Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Lightning Experience - A New Salesforce

Tonight, Salesforce announced something big - a whole new Salesforce user experience.   If you missed the global preview that included live viewing parties across the world, you can check out a recording. Or keep reading to learn about the changes and what it means to you.

Salesforce has been on a three year engineering mission that started with reimagining the mobile experience in 2013 with Salesforce1 mobile and the platform in 2014 with Salesforce Lightning. This year, attention has turned to the user experience, with an emphasis on the Sales Cloud.

What's New

Simply put - a whole new user experience, a whole new way to sell.  The new experience is designed so you can sell faster, sell smarter and sell the way you want.  Take a look at a few sample screens from the new experience - Home page, Opportunity Pipeline Board, Opportunity Details and Dashboards.

The home page quickly displays key information that a sales rep needs to manage their day.  A quarterly performance chart that shows performance towards goal.  The Assistant section on the right identifies key actions to take, such as overdue tasks.  The Account Insights section brings in key information about the accounts you are following.

On the left, is an omni-present navigation menu to quickly move through the app.  Simply click on the three bars to expand and collapse the menu.  Search is now top and center allowing quick and easy search across all of your records.

The Opportunity Board is an exciting new adding coming in Winter '16.  With a new Kanban board view, you can easily see all of your open opportunities, their stages, value and key information.  The totals for each stage is summarized at the top.  Best of all, you can drag and drop an opportunity from one stage to another and watch it update in real time!

Drilling into an Opportunity, key information is located at the top of the page.  Next Sales Path is front and center with the progress pill.  Users can see what stage in the sales process and have guided selling options.  Activities such logging a call, creating a task or an event are available with a few clicks.  An Activity Timeline of past activity and upcoming Next Steps display below the activity section.  As you can see, hovering over related objects like an Account provided additional details.

For the dashboard lovers out there, take a look at the new page in the Lightning Experience.  You now have the ability to control the sizing of charts on the Dashboard, including having more than three reports!  You can easily drag and drop on reports and re-size based on your needs.

What Does It Mean for You

After seeing the Lightning Experience, the most common question is how can I get it.  The Lightning Experience is coming with the Winter '16 release.  Inside of an Org, an administrator has the ability to enable the Lightning Experience (Setup | Lightning Experience | Enable the New Salesforce Experience).

Then you have the ability to assign the Lightning Experience User to either a profile or permission set.  Keep in mind that standard profile will automatically receive this permission, but you will have to add it to custom profiles.  This enables a phased roll-out to improve adoption rates and manage change.

With this release, the Sales Cloud is the focus for the new experience.  So if you are using Service Cloud, you will still use the classic experience.  In addition, there are exclusion from the new experience such as the Orders object.  Finally, if you are using Person Account, the new experience is not supported, yet.

No need to worry if you are not ready to migrate.  The classic user interface will be supported for some time.

How to Learn More

There are numerous resources available where you can learn more about the Lightning Experience. Check out the following resources:

* Aug 26 update - added link to recording

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Trailhead: One Year (Almost) Later

rtaImageOne of many exciting announcements coming out of Dreamforce ‘14 was the introduction of TrailheadSalesforce introduced its new guided learning platform, which combined educational material with interactive tutorials.  Best of all, you track your progress through points and badges adding a gamification element to learning.

Trailhead is Born

Since its launch with three trail trails and a handful of modules, it seems nothing can stand in the way of Trailhead’s continued growth.  While its initial focus was on developers, the most recent update this week eliminates any doubt that Trailhead is the learning platform for all.  Newly released modules and trails cover CRM Basics, Accounts & Contacts and Leads & Opportunities.  While prior updates have included Administrator focused content as well Beginner and Intermediate, this update seems to be the start of something more.

Learning for All

Looking forward, I would not be surprised to see more content focused across a wider audience within Trailhead.  The first hints of this come with the new Dreamforce Trail which helps you get ready for Dreamforce ‘15.  In a year from now, we will probably be talking about Trailhead being the one stop shop for learning everything about Salesforce and bemoaning how tough life was BT (Before Trailhead).

My Trailhead Addiction

I have to admit, I am a certified Trailhead addict and try to jump on the modules as soon as they come out. There are a couple of mobile modules and project that I have yet to complete.  However, I have blazed all of the other trails, including the the new modules that were recently released.  Let’s take a deeper look at a module that I particularly enjoyed in the new release – Event Monitoring.

Trailhead’s Event Monitoring Module

The Spring ‘15 Release introduced a new Event Monitoring API that enables access to the same information Salesforce has to understand how your Salesforce Org is being used.  Access to the insight in these events makes it easy to identify abnormal patterns and help secure your data.  The module has three challenges to it. 

The first is Getting Started with Event Monitoring, which provides an overview of the feature, what can be tracked as well as several use cases for event monitoring.  Event monitoring provides tracking for over 29 different types of events including:

  • Logins
  • Logouts
  • URI (web clicks)
  • UI (mobile clicks)
  • Visualforce page loads
  • API Calls
  • Apex executions
  • Report exports

With all this detailed information at your fingertips, on possible use case is to monitor for data loss.  For example, when a sales person leaves, use event monitoring to look for any abnormal report export activity to prevent your customer list from landing with a competitor.

Query Event Log Files is the second challenge in the module.  Once you have the correct permissions to use event monitor, head over to Workbench to use the SOQL Query Editor or REST Explorer to take a look at events in your org.  While both SOAP and REST APIs exist to query event log file, there are key differences which the unit helps explain.  I especially like the REST examples and results presented in Trailhead. With REST you can query for a Log File ID and then return a CSV of the results.


The last step to earning your Event Monitoring Badge is the Download and Visualize Event Log Files challenge.  There are multiple methods to downloading Event Log files, including a browser app (check out the module for full details).  Once you have the data in hand, you can use your favorite tools to analyze and chart trends over time.

While I have no doubt Excel and Google Docs will be popular choices, I love the option to push the data into the Salesforce Analytics Cloud.  You have the benefits of a platform built to explore data and unlock insights.  Best of all, as another Salesforce cloud, it is easy to share results with the rest of the team.  For example, I pulled out the event log for API calls, loaded them into the Analytics Cloud and reported occurrence by IP address.


What Will You Learn Next

By now, I hope you are as excited as I am to learn something new.  Head on over to Trailhead, pick a module or trail and expand your knowledge today.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My IoT Adventure

I recently ordered a set of littleBits, to get the kids involved with some basic circuitry (need to put the old computer engineering degree to use now and then). I couldn’t resist the cloudBit kit, with its ability to connect what we built to the internet.  It also helped that the Bit Olympics were about to begin.  A three week competition to improve sports through technology was a perfect opportunity to share our project with a community.

The sport we selected for our project was ice hockey.  Previously, the kids and I had worked on a Lego model of our minor league hockey team.  A new area had been built and the puck dropped on the inaugural season for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last fall. After attending a game, my son was set on building a replica of the PPL Center out of Legos.  Since there is not a packaged set for this, it was a free build extraordinaire.

With our medium set, it was on to building out our littleBits circuit.  There are certain traditional aspects of sports that should not be messed with.  In our case, the horn and red light when a goal is scored.  We kept those in place with a long led and buzzer from the littleBit collection.  However, we improved it with the cloudBit. With a motion trigger in the goal, followers receive a text whenever a goal is scored.  This is accomplished with a a simple IFTTT recipe that we wrote as the standard library did not have what we wanted.

You can check out our complete entry or the video of the working project.

Check out all the entries a the projects site, as well as the grand bitOlympian and other winners.  So I can now say I have officially arrived on the Internet of Things.