Best in Class Technographics Now Available in Salesforce

Whether you’re creating segments for a demand generation campaign, looking for white space opportunities, feeding your predictive analytics engine, or implementing an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy, you need reliable information on the technology installed at target companies to achieve the best results.

Technographics Now on the AppExchange

Today, we’re excited to announce a new data partner on the AppExchange as part of our ongoing efforts to provide you with innovative data you can use within the Salesforce platform. HG Data, a leading provider of competitive intelligence for B2B technology marketers, delivers valuable technographic data that can be automatically matched and added to the account records in your CRM.

This new data package, accessible through the HG Connect app on the AppExchange, allows you to integrate HG Data technographics into your Salesforce instance with clicks instead of code. That means you can now get quick access to the hardware and software products your accounts and prospects are using without having to invest in custom-built integrations, manipulate flat files, or settle for working in data silos.  

Target the Right Accounts with Technographics

An effective approach to finding the most relevant accounts for your sales and marketing teams to pursue is to use third-party tech install data to identify companies that use products that complement or compete with your solutions. In fact, in its recent survey, SiriusDecisions found that 62% of respondents are now using some combination of custom and non-custom third-party account and contact profiling.

Brian Vass, the VP of Sales and Marketing Technology at Paycor, had this to say about his company’s use of tech install information from HG Data: “We struggled for years to find high quality data for installed technologies within our prospect base. HG Data not only provides us with great data, but they make it easy for our sellers to consume within Salesforce.com. It’s the most popular data initiative we’ve launched ever.”

With HG Connect, you can easily access tech install data, enabling you to precisely target new prospects or existing accounts with the right message at scale.

How Do I Get It?

Information on HG Connect from HG Data is available on the Salesforce AppExchange here. HG Connect can be added to Salesforce Sales or Service Cloud, Professional Edition and above. HG Connect is built using the same platform capabilities that power Sales Cloud features like Geocoding and new Data.com Clean rules.

24 Salesforce Customers Review Back Office Apps

What is the back office? Simply put, it’s the backbone of a company, the departments — finance and accounting, ERP, HR, and IT — that, despite being behind the scenes, keep things running so the customer-facing departments can be successful. Stemming from the latest AppExchange guide for back office apps, here’s a look at 24 customer reviews of back office apps.

Finance Apps

Salesforce customers in finance manage all money-related matters, including accounting, strategic planning, auditing, and budgeting.

 

Sage Live

“I just press a button and all banking activity is imported into Sage and processed through posting rules that I have total control over.” - John Monahan

 

Accounting Seed

“With Accounting Seed we are now able to automate tasks and billing — this makes our jobs easier and our customers happier.” Tammy Gregersen

 

FinancialForce Accounting

“FinancialForce Accounting gave us back office automation. So now we can focus on our customers and their business needs.” - Jocelyn Fennewald

 

JustOn

“JustOn gave us an invoicing solution that adapted to our multilanguage, multicurrency, and installment logic for payment deadlines.” - Danny Müller

 

Invoices for Salesforce

“With the click of a button, Invoices for Salesforce enables us to invoice complex billing scenarios quickly and accurately.” - Stef Sampson

 

Steelbrick Billing

“We now use only Steelbrick Billing for our billing and accounting. Originally we were planning to use several other apps.” - Maurizio Cappitta

 

ERP

Salesforce customers use ERP to integrate processes, systems, and data into one source of truth.

 

Ascent ERP

“We used Ascent to migrate all our processes from being managed within spreadsheets to fully managed within Salesforce.” - Scott Gardiner

 

Kenandy

“Kenandy provided measurable efficiencies, organizational transparency, and focused us on revenue generation — not data collection.” - Charlie Merrow

 

Rootstock

“Inventory, purchasing, MRP, and WCP were key in making our back office a success. Rootstock did it all in a well-integrated fashion.” - Stephen Simons

 

Matrix Velocity

“Matrix Velocity gave us a nice way to go from quote to order to fulfillment to invoice (and to inventory) all within Salesforce.” - Jonathan Rowe

 

Glovia OM

“Glovia OM turns opportunities into quotes, quotes into sales orders, and sales orders into shipping orders and documentation.” - Teno Cipri

 

Propel PLM

“As Propel is built on Salesforce, we can be more customer- and partner-centric by connecting our product, customer, and partner data.” - Rick Austinson

 

HR

HR activities include recruiting and hiring of employees, orientation and training of current employees, employee benefits, and retention. Here are some of the HR apps recommended by Salesforce customers.

 

Sage People

“The automated processes of Sage People not only enabled HR to be more efficient, but the quality of our data increased dramatically.” - Jess Davies

 

Skilo

“Skilo’s user-friendly interface is easy for employees and managers to use, and the highly configurable reporting module is essential for HR.” - Kasandra Radzinska

 

XCD

“XCD is a cost-effective HR solution that enables us to manage our HR data, files, and policies from one location.” - Inspire Sport

 

Cornerstone for Salesforce

“Cornerstone is a must-have training. It’s incredibly powerful with a simple setup. I’m really impressed with its ease of use.” - Melodie Schwartz

 

Improved Help

“Improved Help really is a fantastic help resource for users, providing the right help and process guidance when it is need.” - Wayne Austin

 

Litmos

“Litmos helped us to train hundreds of people each month simply by the click of a button.” - Charles Brown

 

IT

Salesforce customers in IT handles everything from a company’s physical hardware to its operating systems, applications, databases, storage, and servers.

