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.

Top 10 reasons to go to Dreamforce '10

The top 10 reasons why you should register for Salesforce.com's Dreamforce 2010. "The cloud computing event of the year!"
Top 10 reasons to go to Dreamforce '10

I'll be there, will you?

    In about 4 weeks time, over 20,000 people will be attending DreamforceSalesforce.com's yearly user and developer conference that has been labeled "The cloud computing event of the year." This year it will be better then ever and for those out there wondering why they should go I figured I would share my top 10:

    #10 Chance to visit San Francisco

    I know this isn't something you can bring to your boss to justify the cost but its worth pointing out. San Fransisco is a beautiful city that offers a lot to do. If you can plan to get out there a little earlier or stay an extra day or two, the city has many attractions like a tour of Alcatraz, Fisherman's wharf and the home of the 2010 World Series Champs the San Francisco Giants.

    #9 Hands-on Training

    Salesforce offers more then 30 hands-on training sessions from building custom applications, how to create valuable reports and dashboards to trying out the new features from the latest release. Its a great opportunity for administrators as well as general users to try something new that could save your company time and money!

    #8 "Wonder"-ful Entertainment

    Not only does the city have nice places to go after your busy days but Salesforce and some of its partners provide some very exciting entertainment! For starters, Salesforce always has a concert and this year you get to see a legend in Stevie Wonder! On top of that, there are always a slew of parties and sponsered events to attend where you can mingle with the experts and fellow clients.

    #7 Networking Goldmine

    It is literally impossible to not meet someone at Dreamforce. With 20,000+ people and a setup built to encourage conversation you are going to meet someone worth your while and not necessarily for business reasons. Some very good friends of mine today started with a conversation at Dreamforce. Add the Dreamforce portal which can help you setup meetings and get introduced to new people before the conference, you are foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity!

    #6 Inspiration and Motivation

    One of the biggest things I get from the conference every year is the insane amount of motivation. Whether it's CEO Marc Benioff talking about the future of the cloud and how we are all apart of it or the guest keynote speaker talking about our country, you feel inspired. This year's guest speaker is Bill Clinton and whether you like him or not, he is one of the best speakers I have ever heard. To give you more prospective, Marc's keynote last year was a major contributor to the creation of Arkus.

    #5 The Cloud Expo

    The Expo is a great place to meet new people and hear about new products that can potentially save you time and money. The biggest names in cloud computing are there to speak to you directly and in most cases gave you great takeaways to bring back to your office to share with your colleagues. Some of the previous names that I enjoyed talking to where HTC, Echosign, Informatica and Motorola. I will also mention Salesforce being on the floor because it's another great opportunity to get hands-on experience with new features like Chatter.

    #4 The Keynote

    The Keynote is something I particularly love. I know you can watch these on Youtube but there is nothing better then sitting live hearing Marc or other industry experts speak about the future of the cloud and actually showing you what is in store. To go back to the motivation piece, it really makes you feel like you are part of something special. And I will also say Marc always has some kind of surprise to share.

    #3 Free Stuff

    There is no conference or expo that you go to without coming home with some free stuff from a vendor. This conference is no different. I am not the kind of guy that looks for this kind of stuff but I will say the pair of crocs I got last year are pretty comfy. I will also mention, even though you paid for the conference, Salesforce always give you a nice little package. Last year, everyone got Marc's book, "Behind the Cloud" which is a great read.

    #2 Arkus will be there

    If you havent had a chance to meet us already, here is a great opportunity. We will not have a booth at the expo but we will be there and would be glad to spend a couple minutes talking about how we can help your company. You can reach us on the Dreamforce portal, tweet us at twitter.com/arkusinc or just look for the guys wearing the Arkus logo.

    #1 Education

    The most important thing you will get from the conference is an education on the cloud. Whether its hands-on training, client success stories or just walking around the expo, you are going to learn something new about the cloud. I look at this as the largest focus group your company could ever put together. You are exposed to what works and what doesn't, what products you didnt even know existed and potential vendors that help you succeed. It doesn't get any better then that!

