The New Salesforce UI, Intelligence and Integrations Help Employees Get Work Done

September 21 2015 11:06:57 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Last week in San Francisco, Salesforce held their annual Dreamforce conference. This year's attendance was announced at 150,000 people... regardless of the accuracy of that number, it's safe to say the event is massive. With announcements of new product features (in Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud, Service Cloud), new partnerships and ecosystem expansion (Apps Cloud), and new platforms (IoT Cloud powered by Thunder) there is far too much news to cover in one post. Luckily, Salesforce does an excellent job at making video replays of the keynotes available, so you can catchup on anything you missed.  Also, at the end of this post I have provided links to several posts written by my colleagues that provide excellent analysis.

For this post, I've chosen to focus on the following three key announcements, and how they contribute to improving the way people get their jobs done.

1. The new Salesforce Lightning User Interface

2. SalesforceIQ for Small Business and SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud

3. Future Integrations With Microsoft Productivity Applications


Modernizing The Look, Improving The Usage

While Salesforce introduced several new features, perhaps the most significant announcement was the updating of the Salesforce User Interface (UI) with what they call the new Lightning Experience. Forget about the new name and marketing, what this really means is that the almost decade old look of Salesforce has now been updated with a much more modern style. Icons for key product areas are now available down the left side, and the main screens have been redesigned to provide more information in the centre along with supporting information in a sidebar on the right side.

Employees will most likely welcome this new look, but it will take a little while to get used to. Customers should not worry about additional training costs, as Salesforce provides several resources to get people up and running quickly, such as this short overview video.


Linking Data, Finding Patterns and Making Recommendations

For me, the most interesting announcements of the week centered around the rebranding and evolution of RelatedIQ (acquired July 2014) into SalesforceIQ.  What this tool does is bring "intelligence" into the sales cycle. By intelligence, Salesforce means linking together your email, calendar, personal contacts and company's CRM data, then looking for patterns and making recommended actions that could help speed up the sales cycle.  For example, SalesforceIQ can help you find the people in your organization that may already be connected with a prospect listed in your pipeline.  Also, SalesforceIQ introduces a new inbox that links together your email, calendar, files and Salesforce... reducing the need to switch between multiple tools.  Rather than me explaining further, watch the follow two short videos:

SalesforceIQ for Small Business

SalesforceIQ for Sales Cloud

I really like the direction SalesforceIQ is going in.  As my readers know, I am very focused on the intersection of analytics and collaboration, looking at ways data can be used to help people focus on the right things and connect with the right people. This is exactly what Salesforce is starting to do. Additionally, Salesforce also recently acquired Tempo.AI (smart calendar) but that has yet to manifest itself in SaleforceIQ. For now, SalesforceIQ is focused on sales use-cases, I look forward to seeing if they bring similar "intelligence" to Marketing, Community and Service clouds.

Caution: Speaking with several people at Dreamforce, there is some confusion between the two versions. When should a company use the SMB version, and when should they move up to the Sales Cloud version? Why even have the two versions? Will there be feature parity between the two? Salesforce has attempted to answer some of these questions in a FAQ, but I think it will be a while until this is al clearly understood.  Pricing for SalesforceIQ starts at $25/user/month, but quickly jumps to $65, $125 or $250 depending on the features you need.

Seamless Collaboration and Business Processes

The third big announcement that will impact the daily use of Salesforce is the upcoming integration with Microsoft's collaboration and productivity tools.  While today there is integration with Outlook, Excel and a few other products, Microsoft and Salesforce have vowed to further integration between their two industry leading platforms.

I've already written about this announcement in detail, but the four areas they have placed onto the 2016 roadmap are:

- Skype for Business, providing presence awareness inside Salesforce and allow for seamless web conferencing, chat and VOIP calls
- OneNote, enabling note taking to be linked directly to Salesforce records
- Office Graph and Office Delve, so surface Salesforce content inside Microsoft’s new search and discovery UIs
- Salesforce1 Mobile App for Windows 10

Here is short video that talks about the planned integrations.


Helping People Get Work Done

Over the last few years Salesforce has evolved dramatically from a company that helped Sales Reps keep track of their deals to a platform that supports several business functions (such as Marketing, Support, Community) and thousands of partner applications. Each of the announcements above support the idea of improving the way people get their jobs done. From a fresh new user interface, to leveraging data to make informed decisions, to integration with the most popular productivity tools... Salesforce is focused on helping people get work done.