 

OwnBackup

“OwnBackup saves my team hours of backup work that we can now use to focus on revenue-driving initiatives.” - Brie Morgan

 

Spanning

“I can’t stress how easy Spanning is to use. Backups run daily, you see what data was changed, and you can restore data anytime.” - Deb Weller

 

CloudAlly

“CloudAlly removed the worry around site data backup. Once the painless setup was done, the app just runs and we forget about it.” - Robert Middleton

 

RemedyForce

“RemedyForce is web accessible, has no servers or upgrades to manage, and lets our field staff easily submit requests and tickets.” - John Riley

 

Elton

“We had inventory across the country that we couldn’t track. ELTON tracked every piece of equipment in a very quick and smooth way.” - John Prilliman

 

Insite

“We used INSITE to change databases and simplify incident reporting, problem management, and catalog and fulfillment requests.” - Randy Engh

With over 3,000 apps in inventory, we hope this guide helps you zero in on the back office apps that are right for your business. View the entire collection and happy exploring.

What’s Your ROI of Building Apps on Salesforce?

Every IT leader knows that finding an application development platform that both saves time and enables them to innovate, fast, would be nirvana. Businesses are faced with immense pressure to innovate in order to compete and stay relevant, or they risk getting beat—or bought—by more technologically evolved companies (Whole Foods, meet Amazon!). With a whopping 89% of CIOs saying IT leaders should play a key role in their company’s digital transformations, finding a fast and cost-effective app development platform is paramount.   

If that statistic resonates with you, the Salesforce Platform may be what you’re looking for. The Salesforce Platform is the engine underneath the hood of all our clouds, enabling and empowering companies to build apps around what matters most–their customers. A recent report by IDC determined that businesses utilizing the Salesforce Platform for app development achieve 478% five-year ROI and increasing revenues an average of $55,000 per 100 users. That’s pretty impressive, but what might that ROI look like for your company? What could your company achieve with Salesforce, given your unique app development cycle, your existing IT infrastructure, and your current IT productivity?

Discover Your Productivity Potential

With our ROI Calculator, embark on a journey to discover how much more productive your organization can be when building apps using the Salesforce Platform. Share a little about your company and join Astro in the APP-alachian mountains to see how Salesforce can help your organization’s technological development. From reduced IT infrastructure costs and an increase in IT productivity, to improved overall business productivity and lower risk mitigation costs, you’ll uncover the monumental business value your organization could realize by building apps on the Salesforce Platform.

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Reach The Summit of Cost Savings

Built on Heroku, our scalable platform as a service (PaaS) enabling developers to build apps that integrate seamlessly with Salesforce, the ROI Calculator shows you how much money your organization could save by building apps on the Salesforce Platform. As one born-in-the-cloud organization says, “Speed of iteration is a huge benefit with Salesforce...because we are able to deliver faster and deliver new applications. It makes it really easy to update your application [and] simplifies the workflow for your developers.”

Take an Impromptu Trip to Space

This fun and interactive calculator walks you down the path to faster app development and increased productivity with the Salesforce Platform. You’ll even visit Einstein in space on his asteROId where he’ll show you his latest discovery, your organization’s total business value as calculated by his newest equation: Time x Salesforce = Business Value.

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See how Salesforce can put your company on the path to building more apps faster with our out-of-this-world business value calculator, and discover your personalized ROI today! 

The Two Skills You Need to Innovate

We usually think of a light bulb as a single unit. But it is actually a combination of several technologies. If it is a compact fluorescent lamp, it consists of a glass enclosure with a fluorescent coating, argon and mercury vapor, and integrated ballast. If it is a conventional incandescent light bulb, it consists of a glass enclosure, filament, vacuum, inert gas, and base. Most innovations, including a majority of patents, similarly represent combinations—often new combinations—of existing technologies.

From the stone axe to the smartphone, virtually all innovation has been due to people combining existing technologies in new, useful ways. To succeed as innovators, we need to develop two skills: 1) recognize unsatisfied customer needs and 2) discover and combine technologies in new ways to satisfy those needs.

Recognize customer needs.

If customers are aware of and can articulate a need, great; but you may need to discover the need and create that awareness in them yourself. Few iPad customers realized they had a need for a tablet device when they saw it for the first time. To discover customer needs, first seek to understand people’s goals, objectives, or dreams, and the obstacles to any or all of them. IBM’s account execs, once hailed as the most professional sales force in the world, recited this mantra with their customers: “How much, by when?” That is, how much in the way of benefits (e.g., productivity gains or cost savings) did the customers want to achieve by when? The account execs were asking for their customer’s objectives and goals. Armed with that knowledge, account execs could propose IT solutions that (at least arguably) delivered those benefits within that time. Similarly, knowing your prospective customers’ goals, desires, or dreams, together with their current states, tells you their needs. Technologies can be combined and applied in myriad ways, but if they don’t address real needs -- “pain points” -- even the most leading-edge of them won’t create value.

Combine technologies to address needs.

Thanks to Moore’s Law, technologies are advancing exponentially. Many worry about people's ability to cope with these changes. At first blush, it might seem that growing technological complexity would mean that ever more knowledge and experience is necessary to work with these systems. But technology also reduces complexity by enabling smarter, simpler tools that require less knowledge to use, in effect lowering many barriers to entry for aspiring technologists. Decades ago, programming was an esoteric cult; today, virtually anyone can learn Python or HTML. Amazon Web Services and Heroku simplify setting up and running web services; front-end design frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation allow designers with only limited training to create high-quality websites. Application programming interfaces (APIs) streamline access to popular online services such as Twitter and Slack, and platforms like Salesforce Lightning App Builder enable even non-programmers to build sophisticated custom applications. So chances are you know or have access to many more technologies than you may realize.