    Conclusion
    So there is my list. I can't wait to go and hopefully my little points here can push you over the top and sign-up. If that wasn't enough, or if you need to convince your boss to let you go, Salesforce has a nifty little tool that can help you justify your trip - give it a shot. Whether its networking, learning or shopping for vendor, you will get it. I look forward to seeing you there and feel free to come say hello.





 

Top Dawg - Episode #15 of CloudFocus Weekly

College students using Salesforce.com, Ray Ozzie moves on, free Wordpress templates and news from Rackspace. Our app picks of the week.
Top Dawg - Episode #15 of CloudFocus Weekly

Top Dawg - Episode #15

College Students Take to the Clouds

Higher Education institutions around the country have a lot to gain by adopting cloud computing technologies - their students may have even more.
College Students Take to the Clouds

Tying a bow around the cloud and higher education

Over the last couple of weeks we have been writing about a few topics that pertain to the cloud, education, and consumer entertainment. In this post I plan to tie it all together like a ribbon around a diploma. Higher Education institutions have a lot to gain by using cloud computing technologies and by enabling their students with Cloud Tools.

Here's What We Know About College Students

 

  • they all have mobile devices
  • they have all grown up on the Internet
  • they use social networks to communicate


Here is where the interesting secret sauce happens - students using Salesforce.com to manage their activities at a University. I must shout out to Ed Schlesinger who is a leading proponent of college students using Salesforce to manage their daily lives using a product he has named StudentForce. There are a few things in play here - students are of the age where they would adopt a Chatter 2 enabled Salesforce.com application built out specifically to suit their needs of tracking classes, assignments, classmates, teachers, and documents. Add a Cloud TV type of scenario whereby students could access their lectures on demand via this service as well and you have a nice platform for learning where students can both access and post their assignments with their teachers all in a safe and secure environment.

I know that when I was in college I missed out on the Facebooks and the Friendsters and Twitter but I know for sure that I would have used a tool like this regardless. Students today have the advantage of already knowing how to use it and they more or less expect that a tool with the collaborative underpinnings of something like Chatter would be available for them to do their work. They likely can't imagine any other way of getting work done. Who would want to email a teacher when you could post something on their wall? Who needs a paper syllabus when you could have it online and in context of the work that you are doing within the course.

Straight A's For Everyone!


With the movement of more and more applications, entertainment, and communications to the cloud why wouldn't a University decide to pick up on this idea and run with it? It seems like a win win for everyone - students get to work the way they want to and are used to working, teachers get to engage more deeply in conversations with students, and the University gets the peace of mind in knowing that the environment is safe, secure, scalable, and audit-able. 

Consumer Cloudiness - Episode #14 of CloudFocus Weekly

Ways to save email with lessons from the social networks, the consumer web and cloud computing creep into the enterprise, the agenda builder is live in the Dreamforce portal and we end with our app picks of the week.
Consumer Cloudiness - Episode #14 of CloudFocus Weekly

Consumer Cloudiness - Episode #14

5 Ways Social Networks Can Save Email

A look at how some of the social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter are leaving email in the dust and what can be done to save it.
5 Ways Social Networks Can Save Email

www.tombstonebuilder.com

No Longer King

Email enjoyed a long life at the top of the charts in terms of internet usage, which at one point was over 250 billion emails a day. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter however, have taken over the scene with people leaving email as a result. The problems with email are clear as the virtual ink used to send it. Email suffers from junk mail, marketing blasts, searchability, trust and an inability to catch up with the features being offered on other platforms. Email standards have not progressed and the clients on the desktop have shown no innovation in years.

While companies like Google tried to re-invite email with Google Wave it never took hold for a variety of reasons including adoption and confusion. What Google Wave did show what could be done with a whole new take on email if we threw out the preconcieved ideas.

