CNX14 Day 3 Recap

Day 3 was packed with product keynotes and feature specific content. Data was, is and always will be the key. Especially, when we’re talking about people. It’s who you know, not what you know. How well do you know your customers and how can you leverage that information to enhance their experience with your products and retain their patronage? A recurring theme throughout the day was personalization and how every individual is the target market instead simple groups of similar people. It was great to hear firsthand accounts from several organizations how they are engaging customers with relevant information at the right time using the tools in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud.

Today is the 4th and final day of Connections. There are several keynotes and one last chance to visit the Expo floor, including the Developer Zone where I’ll be. Tomorrow I’ll summarize the week as a whole.

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CNX14 Day 2 Recap

You have just taken your first step in the journey with the Marketing Cloud…and in just a few minutes, you will receive an activation email for your free Developer Edition.

Those words brought a tear to my eye. If you haven’t heard, you can now get your very own Developer Account in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. This is awesome news for those looking to unlock and extend the power of ExactTarget. All around it was another great day of learning and connecting.

Another cool development happened during the music festival with will.i.am performing and DJing LIVE from his wrist!! It wasn’t without it’s quirks, but he handled it like a BOSS and it was even more impressive as his fully load laptop actually crashed forcing him to rely on the wrist DJ (the death stares his tech guy got as he tried to fix the laptop on stage suggests this was NOT staged. If it was, it was REALLY good acting). The Script and DJ Casey Connor also put on excellent performances.

Time to start day 3 with the Product Keynote at 10:00am ET. Don’t forget you can stream it live here.

CNX14 Day 1 Recap

wpid-imag2896.jpgMonday was the first day of ExactTarget Connections. There are only a few activities available on day one, which is mostly about getting here, registration and prepping to roll through the meat of the conference on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I was fortunate enough to find one activity that is as valuable as just about any you will find here by attending a training session. Whenever I attend any kind of trade show or work related conference, my number one priority is learning something new. Mission accomplished and we’re just getting started! As much fun as the entertainment and parties can be, it’s all about knowledge.

If you’re not attending CNX14 and saving yourself for Dreamforce next month, make sure you maximize your agenda by grabbing at least one Hands-on Training Session (HOT). The fill up fast so if you don’t get the one you want, favorite it and keep checking to see if new ones are added. The most popular HOTs are likely to be repeated. A limited number of walk-ups are held in reserve so even if you can’t lock one in, you still have a good chance of getting in. If you go the “stand-by” route, it is recommended to arrive early to be at the front of the line. There’s always a few no shows, but don’t rely on that if you really need to get in on a particular training session.

I’m excited be here at Connections and looking forward to starting day 2 with the Opening Keynote at 10:00am ET. You can stream it live even if you’re not here.

Babyforce 2.0

I cannot take credit for the original idea, that honor goes to Brian Kwong, aka The Wizard. His version was born in a browser before Salesforce1 (S1) and Publisher Actions (did I get it right Shannon?) were introduced. So when my youngest was born, I built Babyforce 2.0 as way to pass the time during those late nights and amuse myself by building an app my wife could easily use to track diaper changes and baby wipes. Easy, right?

Actually, yes it is. That’s the beauty of S1, anyone can build an app, no code required! In my case I had several objectives:

  1. Had to be short and sweet – no way I’m getting Wifey to use this if it’s hard
  2. Had to include only the essentials – no need to get fancy
  3. Had to be measurable – how else would I justify my experiment?

After few minutes, Babyforce was mobile! Over the first month, my lovely wife amused me by participating in my little experiment. We collectively tracked 357 “transactions” and broke them down few different ways. I give you the BabyDash!

Salesforce DashboardHere a couple of screenshots in Salesforce1 including a couple reports and the Publisher Action used to track each change.

Salesforce1 Report View

Salesforce1 Publisher Action

It was a fun way to brush up on the functionality of Salesforce1 and did not take long to create. Safe Harbor, Brian is working on Toddlerforce 1.0. Stay tuned!

 

Road Trip

Photo Credit: Jennifer SpannerIf you use Salesforce and haven’t joined the Salesforce Success Community or been to a user group before, you should. In a nutshell, it’s a support network for the community, by the community. The community is more than just a simple forum with questions and answers. It’s absolutely a fantastic resource for your Salesforce education, but it goes way beyond that.

