I am developing some PHP code that requires displaying Chatter photos on a web page. The code does not maintain an active browser session with something like OAuth. It simply logs in with the SOAP API, accesses the data, and displays data. Since Chatter photos are stored internal to Salesforce.com and require an active session, this causes an issue. Well, I found a great blog posts that solves this problem. Take a look here if you ever run across this problem.
Tags: api, chatter, Integration, php, security, soap, tutorial
Posted in API, Chatter, PHP, SOAP | Comments Off on Showing Chatter Pictures without being actively logged in
Salesforce.com Spring 2012 Release is just around the corner and there are several very interesting and helpful features (e.g. cross object workflow) that should make a lot of people’s lives much easier. Take a look below for the highlight of Salesforce Spring ’12 features. There will be much more released later when they come out with the full release notes.
As probably expected, Salesforce is continuing with the social revolution with many new Chatter social enhancements. First off is Chatter Bookmarks, allowing you to bookmark your favorite, most useful Chatter posts. Is anyone else envisioning that Salesforce is trying to become the replacement for email?
In addition, Chatter Favorites. Search for a specific string “medical referrals” and save that Chatter search as a favorite.
In every organization, there are social “influencers,” the tech savvy users that post the most, influence other posts, comment a lot and more. Salesforce has introduced Chatter Influence, which allows you to find the most influential people in your org.
Chatter Messenger is the GTalk, AIM, MS Communicator of Salesforce, allowing you to instantly communicate with anyone in your Salesforce organization. I’m not yet sure if this is a benefit or a burden from adding one more IM service.
Chatter v2.0 will be released in Spring 2012 for the iPad, bringing an all new UI that is easier to use.
Chatter Smart Search, bringing the most important items to the top and intelligently categorizing them. Not world changing, but nice to have to organize the sea of information.
Data.com is making it a lot easier to search for the exact types of contacts and leads that you would like to target with advanced Google-like filters.
Cross object workflows, finally! This is a long overdue feature that everyone has been waiting for and should reduce the need for APEX Triggers for some very basic scenarios. I wonder what types of limitations will be placed on this.
The drag and drop schema builder (Database.com) will be available and should be a nice visualization / building feature for the backend.
Siteforce is making the publishing of dynamic data a lot easier with some of their new features. I don’t feel that this is a fully fledged, competitive Content Management System yet, but they are certainly trying to get there.
Siteforce Web to Object is a much needed feature as well. Instead of utilizing a tool such as FormAssembly or having to build code that ties into the API’s, Siteforce will allow out of the box building of externally facing web forms. Outstanding. I’m not expecting this to be fully featured immediately, but it has true potential!
Radian6, the social monitoring package, is releasing new features that tie in with the Service Cloud to allow monitoring and tracking of Cases generated from the social networks. This, of course, requires the Radian6 license.
I’m not sure if you heard, but Salesforce has spun off a new product for separate licensing (ugh), Salesforce Analytics Edition, which is focusing more on the BI crowd. This is adding additional reporting capabilities like below. This can expand horizons quite a bit with exception reporting and more, but the need for an additional license is saddening.
Email to Case functionality has now been built into the Outlook Edition tool. Hasn’t this always been there? Maybe I haven’t kept up enough with the Outlook plugin.
Salesforce Mobile for Android will now allow for full editing capabilities with Spring 2012 in January 2012. Finally!
Shared Tasks are an interesting new feature, but seem very useful, e.g. Send Holiday card to all Florida contacts. Why create 100 tasks when you can create 1.
Social Accounts, person accounts, and social leads are now available, just like the already existing Social Contacts.
Service Cloud case feeds are becoming a little more beautiful with all relevant data in one location. The Service Cloud is really a great product lately and is getting nothing but better.
Chatter Answers, the enabling of social self-service. Answers can come from knowledge articles, customer service agents, and a community of experts. This really could be the wave of the future with customer service.
