Salesforce.com’s Summer ‘13 release is just around the corner and SFDC has packed this release full of useful and value-adding enhancements. As a current consultant and a former administrator in the Salesforce space, I find myself taking note of some specific items in the Summer ‘13 release that are great additions to the platform.
Here’s a short list of some features that caught my eye (in no particular order):
1. Salesforce Communities
SFDC: “Salesforce Communities are public or private, branded spaces for your employees, customers, and partners to connect.”
One of the most significant components of the release is the General Availability of Salesforce Communities. As Communities come into play within Salesforce, Customer and Partner Portals will shift from focus. Existing Portals will continue to be available, but SFDC customers looking to set up new Portals, whether Customer or Partner, will set up Communities instead. Communities offers the existing functionality available within Portals; additionally, other key features, such as Chatter Answers, Ideas, Site.com Pages, and more, can be associated with Communities to provide a broad, holistic solution for partners or customers.
Details about Communities continue to emerge and we’ll bring those details forward in other posts as they’re made available.
2. Opportunity Splits
SFDC: “Opportunity Splits lets users split credit across opportunity team members. Multiple people working on an opportunity can roll their individual sales credits into quota and pipeline reports for the entire team.”
This is not a rare need among Salesforce customers. During a recent Sales Cloud implementation for an organization’s legal division in the Chicago area, EDL encountered a request to handle multiple contributions to one Opportunity. Opportunity Splits works hand-in-hand with Teams and allows for multiple Users to be recognized as contributors to a single Opportunity. Great feature that I think will be used frequently.
3. Fine-Grained Sharing for Report and Dashboard Folders
SFDC: “Users and administrators get more detailed control over access to folders that contain reports or dashboards.”
There are two elements of this feature: more granular permissions for report folders and the ability to share folders with Users, not just roles and groups. The first will allow for better control over your reports and related folders. You can separate those who can edit the reports and those who can manage the folders and the related permissions. The second is the part I am most excited about. Having a group or role for report access can work, but there are some obvious limitations. Let’s say you have a group or role containing Sales Executives. A report folder containing key executive reports is shared with them through that group or role. In addition, there’s one other User outside Sales who needs to have full access to the folder. You have a few options today: Create a new group or role, add the User to it, and share the folder with that group or role OR move the User into the existing Group or Role (that is for the Sales Execs). Neither scenario is ideal; the role isn’t correct and the group may have other report folders shared with it. By sharing the folder directly with Users, redundancy and maintenance are minimized.
4. Escalation Rules and Assignment Rules available in Change Sets
SFDC: “Auto-Response Rule, Escalation Rules, and Assignment Rules are now available in change sets.”
The ability to include escalation rules and assignment rules in change sets is a huge value to anyone responsible for the administration or implementation of Salesforce.com. Both types of rules can take extreme amounts of time to set up. Previously, if they were initially set up in a sandbox, 100% of the work to configure them in the Production org would have to be reproduced. That will no longer be the case. Do keep in mind that these are not supported in managed or unmanaged packages.
5. Owner Fields in Custom Formulas and Checkbox Formulas
SFDC: Owner Fields – “We’ve opened up the Owner lookup and made its fields available for cross-object formulas.” Checkbox Formulas – “Returns a true or false value. The field appears as a checkbox in record detail pages and reports. Use True for checked values and False for unchecked values.”
The ability to access the Owner (User) and its related fields in a cross-object formula is not trivial; it will save time and effort for many users. Additionally, the checkbox formula is a great idea. Although a formula of a different type can be used today to achieve the same result (e.g., setting a text formula to “True” or “False”), it’s not a true boolean and requires some assumptions in the formula details. This will be helpful.
6. Developer Console UI Redesign
SFDC: ” The Developer Console user interface has been completely redesigned in the Summer ’13 release. The new UI is more flexible and easier to use.”
Looking forward to this. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the current developer console. “Flexible” and “easier to use” are welcome adjectives for the upcoming change.
7. Apex Code Completion
SFDC: “The Source Code Editor in the Developer Console now provides autocomplete for Apex code. Completions are provided for Apex system objects and methods, user-defined objects and methods, and sObjects and fields.”
