Salesforce TrailheaDX 2020 kicked off on Thursday with an opening keynote from Sarah Franklin, executive vice president of developer relations and general manager of Trailhead at Salesforce. This fifth year of TrailheaDX looked much different than those of the past, with Franklin video conferencing from her living room rather than speaking live onstage in San Francisco.

SEE: Highlights: Salesforce TrailheaDX 2020 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The virtual version of the conference adds to the list of major tech events forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Franklin noted, however, that just because the conference isn’t in person, that does not mean we are disconnected.

“I’m supposed to be with you in Moscone, taking over San Francisco together in a huge keynote room with thousands of you, but we’re not doing that right now. [We’ve] taken this two day experience and condensed it down to a six-hour timeframe together,” Franklin said.

“We’ve completely reimagined this experience for you today…here in a virtual experience,” Franklin said. “Even though we’re not physically together, nothing is going to keep us apart.”

However, the glitchy video feed made staying together a little difficult. After a couple page refreshes, the video would come unfrozen, but the experience was definitely a little more disruptive than seeing a presentation in person.

Salesforce didn’t fail to keep viewers entertained though, featuring singer Jennifer Hudson as an opening act and CBS’s own Trevor Noah as a guest speaker.

SEE: Hiring Kit: Application engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

Franklin touched on the various issues happening around the world, even hosting a moment of silence for reflection.

“Let’s be real for a moment,” Franklin said. “There is a lot of pain in our community right now, we’re in the middle of four crises: A health crisis, an economic crisis, a social crisis, and a leadership crisis.”

She noted how meaningful conversations and innovations are critical during this difficult time, and she introduced various Salesforce executives to demo some of their latest products, along with client examples, to emphasize the need for scalability and connectivity in the enterprise.

Here were some of the announcements made during the Salesforce TrailheaDX 2020 virtual keynote:

In a digital world, Franklin said it is critical that employees are able to work from anywhere, which is the inspiration behind the Salesforce Anywhere app.

“Salesforce Anywhere empowers everyone to sell, service, and market from anywhere. And today, with Service Cloud Voice, telephony built right in, and Einstein Call Coaching, it’s never been easier to do that,” Franklin said. “And with Vlocity joining the Salesforce family apps for every industry from anywhere: Healthcare, financial services, retail–from anywhere.”

Through the app, on desktop or smartphone, users can easily communicate, collaborate, share data, and work together from all across the world.

Partnering with Tanium, Salesforce announced its employee service solution that helps alleviate the pressure IT teams are under to deliver service to a fully remote team.

Wade Wegner, senior vice president of product management, presented a demo during the keynote that used an IT problem with an employee, Monica, as an example.

“Let’s say Monica has a connection issue. In real time, just like she would text a friend, she can chat with an IT chat bot on her phone. This is an intelligent bot powered by Einstein and Flow that can help troubleshoot most common cases,” Wegner said.

“Through Tanium, the agent can see all of the hardware and software assets associated with Monica and can see that her computer is running an older version of the VPN client. The agent is able to securely push the update to Monica’s laptop, but wait, there’s a notification indicating that others are also impacted by this issue,” Wegner continued.

“An IT agent can securely push the update to all of these users at scale. Boom. Not only have we been able to solve Monica’s connectivity issue, but we just proactively solved it for a lot of other people,” Wegner said.

Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform, will feature personalized Einstein recommendations to help employees pick the right skills for them, said Chris Duarte vice president of Trailhead content at Salesforce, during the keynote.

Using employee Emily as an example, Duarte said “These are AI powered recommendations for Emily, based on her role as a developer. And the cool thing is, the more Emily uses Trailhead, the smarter and more tailored these recommendations become.”

Code Builder allows developers to build right in their browser, said Claire Bianchi, director of product management in developer tooling at Salesforce, during the keynote.

“It can often feel daunting setting up your environment, especially if you just need to write a quick Apex class,” Bianchi said. “With Code Builder, a workspace is created in moments with everything you need.”

“First, we have a custom landing page with links to Trailhead, developer documentation, and even Salesforce samples on GitHub. Because you logged in with your Salesforce org, Code Builder is smart enough to have all of your orgs preauthorized; no need to manually sign-in, simply select which org you want to work against and go,” Bianchi said.

“We set up your workspace with everything you need for Salesforce development, including the Salesforce CLI, the Apex debuggers, custom LWC [Lightning Web Components] and Aura tooling, and more,” Bianchi added.

For more, check out Salesforce launches Salesforce Anywhere, app that embeds collaboration, data across platforms on ZDNet.

Sarah Franklin speaking at the Salesforce TrailheaDX 2020 virtual keynote.
Image: Screenshot