Salesforce Live Agent and the integration with the service cloud. Live chat with your customers, manage cases, and log everything that was discussed. Another nice service cloud enhancement.
Overall, a nice set of Spring 2012 features released by Salesforce.com.
Tags: release, release notes, spring 12, spring 2012
Posted in Chatter, Radian6, sales cloud, service cloud, Spring 2012 | Comments Off on Salesforce Spring 2012 Release Features
Salesforce Winter 2012 features. I know this is a little (very) late, but it is better than never.
There are a lot of big releases during this upgrade and a lot of new things for everyone to learn, like Siteforce and Visual Workflows. Take a look below to see my platform overview
Salesforce Social Contacts – this feature sounds great, but I am not overly enthusiastic. You can link your contacts to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can add in their picture and see their posts. Great! The problem is that you need to do this contact by contact and social network by social network. The system does not automatically scour the web and update all of your contacts. Even worse, Salesforce searches the social networks by the contact’s name. Have you ever tried searching Facebook for a common name? You ALWAYS get 100 results. Have fun with that.
Customer Chatter Groups – This is a great feature. Create your own “customer portal” for collaboration and discussion. Invite your customers into a Chatter group and chat with them, share documents, and more. I like it. Maybe try tying this in with an actual Salesforce customer portal?
Dynamic Dashboard filtering – This is one of those features that should have been there since day 1. Now, you can filter individual dashboards by criteria, such as region, industry, product line, etc. For all of the large organizations out there that have SO many dashboards created in a specific (hokey) way, I wonder how difficult it will be for them to migrate 1000 dashboards into this format.
Case flows – Wow, Cases have become beautiful in the Service Cloud. Everything seems very social. It is very easy to add comments, send emails, log calls and more. This is really a great UI makeover.
The Service Console has somewhat of a small overhaul as well and makes it very easy to find data quickly.
Pinned Lists – For the service console, you can now pin vital lists on the left side of the screen to always have the data available. Very nice. Time for everyone to invest in wide screen monitors.
Chatter Private Messages – This is another “should have been day 1” feature. Very simple. Send messages to 1 or many people in Chatter.
Chatter Approvals – Integrating approval requests directly into Chatter feeds for the manager that does not like digging through many records to find an action he needs to take.
Chatter Now – Integrating instant messaging directly into Salesforce with Chatter Now. How many instant messaging clients does everyone have now? Well, here is one more.
Chatter for Microsoft SharePoint – Allowing for simple integration of Chatter functionality into Microsoft SharePoint. This seems very useful for making all of your boring internal websites socially enabled. Great idea.
Admin quick links – This should make it a lot easier for the new SFDC admin.
One-click App Creation – Salesforce is trying to make it a LOT quicker to create a new custom object, app, and tab. Simply click the “Create App” button, fill in a few fields and you are ready to start. A little bit easier than before.
Visual workflows – This is where I get excited. Visual Workflows allow you to use a cloud designer tool to visually create VisualForce wizards. So, instead of building a lot of VisualForce, it can all be drag and drop, point and click. This is something everyone needs to spend a couple of hours learning over the next few months.
Siteforce – is generally available in Winter 2012. It is essentially a web designer tool and content management system all in one, allowing you to utilize Salesforce as a backend database/admin console and build a dynamic front end website with nothing but point and click.
There are also several smaller features available, such as:
-Likes on Chatter comments
-Cloud designer for Visual Workflows
-Sharing Chatter files via email/IM inside and outside of SFDC (awesome!)
-Upload and Share Files at same time
-More Chatter filters
-Chatter for Android
-New Forecasts generally available
-Salesforce Mobile Beta for Android phones
-Presentations can no longer be assembled
-Enhanced reports tab (here’s to confused users that just got used to managing their reports)
-iPad mobile dashboards app
-Jigsaw is now Data.com
-Permission sets are now available – no longer need to create an infinite number of profiles to solve small needs!