5 Ideas to Save Email

  1. New Protocol: IMAP/POP/MAPI are all old and outdated relying on standards set forth in the early days of the internet. Time for someone to step up and write the next email protocol that is based on an open standard, a great API and realtime collaboaration. This new standard should include ways to extend it with add-ons or plugins both from the client and server sides. Support things like hash tags and indented replies to make emails feel more like conversations but be more structured as a result.
  2. Get Social: The social web isn't going away anytime soon, it is where people work, play and communicate, so build it into email. Replace the address book with something that pulls in all your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Rethink the "Subject" of an email which has been replaced with a status. Build in the realtime nature of the social web and tag people instead of sending "to" them.
  3. Embrace Trust: SPAM is killing email because any spammer that can guess your email address can send you an email. Learn from the trusted social networks and only allow people who are in your social address book (see above) to send you a message. Accept users into your emails like "liking" or "linking in" with all other senders getting quarantined.
  4. Integrate: Everything about the social web starts with integration into other services. A post from twitter can show up on your Facebook status and Foursquare checkins can tweet your location to Twitter. Bring those integrations into email including geolocation, status and the ability to expose the social network of contacts. Get an email from someone and be able to see their tweets, Linked In profile or last location.
  5. Hybrid Approach: The next wave for email should take a highly hybrid approach, focusing on collaboration, standards and consistency. It will probably start with the web versions like Gmail and Yahoo since they are not bound by executables on the client side.

The Big Question

While all of this sounds good and would do a lot to save email from becoming the Instant Message of our times, in the end it comes down to a big question of "Can anyone make money on innovating email?" With the onlsaught of interactive ads and networks, I think the answer is yes.

Now, who is up to the challenge?

Cloud TV - Episode #13 of CloudFocus Weekly

Cloud entertainment is here to stay. We discuss the players and the future and include our CloudFocus App Picks of the Week.
Cloud TV - Episode #13 of CloudFocus Weekly

Cloud TV - Episode #13

I Want My Cloud TV!

How the cloud is transforming the entertainment experience.
I Want My Cloud TV!

Cloud Television

Whether we know it or not, we have all been enjoying some type of entertainment in the cloud. From the early days of Napster to today's iTunes, we have all trended to the cloud to get a favorite song or movie. It's a great thing, however because there are so many media outlets and services it is very hard to get that one stop shop for all your entertainment needs. Not to mention, the cable companies own the marketplace for live television. Due to some recent events, here is why I believe we are closer to an ultimate, cost effective, cloud entertainment experience then ever before. 

 

More Streaming Content

 

The first bit of news is Blockbuster announcing it was going into bankruptcy. The key point here is not the Blockbuster downfall but that Netflix, its #1 competitor, is going in the opposite direction by moving from brick and morter operations to a more agile low overhead model. Why are people loving Netflix? Aside from the fact that people don't want to get in their cars to go to the movie rental store if they don't have to as well as the no late fees - it's the streaming service, of course. Currently Netflix has about 20,000 titles available for viewing online immediately and it's only growing. With televisions, gaming consoles and media players already having the ability to interface with Netflix it is easy for people to snuggle up on a couch and watch hours and hours of content for under $10 a month. Add to that mobile devices like iPhones and iPads which people can use to watch The Simpsons while on go. 

 

Companies Play Nice Together

 

The next and most important bit of news was the release of the new Apple TV and Google TV. The Apple TV has been around for years as an Apple "Hobby" but the new revision is very impactful for the world of cloud entertainment. For $99 not only can I watch and listen to all my iTunes content on my television and home entertainment system but I can access my Netflix account as well! The Google TV intends to reinvent the entire TV experience with Applications, Search, and the Web all in one. Apps like Netflix and Pandora delivered to our TV sets means a totally new paradigm for what the large HD panel in the living room can do. Without companies like Apple, Google and Netflix willing to play together, there would be no chance in conquering the traditional old guard television and media market. This is a huge indicator that the time is coming.

 

Who Needs Live TV?

 

Other then live sporting events which some people are actually recording btw, who cares about live tv anymore? Even the cable companies provide most network shows on their "On Demand" service. There are devices such as the Slingbox that stream my TV signal over the web, there are applications on mobile devices that allow me to watch live sporting events like the MLB App or the NFL package from DirectTV. With recording devices like TIVO and our fast pace lifestyles, no one is running home to catch the new episode of The League (though it's a great show and should be watched by all via iTunes). If its not important then why am I paying such a premium for the content when really all I need is the high speed connection to the web?

 

Ala Carte Entertainment

 

With a $99 Apple TV and an $8.99 a month subscription to Netflix, I get as close to a one stop shop entertainment experience as possible today. After looking at my $100 a month cable bill for 300+ channels I rarely watch and almost never watch live for that matter, I dream of the day I can have all of this available through 1 service. Times are changing and we will get there with more services sprouting up to stream live content to us wherever we are with whatever device we happen to have handy at that particular moment.  

