Lars Malmqvist is the author of Architecting AI Solutions on Salesforce ; we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.
Q: What are your specialist tech areas?
Lars: Salesforce, AWS, Enterprise Architecture, Digital Architecture.
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Lars: After completing my CTA in December 2020, I spent a few weeks looking for the next big thing I could do to further my professional development. I had always wanted to write a technical book, but never managed to get far enough to actually submit a book proposal. For the past five years or so, I’ve been heavily focusing on cloud-based AI solutions and I knew there had to be a book in there somewhere. I brainstormed a number of ideas, but actually the simplest idea turned out to be the best: a general introduction to architecting AI solutions on Salesforce. To be honest, I was surprised to find that one didn’t exist already, so when that was clear from the research, I knew what to go with. I wrote a pitch, submitted to Packt, and after about a month of bouncing the book proposal back and forth, we signed the contract.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Lars: This is an area that I have been focusing on both educationally, as part of a PhD, and professionally for the past five years. In that sense, the book has had a long incubation period. The specific research for the book was quite brief as I knew the topic very well. I spent about a month looking at other similar books and brushing up on areas where I wasn’t up to date.
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Lars: It is, of course, immensely difficult managing your time between work, study, family, and other commitments, when you are writing a book. Things always take longer than you hope. Initially, I tried various ways of scheduling dedicated time during the week for writing. When that turned out not to be quite enough, I put a note counting down the number of words remaining as the first and largest component on the screen of my phone. That way I could always see how much remained and how I was progressing against my target dates at a glance. That was enough to motivate me to find the extra hours needed.
Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Lars: AI in CRM systems are in my opinion still in its infancy. We are likely to see explosive growth in this area as the technology and use cases mature. Salesforce Einstein is right now treated as a bit of a novelty feature by many organizations, despite the large investment Salesforce is making in it. That will change. I believe it will become a core part of the platform in just a few years time.
Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Lars: There isn’t really any book like this in the market. That’s why I jumped on the opportunity to write it.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with ?
Lars: That there is real value in adopting Einstein features today. That you have a comprehensive set of AI options at your disposal with Salesforce to meet business needs. That, as an architect, you need to learn a different style of architecture to effectively integrate AI solutions in your environment, but that this comes with great potential for improving the solutions you can offer to your business users.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
Lars: Do the practical work. Even if your job isn’t primarily hands-on, get enough hands-on exposure to know how things work in practice. Technology is often straightforward in theory and messy in practice.
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Lars: No, but I post on LinkedIn.
Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning? Lars: SalesforceBen, Automation Champion, Apex Hours are all good.
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors? Lars: Packt have a very structured process for working with authors. You have to define things quite clearly up front and they will chase you relentlessly to meet your deadlines. If you are considering writing a book as a fun side project, this may not work well for you. If you want to get your book published in a reasonable timeline, it may work quite well.
Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Lars: MIT Technology Review and the Economist Technology Quarterly for general trends. Blogs for Salesforce updates. Arxiv and the major conference proceedings (e.g. IJCAI) for AI.
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book ?
Lars: Scheduled slots for writing plus a word target counter that I kept large and visible on my phone.
Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Lars: Write something, then edit. Having something on the page, even if it is not very good is much better than having nothing.