With some of the seriously chilly weather we’ve recently been experiencing on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s fair to say that Spring feels a long way away at the moment.
And it looks like the folks at Salesforce agree, having just delayed the expected arrival of their Spring ’14 release to an as-yet-unconfirmed date, owing to their identifying “open items related to the performance and functionality of the release”.
So, it won’t be here quite as soon as we thought and hoped. But when it does arrive, what new functionality and features can we look forward to seeing? Here we take a sneak peek into the release notes and pick out five key sets of features we think will be big hits with the community.
The Knowledgeable People feature we learned about at Dreamforce makes it into the Spring release. This has the potential to aid adoption as it’ll enable many customers to use Chatter as an internal knowledge base and support community. But, as we wrote back in December, we’d want the algorithm to be clever enough to work out who’s good at answering questions on important topics rather than who’s good at asking them.
Chatter Announcements will allow administrators and group managers to ensure that important announcements are highlighted and stuck to the top of a group. This will be useful as well-used groups, the most popular by definition, can see their important posts swamped quickly by other activity. You’ll also be able to specify announcement expiry dates too, which will reduce the admin burden of having to clean up a load of old sticky notes which are no longer relevant.
The existing Chatter feature of Topics will soon be available for objects, so admins and users will be able to, for example, tag each competitor account or asset with a #CompetitiveIntelligence topic. There are a number of good use cases for this – helped by the fact the topics will be available in object list view filters – but I think true value would come if the assignment of topics could be included in workflow rules. Just think about being able to create an automated rule that means whenever an opportunity reaches a threshold of $100,000 it gets tagged with the #BigDeal topic.
Does your business have a set of recurring tasks which you’d like to auto-schedule? Worried that a new task might be created before the first has been completed? You’re going to love the repeating tasks feature. You can set a task to recur a specified number of days after it’s either due or (more likely) completed. Just wait to you tell your sales team that their monthly account calling just got easier.
Starting in Spring 14, workflow can now trigger flows. Because workflow rules do their business behind the scenes, the flows they kick off can’t be ones with any user interaction, but even so this seems like an important step towards the nirvana of being able to use workflow to create records. We know that’s on the roadmap (Safe Harbor) so are we asking too much to see it in the Summer 14 release?
There are quite a few improvements to reporting in this release. The new report filter of My Direct Reports will help managers; enhanced floating headers and flexible sorting (being able to specify sort order at each grouping level) will help everyone; and the ability to export reports without footers will be seriously useful when using report exports for data loads and system integrations.
The Embedded Analytics feature which allows you to display charts from record-specific reports will soon be available in Salesforce1. In my eyes this feature is one of the best improvements we’ve seen in the last year or so, and making it compatible with the new platform and app should do much to further increase the adoption of such a useful feature. By the way, here’s just one reason it’s so useful (courtesy of the irrepressible SteveMo): because you can filter embedded reports by account ID, it allows you to show contact-related reports on account detail pages even though the account-contact relationship isn’t master-detail. Want to know what campaigns this account’s contacts have responded to? Boom, you got it.
For those of us who administer multiple orgs, or even just those who have a dev account on the go to test new ideas and tools, the Saved Usernames feature on the login page is going to save a chunk of time. Having said that, there’s already a nifty Chrome extension which allows you to go even further.
Spring 14 will also see the arrival of a brand new standard object – Order. The purpose of the Order object is to separate potential and won sales deals (Opportunities) from the delivery and fulfilment of those confirmed sales. In a way it bridges the gap between the Opportunity object and the rather static Contract object. So, its purpose is clear and justifiable – but in reality it’ll only help new SFDC customers, because if you’re already on the platform and you needed that ability, you’d presumably have built a custom object, installed a package or extended the Opportunity functionality to handle that already.
And finally, Data.com Clean jobs can now be configured to overwrite existing field values to ensure you always have the latest data at your fingertips. That’ll be really good news for firmographic data (number of employees, turnover etc) but be super-careful using this with contact information fields. I for one wouldn’t want Data.com overwriting the mobile number of a senior manager with the company’s switchboard. D’oh.
What do you think? Anything we’ve missed? Something you’re particularly looking forward to seeing? Or something that sounds promising but you can’t quite figure out how you might use it? Be sure to get in touch and let us know!