Arkus Blog

The official Arkus blog provides your weekly dose for all thing Salesforce. Stay on top of the latest, most relevant Salesforce features, applications, and best practices.

How Apple Helps and Hurts with iCloud

Terminology for Cloud Computing has been getting used and overused in the last decade so how does Apple's new iCloud help or hurt the movement.
How Apple Helps and Hurts with iCloud

How Apple Helps and Hurts with iCloud

Cloud Computing is a term used for everything from a true virtualized, multi-tenant internet hosted environment to a server accessed over the internet. Add to that all of the branches to the terminology tree like Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and private clouds and the simple explanation gets very muddied for most consumers.

Jobs Does Clouds

At Apple's 2011 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) yesterday, Apple released a host of new software including iOS 5 and OSX Lion but those didn't shake the cloud computing world like iCloud. The new iCloud service is a replacement of MobileMe which which starts with ad-free email and syncing of contacts and calendar. The new features include syncing and full back up of all applications, documents and books across all iOS and OSX devices such as the Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Call it drop box for Apple devices. Photo Stream does the same for photos making them available instantly from one device to another automatically. Last but certainly not least is iTunes in the Cloud that will push purchases down to all devices while also scanning, matching and hosting all songs in your library for $24.99 a year. All in all an incredible bundled set of features and software that made a few waves with consumers and competitors alike.

How It Hurts

While most cloud computing platforms are open to anyone with a web browser Apple has once again created a pretty closed environment. All the syncing back and forth is really based on having an iOS 5 device which is a big revenue stream to Apple. A lot of what Apple is doing with its cloud platform is very Apple specific which goes against some of the pillars of the public cloud. Imagine if Google suddenly made Google Apps only work on Android devices.

Also, while the name iCloud does highlight the cloud it also makes it seem like another Apple creation like the iPod and iMac. While Apple has been in the computing and specifically cloud computing space for awhile with MobileMe, they didn't invent it or haven't really done a great job at it. Even Steve Jobs made fun of MobileMe on stage at the event yesterday.

The last negative to the iCloud is the functionality itself. While all the documents, music, contacts and applications are syncing through a multi-tenant internet based platform, the actual work being done on these items is dependant on devices. Unlike Google and Salesforce.com who house the actual applications and provide access via the internet browser, Apple is just propagating data across from device to device.

How It Helps

While cloud computing has lots of name recognition thanks to companies like Salesforce.com, Amazon, and Google, it is still not very main stream. Most people understand it means something about the internet, but not really sure how it all works or what benefits it has. Apple has always been the master of taking a difficult concept and packaging it into a consumable product. Everyone can describe an iPod and iPhone or how the iPad is cool while the MP3 music player, smart phone and tablet computer might not get the same excitement or understanding. The new iCloud product will have lots of consumers of all ages asking about this "cloud thing" and how it could benefit them. They will likely get to know the cloud as something that syncs everything seemlessly to the internet and "just works", which are all positives.

Don't get me wrong in this article, I am very excited about all the new features and functions coming in iCloud and love the raising of the bar when it comes to cloud computing. Syncing is one of the hardest things to do and probably why most companies stay away from trying to tackle it. If Apple can provide all of the features in iCloud that "just work" the consumers are the winners in the end.

Hurt or help? Tweet me your thoughts @JasonMAtwood.

iCan't Wait for iCloud - Episode #46 of CloudFocus Weekly

Justin's inner and outer circle, iCloud iComing, Database.com sneak peak, Google +1 and drops some browser bombs. App picks of the week.
iCan't Wait for iCloud - Episode #46 of CloudFocus Weekly

iCan't Wait for iCloud - Episode #46

Social Circles

How I use different personas on social networks to reach and satisfy different audiences.
Social Circles

Social Circles

I have been using social media for a long while now and since starting Arkus I have had to augment my usage of certain platforms. Whenever I post something on a social media site I have to think to myself, as a Founder and C-level executive of a company would the content of this post be ok for anyone who could possibly see it to see actually see it? While I am thinking through the lense of an owner of a company these concepts and strategies described within this post can be used by anyone. With the aforementioned question in mind, I have created a matrix or rules for myself as I continue to use social media to interact with friends, family, customers, fellow community advocates, and business contacts - I call these rules the Inner and Outer Circles. Below I will outline my strategy for how I use different social media outlets to connect with people and extend my personal brand while maintaining my awareness of how anything I say can impact my company.

The Inner Circle and Outer Circle

I created two concepts for myself, the inner circle and the outer circle. By defining which social media outlets belong in which circles I can then force my behavior to follow the rules for each circle. The inner circle are people that are close friends, family, and my fellow Arkus partners. The inner circle gets to hear about what I ate for breakfast, how the Yankees or New York Jets are playing, and see pictures of my favorite food and beverage spots. The outer circle consists of former co-workers, people who have common interests out there on the internet, people who work in my industry, and sometimes random people who I only know through association with other outer circle people.