All of the companies I have founded or co-founded can be seen as combining existing technologies in novel ways. In 1992, my first company, Decisive Technology (now part of Google), “combined” the idea of surveys first with text email messages, and later with HTML, to create online questionnaires. Our product, Decisive Survey, used Windows for survey design and analytics. In 1997, my second company, CustomerSat (now part of Confirmit), changed platforms from Windows to the web and added case management, business rules, and dashboards to pioneer enterprise feedback management. In 2014, my third company, Pyze, again changed platforms from web to mobile devices, and expanded from attitudinal (survey) data to include behavioral, GPS, and technographic data, to deliver user insights.

What you combine may be technologies, expertise, or both. Say you have expertise in both fashion and multiplayer games. Would multiplayer games having to do with fashion satisfy a customer need? Or say you are into tourism and aerospace. Would there be demand for tourism to rocket-launching sites or for tourist travel into space? Or say you know about polymers and love cooking. Could polymers enhance the cooking process, health benefits, or flavor of food? 

The more technologies you know and different forms of expertise you have, the more combinations you can consider. Each new technology or expertise you become familiar with roughly doubles the number of combinations at your disposal. So challenge yourself to become at least familiar with each new technology you encounter that might be relevant to the customer needs you might address.

Developing these two foundational skills – recognizing customer needs and finding new combinations of technologies and expertise to address them – turns you into a highly sought after professional: one who can innovate. Continuously expand the list of technologies you are knowledgeable about and combine those technologies in novel ways to create valuable solutions. See my book, Unleash Your Inner Company, for details. Before you realize it, you’ll be an innovator!

--

Serial entrepreneur John Chisholm is head of San Francisco-based John Chisholm Ventures, an entrepreneurial advisory and angel investment firm. He is immediate past president/chair of the worldwide MIT Alumni Association and a trustee of MIT and the Santa Fe Institute. He is author of the Amazon best-seller, Unleash Your Inner Company.

 

Announcing Heroku Shield: Build High Compliance Apps on the Salesforce Platform

In the Age of the Customer, the bar for engaging customer experiences that are mobile, personalized, and intelligent has never been higher. For many companies, apps are driving these new levels of innovation and customer loyalty, and Heroku Enterprise is increasingly becoming the platform of choice for building transformative apps fast.

Heroku Enterprise provides leading companies the same developer experience that powers six million customer apps. It is an app developer’s dream -- combining the experience coders love for building modern, elegant apps with the enterprise control, trust and scalability that big companies require. However, in highly regulatory industries such as Financial Services, Healthcare and Public Sector, security and compliance concerns add friction to the the app lifecycle and slow down the pace of innovation.

Today we’re excited to announce Heroku Shield, a premium set of integrated services for managing regulatory security and compliance, built natively into the Salesforce Platform for Heroku Enterprise customers.

Heroku Shield reduces the risk, complexity and costs of managing compliance requirements on AWS and accelerates the app development process for a company’s most transformative customer-facing apps. It allows companies to safeguard and audit customer data while enabling a 360 view of the customer. And, in a matter of clicks, developers can support HIPAA compliance requirements for apps that handle PHI (Protected Health Information). Now generally available, Heroku Shield includes three core services:

Shield Private Spaces

Part of Heroku Enterprise, Private Spaces empowers companies to extend corporate networks to take advantage of the cloud, running apps in a secure, private space with direct access to Salesforce’s trusted infrastructure. With Shield Private Spaces, enterprise IT and developer teams can now deploy HIPAA-compliant apps while retaining the Heroku developer experience and minimizing business downtime.

Enhanced Logging and Audit

Seamless keystroke logging adds an important layer of audit control in Shield Private Spaces, allowing all input typed into an interactive session to be captured and analyzed. Furthermore, all log events from applications and Heroku system services in a Shield Private Space are forwarded to a single log capture destination available only to users with admin permissions. This frees developers from dealing with log configurations, while allowing auditors in highly regulated industries to confirm that logging is correct - and will remain so - even as developers add and remove apps in the Private Space.

Encryption and Data Services

Heroku Shield enforces higher levels of encryption, requiring mandatory encryption for data-at-rest and enforcing a stricter level of TLS encryption (higher than 1.0) for apps in a Shield Private Space. Combined with the ability to enforce trusted IP  ranges and grant application-level authentication tokens, IT and developer teams in highly regulated industries can now encrypt sensitive data at rest while maintaining important application functionality.

Heroku Shield joins Salesforce Shield within Salesforce’s portfolio of app regulatory compliance solutions to empower companies to take advantage of the speed and innovation that cloud computing has unlocked while also managing their complex industry governance requirements. Since launching two years ago, Salesforce Shield innovations like Bring Your Own Encryption Key, Event Monitoring and Field Audit Trail, Salesforce Shield are making it easier than ever for customers to monitor and encrypt sensitive cloud data at rest -- all with point and click tools.

Similarly, Heroku Shield is a game-changer for Trailblazers like Align Technology, the makers of Invisalign, and other companies deliver apps that are highly compliant and instantly scalable, with advanced security controls, and built on the Heroku experience their developers know and love.

Take a deeper look at Heroku Shield - and how its core services are empowering customer Trailblazers to reduce the burden of securing sensitive data while delivering a modern, elegant app experience - join us for a webinar on June 13 at 9 a.m. PT.

Hope to see you there.