-Just in Time provisioning for SSO portals
-APEX REST API
Tags: chatter, features, functionality, release notes, winter 12, winter 2012
Posted in Announcements, Chatter, Salesforce.com, Winter 2012 | Comments Off on Salesforce Winter 2012 Features
Salesforce Mobile – the original iPhone app. It is still VERY basic in the overall UI experience, but it will allows you to accomplish a lot. Create/Edit/View your standard and custom objects. View dashboards. Log activities. It is certainly not pretty, but if you have an iPhone (or even an iPad) and use Salesforce, this is a must. It can even be used as a quick way to build very basic iPad applications, but it will not scale up in a pretty way.
Salesforce Chatter – Works great for both the iPad and iPhone. Outstanding collaboration app for your iOS devices. I wish Chatter functionality was built directly into the Mobile app above, but I understand that they are marketing to more customers than just CRM and want a standalone product. CRM feels neglected.
Salesforce Mobile Dashboards – Fairly straightforward and to the point. View your dashboards on a big screen on the iPad. Great standalone app to prevent confusing executives!
Dragon for Salesforce – Free standalone app to utilize the Voice to Text features provided by Dragon software. Who really wants to type about their site visit or call log on their tiny mobile phone keyboard when they can just speak. Pretty nice.
I’m very excited for Touch.Salesforce.com and the mobile capabilities that should hopefully spur from the usage of HTML5.
Tags: ios, ipad, iphone, mobile, salesforce mobile
Posted in Chatter, Salesforce Mobile | Comments Off on Salesforce for iPhone and iPad
Chatter Chatter Chatter. All of the news lately is pretty much revolving around Chatter. There are multiple benefits, such as closer teams, better collaboration, passive tracking of data and now, Knowledge Portals.
Chatter Groups are a great way to segment your Salesforce users into different groups based on region, function, department, teams and more. This also allows you to have a communication platform specifically for them. For example, imagine you would like to rollout a new pilot group of users for customer complaint tracking, not sales like your existing users. What is the best way to form a community within Salesforce.com amongst them for change notifications, training information, useful documents and more? Chatter Groups of course!
When rolling out a new set of users, I like to setup a Chatter group specifically for them. I create the group, add all of the users, and pick and assign a “champion” for the group. The champion will be the person on the team responsible for motivating user participation in the group and posting announcements.
Once all of the users are assigned to the group, they can ask questions directly within the group and have them answered by people in their same team as opposed to mass posting questions that would essentially not be important to the other sets of users (e.g. customer support rep process issues broadcasted to all sales and marketing people).
Once the group is setup, I also post all training documents and useful material directly in the group. I make all announcements and “useful tips” in this group. Any time anything is posted, it will show up directly on their home page.
What a great way to communicate to one subset of users without bugging everyone else! This is a very simple, easy way to form a knowledge portal directly in Salesforce.com. You can create as many of these groups as you need.
Posted in Best Practice, Chatter, Salesforce.com, Training | Comments Off on Chatter Knowledge Portals
Although this is a little behind, it is still worth summarizing some of the best features from the Summer 2010 Release of Salesforce.com.
Salesforce Chatter (obviously) – This is being enabled by default for all new organizations. Existing organizations must enable it. This has all of the typical aspects that I am sure most of you are already used to: Chatter Profiles, Groups, Feeds, etc.
Tips: Try fun things like using the API to force certain types of users to auto follow certain types of data, e.g. Automatically force users from territory A to auto follow all Opportunities selling Product XYZ.
Haven’t seen Chatter? Take a look
Out of curiosity, how are all of you handling the training of users on Chatter? I certainly think it requires some kind of “nudge” to truly explain the benefits and how to use it.
Cloud Scheduler – This is a great feature if you would like to schedule meetings out of Salesforce.com. You can propose meeting times and allow your customers to decide which time is best for you. Salesforce will generate a custom web page for them to visit. This can be done for Leads, Contacts, and Person Accounts. Salesforce can even propose the time for you and try to select the best time.
