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Salesforce Launches Mobile Government Solutions

Keeping an eye on the mobile revolution, last week, announced that it's releasing a suite of solutions aimed at helping governments better connect with each other and with their citizens.

This suite of solutions include Rapid Response 311, Mobile Communities for Government, Platform Mobil Services for Government, and Government Social Command Center. According to the CIO/CTO for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Sonny Hashmi, the GSA has already developed over a 100 new apps on the Salesforce Appexchange  platform, averaging more than 90% reduction in total cost of ownership and a 75% reduction in app development time. "Serving the public today means being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and doing far more with far less," said Hashmi.

It's been known that government agencies have not been keeping pace with the mobile revolution. Like in most organizations, abandoning legacy systems and shifting to mobile devices offers new ways for governments to connect with employees and citizens. Dan Burton, senior vice president of Government Technologies at Salesforce says that budgets are tight everywhere, particularly at the Federal level, where they're faced with sequestration and cuts.

"...Budgets structurally reinforce silos and duplicative systems...Innovation in public sector lags behind the private sector. Very few government agencies have mobile-enabled solutions, and few are able to serve citizens across all channels... To succeed, they must shed the legacy IT systems designed for the last century and embrace mobile cloud solutions that transform their ability to connect with citizens."

Hopefully, with the addition of these new Salesforce apps governments will have better communication with its least, one can dream, right?


Salesforce to Release Communities This Summer

Last week, CRM powerhouse, Salesforce, announced that it will be releasing Communities this upcoming summer; a tool that will allow organizations to create a social portal for their customers.

The issue Salesforce is looking to resolve with Communities, while of course eliminating legacy Social Portal platforms, is to have the ability to bring conversations between organizations and their customers into its site and its apps. In essence, creating collaborative and mobile-ready experiences for business partners and customers all on, and feeding into, Salesforce (Sales, Service, and Marketing platforms).

"You can find a lot of good data on a legacy portal but if you have a question you need to go to a different channel to ask a community of experts....At the other end we have social point solutions on which you can get really good advice from communities, but where you can't get the business data to carry out a transaction."

 Said Michael Peachy, Senior Director of Solutions Marketing for Salesforce. This move by Sales force underlines its continued effort to have Chatter unite business and customer conversations.

It will be interesting to see how useful this platform will prove; especially that a few companies were given access to Communities. Salesforce Communities is said to be priced at $500 per month per community created.


SFDC Debuts Two More Rivals 


During  an onstage interview with the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Marc Benioff, CEO of, revealed that they’re getting ready to roll out yet two more products in the upcoming Dreamforce Conference in San Francisco.

Chatterbox, which echoes the Chatter collaboration tool, is going to offer online file sharing and storage service, which is directed to compete with DropBox. “… We have to step up…our customers have come to us and said we want a Dropbox for the enterprise..”  It’s important to note that DropBox itself has recently launched an enterprise version of their product.

The other product is Identity, similar to Okta, provides single sign-on for multiple cloud applications at once. “Our customers have asked us to do the same thing…” Benioff noted.



Bring on the Java Developers!

We all know that Salesforce is growing; enough to have attracted more than 100,000 customers! But the news is: Salesforce is reaching out to coders (Java in particular) in the aim of becoming a host of apps outside the CRM. The executive leading this major shift is Byron Sebastian, who came to Salesforce after the acquisition of Heroku in 2010. This decision came after the staggering rise of subscriptions to 40% to its hosted apps, reported in its latest fiscal year.

This is not the first time Salesforce delved into enterprise Java, a few years ago, Salesfroce teamed up with VMware with VmForce. Another evidence of Salesforce attempting to buy into developers, is its upcoming Cloudforce conference that’s going to be held in London. In that conference, Salesforce will host sessions to help train developers to build Salesfroce’s Chatter apps and other mobile apps. “ I’m really on a mission to have a strong voice for developers on the Salesforce platform,” said Sebastian in a recent interview.

 With the success of Heroku (Ruby in the cloud), it's clear that wants to be in the mix with Amazon EC2 and Google. They are getting close to having the full-stack available for us and it's an exciting time to be a developer!


Cloud Computing Explained

A lot of time is spent discussing cloud computing here at Salesforce General. It's shaping up to be one of the biggest trends and innovations in IT for the coming future. Many businesses and companies are transitioning to the cloud daily. But one thing we don't discuss enough is what the cloud actually is. It's hard to sum up into simple terms but Salesforce has managed to do it. The team from Salesforce posted a video on their YouTube account quite a while back explaining what cloud computing is. Even though it's a bit old, it's just as good as any explanation I've ever seen. 


