Blog Posts

Cloud Companies Making Giving Back as Easy as Their Technology

Read how Google and Salesforce.com made giving back easy during this holiday season and why companies should follow suit.
Cloud Companies Making Giving Back as Easy as Their Technology

How easy it can be!

    Throughout my life I have always tried to find time to give back to the community. Since I have dedicated my career to efficiency, it always bothered me that most of the charities I donated my time to were inefficient. There always seemed to be wasted time on process and procedures that could of been spent on actually making a difference. In the last month however I got participate in two really forward thinking organizations and how they made giving back easy and efficient.

    Dreamforce '10 - Stop Hunger Now

    Most people involved with Salesforce.com know about Marc Beniof's 1/1/1 corporate philanthropy model and how Salesforce.com is very focused on giving back to the community. For the newbies, Salesforce.com gives 1% of their product, 1% of their time and 1% of their equity to qualified 501(c)3 organizations and NGO's with their own foundation. As part of their corporate DNA they dedicate a large portion of Dreamforce to promoting and evangelizing philanthropy. This year the Dreamforce '10 organizers brought the charitable activities into the conference by placing stations inside the Moscone Center. One of stations to donate time was Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world. In the limited time I participated, I was able to make about 40 meals to be distributed to needy people around the world. It was an amazing experience and took all of one minute to learn what I needed to do and get going. In just twenty minutes, I felt I made a difference.

    Google Chrome for a Cause Extension

    Google launched an extension last week to help raise money and awareness in addition to promoting their browser. During last week, for each tab you opened in Google Chrome a donation would be made to a charity. At the end of the day, you could allocate which charities you wanted your "tabbed" donation to fund. Google raised over one million dollars in this effort and promoted charities around the world. Making a difference with a click of a mouse, what a great concept.

    Future of Philanthropy

    Both Salesforce.com and Google have set a standard as to how all companies could run their philanthropic efforts. Could you imagine what could be done for causes if all companies adopted these models? I hope exisiting organizations take notice how these programs made it so easy for people to participate and promote. I know everything can't be as simple as clicking a mouse but if organizations spent some time on how to make their process simple, I think it would go a long way.

    Happy Holidays! 

 

Why So Many Clouds? A Dreamforce '10 Reaction

After spending a week in San Francisco for the Salesforce.com User and Developer Conference Dreamforce I have some questions around the strategy of the Salesforce.com platform - mainly, why so many clouds?
Why So Many Clouds? A Dreamforce '10 Reaction

How many clouds are too many clouds?

For years Salesforce.com has been building up their brand as the leading cloud computing Platform as a Service. As part of their strategy they have always displayed the platform in swim-lanes with little chick-lets representing different parts of their platform. This swim-lane always had their products or clouds at the top including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Force.com, and most recently Chatter Collaboration Cloud. These four clouds worked - it was concise, understandable, and all of the functionality within the chick-lets below fit within these four product lines.


Muddying The Waters

 

At Dreamforce '10 Salesforce muddied the waters by adding four new clouds to the top of the swim-lane chart. Some were logical like Jigsaw Data Cloud and Database.com but others didn't make a whole lot of sense to me - the Heroku Cloud and the Remedyforce Cloud don't seem like clouds that should be on the top level of the Salesforce.com

branding/platform stack - they seem to be squeezed in to the chart in the wrong area.

The Heroku Cloud is an acquisition of a Ruby development platform that lives in the cloud. This is a nice acquisition for Salesforce because it opens up their platform to even more developers and yet another language, but, shouldn't Ruby development be just a chick-let within the Force.com platform? Why it's own cloud on the top of the PaaS Pyramid? The Force.com platform should be the most important item on the chart with all functionality or products that fall under it, not be an equal to another development platform that happens to run within Force.com.


False Cloud? No. Too Many Clouds? Yes.

 

For my money the worst offender is the Remedyforce or the Remedy cloud because this just seems like a product that BMC software built and sold to Salesforce. Doesn't this belong in the Appexchange? It seems to dilute the value of having something called ISVforce for partners if you are just going to buy a product that a large software company built. I understand that it proves the viability of the

Force.com platform but isn't the point of having the platform and an app marketplace to encourage independent developers to develop their product on the platform and sell it themselves? I just don't understand why Salesforce would go this route of purchasing an app and not even rebranding it in any way shape or form like they did with Ideas and Content; and to make matters worse, put it on the top of their platform chart with it's own cloud. Remedy might be a great product for internal IT organizations but couldn't BMC just sell it on the Appexchange? Next thing you know every large partner of Salesforce will get their own cloud on top of the branding chart. Soon there will be more clouds then chick-lets and the whole message will be diluted.


