All this week I’m at Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce conference. Salesforce has come a long way with their platform and they’ve recently introduced Community Cloud. Community Cloud is an evolution of their portal product and includes many features that we see in other enterprise-class, horizontal portals.
We are seeing a lot of interest in portals from our healthcare clients. At Dreamforce, I attended a session on using Salesforce Community Cloud in healthcare. I blogged about this on our Perficient Salesforce Blog and I encourage you to read Dreamforce: Community Cloud for Healthcare post to see how organizations like Health Leads are being innovative with portals using Community Cloud.
Salesforce Community Cloud can be used for a variety of applications, including sales communities, customer self-service, marketing campaign management, or anywhere you need portal, content and social combined into one experience.
At Dreamforce 2014, Salesforce has been having a lot of sessions related to communities and I’ve seen a lot of communities focused on partners. That is if you are company that has sales partners, dealers, etc. a partner community would be relevant to you.
The Community Cloud sits on top of the Salesforce1 platform and Site.com, so it takes advantage of all the features of that platform and the mobile version as well. For example, if you need to expose sales leads to a partner, you can use the Salesforce CRM capabilities and display that data on your Partner Community. You can also incorporate Chatter and get instant file sharing, social networking and group features in your application.
Salesforce shared their roadmap for communities today at the Dreamforce Conference. Here are some of the items I captured that are on the roadmap for the Winter 15 release:
Future themes for Community Cloud include:
Community cloud is clearly a highly viable horizontal portal that can be used to satisfy a lot of business needs.
Zero Motorcycles needed a way to consolidate multiple partner-facing systems into a simplified user interface, track sales and monitor participation programs and automate workflows. As we’ve seen from other customers, partners had to login to multiple systems. Using Community Cloud, Zero was able to provide one interface for the partners to login into and get information and process leads and improve sales.
Zero’s original model was B2C, thinking that consumers would order electric motorcycles on the net. But that didn’t work out and Zero found out they needed dealerships to provide test rides and provide customer engagement. Read the rest of this post »
Community Cloud is Salesforce’s newest and fastest growing cloud (until tomorrow). IDC has seen a huge jump in using social media to communicate with customers and respond to customer inquiries. The top 3 technologies that are planned to be used include discussion forums, public social networks, and online communities, which is where Community Cloud comes in.
Constant Contact, an all-in-one marketing platform, has over 600,000 small business customers. Constant Contact uses over 9,000 partners to grow their business. They have built a partner portal on Community Cloud to support their partners, which will hopefully increase revenue. Read the rest of this post »
In the past week I’ve either read or listened to two heads of global marketing for two well-known brands. Both had a similar story with different sides of the same coin. Both had a message that dealt with marketers having to forget about telling their brand story and go with what customers want to hear.
The first was a session about leveraging social data with Michelle Lapierre who is the senior director of Customer Experience at Marriott Rewards. The second is an article at cmo.com discussing Adam Broitman, vice president of Global Digital Marketing at Mastercard, and his views on the subject.
Both said almost exactly the same thing to their internal and external marketing teams. I’ll quote Adam, but the message was almost identical:
“You need to forget about yourself–the brand–at first,” Broitman said. “There are a lot of brands out there putting garbage out and calling it content marketing. But that doesn’t serve the user.”
I love the message. As I’ve looked at what is successful, I find that it’s “real” content that people find interesting. It’s creating a conversation that’s personalized. Michelle noted that no one thinks about their hotel stay first. They think about the need. If you highlight the hotel stay before the need then you’ve missed the boat and your results will show that. Michelle had a another great quote:
“Be BBQ worthy.”
In other words, have something that will make you worthy of being invited to the barbecue.
So if the flaw is that your content stinks and your content stinks because it’s about uninteresting topics, then what do you do?
Read the rest of this post »
I’ve blogged about the personalization failure before. Now it looks like others are catching on to the ultimate failure on their part, even as they harvest huge amounts of private information about us. This article in ComputerWorld outlines the issues. The author Mike Elgan hits the topic of privacy quickly and never lets it go:
Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon violate our privacy in order to show us relevant ads. So why do their ads miss the mark?
To be honest, he has a point. We do give up a lot of information to the likes of Google and Facebook, but the personalization and ad pushes seem to leave a lot to be desired. Where exactly does all that data go? It doesn’t seem to do a good job identifying our secret needs.
Personal data harvesting for contextual ads and content should be a beautiful thing. Companies monitor what you do, where you go, who you interact with and what your interests are. They do it privately and securely, and it’s all automated so that no human being actually learns anything about you. And then the online world becomes customized, just for you. The ads are always the things you want to buy. The services are just what you’re looking for. The content is exactly the stuff you enjoy.
It doesn’t always work that way, but that’s how it’s supposed to work.
What’s wrong with the public anxiety about this scenario? People are mostly concerned about the privacy violation. But it could be argued that there is no such violation, in most cases. It’s really a philosophical question as to whether your privacy has been violated if no human being sees your data.
