Upgrading to Lightning: Is it a Cost or an Investment?

Welcome to part one of our newest blog series focused on upgrading to Lightning. If you are a Salesforce.com customer with an organization that is on the “Classic” platform, a transformational project is landing on your lap regardless of whether you asked for it or not: “How and when do we migrate to the new and improved Salesforce Lightning Platform?”


The Challenge:

For most businesses, particularly long term customers, this migration can represent a daunting task. The more mature the organization, the more likely it has a technical landscape of customized configurations and data schemas that may or may not be compatible with Lightning. The larger the organization the more core processes, clouds, and end user communities may be impacted. Integrations to other systems are likely in play. Even if a high level of resonance is realized between Classic and Lightning for a given implementation , a certain effort of analysis must be conducted to GAP and address the implications of this transformation. Then, more than likely a real material project (read people, time, and $$) must be initiated to accomplish the migration. This realization can quickly turn into a collective “groan” of not when/how but “Why should we have to migrate?!!”

If you have already made the conversion or had the opportunity to start greenfield on the Lightning Platform – congratulations and enjoy – you are now on one of the most powerful technology and enablement platforms on the planet! If you have not? No need to panic. Lets navigate the process together.


The Perspective:

For those worried about upgrading, one of the first things that can help build the business case is the lens of cost versus investment. If you think of the migration as a technical obligation that is being forced upon you with no upside, it appears as a cost. In reality however, it is an investment that will  position your company to take advantage of what is essentially a brand new platform with a substantial and highly impactful range of new capabilities. It costs the same per month for a User on Classic or on Lightning. If you are not leveraging Lightning, you are paying the same amount of money for a legacy product as you could for the brand new state of the art product. You’re leaving “money” on the table, so to speak. And the closer you look at the capabilities that you could be leveraging in Lighting, the faster this pile grows. Even if you just lift and shift, the new interfaces and native concepts in Lightning versus Classic will immediately be an enhancement. The good news is that with minimal effort, an entire menu of net new Lightning capabilities can be implemented to the delight of the User community DAY ONE of the migration.


Nothing is Free:

Granted, there is a Cost to making the migration. But I would argue that the seismic changes in capabilities that are available now (and on the roadmap for Lightning) will quickly offset that cost when amortized over time for total User based subscription fees. It is beyond the scope of this blog to address all of Lightning capabilities (in fact, it would take an entire Blog Series devoted to Lightning versus Classic functionality to even begin doing the topic justice). But I will touch on an important fundamental shift in platform capabilities brought about by Lightning in Part 1 and then visit some more specifics in Part 2 of this blog series. In its simplest terms, the architectural premises of Lightning will reduce the TCO for meeting the demands of increasingly complex Use cases.


Some Personal Background:

I hate to date myself like this, but I was in fact a User of the first publically available version of Salesforce.com when it was essentially Goldmine or ACT online. Back then, smart phones as we know them today were still in the realm of the Jetsons, and the idea of accessing account and contact information through a web browser was impactful to say the least. The idea of building the forms to support these functions in a wzywyg format was frankly, revolutionary. Over subsequent years, I have been a Power User of Salesforce on all the clouds in various front office roles and responsibilities from Account Executive, Inside Sales Manager, Sales Ops Admin, Marketing Campaign Manager and Call Center Representative to name a few. A jack of all trades to be sure, but in the end that has served me well in the second half of my career. It has provided some deep perspective on the importance of successful, and at times not so successful, interfaces (a personal shout out to those who successfully navigated the fallout years of the dot.bomb in similar fashion, whether voluntarily or involuntarily).


Responsive UI:

These experiences have really crystalized for me the impact and benefit of the new Lightning framework – which is in its simplest terms – Scalable Responsive UI. There are expansive and important concepts that are driving large scale CRM programs today such as “Connected Enterprise”, “Omni Channel”, “Curated Customer Journeys”, “Custom Mobile Experience,” and so on. These are worthy constructs and worthy of pursuit. However, from my perspective; the ability to effectively execute against any and all of these program level goals, from a tool perspective can be distilled down to a single essence – the effectiveness of the User Experience. The larger ideas mentioned above are all contingent upon a User staying with the interface through to conclusion. Whether it be a micro moment on a mobile app or a complex wizard in the browser; if you lose the User, the entire construct breaks down. To further add to the challenge: these days the Users are very demanding. I say it out loud to my team members and my customers on a regular basis: “Whether you like it or not, your employees, your partners and your customers are being trained by Amazon and the bar being set is very high.”


Out with the Old…

The days of the clunky interfaces, unintelligent modules, disparate User Interfaces, and an unconnected User Experience are going the way of the dodo bird along with the excuses that attempt to stand them up as acceptable solutions. The relationship of a User to the enterprise, whatever it may be, is not an acceptable reason for a diminished interaction. Users expect, and in fact demand, intelligent and responsive UI experiences. This means on a phone, a tablet, or a web browser. They expect the interfaces to “get ahead of the click stream.” They expect their interactions to be proactive, predictive and intelligent. It is an understanding, willingness, and bold commitment to take this User expectation head on. If done correctly however, it can be a differentiator for your enterprise, or an ongoing and increasing liability. 


…In with the New:

To bring this full circle. What does all of the above have to do with upgrading from Classic to Lightning? Lightning represents the evolution of Salesforce from a world class CRM with a controlled UI, to the confluence of a freshly overhauled CRM and CMS engineered to support Scalable Responsive UI. Once you make the transition to Lightning, a new world of capabilities opens up across the entire spectrum of Platform offerings. No-Code Builders, Pro-Code Tools, Mobile App Development, and Enterprise Systems instantly become available to your enterprise and are engineered to help you achieve mic drop Responsive UI frameworks! (See Adidas mic drop moment at Dreamforce 2017.) And this means for any and every User who interacts with your business. It positions you for a rapidly evolving future (e.g. you might notice that I have not even broached the subject of AI or IoT yet).

Hopefully, this helps change that collective “groan” to a “cheer” of excitement thinking about the possibilities afforded by a more flexible and powerful platform. To be sure, the work still needs to be done, but hopefully through a lens of anticipated expectations versus that of begrudging obligation.


In Conclusion:

The stark reality of growing User expectations in and of itself may suffice as justification for beginning the journey to Lightning – it certainly would for me. With that said, there are some detailed specifics that I can touch upon to help further this conversation and provide concrete reasons for migration without taking on the full blown Classic versus Lightning scope mentioned earlier in the blog. I will do that in Part 2 of this blog.



About Cameron:

Cameron Gilbertson has spent the past eight plus years formally implementing Salesforce.com solutions as an SI Consultant at Statera. Prior to that career shift, he had the opportunity to learn the craft of high end custom websites and ecommerce solution development leveraging content management systems and ecommerce platforms with his good friends at BlueBolt, LLC based out of Chicago who are still producing world class custom marketing and ecommerce websites today.