Tackling the plastic crisis with technology: Reflecting on Surf Force 2018

Michelle Brannan

September 06, 2018

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A few weeks ago, Cyrille Gardeur (Senior Solutions Engineer - Team Lead in EMEA Sales) and I had the chance to get involved in one of the most interesting and worthwhile events organised by the Salesforce Community. Surf Force is an annual networking event with empowering content and guided activities. The event consists of three main parts:

  • Surfing and learning to surf together in the ocean
  • A beach cleanup where the types of trash are logged for worldwide research
  • Educational sessions with inspirational experts

Ultimately, Salesforce organizes Surf Force with the belief that the people in the Salesforce community can help to change our oceans’ ecosystems for the better, through understanding changes in our behaviors and how we can leverage new technologies to sustain those changes.  

On the Beach

Surf Force 2018 was held in Newquay, Cornwall, UK at the Hotel Victoria. When we first arrived, we collected our swag bag, which was full of goodies like a Trailblazer water bottle, Surf Force 2018 t-shirt, and bamboo toothbrushes. We then headed down to the beach to get on with arguably the most important part of the weekend: the big beach clean. Cyrille and I collected an astonishing amount of rubbish, after taking a different approach to the other cleaners and asking people up and down the beach to give us their rubbish. Feeling virtuous and energized, it was then time for our surf lessons. We spent two hours in the chilly Newquay water, and after a lesson on how to stand up on a surfboard, I managed to get onto my knees, which was my personal best. Cyrille, on the other hand, wasn’t so fortunate!

An Evening with the Environment

After the surfing portion of the event, we regrouped for the evening and the first set of speakers.  The table plan was a good mix of partners, customers and environmentalists. I was seated with Shaun Holmes (Organiser), Carl Dempsey (Salesforce Vice President, Solution Engineering, EMEA) and Hugo Tagholm (CEO of Surfers Against Sewage). Cyrille sat with Marcelle Braithwaite (Surf Force Organiser who is passionate about plastics), Sophie Hellyer (Women's Rights Activist and famed British surfer) and sales consultants from CloudShift and Lightful. While we greatly enjoyed the evening, the presentations reminded us of the event’s purpose, and highlighted the seriousness of the plastic crisis in our oceans. We viewed heartbreaking videos and upsetting photos that helped the crisis hit home. The environmentalist talks were truly inspiring, and were one of the biggest highlights of the event for both Cyrille and myself.

Learning on Day Two

The second day of Surf Force consisted of a great mix of talks from both Salesforce and environmentalist partners, covering a wealth of topics. To stay true to the event, several sessions focused on how we can leverage technology to help the environment. A few examples of these sessions included:

  • Sustainability: Inspiring Employees To Drive Positive Environmental Impact
    • Salesforce considers the environment to be one of their key stakeholders. This session explored how their employee green team, Earthforce, is dedicated to celebrating environmental responsibility at Salesforce, and provided attendees with small action items to try at work and home that can have a large, positive impact on the environment.
  • How To Reduce Costs And Help The Environment With FSL
    • Barry Roberts of Bluewolf presented how he uses Field Service Lightning (FSL) to improve both service and sale while benefiting the environment at the same time. He explained how the FSL app can help manage and reduce mileage and fuel consumption by identifying visits based on need and requirement rather than just random cold calling.   

The Environmental Power of Einstein

All of the key speakers were amazing, and we found valuable takeaways in each and every session. However, for me, the absolute highlight of the event was learning more about the Salesforce Platform “Einstein” and how it can be implemented to make a positive environmental impact. Before the event, I didn’t really know much about the platform, but the second day of the event provided detailed insight into the platform and how it works. Carl Dempsey and Charlie Isaacs of Salesforce gave an amazing overview in their session, “Using Einstein & the Salesforce Platform to Combat the Ocean’s ‘Wicked’ Problems.” Their team used a drone to scan the local beaches, then through image recognition the drone identified which of the beaches were clean and which were dirty. They then used Service Cloud to log cases and assign to organisers. Using Communities, they were able to then send a text to all local volunteers with the location code of the beach cleans. Responses were instantly logged on the organisers’ app in a matter of minutes. Using this platform, organisers and volunteers will be able to save an incredible amount of time while keeping their events organised and efficient. This session was a great insight into the advanced AI capabilities of the platform.

Going Green at Conga

I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time with Michaela Grill from Salesforce, who is the Earthforce leader based in London. With a combination of her input and my learnings from the sessions, I plan to collaborate with the whole Conga team to make significant changes to go greener and do what we can to help protect our oceans.   Michelle Brannan is a Conga Business Analyst in EMEA Customer Success

Michelle Brannan

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