Where Do I Post That?

For the inner circle I use Facebook and Foursquare. The inner circle group are friends with me on these platforms because they are more personal. Facebook for example has information about who I am dating, pictures of my family, and random posts about my mood at any given point. I would only want my closest of my inner circle to actually be my friend on Facebook because I wouldn't want anything I said there to be too public and potentially harm my image with customers or partners. Foursquare is even more personal so I am even more picky about who I connect with because at any given point my friends on Foursquare know exactly where I am. While I enjoy the game aspect of Foursquare with friends, I wouldn't want everyone in the world to know that I just checked in at my apartment (sad but true fact - I am the mayor of my apartment building).

 

For the outer circle I use LinkedIn and Twitter. For my loosely affiliated networking contacts that I want to keep in touch with I prefer to connect with them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is perfect for keeping connections with co-workers, former co-workers, and people who work in my similar field. They only get to see information about me that I post on my profile which is all about my career. I want to know that I can quickly touch base with a former colleague or peer if I have to. As for Twitter I have multiple identities and I do this for a reason. I have my professional persona that uses my real picture, my real name, and my work email address. I also have separate personas for different things that I want to talk about in a more niche environment like my favorite sports team. Twitter is extremely public so everything I say on Twitter goes through the outer circle concept. Mind you, the outer circle does get real updates about real things that I care about, they just don't get to see where I am at every moment of the day and with whom I am eating dinner. It just isn't relevant for the people in the outer circle to see those types of updates.

 

Why All These Circles?

The notion of my professional outward facing persona is one that I am very careful with. I don't want one of my largest customers seeing pictures of my cat or pictures of me pigging out on some delicious BBQ because it's not relevant to those people. I want the ability to reach those customers in an appropriate way, hence the inner circle and outer circle rules. It's very simple to create your own inner and outer circles and then stick to them while being extremely social on the web. Just think about who the audience is for each platform that you want to participate on and then stick the rules of the inner and outer circle.


If you want to get social with me about this post feel free to comment via Twitter at www.twitter.com/justedelstein or on Arkus' Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arkusinc.

My Car is My Best Friend - Episode #45 of CloudFocus Weekly

Salesforce gets social with Toyota and Metallica, Twitter buys/builds and we go on not one, but two rat holes before our App Picks of the Week.
My Car is My Best Friend - Episode #45 of CloudFocus Weekly

My Car is My Best Friend - Episode #45

Cloud Computing & Construction: Like Hammer and Nail

A look at how the construction industry could leverage the Force.com platform.
Cloud Computing & Construction: Like Hammer and Nail

Cloud Computing & Construction: Like Hammer and Nail

We recently built an application on the Force.com platform that dealt with the project management aspect of the construction industry. I have many friends in the field of construction as project managers so as we built out this project it made me wonder if the construction industry is leveraging the power of Force.com and the cloud?  After spending a few minutes looking on the Appexchange and Google, I was able to find a few cloud based solutions for project management specific to the construction industry but unable to find much in regards to Salesforce.com.  Project managers are responsible for many moving parts on a job (as they are in all industries). They manage multiple vendors, materials, schedules, and project plans. With a lot of this functionality easily configurable, why wouldn't the construction industry look to leverage the leading Cloud Platform? Here is a little breakdown on what it might take to deliver this solution on the Force.com platform.

Configuring the App

Since the Force.com platform gives you Accounts and Contacts an easy and cost effective approach is to have each project represented by the Account object. With related objects such as Materials, Activities, and Equipment it makes Accounts a one stop shop for managing projects. One of the trickiest parts of the process depending on the company needs is scheduling. Most people associated with the project will not be users and will therefore be Contacts potentially leveraging Contact Roles to track people's roles on a given project. This is simple but what if attendance needs to be tracked? There are a couple ways to do this using either Events or a custom object to store dates and times when people are on the job. The reporting needs will likely dictate the approach taken here.

Mobile and Chatter

Other then the cost effectiveness of building on the Force.com platform, mobile and collaboration are the two biggest reasons for this being such a good fit. Mobile Lite comes with the Salesforce license and if you can arm your key employees with iPads, managing these projects becomes easier. Every construction company is mobile. Once they win the bid, it is all about managing the actual construction site and communication back to corporate for status updates. Throw in Chatter and you have real-time collaboration from all the key stakeholders. Chatter can save on travel and onsite visits as everything lives in the app (the accountants will be happy).

