Salesforce launched Trailhead in 2014 to empower anyone, from any walk of life, to skill up for the future of work. Since then, more than 2.2M Trailblazers have used the free online learning platform to learn the skills necessary to transform their careers.
Today Salesforce is announcing Einstein Recommendations for Trailhead, bringing AI-powered learning to Trailhead for the first time. COVID-19’s rapid acceleration of digital transformation has disrupted the workforce and made reskilling an imperative. Einstein Recommendations makes it easier for anyone to learn skills for the jobs of the future by providing accessible, personalized learning pathways.
We sat down with Sandeep Bhanot, SVP of Trailhead Product at Salesforce, and Tony Pizza, Senior Director of Product Management, ahead of TrailheaDX to discuss the news.
What are you introducing with Einstein Recommendations for Trailhead?
Sandeep: We’re excited to announce that Trailhead is now more personalized and intelligent than ever before with Einstein Recommendations for Trailhead.
We’re embedding Salesforce’s industry-leading AI, Einstein, into Trailhead to offer a tailored learning experience for every learner. Now when you log onto your Trailhead homepage or complete a badge – either on your desktop or in our mobile app, Trailhead GO – you’re presented with Einstein-powered recommendations that guide you towards new badges and skills mapped to your learning goals. These are highly personalized based on your role, previous learning activity and career aspirations.
Tony: It’s all about personalization. The goal is to deeply understand the unique learning needs of each person. From there, learners will not only receive recommendations based on their own journeys, but will receive additional recommendations based on others who have expressed similar interests.
What makes this an important innovation?
Sandeep: The digital transformation imperative has gone from a sometimes-have use case to a must-have. What customers thought they had to do in three to five years now has to happen in three to five months – or, in extreme cases, a matter of days.
But that’s just half of this story. In the wake of COVID-19, there’s a massive economic crisis and workforce displacement happening worldwide – not only in the U.S., where almost 40 million people are unemployed. With this backdrop, there’s a lot of value in learning new marketable skills for today’s all-digital, work-from-anywhere world. Trailhead has always been committed to providing anyone with free access to reskilling, and we believe that’s one of the most important things our company could be focused on right now.
Trailhead has more than 800 badges and skills learners can choose from. There’s so much amazing content – whether it’s technical skills, soft skills, Salesforce skills or content from our partners like AWS or Google – that it can sometimes be challenging for a learner to know which badge or skill to acquire next. That’s why Einstein Recommendations is so valuable. It gives our Trailblazers a tailored learning path, based on exactly what they want to do and exactly where they want to grow.
Tony: Einstein Recommendations for Trailhead adds a layer of personalization at scale that would otherwise be impossible to manually achieve. Interestingly, people don’t always follow the learning paths you might think, similar to how a consumer’s buying behaviors might differ from what an online retailer might assume. This is a great example of the power of humans plus AI to achieve results that would otherwise be unimaginable.
What are the biggest benefits to learners?
Sandeep: Trailblazers now get a personalized, intelligent learning experience that’s customized to their specific career goals. And the best part is that, as a learner uses Trailhead, the more Einstein gleans about each learner’s interests, the more tailored the recommendations become. It really is like wine – it gets better as it ages!
Consumers today expect a high degree of customization. When we interact with sites like Amazon or Netflix, for example, we expect intelligent recommendations. What that means for our learners is that they expect a consumer-grade user experience when they engage with Trailhead. Our Einstein-powered AI provides that.
Tony: We believe a personalized learning experience is the best way to achieve goals and expand educational horizons. There is a large quantity of great content on Trailhead – Einstein Recommendations will guide users to the pieces that best support their learning objectives. It’s like having a personal curator, listening to your goals and directing seamlessly to the most relevant content. Recommendations are also a great way to expose a user to content they weren’t aware of but are highly relevant, such as complimentary skills and modules.
Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at what went into building Einstein into Trailhead?