Keep It Simple

 

To me the reason why Salesforce has been successful is that their messaging has been simple. You subscribe to a Platform as a Service and you get these things below in the chart according to your level of licensing. You want to use the Sales Cloud and build a custom app - go for it; you want to use the Service Cloud and tack on Chatter - go right ahead. Now though, with all these clouds on the top of the chart, I'm not even sure where to start...and it's my job to know these things! I guess I will be studying up like always after a Dreamforce.

If you want to talk more about the Clouds and how many there are feel free to comment on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arkusinc or send a tweet to me at www.twitter.com/JustEdelstein.

 

Dreamforce '10 T-Shirt Giveaway

We are having a little giveaway of some t-shirts we had made up for Dreamforce 10, read on for what you have to do to get your own.
Dreamforce '10 T-Shirt Giveaway

Safe Harbor T-Shirt by Arkus

We have been joking for years about the Safe Harbor statement that Salesforce.com puts up at the beginning of every presentation saying how it would make a great t-shirt. This year we turned the joke into reality and came up with the "Safe Harbor T-shirt" featuring the Arkus logo on the front and the a play on the safe harbor slide on the back with "Have You Seen Me?" written underneath. An inside joke for sure, but hopefully funny enough to wear to the gym or get a laugh at this years event.

The Giveaway

We at Arkus got these t-shirts made up for ourselves, but thought it might fun to give a few extras away so we created a social scavenger hunt game as a way to put some fun into it. All you have to do is complete the following tasks and show up to get your very own t-shirt, limited supplies so first come, first serve. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited.

Social Scavenger

  1. Follow @ArkusInc on twitter
  2. Like Arkus, Inc on Facebook
  3. Join the "Arkus T-Shirt Contest Group" in the Dreamforce portal
  4. Listen for the secret word in episodes 20 and 21 of CloudFocus Weekly podcast
  5. Collect your t-shirt in the dining area, at lunch on Tuesday December 7th

We will have a printed sheet with all of the people in the "Arkus T-Shirt Contest Group" and will verify that you made it through the social scavenger hunt and will hand you a t-shirt once you tell us the secret word that you heard during episode 20 or 21 of the CloudFocus Weekly podcast. Again, limited supplies so first come first serve.

Extra credit goes to anyone who leaves a raving review of the podcast in iTunes.

Hope to see you at Dreamforce in your new t-shirt.

Spreadsheet Wars! Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011 versus Goggle Spreadsheets

A comparison of the newest version of Excel for Mac and Google spreadsheets with a few tips for users of the Salesforce.com APEX dataloader.
Spreadsheet Wars!  Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011 versus Goggle Spreadsheets

I love spreadsheets, but which one?

I always was an Excel guy when it came to spreadsheets but recently I was introduced to Google spreadsheets and began using them with some of our clients. I also recently got my hands on the latest version of Excel for Mac and thought it might be a good idea to do a little comparison. So here it goes, and for you Salesforce.com APEX Dataloader users, look for a few tips!

Speed Test

The old version of Excel for Mac was super slow. It would literally take 10 seconds to boot up. I started to use Google spreadsheets to do some quick work based soley on speed. Though Google is based on how well your internet connection is it still was way faster then opening Excel. In Excel 2011, 1 click on the icon and I am up and running in a second. The speed doesn't stop there, the calculations are much faster as well. So since Excel is an installed application, I have to give the leg up to Excel.

Look and Feel

The worst thing Microsoft did to the newer versions of Excel was take away the formula toolbar in the menu. Well hallelujah, it's back! That toolbar being as a floater literally wasted hours of my time. Google Spreadsheets have a pretty classic Excel look to it which holds close to my heart. Google gets the leg up here for 2 reasons. First, most people don't need anymore then the formula bar and drop-down menu which in Excel's case, can get a bit overwhelming when all that is displayed. Secondly, even though Excel put the formula bar back, I'm still bitter that they removed it in the first place!

Collaboration

Google wins hands down on this topic. I can easily share spreadsheets with clients and colleagues in real time and truly collaborate with them. Excel is not even close, even though they say they can in their awful "To the cloud" commercials. Google spreadsheets can be shared and viewed with 2 things, an internet connection and an email address. That simple.

