Winter is coming

winter15

Warning – blog contains safe harbour features, subject to change without notice!

​Time to turn the heat up again with an army of new features in the shape of Winter ‘15 – gather round, let’s see what is in store.

Let’s start with the Beta stuff:

Dupeblocker, sorry I mean “Duplicate Alert and Blocking” arrives in beta. Chris love his data clean and is trying to get on the beta to test this one as we speak. It mentions Data.com in the release notes; anyone else notice this and what’s the relevance? This is going to be potentially a huge feature for Salesforce, even if it’s a tad disrupting for existing ISVs in that space.

​Accessing external systems data is getting much closer as the platform looks to consume external data with the new “Platform Connect” feature. Information is light on the ground about this one at the moment in terms of costs and true availability. Think of the feature as the benefits of a normal object, but with all the data from an outside system presented as if they were normal objects (e.g. as related lists on page layouts and via analytics). As Salesforce steps up the Analytics assault we can imagine that this feature will be “Seriously Hot” over the coming months.

​Custom Lookup fields are at long last now available on activities. You can now create additional lookup fields to existing objects in the system for those times when What and Who related fields are just not enough. Not too much to say here apart from Activities are Awesome now!

Salesforce1 Mobile

The wizards are taking over! Confused about actions, global actions and getting those layouts compact enough mobile? Well wizard magic will now guide you through the majority of the configuration for the navigation menu, global actions and customisation of compact layouts. Once you have the learnt from the wizard, the rest should be easy to master.

​I have mentioned this a few posts back: running your business on your phone is fast becoming a reality. Lead management on the go gets a full boost with the ability to convert leads to contacts, plus the previously mentioned duplicate blocking functionality will also play nicely in Salesforce1. Once the lead has been converted you may want to be follow up by creating Opportunities, and we now have the ability to add products to the opportunity on the move. If you are like me with your priorities constantly chopping and changing, the new simplified date picker means you can easily push task due dates out using simple selects like TomorrowNext Week, etc.

Hold up, I could spend all day on Salesforce1 at this rate, let’s just close this off with this: Charts are everywhere and when surfaced in the mobile app can be easily shared via Chatter with a few simple clicks.

Dreamforce alert – after Dreamforce I’m sure we will be returning to Charts and Analytics like you have never seen before, I just have the feeling.

Communities Updates

Next is one of my favourite areas of the product, Communities. I have been entrenched with a couple of massive community projects over the last year and it’s turning out to be a real differentiator for Salesforce. I turn in my grave when I hear ‘portal’ now! I have even persuaded my friend to go all in with it with his company and start building out communities.

So many new features in this community ( had to say that, sorry)!  We have a beta of the new Community Designer tool to make those pixel pushers very happy as they can quickly design, build and deploy pages which look both great on the desktop and which are mobile responsive using declarative means.

Remember the old customer and self-service portals, these are going away slowly in favour of communities. You can create self-service communities quickly using templates which have some lovely names to go with, Kokua, Koa and Napili! These are focused around the core areas of self-service, knowledge and mobile.

Overall general community management has improved with a number of identity based features and the long overdue HTTPS support for custom domains. Analytics feature heavily for communities (told you charts are everywhere!). Lots of additional analytics will be made available across the board for communities including the roll out a new Salesforce Communities Analytics package which you can install from the AppExchange after Winter ‘15 drops.

Sales Cloud

Sales updates in Winter ‘15 is really Territory Management 2.0 which hit GA, as long as you don’t have Customisable Forecasting enabled. For orgs created before Winter ‘15 you will have to contact Salesforce. I’m going to stop there as territory management and forecasting has some of the most complicated dependencies in the product and are worth dedicating a post to in their own right.

Worth mentioning, custom fields are now supported for Opportunity Splits. Hello, most people need to split more than just opportunity amount! Mentioned up top, the new duplicates management features play well with the Sales Cloud.

Service Cloud

For Service in Winter ‘15, less is more this time. Agents get a boost with more information on the compact feed. We also just love dragging and dropping files into attachments to make getting those files which can help customers even quicker.

In keeping with less is more, this tiny feature is going to be a big hit: include CC’ed email address on auto-response messages sneaks in there to keep those customer focused peeps happy.

Thought social customer service had gone quiet? We are getting a new Social Customer Service Starter Pack (Pilot), Google+ Social Customer Service (Pilot), Sina (if doing business in China) Weibo Social Customer Service (Pilot) with more and more of Radian6 getting integrated into the core product.

As always, we love to get feedback on what you are looking forward to next month when Winter 15 preview drops!

​Coming soon: watch out for our post on Winter ‘15 for developers

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