Time will tell how heavily this feature is adopted. However, even if it’s not widely used, I think it will be extremely helpful for some individuals. For advanced developers, it will likely not be a key feature, but will at least provide the opportunity for immediate validation. For beginning developers or non-developers making the foray into Apex, this could be instrumental in providing a structure for Apex code development.
8. Data Import Wizard (Pilot)
SFDC: “The Data Import Wizard provides a unified interface that lets you import a number of standard Salesforce objects, including accounts, contacts, leads, and solutions. The wizard also lets you import custom objects.”
Breakthrough functionality. The ability to import custom objects via the UI will be welcomed with open arms by many organizations using Salesforce. For routine or minor import tasks, this should allow for imports without using Data Loader. Not GA yet, only available via a pilot program.
9. Custom State and Country Picklists (Beta)
SFDC: “State and country picklists allow users to select states and countries from predefined, standardized lists, instead of entering state and country data into text fields. State and country picklists allow for faster and easier data entry and help to ensure cleaner data that can be leveraged for other uses—in reports and dashboards, for example—with more dependable results”
This has been a longstanding action item for Salesforce and it’s great to finally see this being rolled out. I have seen first-hand what can happen without strict management of the current (text) state and country fields and it’s not good. The picklist idea is a no-brainer for these address fields.
There are a number of other notable enhancements in the Summer ‘13 release. The full release notes are available here.
Summer ‘13 will be released between June 8th and June 15th for the majority of Production orgs; those orgs on NA1 will see the updates on May 18. Here is the complete release schedule.
What features are you most excited about? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or let me know on Twitter (@PhilWeinmeister).
Responsive design is both an approach and a set of technologies utilized to construct mobile websites that “respond” to the capabilities of the device rendering the site. Properly executed it can seem almost magical in its ability to render the intended user experience customized for the device at hand all in HTML.
Having just completed the Responsive Design effort for our CloudCraze eCommerce product, my own impression is that responsive design can be any one of the following: a hack, a panacea, or something in between. In addition, I’m convinced that some customer will love what we’ve put together, and some will find it completely inadequate for their needs.
Responsive design can be a hack if it is approached as technology without any regard for User Experience (UX) design. Our first cut looked horrible, but expectations were low prior to getting designers engaged. It’s relatively easy to implement Responsive Design at a technical level with tools like Bootstrap and Handle Bars. The hard part comes in internalizing use-cases and making the tough choices of what stays and what goes when you slim down on screen real-estate and tailor the UX for the target device footprint.
What we’ve also learned is that Responsive Design is not a destination but a journey. Like your website, your design is never finished, the user experience for each customer implementation of a product will vary and design assumptions will be continually challenged.
Responsive design pre-supposes an HTML-Centric approach to constructing mobile websites vs. coding to native operating systems of IOS, Android or whatever Microsoft is calling a mobile OS these days. Native applications will always have the upper hand in UX flexibility and customization but the short straw on maintenance and cost.
Mobility heightens the importance of design because of the constraints involved. I’ve read that the reason Apple makes such great products is that they know exactly what to leave out vs. what to add-in. The user experience on the original iPOD: incredibly simple. The same is true of the best responsive designs.
If you watched the most recent Grammy awards you might have noticed a new breed of musical artists winning awards this year. These artists are working in a genre sometimes referred to as EDM – Electronic Dance Music. Artists like Skrillex exemplify a breed of artists that are not traditional musicians but most closely resemble DJ’s. Often this music falls into the category of techno, music that does not necessarily require traditional instruments but is really more of an electronic crafting of music through a combination of existing components.
Similarly, the advent of Software as a Service (Saas) in the Cloud has enabled a new class of business automation driven by a component mindset. Instead of requiring programmers, the configuration of SaaS components is accomplished largely by techno-functional analysts – DJs vs. Musicians.
This new breed of analyst is a hybrid of traditional business-process functional acumen, combined with a high level of technical proficiency. These techno-functional individuals do not possess a proficiency in traditional programming…rather they excel in configuring existing frameworks and functional capabilities to construct an experience that customers and end-users can dance to.
