I recently sat down with John Richter, Sr. Manager for ISV Success and the coordinator for the ISV Success Track at Dreamforce to discuss some of the exciting sessions being planned for ISV and channel partners at Dreamforce ’13.

We know Dreamforce is focused on customer success and the customer experience, but are there sessions designed specifically for partners at Dreamforce ’13?
Absolutely!  For us, partners are also customers and this year partners coming to Dreamforce ’13 have a wealth of options to learn not only about building apps, but about building their businesses as well.  It all starts with the AppExchange Partner Keynote at 9am on Monday (Nov. 18), where partners can kickoff the week by hearing directly from industry experts and our program leaders.  There is a great blog post by Sara Varni for more on the keynote.

Next come the sessions.  The ISV Success track has been expanded this year to include more core training, as well as new technical deep dives.  We are introducing ‘Emerging Technology’ sessions to drive innovation within the partner ecosystem. There is a brand new track for entrepreneurs – with ISV-specific content featured in our Founders Forum – to inspire a new generation of enterprise leaders.  And ‘Partner User Group’ sessions represent best practices that have emerged organically from our partner community.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of options.  Is there any sort of list or guide for partners to reference when enrolling and attending sessions?
Yes, given the sheer number of choices, we have tried to curate the best of the best for partners by producing the DF13 Partner Session Guide.  This guide lists recommended sessions by role and groups.  There is something for everyone at Dreamforce this year, and we want to make sure partners make the most of their experience.  To direct others to the guide, use http://p.force.com/df13sessions.

What are some of the “cool” sessions this year?
The list is just too long, so I would say check out the guide first!  But there are a couple of technical sessions put together by our Technical Evangelist team on my radar that I’m really excited about.  For example, “Interoperability: Combine Forces to Increase Your Opportunities.”  The title is a mouthful, but basically for the first time you will hear from partners on how they have been able to incorporate other apps into their overall solution to create even greater business opportunities.

Another example, “Manage Your Business with ISV Platform Technologies and the ISV Business Org.” This is a session that we have wanted to do for a long time, where we show you best practices for automating your business processes using key ISVforce technologies like Trialforce, Channel Order App, License Management App, Support Console, as well as the ISV Business Org. This should be a must-see, even for experienced partners.

Explain ‘Emerging Technology’ sessions. Are those new?
Yes, we are often asked by partners to explain how they can leverage some of our newer technologies to drive their own innovation.  So our partner business development group put together a series of sessions focusing on how new technologies like Work.com, Communities, Service Cloud, Heroku, and others can open the door to entirely new markets for our partner ecosystem.  In the Dreamforce App you can search for ‘Emerging Technology’ or again, just check the guide under ISV Business Development.

There is also a new track for entrepreneurs, right?
Yes, the Founders Forum track is for anyone starting a business or even thinking about starting a business.  And it is not limited to only those building commercial apps.  Many of the startup principles and best practices apply to any business.  Forbes has ranked salesforce.com as the World’s Most Innovative Company for three years in a row.  We believe this achievement includes the innovation that is being driven by our partner community, not just through technical features and functionality, but through a thriving ecosystem of business success.  We want to bring some of those business best practices to the broader community. There is a great blog post from Mike Kreaden about the Founders Forum Track.

I see a lot of ‘Partner User Group’ sessions.  What are those?
These sessions are great opportunities for our partners to learn from each other because they are delivered BY partners, FOR partners.  Why reinvent the wheel?  We have Partner User Groups forming around the world, where partners gather with each other to discuss best practices.   This summer we had a Call for Papers to cultivate the “best of the best” ideas and solutions that partners can apply right away to their own situations.  Mike Kreaden also talks about the Partner User Groups in his blog post. There is a section in the guide that lists these sessions, and you can learn more about forming a Partner User Group in your area on the Partner Portal at http://p.force.com/pug.

Will there be an APP Academy at Dreamforce?
Yes, our APP Academy (where APP = AppExchange Partner Program) is free training that consists of modules from five phases of the partner lifecycle: Plan, Build, Distribute, Sell (& Market), and Support.  It is not just about building your app, but building your business as well.  If you are new partner this is an absolute must to attend, starting with our APP Academy kickoff session on Monday (November 18) at 11:00am Pacific!  We offer virtual classrooms each month, but at Dreamforce you get expanded training with live experts. The guide contains the breakdown of sessions that comprise the full APP Academy, including other recommended sessions.  I have also written a blog post with more details about the APP Academy. If you are an ISV or channel partner currently, you can take the APP Academy (Online version) at http://p.force.com/appacademy.

What about Hands-On Training?
As always, there will be many Hands-On Training sessions at Dreamforce.  Just as the name implies, these sessions are truly hands-on, so get ready to work!  These instructor-led sessions give attendees plenty of chances to get up close and personal with our technologies.  We have recommended several technical Hands-On Training sessions in our guide.

Are there sessions where customers can learn more about AppExchange apps?
Yes, we have a full time AppExchange curator who does nothing but eat, drink, and sleep enterprise apps!  You can see her fly through 30 apps in the AppExchange Fast & Furious session, but she has also put together an amazing array of AppExchange sessions, focusing on apps for Admins, Back Office, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Marketing, Mobile, and more.  There is even one session devoted entirely to the best Free Apps that customers can install and deploy immediately.  We list these sessions in the guide.  Remember, this content is designed for customers, though partners are always welcome to attend.

Where will partner sessions be held?
Most ISV Success sessions are located in Moscone West, on the third floor, adjacent to our AppExchange Partner Zone.  However, we have other sessions located across the campus, so be sure to check the Dreamforce App for the correct locations and times.

For those who cannot make it to Dreamforce (or are busy meeting with customers), will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, most sessions are recorded.  It sometimes takes a few weeks for the recordings to be posted to YouTube, but when they become available you will find the full list of all our partner sessions at http://p.force.com/dreamforce (portal login required).

Are there any webinars or events partners should tune in for to get ready for Dreamforce?
If you want a preview of what’s in store for partners at Dreamforce, join our special ISV Roadmap Webinar: Dreamforce Preview (must be an ISV partner, register with the portal link) on November 7 at 9am PT.

In addition, Salesforce Live has a weekly series with many interesting guests on the Road to Dreamforce.  For example, you can see Ravi Belani (Managing Director, Alchemist Accelerator) discuss the new Entrepreneur Track, while our Developer Marketing Team details the new $1 million Hackathon competition that was recently announced. Don’t worry if you miss an episode, you can view all of the archived sessions here.

I’m sorry, did you just say a $1 million Hackathon at Dreamforce? So someone could actually build an app at Dreamforce and win a million dollars?
Yes, someone WILL build an app at Dreamforce and make a million dollars!  And who has more experience building killer apps than our ISV partners? Are you listening out there, ISVs?!

OK, now for the most important question, will there be early (Thursday) morning sessions after the AppBash on Wednesday night?
[Laugh] No, not this year.  We have learned our lesson, partners! No ISV Success sessions on Thursday morning, just to give you guys a little extra sleep (if you plan on sleeping, that is!)

Where can partners go to get more information about the ISV sessions this year?
OK, Here is the breakdown of all of the links & resources:
Dreamforce App – has all of the current times and locations (search for sessions)
DF13 Partner Session Guide – a list of all of the recommended partner sessions
Dreamforce for Partners – other important links for partners (portal login required)

We’ll see you all starting with the AppExchange Partner Keynote at 9am PT on Monday morning (Nov. 18) in the Gateway Ballroom!

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