Sandeep: We partnered with the Einstein team to create this new technology. Like every Trailhead innovation, we approached this with the vision of an optimized learning experience and worked our way backwards into the technology and how to build it. With Einstein Recommendations, we designed the ideal user experience, both on the desktop, as well as the mobile app. Then, of course, came the hard work to build the right AI models and supply them with the right data sets.
As we were doing this work, we were conscious of leading with our Salesforce values. Specifically, Trust and Equality were the two values we had the top-of-mind as we built this technology. To uphold trust, we made sure our recommendations could scale to the millions of learners that use Trailhead today. We also made sure this was fully compliant with regulations like GDPR. To uphold Equality, we worked with our Office of Ethical and Humane use to review our designs and the AI powering them to make sure there wasn’t unintentional bias in the algorithms.
Tony: We want to ensure this product gets smarter over time, so we’ll continue to listen to our learners and roll out new algorithms and features that add powerful neural networks, natural language processing and more to improve personalization capabilities.
You mentioned Equality is a core value at Salesforce. What role does Trailhead play in promoting Equality?
Sandeep: At Salesforce, we have always been committed to creating an inclusive future. As we navigate the new normal of work, our mission of democratizing education and providing an equal pathway into the tech industry, regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status, with Trailhead has never been more important.
We’re always looking for new ways to break down the barriers to learning, including cost and location, to make reskilling more accessible for all. But we also believe we have the responsibility to empower everyone to become an Equality Ally – which is why we’ve created content, like the Cultivate Equality at Work trail, to help anyone promote diversity and inclusion.
You talked about the new normal. How is Trailhead preparing people for the future of work?
Sandeep: Whether you’re looking to transform your career or reskill to help your company go digital fast, we’re focused on empowering everyone to succeed for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We’ve released new trails to help people navigate the future of work including how to Go Digital Fast and Develop a Virtual Business Strategy since so many of us are selling, developing and marketing from home. We’ve also launched the Reopen Safely with Work.com trail to guide companies as they move toward the reopen phase.
We also created a new career page on Trailhead to help people better understand contact tracing, which will be one of the most important (and likely marketable) skills going forward. Contact tracing is a big part of our Work.com solutions for companies to safely reopen. Trailhead also has curated content from sources like the CDC to educate people on contact tracing and empower them to get jobs in this new space.
With myTrailhead, you’re enabling businesses to quickly skill up their entire organization.
What are some of the advancements you’ve made to the myTrailhead Learning Experience Platform?
Sandeep: We’ve had incredible momentum with myTrailhead for Employees this year and we’re excited to announce In-App Walkthroughs. Now, myTrailhead customers can create multi-step learning journeys as a part of our In-App Guidance feature set. This helps supercharge employee learning, right in the flow of work. In-App Walkthroughs are created easily with clicks, providing contextually relevant learning to Salesforce users.
We’re also making it easier for organizations to skill up all their employees, regardless of whether they use Salesforce, by including Identity for Employees in myTrailhead for Employees at no additional cost.
What other Trailhead innovations did you announce at TrailheaDX this year?
Sandeep: We have an abundance of new Trailhead features and learning content to empower everyone to learn new skills for the future of work.
We’re excited to release Customer 360 Guides, a set of trusted blueprints and best practices to help companies understand how to achieve a Customer 360 for their business – built on the successes of other Trailblazers.
We’ve added Daily Reminders to Trailhead GO, our free mobile app, to encourage learners to dive into learning on the app with daily notifications.
With Trailhead LIVE, we’ve reinvented the classroom experience by bringing live-streamed and on-demand expert-led videos to learners at home. With our debut of Subscriptions, Trailblazers can now add upcoming LIVE sessions directly to their calendars, including from the Trailhead GO app.
Finally, we have new content for Architects, Developers, and Admins coming soon to empower all career paths with the tools they need to skill up for the future. Included in this release is a new way to learn collaboratively with Trailhead LIVE: Trail Together: Skill Building Series. In this series, experts guide learners through project units, offer hands-on help in the Trailhead playground and answer questions with real-time interaction.