Tools like Salesforce.com and Workday are best implemented by these techno-functional analysts that are currently the rave of Corporate IT. These analysts can guide requirements conversation towards the strengths of the particular tool they are working with, and can build a user experience on the fly in a rhythm with constituents that is immediately responsive to changes on the dance floor.
Historically, university degrees in information science best prepared professionals for this challenge. Foundationally, this is still true. However, a truly effective techno-functional analyst is by definition a specialist in a specific SaaS tool. Currently the development of this specialization is possible only on the job. This is due to the fact that SaaS tools evolve at a much faster rate than university curriculums. The net effect is a severe shortage of highly qualified techno-functional analysts that can improvise to meet the needs of their constituency like the best DJs.
Clearly, we need more Skillex’s in the IT world. If you’re someone wondering what your next big career move should be, I’m convinced that the future of business processes automation is moving to the rhythm of the techno-functional beat.
Nothing happens overnight in corporate America. The lifecycle of mission-critical applications can easily extend to 5 and even 10 years. For this reason, even highly compelling technology can take years before it is adopted into mainstream corporate America.
SaaS has had over a decade to prove out and reach the mainstream. Meanwhile Enterprise Cloud – as represented by platforms like Force.Com and Amazon EC2 –has only recently passed its 5 year milestone.
Hence, it is now that true acceleration of Enterprise Cloud adoption will take place. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Life-cycle Upgrades. The previously noted upgrade cycles are forcing the Enterprise to rationalize current costs. Legacy applications built “pre-cloud” (prior to 2007) are nearing the end of their life-cycles. Traditional software stacks can be prohibitively expensive to maintain, prone to high downtime rates and difficult to modify. How do you rationalize this cost and inflexibility in light of compelling cloud alternatives?
2. Compressed business cycles and business model disruption. You don’t have to look far for examples of businesses that have have been disrupted by the internet – CircuitCity, Blockbuster, Borders Books – are poster-children of the age of disruption. Business models are under siege in nearly every industry – Education, retail, manufacturing, high-tech, telco. This disruption is leading to new opportunities for innovation, and Enterprise Cloud is capable enabling this innovation in far more economical terms.
3. Reduced Risk. In spite of some recent high-profile outages at Amazon, Enterprise Cloud has proven to be remarkably reliable. The high cost of risk mitigation in the corporate data center – redundancy, disaster recovery, security, monitoring, load balancing – are causing corporation to re-asses who should bear the risk of an outage: A third party hosting expert or an internal team.
4. ”Cloud Acquiescence” of Legacy Software Vendors. SAP, Oracle and Microsoft looked the other way for years while salesforce.com and Amazon established beachheads in Enterprise Cloud. Now, through their billion-dollar acquisitions, legacy vendors have emblazoned the imperative of the Cloud phenomenon on the psyche of investors, employees, partners and customers.
5. Compelling success stories. The cat is out of the bag and the success stories of Cloud adoption undeniable. All trends need proof-points to sustain themselves and we are at a stage of incontrovertible evidence.
An honorable mention: another reason Cloud is on the uptick is that it is simply more fun. Seriously. Cloud can be an incredibly liberating place to be for technology professionals. Freed from the constraints of physical infrastructure, IT professionals can focus on partnering with business stakeholders in order deliver true business value. With Enterprise Cloud, IT departments can now evolve from focusing 90% of their attention on maintenance to becoming value-added partners. How cool is that?
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I have been in the technology business since the fax machine revolutionized business and the Pet Shop Boys dominated the dance floor. In the ensuing years, I have attended countless trade-shows, conferences and technology events. Few, if any of these, could rival the enthusiasm and energy consistently on exhibit at salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference. Marc Benioff seems to always find a way to magically combine the passion of a Baptist preacher with a singular technology vision just slightly ahead of its time for a truly compelling keynote. Additional keynote speakers up the ante year-over-year for thought-provoking insights.
Personally what I like most about the conference is that each year real risks are taken with speakers and content, and yet somehow it all comes together magnificently. You can read about the lineup in advance, but Dreamforce is never predictable. The leader in cloud computing assembles the essential ingredients that combines into an alchemy that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
EDL will be exhibiting its own brand of CloudCraze alchemy at this year’s Dreamforce in Booth #408. Hope to see you there!