Functionality

From a functionality perspective, I go with Excel but that is based on the type of work I use it for. I don't think Google's first intent was to tackle the hardcore Excel users or programmers for that matter. Google provides all the same standard functionality that a regular spreadsheet user should need like standard calculation formulas. I have used Excel for years and years and from a functionality perspective, I get more. I cannot live without the "text to columns" feature and for you Salesforce.com dataloaders, this is a great way to correct formatting issues. Curious, shoot us an email and I will gladly provide more details!

Conclusion

All in all both are great spreadsheet tools and the release of Excel for Mac 2011 makes me very happy. Google docs are good but for now, I will use them for collaboration purposes only. I love Google, so in a way, I guess I challenge you to take me from my Excel island that I love so dear...

Salesforce.com Dataloader Tip #2: For data migration with complex owner hierarchy, use a master spreadsheet to hold all your ID's and then Vlookup formulas to pull them in.

3 Things I Love About the 2010 Dreamforce Application

For 2010 Salesforce.com put together an outstanding conference application called the Dreamforce App in order to manage their annual Developer and User Conference both pre-conference and during the conference. These are the top 3 things I love about it.
3 Things I Love About the 2010 Dreamforce Application

Dreamforce 2010 Global Gathering Logo

    There is nothing better then Dreamforce for a cloud computing junkie like me. All the people, the keynotes, the Cloud Expo, and breakout sessions all make for an outstanding few days of fun and professional development. This year Salesforce.com has taken their annual conference to the next level and it's in part thanks to a Cloud App that was built to manage the conference called the Dreamforce App. The App allows conference goers to organize everything they want to do while at the conference but with a few little twists - it's completely social and in my opinion a groundbreaking new way of running an event - see our earlier blog post about how the App is changing the conference experience alltogether.

    Here are my 3 favorite things about the Dreamforce App:

    The Agenda Builder:


    Every breakout session, special event (like the Stevie Wonder concert), individual learning session, networking opportunities, and keynotes are available to add to your agenda using an intuitive agenda builder tool. You can search or use filters to find relevant things that you want to accomplish at the event and add them to your personal calendar. The tool is smart enough this year to recognize when you are double booking yourself and even better the conference is smart enough this year to save you a seat when you book yourself into an event.

    Access:


    Since the Dreamforce App is meant to be social in nature everyone who is using it seems to have more access to the event this year then ever before. You can converse with the organizers of the event itself (Tom Wong), the Salesforce employees who are running breakout sessions, or even Marc Benioff. Thanks to the Dreamforce App I feel the most prepared I have ever felt going into a Dreamforce.

    Chatter:


    Of course the number one reason why the Dreamforce App is amazing is the use of Chatter throughout the app. As already mentioned access to the event is amazing this year and Chatter is the glue that is keeping it all together. There are Groups built up that are specific to verticals like the Higher Education Group or just plain communities of people that want to communicate and collaborate before the conference starts like the Awesome People Group. There are even groups built specifically to help other users with issues in their Salesforce instances acting as a quasi help desk called the Challenge Us Group. Personally I am enjoying the groups that are put together for people to have fun in like the Football Fanatics Group. I honestly feel like I've already met a large number of people and the event is still 3 weeks away! The notion of being able to collaborate and communicate with people from all over the world about a conference far in advance of the event actually taking place is stunning and extremely powerful. Chatter is persistent throughout the application - it exists as not only a personal profile and groups but also on sessions themselves so you can have a pre-discussion about a session topic with the leader of the session itself lending an opportunity to mold the session into something that you are really interested in learning about. It also exists on all the Cloud Expo vendors and partners so conversations can occur around them as well. Chatter really makes the application a destination for me - I enjoy logging in every day and conversing with fellow attendees.

    I can't wait to see what the next release of the application is going to bring on November 23rd and 24th which is later this week. It should hopefully include Chattalytics and an update to the Campground Hero Theatre.

    To sign up for Dreamforce head on over to www.dreamforce.com and make sure to read our previous post about the top 10 reasons to go to Dreamforce. If you want to give me some feedback or lend some thoughts about why you think the Dreamforce App is so #Awesome then shoot me a tweet at twitter.com/justedelstein OR if you are attending Dreamforce login to the portal and post something on my profile by searching for Justin Edelstein.