7 Noteworthy Features in the Salesforce Summer ’14 Release

Written by | Jul 16, 2014

Greetings! Dive right in and get your feet wet with the following seven features I’ve reviewed from the Summer ’14 release. This release has been pending for quite some time and was actually delayed as a result of some findings a few months back. The wait wasn’t for naught, though, as Salesforce has delivered a nice set of new features within the Summer ’14 release.


1. Salesforce1 Enhancements

salesforce1Salesforce’s take: Our latest round of new and improved Salesforce1 features further expands the utility of the downloadable and mobile browser apps, making it even easier to access Salesforce on the go.

My thoughts: There are four specific enhancements to Salesforce1 that I want to call out.

  • Expanded Support for the Salesforce1 Mobile Browser App
  • More Salesforce Data Supported (e.g., Campaign Members, Knowledge Articles)
  • Expanded support for custom objects
  • Access Publisher Actions without Chatter Enabled

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the S1 Mobile Browser App, let me first cover that. The Mobile Browser App is a creative idea that takes your mobile browsing experience and gives the appearance that you are using a custom app (not a browser). Specifically, it looks and feels like you are using the Salesforce1 app. This is useful for both internal users and Community users (especially Community users, since they cannot directly use the S1 app).

The enhancements are not earth-shattering, but do clearly convey an effort on Salesforce’s behalf to improve the browser experience. Some of the features above are probably showstoppers for some organizations out there (we’ve found a few limitations that have impacted our use of it); these changes will further attract organizations to trying this out.

2. Chatter Enhancements (Add Action Links to Posts, Chatter Questions)
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Salesforce’s take: Use action links to integrate Salesforce and third-party systems into the feed. An action link is a URL on a post that links to an API, a Web page, or a file. Enabling users to work in the feed is the most powerful way to ensure that they adopt and
engage in Chatter.

Ask questions and get answers in Chatter with Chatter Questions. Chatter Questions allows users to ask questions in their Chatter feed, in groups, and in records. With Chatter Questions, users can quickly view similar questions and articles as they enter their question, without switching context. After a question is asked, the person who asked the question or the question’s moderator can select a best answer—which is prominently displayed in the feed—allowing other users to quickly and easily find the best response to their question.

My thoughts: Salesforce is focusing on streamlining the user experience. I believe that the ability to add Action Links to Chatter Posts will end up being a very useful and popular feature. The bottom line is that you can drive business process through your Chatter Feeds – pretty cool stuff. For now, it’s only available in the Salesforce1 Mobile Browser App and it’s a Pilot program.

Chatter-1

Chatter Questions is a little different. Currently, Chatter Answers is not available in the Salesforce1 Mobile Browser App. However, Chatter Questions is an alternate way to provide the functionality. You can set up Questions as one of your configured Actions and have you users ask questions right in the Chatter feed instead of navigating to a “Q & A” tab. Like with standard Chatter Answers, you can incorporate the functionality with Knowledge so that relevant Knowledge articles appear. This is a great feature to streamline user activities.

Chatter-2

 

3. Communities Enhancements (Analytics, Dashboards for Community Managers)

Salesforce’s take: A handy set of new dashboards and reports gives community managers the tools to easily track community activity, membership, and participation. Community managers can use dashboards to measure the health and ROI of their communities. Dashboards highlight trends in activity, such as member logins over time, and help compare levels of engagement across employee, customer, and partner members. As an administrator, you must set up the dashboards that community managers see. As an administrator, you can use the new Communities custom report types to create reports for community managers.

My thoughts: A key step to provide additional richness and depth in the world of Communities. Communities are clearly not an afterthought at Salesforce; there’s a new focus on not only providing customers and partners new Community functionality, but giving internal users additional insight into trends and metrics within the Community. In particular, I’m interested in the Salesforce Communities Analytics Package, which will be available after Summer ’14 is completely rolled out. This will be a simple, easy-to-implement way to keep track of what’s happening within your Community.

4. Reputation

Salesforce’s take: Community managers know that recognition and a little friendly competition usually lead to more active members. So take advantage of a new, easy-to-use reputation system that builds on our existing gamification capabilities. Simply use the default
levels and point values that appear when you enable reputation, or customize them to meet your needs.

My thoughts: This makes perfect sense with the current emphasis on customers via Chatter, Communities, and other related features. First off, it eliminates the issue of conflicting status levels between Chatter Answers and Chatter. Second, it allows you to customize these levels to your liking. You can rename the levels, change the point ranges, and even modify the badge icons (this takes a little more work). Additionally, you can control the points that are given for each event (like a post, post a comment, etc.). This is Salesforce’s first real step toward gamification!

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5. Workflow Target User Merge Fields for Email Templates

Salesforce’s take: Workflow email alerts for the User object can reference fields from the user record that triggered the workflow rule. When creating or editing email templates in Salesforce, the Select Field Type drop-down list now contains the Workflow Target
User option.

My thoughts: This is a relatively small enhancement, but surely one that a number of users can take advantage of. When building a Workflow Rule Email Alert, it is now possible to access fields related to the receiving (target) user. This will be especially helpful for Workflow Rules tied to new Users being added to a particular org.

Workflow-1

6. Salesforce Files Sync

Salesforce’s take: Salesforce Files Sync makes file management easier than ever. Your users install a desktop client called Salesforce Files. They can then securely store, sync, and share files between Chatter, their desktops, and mobile devices.

My thoughts: My personal opinion is that Salesforce has trailed behind its peers and the industry in general, when it comes to file sharing, but at least we’re getting some decent core functionality at this point. You can now set up a sync to automatically download files from Chatter and/or different devices. We’ll see how this one plays out whether it becomes a fan favorite.

7. Match Production Licenses to Sandbox without a Refresh

Salesforce’s take: You can match provisioned licenses in production to your sandbox organization without having to refresh your sandbox.

My thoughts: This feature will undoubtedly fall into the “undervalued” and “largely unnoticed” categories of Summer ’14 enhancements. Some of you will take advantage of this feature in the future and be unaware of how beneficial it really is. I know because I have personally felt the pain of not having this feature. Here’s what happened:

We had a very time-sensitive client project kick off recently. We were interested in using some of the new Summer ’14 features in the implementation. Fortunately, our sandbox was set up at the proper time to be a part of the Sandbox preview window (i.e., our sandbox was provisioned with some of the Summer ’14 features before GA in Production). However, the Knowledge licenses purchased by the client had been provisioned after the sandbox was created. As a result, no Knowledge licenses were available in the sandbox. Nothing a quick refresh can’t handle, right? Wrong…because we were in the Sandbox preview window, a refresh would push us to a non-preview instance and prevent us from having any of our preview features available within the sandbox. This was a Catch-22 of sorts: either get the Knowledge User licenses and lose the preview features or keep the preview features without having any Knowledge User licenses.

UPDATE: Ironically, the one type of license that is not covered here is the Knowledge User License. I spent a good amount of time discussing this with Support. Basically, you have to have Knowledge enabled to pull in the licenses, but you have to have the licenses to enable Knowledge. This is another Catch-22 and definitely generated some frustration on my part. This feature still has value, but I definitely want to be clear about its limitations here so you can avoid what happened to me.

A few other enhancements that are worth mentioning are:

  • Chatter REST API / Chatter in Apex
  • Knowledge Code Samples
  • Topics
  • Visual Workflow
  • Opportunity Splits
  • Community Templates for Self-Service

Make sure to read the release notes yourself for the latest detail.

Enjoy the summer!


Salesforce MVP | Author of Practical ..read more