The icing on the cake is the built in analytics that Force.com provides. No more big Excel sheets and many manual hours updating them or using some other application that might cost a fortune and not give you what you want.

Custom Development, If You Want

In my scenario, the application is configured just using the out of the box point and click features of Salesforce. If you have the money and need more then that, no problem. Leveraging VisualForce and or some potential Appexchange applications you can add more functionality or more in depth visualizations of the data. Maybe you need gantt charting for project plans or want your schedules represented in a calendar view. Most everything you can think of is either already in the AppExchange or can be built by a Salesforce.com implementation partner. There are risks and long term ownership costs associated with doing custom development so make sure it is something core to your process and not just a nice to have.

In my scenario above, I outlined a pretty quick out of the box approach to building an application on the Force.com platform tailored to the construction industry. Considering the cost savings of no hardware, less travel, and possibly less staff, why wouldn't the construction industry move to the Salesforce.com platform? Maybe its just awareness and hopefully this blog spreads the word!

Austin Sauce - Episode #44 of CloudFocus Weekly

A week of travel, but we are back with an IPO, NYC goes social, Google updates and Netsuite gets Yammerized. A big set of app picks of the week.
Austin Sauce - Episode #44 of CloudFocus Weekly

Austin Sauce - Episode #44

Tech Travel: Great Apps and Tech Gear to Help You Travel Like a Pro

A look some of the great gear and mobile applications that can help you reach the next level of travel.
Tech Travel: Great Apps and Tech Gear to Help You Travel Like a Pro

Cloud Computing & Construction: Like Hammer and Nail

I have done a fair amount of traveling in my life and I am always working on perfecting "The Pack" when it comes to travel. From the perfect suitcase, to the right amount of underwear to take, finding the right mix has been part game and part obsession. While I might not have it nailed yet, here are some of the things that I never travel without.

Tech Travel Gear

I will skip the obvious things like laptops, cell phones, and power cords since those are just the staples of any good trip and get down to taking your tech packing to the next level.

  • iPad: With all due respect to the rest of the tablet market, the iPad is absolutely the best travel companion out there. Load it up with travel apps (see below), games, and enough movies to last you the flight and entertain you while on your trip from room to poolside. If you are looking for content don't forget to add Netflix or Hulu as well download a bunch of podcasts to catch up on.
  • Great Earphones: Go beyond the everyday pair you use to commute or jog and get a big, over the ear pair from Sony or Bose that both provide great sound and block out ambient noise. Sure they are a little bigger and bulkier, but your ears will thank you at 30,000 feet. I have been using the same Sony Studio Pro Headphones for over 10 years and they keep on providing great value.
  • Cords & Connectors: Once you have power covered move on to the other cords that will help you out when you get there. I start off with making sure I have everything HDMI, with a Mini DVI -> HDMI, the iPad HDMI connector and a six foot HDMI cord to create a mobile entertainment center that can be hooked up to almost any hotel TV. I also bring spare USB and Ethernet cords just in case as well as every other Mini DVI adapter that Apple makes.
  • BYON (Bring Your Own Network): Not only do I suggest bringing a Verizon 4G Mifi for the airport, I also always pack an Apple Airport Express for the hotel room. There might free wifi in the hotel, but it can be spotty and unreliable depending where the access points are. An Airport Express connected to hotel ethernet can create a robust, personal network in every corner of your room or suite.

 

There Is a Travel App For That

TripIt (Free): Your travel plans should start and finish with www.TripIt.com. The online service allows you to forward all the confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com where TripIt will build your itinerary from start to finish. From the website you can add travelers, change plans or just print it all out to hand to others. Download the universal iOS application and your entire trip will be on your iDevice with up to date information and confirmation numbers.

FlightTracker Pro ($4.99) / Kayak Flight Status (Free): Both of these applications track flights, with alerts and interactive maps. FlightTracker Pro adds the benefit of grabbing all your flight data from TripIt (see above) so there is no double entry. It also integrates with FlightBoard ($3.99) that replicates the flight boards that are around the airport displaying boarding gates and delays of every flight in the airport.

To round out the travel apps make sure not to ignore all of the branded version from airlines like American and Delta, to hotels like Hyatt and Hampton as well as rental cars like Hertz. While most of these apps have limited functionality some offer logins to rewards points, check ins or just good locators for service.

If you have great travel tips or applications be sure to send them over to me at Twitter @JasonMAtwood or drop them on the Arkus Facebook page.