Quotes Template Editor – This is in beta. Instead of having to use Salesforce’s basic quote layout, they are now allowing you to create your own Quote templates, which is very necessary. This functionality is very basic, doesn’t allow you to preview what you are doing, but it is at least worth trying.
New Opportunity Page (Pilot) – I feel like this was originally announced SO long ago. I can’t believe it is now only being piloted. This puts the focus on key Opportunity fields that are used the most in a highlight panel at the top of the screen. It also focuses on Chatter and recommendations. Cool feature.
Salesforce Mobile Enhancements – Chatter in the mobile app is the biggest improvement. Hello Salesforce, where is the Salesforce for Android app?
Email Opt Out Warning – Finally. When sending a mass email, Salesforce will warn you if Email Opt Out is checked for any contacts. About time.
Multiple Email Addresses on Contacts and Leads – Now, you can specify multiple email addresses for these records, e.g. Work and Home email. When emailing them from within Salesforce, it will allow you to choose which email to send to. Nice.
CRM Content Available for all Editions – At no cost.
Salesforce Knowledge Enhancements – There are quite a bit of knowledge enhancements, making it so much easier to populate this database and easily help your customers, such as creating an article while closing a case and using suggested articles while solving a case.
Community Enhancements – Salesforce Answers can now be used in Sites. Great! Questions can be generated into Cases. Replies can be converted into articles. Just imagine the customer support database you can build with a community like this.
Dynamic Dashboards – Use the security settings of the current user to power the dashboards they visit. This is a great way of not having to create 100’s of duplicate dashboards for everyone. Make sure you have your role hierarchy in check! Also, take a look at the drag and drop dashboard builder. This saves a lot of time.
Dependant lookups and lookup filters (beta forever) – Why is this in beta? I feel like we have been waiting on this for years. ex. On an Account lookup on an Opportunity, you can set it up so that it will only show Accounts where Active = TRUE. This shrinks down the mess in the lookup windows quite a bit.
Well, these were my favorite updates. There are a lot of other changes related to Sites, VisualForce, Development as a Service, etc, but I don’t want to bore you with those
Posted in Announcements, Chatter, Salesforce.com, Summer 2010 | Comments Off on Salesforce.com Summer ’10 Release
So, now that Chatter has been enabled for your organization, you might be asking “what is the point?”
Chatter is the Facebook + Twitter for Enterprises. It is the main component of Salesforce’s “Collaboration Cloud.” What does that even mean? Sure, your users will have the fun aspects of mini-blogging about what is currently going on in their lives and jobs and monitoring what their colleagues are doing, but what benefit does this really provide?
Imagine being a sales manager. Your job is not to login to Salesforce.com and create Opportunities. That is the job of your employees. Your job is to monitor their performance, pay attention to the big deals, and ensure nothing bad happens. Previously, in Salesforce.com it was difficult to actually pay attention to the changes in massive amounts of data over time. Sure, you could look at dashboards and reports, but you really had to analyze to determine what happened between each refresh of the page. When looking at a screen of 100 Opportunities, it is very difficult to find which Opportunities have Closed, which were lost, which are now in negotiation, and so on.
Chatter allows you to passively monitor select deals or select accounts and customers. A sales manager could choose to “follow” the Opportunities for their organization’s top 10 accounts. This would automatically update their home page feed about any changes that have occurred for these deals. If the amount has gone up, it will show up. If the stage has been adjusted, this will show up. A manager can basically pick the deals they are interested in, follow them, and sit back and passively monitor. HUGE improvement from the past policy of actively needing to monitor massive amounts of data.
Also, imagine the teamwork required between marketing and sales. Sales comes in to wine and dine the customer and initially reel them in and marketing needs to follow up and create the detailed line item offers. Marketing needs to know where these Opportunities are and when they should come in and do their work. Sales need to know the detailed information to provide back to the customer. This level of collaboration can be done via chatter with the passive following technique.
Do yourselves the favor of educating your Salesforce users as to the true benefits of Chatter!
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