12 Apps for the Best Summer Ever

With summer arriving, it’s natural to want to find the hottest beaches, restaurants with outdoor seating, and AppExchange apps to install into your Salesforce org. Fortunately, we’ve got 12 apps sure to leave you and your Salesforce users sizzling. Read on for our list of 12 breakthrough apps you should check out today.

Talkdesk for Salesforce

Released: 4/14/2016

What it does: Talkdesk for Salesforce provides all the benefits of enterprise call center software without the complexity. Build a complete contact center within Service and Sales Cloud to deliver support anywhere — from the beach to the backyard — with Talkdesk’s omnichannel contact center, empowering your agents to deliver excellent customer interactions.

What customers say:

  • “Talkdesk is the best. My whole team loves it and integration was very simple. 5 stars …”

  • “Talkdesk itself is a brilliantly simple platform to use. From usability to administration to reporting it has it all at the click of a few buttons.”

Full Circle Matchmaker

Released: 2/2/2017

What it does: Full Circle Matchmaker is an intelligent and flexible lead-to-account matching solution with built-in customizations and smart workflows for automated lead matching, routing, and conversion. The app enables sales and marketing teams to intelligently engage prospects as they heat up with full account context, and to more accurately report on Account Based Marketing impact.

What customers say:

  • “Critical component of our ABM strategy...allowed us to match new leads to existing accounts and automate lead distribution to account owners in real time.”

  • “Our sales team saves countless hours per week and our marketing efforts can be hyper-focused on individual accounts.”

Salespulse by Questback

Released: 12/12/2016

What it does: Salespulse helps your sales team understand their customers’ buying experience  with pulse surveys and increases the performance of your sales team. Salespulse is a native app that makes reporting on the customers’ buying experience as easy as soaking up the summer sun with automated surveys that provide real-time insights for your sales teams and sales management.

What customers say:

  • “A simple way to finally get feedback on sales meetings...has sharpened how we approach our sales cycle and has become an integral learning tool that feeds our continual improvement approach to business.”

  • “Our sales reps focused instantly more on their execution and preparation once they knew that the customer was going to give them feedback. Now sales reps also see that the feedback has helped them to move deals forward faster and better align with what the customers are thinking and expecting.”

CodeScan by VillageChief

Released: 7/5/2015

What it does: CodeScan is a code quality plugin, written exclusively for Salesforce code, that measures quality, helps identify bugs, allows custom rules, and increases maintainability to reduce the total cost of ownership of your Salesforce org. The plugin reduces technical debt and complexity and offers instant, unbiased insights via dashboards, applying best practice coding rules and metrics, saving you time to go play that next game of beach volleyball.

What customers say:

  • “Codescan is also helping us save time on code reviews as our dev leads don't need to check for obvious syntax errors and [can] focus on the functionality”

  • “In addition to conventional scanning, CodeScan also offers a more Salesforce-y approach. The plugin can pull the source directly from the org for analysis, so you don't have to have Git in play. You can also analyze the code, run Apex tests, and commit the changes to Git all at once.”

Egnyte Enterprise File Sharing for Salesforce

Released: 8/5/2015

What it does: Egnyte for Salesforce helps teams securely access and easily share files and folders stored in  Egnyte Connect. Avoid time-consuming document searches across apps, and share content directly from Salesforce with non-Salesforce users. With Egnyte Connect, users can easily find the right documents without leaving Salesforce. The integration increases collaboration, responsiveness, and high fives, while also streamlining operations and facilitating more meaningful customer engagements to help sales and support teams on the web or mobile devices.

What customers say:

  • “The Egnyte for Salesforce App Integration has been a game changer...our users have experienced increased efficiency and enhanced collaboration with other team members.”

  • “Egnyte is definitely our go-to place for needed documents and information at the office and on the go. We love the ease of updating a document on the web.”

MapAnything Live

Released: 11/23/2016

What it does: MapAnything Live enables Internet of Things (IoT) workflows inside Salesforce with maps, real-time vehicle telematics, vehicle and asset tracking, and business process automation. MapAnything Live, an add-on to MapAnything, helps track and record vehicle telematics data in Salesforce to streamline operations, boost productivity and efficiency, reduce costs, ensure safety and compliance, and navigate you to the nearest sunny destination.

What customers say:

  • “MapAnything [Live] is a must have. We are now gaining insights that we couldn’t before…”

  • “MapAnything [Live] is a fantastic platform for live tracking assets and personnel.”

  • “MapAnything Live saves us significant expenses in labor costs by turbo-charging productivity, and reduces our overall risk exposure.”

TeamViewer App for Service Cloud

Released: 9/28/2016

What it does: With TeamViewer, easily create service cases and provide remote support directly from your back deck, and from Salesforce cases inside Service Cloud. Create and join a support session, remotely control the customer’s device, and share session information via Chatter inside this Lightning Ready app. Your customers will benefit from faster response times across all operating systems.

What customers say:

  • “Customer Relations Managers love the control for its reliability and execution ability, and customers recognize its intuitiveness.”

  • “This ability to support customers faster, more efficiently, and professionally in the case of escalation via TeamViewer also naturally improves our quota of successful remote support.”

SpringML Predictive Analytics

Released: 1/11/2017

What it does: SpringML’s predictive analytics app helps organizations improve sales forecasting, manage opportunities, and grow targets through real-time dashboards embedded within Salesforce, empowering sales leaders to access relevant KPIs and take immediate action. SpringML uses machine learning and advanced analytics to automate manual, error-prone processes to improve the productivity of your sales team, making your sales process easier than that sun tea recipe.