When embarking on any new initiative, the importance of vision cannot be understated.
One of my favorite questions for an initial client call is to ask the project sponsor “what’s your vision for the future-state”? Starting with the end vision in mind and then working backwards to identify all those things that need to come together to achieve the vision is important in order to ensure you are pointed in the right direction from the start.
The grander the vision, the more dependencies and the greater the complexity of the solution. Achieving your vision will most often require distinct technical elements to blend into a holistic solution.
Given our work at EDL Consulting is primarily in the front office domain of our clients, the vision that is most commonly articulated by clients describes an end-state where customers seamlessly and faithfully interact with our clients to buy goods and services. A sort of “Customer Gestalt”, if you will.
I view our role as enablers for our clients’ vision. We achieve this by weaving together distinct technical elements to achieve a whole that is far greater than the sum of the parts: 1+1=3.
In many cases, weaving together best-in-class front-office platforms like BigMachines and salesforce.com enables our clients to achieve a “Customer Gestalt” that supercedes the typical vagaries of complex quoting, configuration and CRM. And, a well integrated eCommerce solution can achieve even greater customer affinity-a unified whole solution.
What’s your vision for Customer Gestalt? Come see us at Dreamforce 2012, September 18-21 in San Francisco and we can discuss how to make your vision into reality. Hope to see you there!
A Holistic Solution for Meaningful and Profitable Customer Relationships
Falling short of customer expectations can be fatal. Once iconic businesses like Polaroid, Yellow Pages, Border’s, Circuit City, Pontiac, and Blockbuster have ceased to exist. There are no doubt widely varying factors that contributed to their ultimate disappearance. But some may have fallen prey to what digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist Brian Solis calls “Digital Darwinism” in his book The End Of Business As Usual. How well did these companies keep pace with customer relationship expectations?
At EDL Consulting, we take a unique point-of-view on customer relationships that we call “Engagement-to-Cash.” It’s a process that allows businesses to turn the liability of disjointed customer relationships into integrated, holistic customer interactions.
Engagement-to-Cash is deliberately represented as a cyclical process as opposed to a linear one. Each phase is interdependent, and if managed properly, the cycle will renew based on your customers’ willingness to repeat it. Your customers will grow your business over time if they continue to derive value from their relationship with you.
EDL Consulting was founded in 2001 with a perspective that businesses operate more efficiently and effectively when marketing, sales, commerce, and customer service functions (the “front office” or “customer facing” functions) work together holistically.
The Internet, the acceptance of cloud computing, as well as mobile, social, and real-time communications have radically accelerated the transformation of what is possible and what is necessary for Engagement-to-Cash. The rules of the customer relationship have changed profoundly. If you are still managing these core business functions as you did even 3-4 years ago, you are behind the curve.
Taking this holistic point of view enables our clients to maximize performance by increasing engagement and customer satisfaction, increasing revenues and customer lifetime value, and trimming customer acquisition and retention costs across multiple disciplines.
There are several key enablers of these results:
- Cloud Computing – Businesses can now pivot with more agility than ever before with flexible and scalable IT infrastructures and applications, no longer tied to the “digital concrete” of heavy, on-premise systems.
- Social Media – There is more meaningful customer information and interaction for businesses to leverage than ever before. By joining social conversations, companies can engage customers with meaningful, value-add content.
- A Unified Customer Database – The holistic Engagement-to-Cash cycle represents technology as well as process. A world-class, integrated Force.com framework is delivering on the CRM promise of “one version of the truth.”
A new technology paradigm
Viewing the front office in this way frustrates traditional point solution technology vendors, whose products typically apply to a distinct piece of the total solution such as marketing automation, social media, ecommerce, or customer service, and whose products therefore fail to address the inherent interdependencies of a holistic business cycle.
There are two flaws with a point-solution approach.
The Silo Effect: For example, an eCommerce solution may include a powerful new system, but because the vendor focuses only on the eCommerce component, the new system will most likely involve a disparate customer database than exists within the enterprise CRM system, bringing the implied added costs of maintaining, developing, and integrating two source systems.