IO Here We Come - Episode #43 of CloudFocus Weekly

Skype gets bought by Microsoft, everyone panics, Google releases more than a mouth full and we discuss it all (or most of it). Our app picks of the week.
IO Here We Come - Episode #43 of CloudFocus Weekly

IO Here We Come - Episode #43

The Core is Heating Up

A look at five Ideas on the Salesforce IdeaExchange that are specific to the core.
The Core is Heating Up

The Core is Heating Up

As of late on this very blog, the Dreamforce Portal, and other well read media outlets the issue of the Salesforce Core has been heating up. Advocates and evangelists alike have all been clamoring for more core functionality and less add-ons and acquisitions. As recently as this week a popular blog ButtonClickAdmin.com has started a "True to the Core" series. This has inspired me to go onto the IdeaExchange and pick out five extremely popular ideas that are all core related that have yet to be delivered. For the uninitiated to the Core movement it can be extremely well summed up by the originator of the Core Idea @aglue (Andres Gluecksmann) on this blog post but essentially it's a movement to make Salesforce more aware of the fact that users want core functionality enhanced and focused on before major big splash announcements of acquisitions or flashy updates to Chatter. Core functionality to me consists of Sales Force Automation, activity management, and business process automation.

Universal Picklists - 16,780 Votes

The idea for universal picklists would help admins and developers immensely when it comes to data quality and time to market with solutions. Currently if you have two objects that have identical picklists you must keep them in sync manually. This is a time consuming task and often one that goes undone or is forgotten. A major use case for this would be on Leads and Contacts. Often times you will have a custom picklist on a Lead and map that field upon coversion to a Contact - wouldn't it make sense if those two fields were universal so you didn't have to change both of them whenever a new value gets added?

 

Map Leads Fields to Multiple Objects - 3,350 Votes

Often times when converting a Lead you want to map a field to multiple places or objects. As the original idea states this already happens with address fields so why can't it work with a fax number or a description? As a matter of fact, to go a step further it would be nice to convert a Lead to multiple objects aside from Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities. A setting for mapping a Lead to a custom object like a Project, Application, or whatever would be a greatly appreciated feature.

Map Custom Lead Fields to Standard Contact Fields - 1,870 Votes

Another in the long list of Lead Conversion core issues is the fact that you can't map a custom field on a Lead to a standard field on a Contact. Flexibility around where fields can get mapped in general is a pressing issue with Leads. Often times when talking to clients they are baffled as to why certain fields can only go to certain places and not others without having to write a custom Lead conversion in APEX.

 

Use Tags In Reports and Campaigns - 5,990 Votes

I could go on and on with this one forever. For starters, Tags are a wonderul thing. They allow users to add their own meaningful meta data to records and sort them and store them how they think of them which in itself is useful but only to a certain point. If you can't do anything else with the tag aside from clicking on it and seeing a list of other records tagged the same way the feature kind of goes downhill. What users really want is the ability to add their own tags then use those tags as filters in reports or as filters in Campaign searches. Having these two features alone would make Tags so much more useful. The tag feature is like a microcosm of what is going on with the Core right now. Salesforce releases a feature then enhances it for a release or two then leaves it alone to go work on other things while leaving the feature they developed as not very useful. There is a catch 22 here where Salesforce can say something like - people weren't using Tags so we focused our efforts elsewhere - but users can say if Tags were more useful we would use them.

 

Multiple Contacts to be Allowed on One Activity - 41,890

The mother of all Core issues. This one has been around for as long as I can remember but still a user cannot relate more then one Contact to an Event or Task. This is trully a core architecture issue that has yet to be solved but is extremely vital to being able to get that true 360 degree view of all Contacts inside your CRM. Without the ability to relate all the people that are associated with an Activity it is impossible to see whether or not a person was involved in a key conversation, meeting, or email. I am hoping that this single feature gets announced on stage by Marc Benioff during a keynote at Dreamforce 2011 to a rousing round of applause.

I have included links to all of the ideas I have referenced above so that you can make your voice heard in the cause for fixing the Core. Mind you, I am a complete Salesforce fanboy and I only point out these issues as a way to draw attention to them so that ultimately the product grows and becomes even better then it already is. To join the cause you can do a few things - join the True to the Core group on the Dreamforce 2011 portal, re-tweet this post with hashtag #fixthecore, vote for the Idea that started it all on the IdeaExchange, and obviosuly vote on all the ideas above.

If you have any questions or want to talk more about the Core tweet me @justedelstein, leave some feedback on our Facebook page, or go to the Dreamforce App and post at me on the True to the Core group.

 

**vote tallies are as of the time of this blog post

Virtualized Comedy - Episode #42 of CloudFocus Weekly

Flight Check, Google's Leak, Chatter Bucks, Pandora is LOL and Rackspace takes a slice out of Slicehost. A triple pack of picks of the week.
Virtualized Comedy - Episode #42 of CloudFocus Weekly

Virtualized Comedy - Episode #42

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