Salesforce Makes Do.Com Available to the Public

One of the great things about Salesforce is the variety of applications available for download in its app exchange. These can certainly enhance your CRM experience (SFGeneral is partial to DupeCatcher, a free de-duplication app that helps de-clutter your contacts) and get the most out of Salesforce. 

In early November of this year, Salesforce launched and gave out about 200 invites to the beta version of its new social productivity service. Yesterday, it made the service available to the public. is a social-cloud task allocation tool aimed at corporate and personal users. It allows an individual or small team to manage task lists, organize projects and take notes. Non-Do users can also be given assignments and on joint tasks, those invited are given the option to comment, accept or reject assignments.

One thing that seems particularly handy to me about the application is its integration with Google Apps, Salesforce and Dropbox thus making file sharing more seamless. I have yet to use Do but it seems like a nice addition to the Salesforce family. Also, checkout this promotional video detailing what Do can do.






An Easy Fix

I think we’ve all experienced the customer who just can’t be satisfied with the way things are. Today, we’ll talk about renaming tabs and such in Salesforce to satisfy the customer that cannot be satisfied.

This is a pretty easy fix, so this would be a good thing to teach your customers so when they don’t like the way something is labeled they can just do it themselves.

First, go to Setup. Click Customize. Then Click Tab Names and Labels. Then Click Rename Tab and Labels.

This is where you can choose which object you want to change. Click Edit.

This next screen is where you can change the label of the object. Then, you can rename labels for fields that are associated with the renamed object.

This is cool and all, but why does it really matter? It matters because customers want what they want, and it’s your job to give it to them whenever possible. Remember, a happy customer is a customer that you don’t have to worry about.


Salesforce Favorite Things

I’m excited about the release of Winter ’12. I wrote briefly about the last set of release notes last week, and I’m going to write briefly now about the latest set of release notes that came out yesterday.

I’m going to talk about three of my favorite enhancements I found.

1) Customers in Private Chatter Groups

I expressed a little apprehension about this last week, but after thinking about it, I’m sold. Now, I’m not saying just let any customer that comes in off the street into your Chatter group. But, I think it would be good for loyal and trusted customers to be in a Chatter group. That way, they can feel that they’re being rewarded for their business (they are, if they can be in such easy contact with you), and you can more easily communicate with them. These are just a few of the cool things that can happen with customers in Chatter groups. Just don’t get Chatter-happy and invite each and every one of your customers in.

2) Dashboard Filters

In the release notes, there’s a little light bulb icon in this section that says “You asked for it!” Well, I’m glad someone asked, because these dashboard filters are pretty cool. Basically, what these filters do is show you at a glance from a drop down menu what’s going on with whatever data you’re working with. This is a huge step forward from the old system of cloning the dashboard and all the subsets of data that go with it.

3) General Availability During Upgrades

This is probably my favorite part of Winter ’12. No more will we have to wait forever for Salesforce to upgrade. Now, according to the release notes, we have to only wait up to five minutes for it to upgrade. This is huge. None of us can afford to be away from our data for long periods of time. Thankfully, Salesforce is taking care of business so we can take care of business.





Thumbs Up?

Let’s talk about Winter ’12. It’s a popular hashtag out there right now, and rightly so. Recently, published the Winter ’12 Release Notes. It’s a 127 page PDF of all kinds of cool info about Winter ’12, but what I want to focus on today is how much Salesforce is channeling Mark Zuckerberg with their updates to Chatter.

Recently, Facebook has made several changes to their layout and features that have been received with mixed results. It seems that Facebook users, particularly the younger Facebook users, don’t like change, so I wonder how the Facebook style changes to Chatter will be received.

In the new Chatter, you can now "like" comments as well as posts. This was a change Facebook made a while ago, and it was for the most part well received. Now Facebook users can "like" just about anything that is posted on the site, which caused their inboxes to explode before Facebook changed email notification policy a few weeks ago. Thankfully, Chatter’s default email notification is set to not spamming you endlessly with "like" notification emails. However, if you do want those emails, you can have them.

Before, Chatter was simply for people in a given company. But now, in some versions, there’s a feature where owners or managers of a group can invite customers to be a part of the group. The customers can only see the groups they’ve been invited to, and can only see limited content within that group. I guess this can be effective for communication if you’re already communicating a lot via Chatter, but I don’t see a real advantage for having a customer in a group if the customer can’t actually do anything. I may be oversimplifying this, but it will take some time to convince me that this is a good idea.

So thumbs up or not? Will the Facebook style changes to Chatter be a hit with users? Or will everyone start looking for the “dislike” button?