag-and-drop new components from third-party providers in the Salesforce AppExchange. It is all far more user-friendly and adaptive, an important step in driving a more intuitive user experience.

That is the big picture. Drilling down to specifics, Lightning is actually an umbrella term for a broad range of offerings, including:

  • Lightning Experience – a set of modern user interfaces (UIs), including UIs for the Salesforce1 Mobile app and template-based communities
  • Lightning Component Framework – a JavaScript framework along with a set of components that developers can use to customise the Lightning Experience
  • Visual Building Tools – tools that provide drag-and-drop simplicity for app-building and customisation
  • Component Exchange – a subset of AppExchange that offers dozens of partners’ Lightning components
  • Lightning Design System – style guides and user experience best practices for both the Lightning Experience and Salesforce1 mobile app

However, it is important to bear in mind that Lightning is also a work in progress. Not all of the core features of Salesforce Classic are yet available on the current iteration of the Lightning platform. This is a phased migration with new elements being added on an ongoing basis.

[easy-tweet tweet=”It is important to bear in mind that Lightning is also a work in progress.” hashtags=”cloud, tech”]

Customers need to decide what pace to move at and when to do so. What capabilities do you need from Salesforce? If there are core functions and features in Salesforce Classic upon which your organisation is dependent, then due diligence needs to be done on whether they are currently available within Lightning.

If they’re not, then you may decide that now is not the right time to move away from Salesforce Classic or that you’re prepared to work around these shortfalls. Whilst Lightning is clearly the preferred destination for Salesforce, it is possible to use the new features of Lightning, but switch back and forth to the Salesforce Classic interface if those missing features are needed. It is up to individual users to decide if that’s an acceptable trade-off in order to tap into the benefits of the updated UI.

For example, in the Sales Cloud, users can only add, edit or delete information on one account team member at a time. If you want to change team member display order or add multiple account team members on a single page, you’ll need to switch back to Salesforce Classic. Is that a major hassle for your sales team? Or is it something they can live with, for now, balanced out by benefits elsewhere, such as being able to associate a single contact with multiple accounts or being able to coordinate a sales team’s access to accounts by setting up an account team in Lightning Experience?

The same is true of providers of third-party apps that integrate with Salesforce. Many of the leading app providers, such as FinancialForce and Apttus, have already delivered or are poised to deliver Lightning versions of their offerings. It is easy enough to check the status of apps by filtering for “Lightning ready” in the AppExchange.

Increasingly, large parts of the Salesforce portfolio will come Lightning-ready. For example, the recently-announced Financial Services Cloud comes with the Lightning Experience UI and can be integrated with Classic Salesforce. Other clouds, born out of Salesforce Classic such as the Marketing Cloud, have had Lightning makeovers.

Most recently, Salesforce has added Lightning Voice into the Sales Cloud, allowing sales staff to dial a number from a keypad within the application and access a note-taking section with details of the call (who was called, duration, and number) automatically logged.

For Salesforce, this is an agile development journey that will continue for some time. For example, next year will see Salesforce’s Professional Edition, Enterprise Edition, and Unlimited Edition for Sales Cloud and Service Cloud replaced by the new Lightning Professional Edition, Lightning Enterprise Edition and Lightning Unlimited Edition for Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.

The good news is that the nature of Salesforce’s SaaS model means that existing Sales Cloud and Service Cloud customers will automatically receive the capabilities and features of the new Lightning Editions on a rolling schedule.

However, whilst expounding an ‘as easy as flicking a switch’ message when it comes to moving to Lightning, Salesforce itself recommends a three-phase approach to the realities – learn, launch, iterate. Critical to this is having pilot users, defining criteria for success, and using a dashboard to evaluate feedback and track metrics.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Salesforce itself recommends a three-phase approach to the realities – learn, launch, iterate.” hashtags=”tech, cloud, IT”]

At Bluewolf, we have completed several Classic to Lightning migrations to date, and this will only increase over time; but the pace of the ramp-up will depend on feature usage.

Determining whether Salesforce Lightning is the solution for your organisation right now is a decision that will vary from company to company and one that may benefit from third-party advice, but the future of Salesforce’s UI lies with Lightning.