The Hammer Looking for a Nail: This is a fundamental distinction between Engagement-to-Cash and traditional point solution philosophies. The holistic approach is not limited to a one-size-fits-all answer. It ensures that you bring forward what you need, not what they have.
In sharp contrast, through our strategic alignment with salesforce.com and BigMachines, EDL Consulting has found technology partners that complement our Engagement-to-Cash philosophy. Salesforce and BigMachines provide a state of the art, cloud-based platform and flexible, software-as-a-service continuum along which our customers can begin where they prefer and then evolve as they prefer, moving in a modular fashion to optimize their Engagement-to-Cash cycle, regardless of where they start the journey and where they are headed. Each of the phases of the Engagement-to-Cash cycle can be addressed by these technologies.
Phases of Engagement to Cash
EDL organizes the Engagement to Cash process into eight distinct phases which are represented in this graphic and explained in greater detail on the following page:
Foster Customer Intimacy
Customers are talking about your company. The only question is, are you participating in the conversation? EDL helps to ensure that you have the systems and processes in place to join in. EDL can enable your organization with best practices for planning and internalizing best practices in engagement through social media, as well as best-in-breed tools like Radian6 from salesforce.com to help you enhance customer engagement. This engagement continues throughout the Engagement-to-Cash Cycle as a thread of each phase.
Turn Targets Into Leads
There are a variety of channels you can use to communicate with your customers – your website, social media, marketing, field sales, campaigns, events, etc. How do you fill your funnel and turn targets into prospects and leads? EDL leverages the best in breed marketing functionality and campaign management of salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud to ensure you have a more focused and effective demand generation effort.
Close the Loop from Lead Creation to Qualification
It’s a question that keeps marketing and sales executives up at night – “Have we followed up on your leads?” EDL helps our customers put processes in place to close the loop from lead creation to qualification. How does your organization contact, qualify and promote leads to opportunities? This process helps create certainty that you’ve followed through on your important investment in leads by leveraging best practices in salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud lead management functionality.
Track and Prioritize Sales Activity and Qualification
Now that you’ve created the opportunities, you’re trying to allocate your company’s finite resources to the most appropriate opportunities to maximize customer satisfaction and revenue. We help you to ensure you have the process and systems in place to effectively track and prioritize sales activity and qualification through the sales pipeline. EDL leverages salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud to enable measurement and proper management your pursuits.
Fast and Accurate Configuration, Pricing, and Quoting
The importance of getting quick, accurate estimates and proposals to your customers can be the difference between winning and losing business. EDL excels at implementation of both the basic product pricing in saleforce.com, and the more robust configuration, pricing, and quoting (CPQ) solutions of BigMachines, the best-in-breed software CPQ solution in the salesforce.com ecosystem.
Enterprise-class B2B/B2C Cross-Channel eCommerce Product
EDL brings deep experience in resolving and simplifying the complexities of developing and maintaining effective eCommerce systems.
With over ten years of experience improving online tractions, we bring the domain expertise to address your eCommerce needs.
We have packaged all that knowledge in a best in breed product called CloudCraze developed natively on saleforce.com’s Force.com platform.
Improve Operational Efficiencies for Higher Customer Satisfaction
The order management process results in a faster path to improved operational efficiencies and higher customer satisfaction. Depending on your business model, there is/are? a myriad of ways to fulfill an order – download, shipping, integrate with your existing systems. EDL can provide the integration experience to connect your eCommerce system with your back office systems.
Create Long-Term Customer Relationships with Repeat Transactions
Your customer interaction will either lead to a “once and done” transaction, or a long-term relationship. EDL can help enable your organization with the processes and tools to move to long-term relationships with repeat transactions. Each of your interactions is a precious opportunity to further customer engagement. Your customers are demanding more and better service. EDL can help you provide a more holistic experience across all channels‹from the contact center to customer social networks by implementing saleforce.com’s Service Cloud. Continued follow up and nurturing of relationship helps guide the conversation from problem resolution to new sales opportunities.