What customers say:

“SpringML helps our sales organization run more effectively. Their productive algorithms provide us the insights to monitor our progress and see if our tweaks to sales programs, discounts, and compensation are working. Their algorithms integrate seamlessly with the rest of our sales analytics dashboards, allowing us to compare our internal numbers with their forecasts.”

Check-fleet: Fleet Telematics for Field Service by GPS Dashboard

Released: 2/7/2017

What it does: Check-fleet allows for GPS vehicle tracking in real time, resulting in improved productivity and driver behavior. Powered by Geotab, which has over 700,000 vehicles in service worldwide, the app provides for geofencing, exception alerts, and remote vehicle diagnostics, integrating fleet telematics all within Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Field Service Lightning, improving customer service, driver safety, and vehicle maintenance, all while reducing overall costs.

Other features:

  • Auto work order status update on arrival at jobsite

  • Productivity reports:  Drive time vs. on-site time reports

  • Driver scorecard and safety reports : speeding, harsh braking/acceleration, hard cornering, and more

  • Real-time alerts and notification on rules-based exceptions

  • Time card verification

  • Fuel card integration to verify fuel usage

Charge eCommerce by Fonteva

Released: 8/29/2016

What it does: Bring ecommerce and full revenue accounting to Salesforce in one package, help customers manage multiple business units, create an eStore to sell anything (even sunscreen), and handle all revenue accounting needs. With Charge eCommerce, manage multiple business units in one solution, present your customers with different products and pricing based on their CRM profile via a built-in eStore, and manage debits, credits, and refunds right in Salesforce.

What customers say:

  • The best app to establish groups for divisions, branches or local affiliates with group-specific pricing, branding, general ledger codes or payment gateways.”

  • “Charge [eCommerce] makes you successful at ecommerce in no time.”

Email Integration - Sync Outlook, Exchange, Gmail & Office 365 by Komiko

Released: 7/11/2016

What it does: Email Integration by Komiko synchronizes email, attachments, and calendar events. It also creates contacts, and automatically associates synced data to accounts and opportunities in Salesforce. You won’t need to change the way your team is using Salesforce or email, and Email Integration puts an end to nudging the sales team to feed Salesforce with customer conversations, documents, contact frequency, and more. Start syncing and go swimming.

What customers say:

  • “A total game changer. Before Komiko we depended on reps to log calls, events, and tasks. After implementing Komiko, this rich data is ingested into Salesforce with ease.”

  • “A truly fantastic product that has solved all of our issues with failing to capture Exchange data. It works great across all platforms. Customer service is stellar!”

Conga Contracts

Released: 4/19/2017

What it does: Conga Contracts streamlines and accelerates contract negotiations so you can close deals (and enjoy that summer adventure) faster, all without leaving Salesforce. Improve efficiency, empower sales, and increase insight with features such as:

  • Clause management,

  • Easy sync of contract changes back into Salesforce, and

  • Analytics that show which clauses get changed most and where contracts stall

  • Seamless integration into Salesforce CPQ, Conga Composer, and eSignature apps.

What customers say:

  • “With the implementation of Conga Contracts our legal team can overcome the tedious nature of relying solely on dated technologies like Word and email.”

  • “Managing the lifecycle of sales-generated documents has seriously never been easier, and with all the native functionality built directly into Salesforce we were able to hit the ground running with our installation.”

Make sure your summer is as good as it can be with these apps and more on AppExchange.

The Power of Low Code App Development

What's the most popular database in use today? Rather than MySQL or MongoDB, it's probably an Excel spreadsheet sent around by email. That shouldn't be surprising. Off-the-shelf products for particular business needs aren't always available, and internal IT departments often lack the resources to build custom applications.

The result: Business users often solve real-world problems with cumbersome and error-prone workarounds, cobbled together from available office productivity tools. Sometimes, they even resort to home-grown tools or, worse still, third-party cloud applications that aren't authorized by their IT departments — a practice known as shadow IT.

The proliferation of workarounds, home-grown tools, and shadow IT leads to security risks, fragmented resources, and the lack of a proper audit trail for data. These improvised tools can also become black holes for productivity and add to an organization's technical debt, creating more problems than they solve.

Low-code development offers a much-needed practical solution. With low-code app development, end-users are now able to develop their own applications using easily-understood visual tools without programming lines of code. Forrester describes it as a platform enabling "rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment."

One major misconception about Low Code development, however, is that it is purely an approach for business users to build apps. The recent trend shows that traditional developers within IT departments use low code as an accelerated approach to building apps - collaborating with the business users.

The speed of delivery is a key benefit with low code. According to the Top Trends in Low Code Development report from Salesforce Research, conducted in February 2017, 75% of IT organizations say that low-code development tools will free up IT to work on complex tasks and that it will increase innovation across the organization.

As this article from ZDNet points out, companies such as Uber and ING are already capitalizing on low-code development to both offer and consume complex, powerful services as APIs that can be implemented quickly by low-code development teams.

Why Low Code Now?

Years ago, vendors tried to make programming by business end users easier with rapid application development (RAD) tools. When RAD first became popular, underlying software architectures were complex and fragmented. There wasn't an easy way to package code as application components.

Enterprise applications were monolithic, and couldn't be easily broken into constituent parts. This made code reuse difficult or impossible, even for hand-coded applications. Employees trying to develop software using visual tools frequently had to reinvent the wheel.

But all that wheel-spinning was not for naught. Building on decades of computer science and industry collaboration, low-code development tools are now enabling organizations to create reusable software components that represent business services. Non-technical users can assemble these into their own enterprise applications to fulfill a variety of business goals. According to the Low Code Snapshot Survey, 82% of IT organizations say that they are willing and ready to try low code in their organizations.