Additional Resources

Salesforce Evolves Communities From Forums To E-Commerce, by Guy Courtin and Alan Lepofsky

Dreamforce 2015: Value for customers - but some concerns on direction, by Holger Mueller

Salesforce IoT Cloud Awaits Thunder Real-Time Engine, by Doug Henschen

Salesforce Unveils Breakthrough IoT Cloud, Powered by Salesforce Thunder, by Holger Mueller

Salesforce Unveils Breakthrough Salesforce IoT Cloud, Powered by Salesforce Thunder, by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff

Salesforce Makes Wave Analytics More Accessible, Affordable, by Doug Henschen

Dreamforce: Salesforce Unveils the Next Wave of Salesforce Analytics Cloud, by Holger Mueller


#SocBiz #FutureOfWork News Week Ending Sep 11, 2015

September 12 2015 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

#Socbiz #FutureOfWork News - Week Ending Sep 4, 2015

September 5 2015 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Microsoft Acquires VoloMetrix to Help Improve Employee Productivity

September 3 2015 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Below are my thoughts on Microsoft's acquisition of VoloMetrix , and how it can help improve employee productivity. This is an area of research I'm working on which I may term Enhanced Productivity or Assisted Productivity.  Which do you prefer?


#Socbiz #FutureOfWork News - Week Ending Aug 28, 2015

August 28 2015 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

5 Major Trends Influencing Collaboration in the Future of Work

August 27 2015 08:50:43 PM Add/Read Comments [0]
5 Major Trends Influencing Collaboration in the Future of Work
  • Moving to the cloud
  • The intersection of productivity and analytics
  • Digital assistants
  • Micro apps, 'lighter-weight' apps
  • Aggregation of content and people from multiple sources onto digital canvases

Download the slides

Salesforce Evolves Communities From Forums To E-Commerce

August 13 2015 04:23:22 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

Today Salesforce launched the ability to embed a Buy Button into sites built upon their Community Cloud platform. This new feature will bring the power of commerce to the world of social: enabling brands to leverage the activity that takes place in social channels and convert it into financial transactions. The following is Constellation Research’s reaction to the news, co-authored by Principal Analysts Alan Lepofsky and Guy Courtin.

Below you can see an example, in this case labeled Cart, which allows community members to add an item for purchase.

Shopping Meets Social

From the press release: "The new e-commerce capabilities enable communities of customers to discover, research, discuss and buy products in a single location while introducing a new sales channel for companies."

Alan's POV: This is significant because it enables companies to blend together 1) their community forums; where current and future customers can ask questions, post reviews and share feedback with 2) their e-commerce platform for purchasing. Today many companies separate these two functions, relying heavily on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for customer engagement, then shifting those customers to another location for purchasing transactions. The integration of community (social) and commerce (shopping) will allow for a much more seamless, hence more desirable customer experience.

Guy’s POV: Retail and CPG have long been aware of the growing power and influence social channels have on their brands and products. One only had to look as far as Twitter to see how brands such as @BestBuy or @USAir are acutely aware of any possible issue voiced by their customers. This announcement is looking to take advantage of the positive that comes of out social media – converting sales. Retail and CPG are also both acutely aware that their best sales people are existing customers. Enabling transactions to take place in these forums builds on the aspect of community influence.

Commerce Without Coding

From the press release: "With new e-commerce Lightning Components from Salesforce partners like CloudCraze, Demandware and Bigcommerce, companies will be able to seamlessly incorporate e-commerce into their communities. Lightning Components are reusable building blocks that enable companies to quickly add rich new capabilities into their communities without programming."

Alan's POV: While the idea of making it easy for "citizen developers" (line of business workers who are not trained coders) to simply drag and drop components into applications sounds appealing, organizations need to be weary, as there is more to application development than just writing lines of code. Successful applications rely on compelling user interfaces (the look) and user experiences (the interactions). Commerce is a complicated process, involving complex workflows between inventory, purchasing and shipping. These things require professionals with training and experience. That said, there is nothing wrong with Salesforce making it easier for professional developers to add these new e-commerce functions to their appli cations. The addition of the Buy Button and other components from their business partner eco-system, help make the Salesforce1 a compelling platform.

Complexity Of Supply Chain Meets Ease Of One Click Commerce

From the press release: “Community Cloud customers are already deploying custom e-commerce solutions, demonstrating the power of combining transactions with communities.”

Guy’s POV: The addition of a transaction function to the communities is not as simple as adding some code to a web site. The supply chain aspects of order management, fulfillment and payment are all aspects of the supply chain that have to be in sync for the promise of a “buy” button to come to fruition. This is no simple task; many e-commerce players have failed at this step. It will be an interesting play for the software giant if it can integrate some of the efforts it is making with Salesforce retail as well as the partnerships it announced to truly take this to then next level. As the examples given for this new offering revolve around digital assets, the challenge of moving physical goods is much more complex.

Summary: From Forums To E-Commerce

The announcement hold much promise when it comes to the integration of retail and communities. The addition of e-commerce provides Salesforce an edge over many rival social community platforms. However there remains much to be seen as to how Salesforce can fulfill some of the promises, especially when it comes to moving physical goods. What will they build themselves, what will customers need to build and what gaps will be filled by business partners and 3rd party vendors? Constellation supports this first step in integrating shopping and social and recommends customers speak with Salesforce to see if it will work with their specific e-commerce systems and suppliers. This is a space to watch, hopefully with more details and examples being presented at Dreamforce.