The real problem with this scenario is that is we’re paying for contextual ads and content with our personal data, but we’re not getting what we pay for.
After reading the article, I was again left with the same question: How come you have the information, but cannot get the personalization right?
Gartner has released its Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals 2014 and it contains some interesting surprises. For the first time in several years, Gartner has moved IBM and Liferay ahead of the other vendors in both vision and execution ability.
The leaders for 2014 are still the same leaders as in 2013 and 2012. For the past few years IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have been clustered near each other in the Leader’s quadrant, with Liferay and SAP barely making it into that coveted quadrant. You can see my post about the 2013 version here: Gartner MQ Horizontal Portals 2013.
It’s clear that Gartner is seeing both IBM and Liferay as leading competitors. Here is Gartner’s take on IBM: “IBM’s long heritage of leadership in the enterprise portal market has brought it the broadest feature set in the industry. IBM has a long list of marquee customers across vertical industries, and it has demonstrated support for nearly every type of B2E, business-to-consumer (B2C) and B2B portal initiative.”
Gartner definitely likes what Liferay as accomplished in the past few years. “Even in the face of increasingly large, complex deployments, Liferay continues to build up a pool of satisfied customers. Liferay Portal has often succeeded where portal initiatives using other products were bogged down in cost and complexity.”
We also see several other notable shifts. First Microsoft has moved backward in the vision axis and SAP is moving higher on the vision axis. According to Gartner, Microsoft is being hurt by uncertainty around the future of SharePoint and Office365. Microsoft is definitely making a push to Office365 and many companies want to stay on-premise. Gartner says, “The future of on-premises SharePoint Server is in question.”
SAP has traditionally been viewed as a portal for SAP only. However SAP has made a lot of investments in enabling better user experiences and can now be seen as a more broadly-based portal by companies. Read the rest of this post »
In the BufferSocial blog, Kevan Lee posted an article for Social Media Managers. The post takes a look a “typical” social media manager’s day and breaks down that day into many different activities, represented in the info graphic here.
Mr. Lee also provides several different views on how other people spend their days managing social media. One person, Finola Howard, manages to compress all her daily activities into just one hour per day. Her tasks include:
In general, the post identifies 12 tasks of a social media manager. The twelve tasks are shown here and the article does a great job of explaining each of them.
If you manage social networking within your company, say using IBM Connections, Yammer, Jive or others, you should also pay attention to the tasks. Each of these 12 tasks apply to internal as well as external social managers.
In addition, Mr. Lee provides a series of checklists for the social media manager. These lists come from places like Mindbrew Creative, HeroX, Hootsuite and others. Even by itself, the various checklists are well worth your time to understand.
Overall, A day in the Life of a Social Media Manager is extremely valuable and full of great information.
In this series, I’m showing how Portals don’t have to be heavyweight. In Part 1, I wrote about how to make the infrastructure lighter by using cloud or IBM’s Pure System. In Part 2, I introduced the concept of using IBM’s Web Content Manager system to build very simple portlets.
A typical web page or application consists of several sections:
In WCM, we can create an authoring template that contains four HTML fields, one for each of the sections described above. The authoring template also has a workflow associated with it so we can control the publishing of our code.
Read the rest of this post »
In part 1 of this series, How to Implement Lighter Weight Portals, I wrote about the infrastructure and installation aspects of Portals. To make the tasks of managing and installing portals, I recommended cloud solutions and for IBM, their PureApplication system both in the cloud and on-premise.
In Part 2, I turn my attention to applications and how to make task of developing portal applications more lightweight.
The goal of a portal is to combine applications and content at the glass for a user. By this definition alone, we should always think of how to make lightweight portlets. If you have a larger application to build, break it down into core components that can be built into separate portlets, rather than one large portlet.
Even if you can get to smaller, bite-sized applications or portlets, you are still faced with the underlying framework imposing additional layers on your efforts. We’ll focus on Java-based portals to make the discussion simple and I’ll use IBM WebSphere Portal as an example. Say we want to simply display a feed from Reuters as shown in our first picture here.
To create a portlet for use in IBM WebSphere Portal, a developer is going to use IBM Rational Application Developer (already a heavy-weight tool), create a new project using a wizard, fill in some details about the portlet, like name, Java version, etc. and then hit go. RAD will do a nice job of building the portlet shell with all the right components set up. These components include xml files, TLD files, libraries or references, file folders and start JSP files. Already, we have a lot of code to manage.
Once I put in my custom code, I then have to build the project, create a .war file, and then deploy it to WebSphere Portal. After its deployed, I can create a portal page, and my new portlet and I’m all set. In most IT shops, build and deploy to production can take weeks or months just because IT has to control the changes to production very tightly.
If I’m a business guy who just wants a very simple portlet, this makes portal look heavyweight to me, but its likely the process than the technology.
So how to fix this?