 

 

Educational Weather Forecast - Episode #12 of CloudFocus Weekly

Chatter 2 is launched and blogged about, New York Goes Google, Cloud Computing impact on Education and our CloudFocus App Picks of the Week.
Educational Weather Forecast - Episode #12 of CloudFocus Weekly

Educational Weather Forecast - Episode #12

Chatter 2 Ready for Primetime

Cloud Computing delivers features, functionality, and innovation at a pace that on-premise software cannot match. We take a look at how Salesforce.com's Chatter has evolved into Chatter 2 in only 6 months since its initial beta release.
Chatter 2 Ready for Primetime

All of the features coming in the Winter '11 release of Chatter 2

Chatter 2 has already hit the primetime in Winter '11 Salesforce.com orgs and it's a major upgrade to a product that was only officially launched out of beta 3 months ago. The power of Cloud Computing is that upgrades and new features are seamless and are pushed out by the service provider, in this case Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com has spent a considerable amount of time and resources upgrading and enhancing Chatter to the point that it is already deemed Chatter 2.

Things I like:


Having used the new features for a few days now I can already see what I am going to like about Chatter 2. The Chatter Central tab is a great new enhancement that makes Chatter really feel like it's not just tacked on to every page in the system, rather it now has a "home". The Chatter tab feels like the homepage of Facebook - a familiar experience for most users and is certainly where Salesforce is looking to go.

Suggestions are a fantastic enhancement. Our org is not so large that I don't know everyone in it but a case where this works wonderfully is within the Dreamforce Portal where there are literally thousands of people that I don't know - suggestions make it easy for me to make connections to random people and groups that I otherwise wouldn't have found. Being able to find these disparate people leads to a greater awareness of what is going on within the organization.

Chatter Search and Chatter Topics make it really simple to tag or #Hashtag specific key topics and can in essence link together data that would otherwise remain in silos.

Things I'm not so sure about:


Analytics on Chatter have been released but are pretty bare bones for now - the only things you can report on are users and their followers OR users and their posts. It would be nice to be able to report on records with Chatter and see the people who are following a record and the Chatter that is on the record.

Chatter on Activities, Dashboards, and Reports feel a little bit like add-ons that are unecessary. Dashboards and Reports are constantly changing so the Chatter is likely to get very stale in a hurry on those records. Activities is promising BUT it's missing a feature that would make it killer - an Event should Chatter every time an attendee accepts or declines the Event - vote for this on the IdeaExchage.

Chatter Files is a nice idea but really it just confuses things - there are so many places now to go and look for documents within the system. You have Files, Workgroups, Content, Documents, and Notes & Attachments. The good thing is that any File attached to a Chatter feed gets centralized in the Files tab and gets attached to the Notes & Attachments of that particular record, the bad thing is that Content is all over the place and is not intuitive for end-users.

Innovation not Infrastructure:


Chatter 2 has evolved from about 6 months of end-user testing and usage of the Chatter Collaboration Cloud. Such innovation and speed could only be delivered by a Cloud Computing platform. An entire product lifecycle in less then a year is incredible, especially one that is being adopted and used as widely as Chatter. The kicker - as a customer all you have to do is turn it on - no additional hardware or software and unlike some recent Salesforce.com products, no additional licensing costs.

There are still some things that I wish Chatter did but seeing that Salesforce.com is able to innovate at such a rapid pace I am sure they are coming - the thing I am most looking forward to is making Chatter truly real-time. Currently you still have to refresh the page in order to see new Chatter - soon enough that should be more like Twitter where it's a real-time flow of information.  

There are far more enhancements coming down the pike and if you want to discuss them with me feel free to tweet me at twitter.com/justedelstein.

Forced to Dream - Episode #11 of CloudFocus Weekly

New blog post on chatting before Dreamforce, a release of press information, Salesforce buys Activa, small business cloud computing and Appirio's new SalesWorks. We wrap it up with App picks of the week.
Forced to Dream - Episode #11 of CloudFocus Weekly

Forced to Dream - Episode #11

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