Low Code and Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS)

The power of low-code app development comes from the services that sit in a cloud environment known as application platform as a service (PaaS). As recognized by both Gartner and Forrester, Salesforce platform, the App Cloud, is a leading high productivity low code application platform as a service.  Salesforce platform focuses on application development using a meta-data driven approach and  high-value business components. It includes easy-to-use development environment to combine these components as publishable applications and deploy directly to the users’ devices without going through an App Store provisioning process..

The component-driven approach here, however, is key. Everything is based on how easily the components are built, managed, and maintained, and how well they can inter-operate. Typically, with the low code development approach, the IT department can customize, if needed, the standard components that the aPaaS provides or build new ones from scratch that underpin enterprise applications. Once the components are available, the non-technical employees can then assemble them in different ways and configure and publish apps.

Empowering Users and IT Pros Alike

Low code app development brings several benefits, particularly around IT-business alignment . Business users understand their workflow best. They know what makes them productive. Normally, IT departments would need a time-consuming and sometimes inaccurate requirement gathering process to understand what business wants. But empowering users to develop the applications themselves, or sitting together with the users to visually build the apps, closes the loop, enabling IT to meet the business  requirements intuitively and collaboratively.

This also speeds up development cycles and frees IT teams to tackle more strategic goals. Instead of constantly responding to new update requests and fixing bugs, IT can focus on activities that cement its place as a strategic partner for the entire business driving digital transformation. Imagine an entire team’s shift from working on 200 bug fixes and feature requests for that SQL repository of customer contracts to working on a smart mobile app that delivers the right contextual experiences to customers - resulting in increased customer engagement and satisfaction scores.  One way IT can free up more time is -  by creating an ecosystem of   building blocks - components  that can be re-used across apps to  solve common business problems,  instead of building every app from scratch. These can handle broad, generic functions such as collaboration and content management, but can also cover more domain-specific services.

For example, a call center monitoring component to report on employee performance might be made applicable for field engineers, making it usable in many scenarios. A component that displays an automobile image and lets customers mark areas of damage might also be used to display images of internal IT inventory (server stacks, security cameras, and so on) and mark areas that need to be serviced.

Developing a strategy for component architectures becomes part of the IT department's role in a low-code environment.

The Big Question on Governing Low Code Development

While this all sounds great, the question looming in every IT person’s head reading this is how do you manage the ‘empowered business users’? It sure does sound like a glorified form of shadow IT, doesn’t it? Well, no.

First of all, low code development can help eliminate shadow IT, rather than create it. When users resort to unauthorized third-party cloud solutions or improvise with spreadsheets, they operate outside the IT team's vision, which makes it difficult to identify emerging security or data integration issues. Unifying employee-led application development in a single environment controlled by the IT department makes it possible for the IT department to see and control what employees are developing and how they are deploying it. If a user creates a reporting application that inappropriately ties up corporate resources, the IT department can see it — and help fix it.

Second, in low code, it is easier for IT to have visibility and hold the keys to governance and application lifecycle management processes.

Low code platforms come with configurable security settings, intuitive application lifecycle management (ALM) tools, and usage analytics that IT can easily access with admin privileges. IT can build governance processes for different kinds of apps around access to sensitive data, application performance, security configurations, and scale. Every organization should map out its own set of criteria and appropriate levels for oversight.

Want to learn more about governing low code development? Join our webinar on Making IT Agile with Low Code or read our whitepaper on the 3 low code governance models you can apply in your organizations today.

How to Manage a Successful Multi-Cloud Strategy

As cloud continues past the chasm and toward the peak majority on the technology adoption curve, it’s become clear that organizations aren’t choosing either public or private cloud—they’re choosing both. In a recent IDC study, 73 percent of respondents said they're adopting a hybrid cloud strategy, with most defining a characteristic of hybrid cloud as subscribing to multiple external cloud services. That wording matters because “multiple external cloud services” implies an internal one as well, which means that most technology leaders are looking at deploying workload on at least three cloud platforms.

Before the management of a successful multi-cloud strategy can be understood, we must explore the underlying reasons for taking that approach. We should also look at how the players have changed from the traditional IT buying cycle.

Why More Than One Cloud?

The simple answer is that applications are not as homogenous as they used to be, so no one size fits all with respect to hosting them. Some have highly sensitive data that leaders are only comfortable keeping behind the protection of a physical network firewall. Others have less sensitive data, or leaders have more trust in public cloud offerings so that other factors, like matching capacity with highly variable workloads, win out.

Another class of applications have differing high availability needs and require data replication in multiple places. Network latency with respect to where customers are located drive some decisions, while others have compliance issues that require data to reside within certain geopolitical borders. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the point is that there are lots of reasons that drive the decision to use multiple clouds.

Just as important, though, is who is doing the developing.

Who Is Developing Applications?

In 2017, every company is a software company. As an example, Kohl’s employs software engineers, and not just in its IT department where software development was land-locked in the 1990s. Line of business teams use software to create innovative solutions to engage customers. Why? Because software is “soft,” and it’s easier to roll out changes quickly than it is to make some physical change to a store, a brokerage or any other interactive experience.

In that IDC study previously referenced, 21 percent of respondents were VPs or directors in line of business teams, and their voices are certainly heard when asked about benefits of cloud maturity:

The traditional IT buyer is phenomenal at many things, but creating additional revenue is not one of them. Gartner has a webinar entitled “By 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT than the CIO,” and this chart shows why because organizations outside of IT that are responsible for bringing in revenues can reap huge rewards by doing so.