Let’s Get Started…
Engagement-to-Cash is a fresh perspective, one that leverages decades of technology and business experience into a holistic solution approach, helping companies forge deeper and more successful customer relationships with systems that integrate cleanly among your customer relationship processes.
We would be delighted to discuss your business objectives for the coming year, the ways in which your organization currently handles the Engagement-to-Cash Cycle, the many benefits that our customers are realizing by changing the game – and you can too.
Contact us today:
I’m happy to say that all these years of tilting at windmills, trying to get folks to think holistically about eCommerce with respect to front-office CRM are beginning to pay off. In a recent Gartner report cited in a terrific software blog by Louis Columbus, he cites Gartner giving equal heft to eCommerce priorities relative to Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.
Obviously, right? eCommerce systems are a means to monetize the Social Enterprise, one of the tangible metrics for measuring positive customer engagement that is the nexus of front-office CRM. The bottom line for “Likes”.
Succeeding as a Social Enterprise means thinking holistically about eCommerce beyond traditional marketing, sales and service functional boundaries because functionally oriented “inside-out” approaches to CRM can undermine holistic benefits. An “outside-in” approach that starts with the Customer, anticipates their needs and sets up a framework for response is far more likely to drive positive customer engagement. Driving more eCommerce transactions should be one of the goals for this engagement, and a logical way to measure CRM success in the Social Enterprise.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a recent web design trend that is an evolution of an older concept. In the early days of the web, sites were typically designed for specific monitor sizes and resolutions. As monitors became larger and less expensive designers had to contend with leveraging the extra available page real estate while still maintaining an appealing experience for customers with smaller monitors. Designers often accomplished this through fluid layouts, in other words, the site would expand to accommodate the available screen resolution. Fast forward 10+ years and the popularity and opportunity of the mobile enabled customer now has designers dealing with the opposite problem. Web sites that have been steadily expanded to accommodate larger screen space are not as able to effectively service the customer browsing the site on a smart phone or tablet.
The challenge is how to provide a streamlined experience for the mobile customer while maintaining the essential essence of the online experience. The standard approach for the past few years has been to split the mobile experience into a separate web site, i.e. provide www.edlconsulting.com for the normal browser based user and mobile.edlconsulting.com for the mobile user. While this approach has been successful one criticism has been that it doubles the resources needed to maintain a web presence. Even changes that are as simple as switching to a new logo require the change to be done twice and tested twice. If done properly maintenance between the two sites (web and mobile) can be significantly reduced, for example, by sharing content between the sites, but the fact remains that there are still two separate sites.
Responsive Web Design combines up front usability decisions along with specific implementation techniques with the goal to provide a single web site that services screen sizes from the largest cinema capable display down to the smallest smart-phone; a single set of HTML pages. A customer browsing the site from home goes to the same web address and is served the same HTML pages as the customer browsing the site on a smart-phone while commuting home on the train. The difference between the two experiences is driven by the CSS that is used to style the pages. The ideal is that long term maintenance costs are reduced because there is now a single web site to develop, maintain and test.
E-Commerce adds a layer of complexity to this ideal. An e-Commerce Responsive Web Design approach needs to be concerned not only with presenting content and branding for a range of screen sizes but must also take customer interactivity into account. E-Commerce buy-flows may vary widely depending on particular industry requirements. Implementing a RWD driven site according to these requirements can be an arduous process if not done carefully and from the correct perspective. Traditional web design typically starts from the richest level of experience, the browser on a desktop, and then considers smaller form-factors after this first design is done. Often these initial designs fail to translate effectively into the mobile space where speed and simplicity are king.
A new perspective has emerged that reverses this traditional approach. Instead of starting with the desktop browser the design and implementation are first completed for the mobile platform. Taking this approach, called Mobile First Design, forces the design to be streamlined as much as possible. The site, brand, and buy-flows must all be distilled into essential elements so that they make sense on a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Not only does this simplify the visual aspect of the design but it provides a chance to rethink what is core to the e-Commerce experience. Once mobile site is complete then development moves up to the next larger form, the tablet. Additional features, richer graphics, and more content can all be added at this point while maintaining the original distilled design. Finally, the site is implemented for the browser with the additional screen real-estate, functionality, and processing power that the desktop platform can provide.