Posts Tagged ‘ salesforce.com ’

Hacking a Cure for the Salesforce Email Headache

Today’s post comes to you from our very own, Adam Daw. Adam recently took the “hack-a-thon” crown at the International Startup Festival in Montreal. Here’s what Adam has to say about the hack-a-thon, the current state of email integration and Salesforce, and how many of the existing Salesforce email headaches can be solved with SmartCloud:

A couple of weeks ago, for the International Startup Festival in Montreal, a few companies related to Email threw an off-site event – a “hack-a-thon” – to announce their new APIs. I attended the event, and had a pretty good idea of a “neat” tool that I’d like to see for dealing with the kind of data you find in your email inbox. I was pretty jazzed up to start writing the tool until I found out two things:

  1. What we were being judged on
  2. Someone else had already built it at a similar event the month before

We were being judged on the number of APIs from that day we used, the creativity of our app, but also the financial viability of it. The business sense. So instead of doing something “cool”, I decided to do something that as a Salesforce User and Admin/Developer, I knew was a particular sore point with the application – Email Integration.

The current state of affairs for integration between email and Salesforce is a bit of a hodgepodge of solutions, so to speak. You can integrate Salesforce with your Outlook installation, or set up an email service (or use the existing Google service for this) that you then make privy to all of your email traffic, bcc’ing it every time you want something to show up in salesforce. You also have to be aware that one solution doesn’t act the same as the other – they all have their quirks and idiosyncrasies, so if you have users on multiple platforms or some that prefer Outlook and others that don’t, there’s no unified truth for email in Salesforce. Of course, you can force users to adopt one method or another, but then you’re making your users conform to the tool instead of making the tool fit the user – not exactly the goal when implementing a system as robust as Salesforce.com!

Once the email data is in Salesforce, it works “sort of” like any other object, but not really. It’s hard to get the data you want when you need it, and even harder to make sense of the data once you find it – assuming your users are still uploading data the way they’re supposed to. With the burden of data delivery on your salespeople, you’re taking them away from the key tasks they’re meant to perform and asking them to follow a new process every time they do something as naturally reflexive as send out an email. That’s like asking someone to change the way they breathe, all day and every day: it can be done, and it’s not an incredibly difficult task, but you’ll be hard pressed to get as much done in your day as you potentially could! Also, you’re more than likely to forget as soon as something important comes up and shakes you out of it. In other words, it’s not natural, it’s not needed, and it’s not the best use of your time!

I guess that’s the ultimate goal when I started working on this – the autonomic nervous system of the sales cycle. Just like youshouldn’t constantly have to think about when to breathe and how, your salespeople shouldn’t have to think about how their email data is getting into Salesforce. By connecting to the email server directly, we can make sure the key data needed to let you make the right decisions ends up in the right location, and by making the details configurable from directly inside Salesforce, we can do it without requiring any additional components or systems to be set up. No plugins in your email client, no bcc’ing some random email address with every communication, and it can all be done directly from inside your Salesforce window. So that’s what I presented, or at least the beginning of it, at the hack-a-thon.

Apparently I wasn’t alone with my frustrations, as I ended up winning the event.

5 ways the cloud can be better for SMB companies

Gartner, Forrester and just about every other reputable analyst, technologist or CIO tend to agree. The Cloud is good for SMB companies.

The openera philosophy is simple. Believe in the open exchange of ideas and work with good people who are willing to work hard. Focus on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses with good partners. Succeed together.

Here are 5 ways The Cloud can help SMB Companies immediately:

  1. Manage Content (Documents, records, forms, media…)
  2. customer, partners contact management (CRM)
  3. Office essentials (Email, Calendar, Tasks…)
  4. Project Management (development, marketing, human resources…)
  5. Communication (VoiP, web presentations, im, chat & social.) 

We run our company on a combination of Google Apps (email, calendar, tasks & collaborative documents) Salesforce.com (CRM & Marketing Automation) Dropbox & Box.net for content management & back-up and Skype + DimDim for VoiP, Screen Sharing, and web presentations. For a few thousand dollars a year, we can run our entire organization better than well funded multi-national companies could 10 years ago. As a small business owner, that makes me smile.

How is cloud content management different?

Differentiation is a pretty important topic. I spend a lot of time talking to people who never tell me why they are different from the rest of the world.
“What is the one thing you want prospects or investors to remember about your business?”
Try to remember that specs are not a replacement for differentiation. Good differentiation is active, intentional and well debated. Boil it down. Discover your unique value proposition. In other words, what exactly makes you so different that I will spend my hard-earned cash on you.
Oh, and make sure what makes you different is a good thing. Being the only garage that doesn’t insist their mechanics are certified is not a good differentiator.