How Cloud Management Platforms Can Help

Different kinds of applications and developer audiences pose a different kind of challenge than we’ve faced as an industry before. The key to being successful with a multi-cloud strategy, then, is to raise the control point above the individual cloud consoles with a Cloud Management Platform (CMP).

CMPs give IT systems administrators the control they need to keep use of resources efficient, even if they reside outside their data center. But at the same time, CMPs provide an interface that enables a line of business team to provision resources on demand using a self-service portal that doesn’t result in the IT department slowing the process down with a week’s long ticketing process. Instead of being the bad guy and encouraging the line of business teams to engage in Shadow IT, the traditional system administrator can become the hero that makes resources available to constituents in a few clicks.

ICMPs automate provisioning by interacting with cloud APIs, abstracting the details of each from whoever has been given permission to do those self-service, on-demand application deployments. So, IT gets control through governance so they can dictate who is allowed to deploy what applications on which cloud, and have the ability to meter and bill them once there. Line of business teams retain their need for speed and can continue to innovate at an accelerated pace.

Using this single pane of glass to manage multiple clouds, everybody wins.

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A 20+ year tech industry veteran, Pete Johnson is the Technical Solutions Architect for Cloud in the Global Partner Organization at Cisco Systems Inc. He can be found on Twitter at @nerdguru.

How To Optimize First-Time User Experience On Mobile

The first five minutes on mobile, and particularly the mobile app, are absolutely essential. If you doubt that in any way, consider the following simple analysis of mobile app economics:

  • You build and maintain a wonderful mobile app. This costs money.

  • You bring lots of users to the app to check it out. This costs money.

  • Over time, those users engage with the app and direct revenue or brand loyalty is generated. This makes money.

Whole industries exist to get cute over each of these steps and refine the details, but ultimately: this is it. These are the numbers that add up to success or failure for any organization in the mobile app space (and that’s most organizations these days).

Let’s take a moment to digest what these numbers mean. We can cut costs and be smart about building our app and acquiring users. And indeed we must. But ultimately, if this equation is going to work, if we’re going to deliver the be-all-and-end-all of business in the 21st century - ROI - we need to make as much money as possible. And that means getting as many users as possible to engage with the app and ideally spend money.

The First Five Minutes

That’s where the first five minutes comes in. To start from the beginning, in too many cases the first five minutes are the last five minutes. A quick scan of my phone tells me that of about 160 apps I see 42 that I’ve used once and never again - or that I can’t even remember installing. And I am not alone. It is reasonably well established, including by our own research at Swrve, that around 25% of all app installs are used once and once alone.

Referring back to our simple model of app economics above, that 25% is a problem. We are effectively killing our ROI by not holding onto those users that we paid for, and for whom we built a wonderful mobile app.

But it doesn’t stop there. The first five minutes have a longer term impact, and longer term retention is ultimately the rock on which mobile success is built. Without it, you won’t even get the chance to further engage and monetize your mobile users. Take a look at the data below showing two retention curves for apps in the same broad industry. Which do you think is most likely to succeed?

Retention Rates in Mobile Apps

Two retention curves. Note that the lower line means a 10x increase in the real cost of acquisition

First Impressions Last

Let’s rewind a moment. We noted above that the first five minutes - or in other words the first-time user experience - can have a long-term effect on retention rates. Why is that? Well, when any user opens an app for the first time they are typically asking themselves the same questions:

  • What does this app do?

  • How do I use it?

  • What else do I need to know?

Answering those questions in a compelling fashion is key to a killer first five minutes. And as your mother might have told you, first impressions last. Every interaction from this moment on is colored by what your user learned in those first interactions, and as a result, initial experiences have the sort of long term effects we see in the diagram above. So it is essential to get them right. We’ll talk a little more about making that happen later in this post, but first let’s discuss a topic that too often gets forgotten: measurement.

Finding Metrics That Matter To You

If there’s one quick way to create mobile experiences that suck, it’s this: just figure out what looks good, or what a very important person in your organization thinks looks good, and do that. Without entering into a long digression about the importance of user-centred design, let us just remember that subjective decision making is a short route to both the madhouse and the poorhouse.

The alternative is simple. Establish and agree what success looks like in objective terms, and measure your efforts against that outcome. I’m not here to tell you the single metric that matters to you, but it is vital that you identify how you measure onboarding success. It is also vital that the metric you choose correlates meaningfully with longer term success. You can’t simply pluck from thin air something that sounds plausible, but rather establish that passing a certain ‘milestone’ means that a user is much more likely to  Here are a few possibilities that we’ve seen work:

  • Percentage of new users who get to a third session

  • Percentage of new users who purchase within a month

  • Percentage of new users who use a specific feature

  • Percentage of new users who register within a week

  • Average engagement (time in app) in first week

Of course, there are an almost infinite number of other alternatives, and you may wish to work with two or more. But what doesn’t change is the need to track this metric and clearly establish whether the changes you make are moving it. In the right direction.

One last point here, that should be obvious but isn’t always. You decide on the metrics you care about before starting work, not after. Any fool can wander around in a bunch of after-the-fact data, find something that got better, and claim success. Don’t be that guy. That guy is the reason nobody uses the app and the company goes bust.

Looking Closer At The Data

Once we’ve established the metrics that we care about, the next step is being clear about the stages users go through to get to that point. Here I will briefly pause to plug the benefits of a serious analytics platform that enables deep insight based on every event and every individual user. Why does that matter? Because it enables us to answer the million dollar question “what do users who get to a third session look like?” And more specifically, how do they differ from users who do not?