This community cares and genuinely looks after each other. Don’t believe me? Read Cheryl Feldman’s first user group experience. Listen to  Sarah Deutsch on the power of Community podcast on the ButtonClick Admin™. Or check out the magical journey of our resident Wizard, Brian Kwong who will point you to yet more inspiration.

I also owe my thanks to many many people in the community. That’s a key word – community. The majority of my self-education came from the community. – Brian Kwong, aka Salesforce Wizard

No matter your role, level or location, if you work with Salesforce the community is available. The Success Community is the epicenter in the cloud. This is where you will find Answers your questions, a platform for your Ideas or a place for Collaboration. It’s also the home for most User Groups (for Developer Groups head here).

This week  I had the pleasure taking road trip to Wilmington, NC to present at the local user group with my friend and fellow community member Phillip Southern, author of the blog philthecloud.com. We had a great conversation with those in attendance about the Salesforce Community at large and the MVP Program which is an subset of the community. We were invited to speak to the community about the community…AWESOME! We had a great group who were interactive and eager learn more about the benefits of participating in the community.

As we wrapped our session, an unexpected and thoughtful question was asked by the crowd, had we as presenters saw value in the conversation even though it was a requirement of the program? The answer to the first part of the question is we definitely enjoyed our time and easily saw the value. Any chance we have to encourage others to participate in the community is welcome. The fact that we had more of a conversation than a straight up push presentation where we did all the talking was all I needed to know the topic resonated. As for the second part of the question, it is actually not a requirement of the program. It’s an honor to collaborate with others in the community at events like this. For those who are remote employees like Phil and myself, it’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn and share. We do it because we love the community, both online and in person.

Community – without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and to all of you in my Community, thanks for everything you do. It is greatly appreciated! – Eric Dreshfield

The following is a excerpt taken from the online community. It sums up the best of the community:

Image from public page on Salesforce Answers

At a minimum, the community is a resource you can learn from, free of charge. At it’s best, the community is will improve your life as much personally as it does professionally.

Ready to join the fun? Go to https://success.salesforce.com/ to learn more and start your own road trip!

 

Spring ’14 Release

Spring14Release.jpgIt’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! No, not Salesforce Spring ’14 maintenance exam, that’s available on the 20th. I’m talking about my own update in the form of a new baby boy. It’s an exciting time in the Zullo family and while I was watching my oldest interact with my youngest, I was reminded that you get back what you put in…to anything. My marriage, family, friends, career, pretty much everything I do is dependent on my input. You get back you put in. I was reminded of this over the weekend when my oldest met my newest child. Like most parents, I think my kid is pretty sharp and more importantly a good person in the making. I’ve known for a while that my firstborn is a compassionate soul, but was still floored by his love and affection for his younger sibling, by the pride, joy and determination in caring for his new brother. I’d like to think our family has had something to do with that and it’s not a coincidence.

The Salesforce Success Community is no different. I don’t believe is a coincidence is my professional happiness has improved significantly since I increased my activity in Salesforce and the community it fosters. In the past 2 years alone I’ve met some amazing people, strengthened and stretched myself and I am as happy as I have been in my career in some time. No way this is all luck. Do I feel lucky to have an amazing family and network? Of course! Do I actually believe it’s all luck that the pieces of my life puzzle have randomly fallen into place? No. You get what you put in. If you put crappy data into your system, guess what? Your data is crappy. If you don’t put genuine effort into your relationships, then you probably won’t have anybody to stand by you when things get tough. I love my life and those who are in it. After my family, my Salesforce family has been a huge part of my recent success and professional enjoyment. Where else am I going to find people who send me congratulations about my Spring ’14 release in Salesforce-speak?

Whatever you do in life, know that you get back, what you put it in.

Radian6’s Twitter Firehose gets Super Sized

This week Salesforce announced it is expanding its relationship with Twitter, giving Radian6 customers greater access to Twitter content through its API. This is great news for those looking to do more with all the data captured through Radian6. In short, if you build it, they (the tweets) will come with more than a just the URL. Now you can analyze the data in ways not available through the previous agreement. This is an exciting opportunity for developers to get creative and build smarter apps to make sense of all the data coming through. No longer restricted to the declarative options out of the box, things are about to get interesting with custom app development as it relates to making smarter decisions with data received from Twitter. I am looking forward to hearing how others take advantage of this expanded access to better serve their customers. In the meantime, you can guess what I’ll be working on!