Chances are the answer to these questions are a set of events. And when we have a set of events, we can create a funnel analysis, as shown below. These funnels enable us to see progression through key events to our ultimate objective and are invaluable when it comes to identifying both progress and obstacles - the things that stop users getting to the objective we care about.

Funnel Analysis for Onboarding

A simple onboarding funnel, showing typical drop off as users pass through key events

  Once we have funnels like this in place we can get down to business and start optimizing the first five minutes. But first a brief word about technology.

Why In-App Experiences Must Be Delivered Dynamically

What follows may appear to be a minor point, but it is in fact vitally important. It’s like this: optimizing any user experience requires rapid iteration. You need to test different approaches, establish how they impact on your key metrics, revise and go again. Insert inspirational Samuel Beckett quote here.

We all know this is the right way to get this job done. But just try doing it if you are embedding the onboarding process into the core code of the app. After waking up one morning in February deciding your onboarding process isn’t quite spot on, you’d have to chat with the mobile product team and exchange your first born for a slot in the next-but-one release (April, or maybe May). With all the work involved, we’ve taken 3 months to change a few screens. And that’s optimistic.

By delivering onboarding experiences from the cloud, however, via a mobile marketing engagement platform of some description (cough), we can make that change in minutes. Or as long as it takes to bribe a designer with some artisanal coffee to make some new screens. Of course serving these experiences dynamically isn’t just about speed of execution - it also enables us to A/B test competing experiences quickly and easily. A/B testing enables us to establish what works based on real user data, which is always superior to the dreaded subjective judgement.

So, What Does Great Onboarding Look Like?

At this moment in time, it is important to remind ourselves that great onboarding is whatever works for you. The process is what matters - namely establishing the metrics that matter and the path that users flow through to reach the objectives we are measuring, and testing and iterating to discover what works best. But all that said, here are a few simple lessons that might be useful.

Firstly, remember the questions each user has on arrival in the app, and answer them. Make sure that after flowing through the onboarding process you feel you have shown users what really counts, and put them in a position to really get a feel for as much of the value you deliver as possible.

Experiment with different formats. Full screens are fine for the first key onboarding messages, but beyond that point, you may wish to use overlay tips that provide contextual assistance to users, as shown below. Of course, when a user first visits a distinct feature, you can revert to full screens for a quick overview.

Alternative Approaches to Onboarding

Examples of alternative approaches to onboarding, including tooltips (centre) and commercial incentives (right)

Learn from user behavior (and reduce the initial mental load). Be strict about what you really need to tell people initially - because you won’t want to delay users getting to the ‘core’ experience, and there is only so much the human mind can hold. Then show educational messages only to those users who haven’t figured things out for themselves yet, based on segments of individuals who haven’t used a particular feature, for example.

Don’t be afraid to get commercial. Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is give users a reason to engage meaningfully right away. That could mean offering a discount on a first mobile purchase, for example. When you do this, users are incentivized to get through some of the key processes (registration, purchase etc) that can often provide friction when it comes to long-term engagement.

Test key decisions. Of course, all content and campaigns should be tested, but don’t forget to test other more fundamental issues? For example, should you push for registration early or leave it for another time? These are questions that many organizations struggle with, but testing will enable you to use real user data to inform the decisions you make. And these are important decisions.

Lastly - remember that onboarding isn’t really about the first five minutes alone. It never stops, or at least your users never stop learning about new ways to use the app, and new value you are able to offer them. Via push notifications and in-app conversations and campaigns, it is necessary to keep talking to your users - and keep listening to them. If you do that, you’ll see your retention rates (and mobile success) head for the skies!

Putting It All Together

To optimize the first five minutes and deliver great retention rates:

  • Establish the meaningful metric you wish to move

  • Identify the key steps users take to get them to that state

  • Build or buy an infrastructure that supports dynamic delivery of mobile experiences

  • Experiment freely with alternative approaches to onboarding screens and campaigns

  • Identify what works

  • Iterate!

At this point I would wish you the very best of luck. But you won’t need it. You’ve got a process. People with a process don’t need luck, they just need a wheelbarrow to carry all their mobile money around.

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Tom Farrell is the SVP of Marketing at Swrve. Tom has over 20 years experience in consumer marketing, both with some of the world’s leading brands and in the tech ecosystem that supports them. Tom has been involved in mobile marketing for over six years and has worked with major app businesses to deliver successful campaigns and experiences on mobile.

 

Infographic: See How Building Apps on Salesforce Has Tremendous ROI

The pressure that businesses today are under to reduce costs, improve agility, and deliver better results is no joke. Couple that with rapidly evolving technology and competition for developers, and you can get a sense of the dramatic shift IT leaders and CIOs are experiencing in their roles. IT leaders are no longer solely focused on maintaining infrastructure and keeping the lights on, but are looking for new ways to help the business drive innovation — fast and at lower costs.

IDC, the premier global market intelligence firm, recently conducted a study of Salesforce customers that shows that businesses who are driving innovation with Salesforce App Cloud are achieving 478% five-year ROI, releasing new apps in 59% less time, and increasing revenues an average of $55,000 per 100 users, letting them break even in just seven months.

These IT Trailblazers, who are leading their entire organizations down a path of digital transformation, have realized the power of extending Sales Cloud and Service Cloud by building custom apps on the Salesforce platform. 

Don’t just take it from me, check out this awesome infographic that illustrates the findings of the report. You can also calculate your very own ROI with the App Cloud ROI Calculator. Better yet, see how you can become an IT trailblazer by starting your journey to building apps on Salesforce with Trailhead.

ROI of Building Apps