Salesforce Winter 14 Features – Part 1

Salesforce Winter 14 Release Logo

Salesforce Winter 14 Release Logo

The Salesforce Winter ’14 release notes are out, and it’s another big one. Not sure why the logo is a polar bear stuck on an ice island (Chatter is supposed to connect everyone! Make it an ice-bridge or something) but, despite that, we have 303 pages of new features to digest in a few weeks. Similar to the Summer ’13 release, this is too big for one post, so I’m going to break it out into two. Part I below will cover overall salesforce platform and Sales Cloud features, while Part II will focus on Service Cloud and Communities.

As always, in no particular order here are some of what we think are the most interesting new features:

  • Expanded Search in Lookups – Right out of the gate is an update that has been receiving 1000’s of votes for years and has been a personal pet peeve of mine and that is the fact that lookup fields only allowed you to search by Name. This is fixed with Winter 14 where you can now look for records in the lookups for any field by doing a quick toggle during the search. Seems like a small feature, but if you have additional unique ID’s for records – like Account Numbers or User Names, it was painful finding them in the lookups. Just an FYI, you need enhanced lookups turned on for the objects you want this for in order to use this.

    New Expanded Search lookup box

    New Expanded Search lookup box

  • Console for Sales – A lot of customers have asked why is the Service Console just for Customer Support? The UI is terrific for any call-center environment, whether it’s Service or Sales, and with Winter 14 salesforce has corrected this. Sales users can now get the Salesforce Console for Sales, which looks exactly like the Service Console (which is terrific). Hard to tell if there are any differences between Service & Sales from the release notes, but my guess is no outside of the licensing. This looks like it is available at an additional cost, but no word on what that cost is. For a call center environment, the productivity gains of the console should make this a no-brainer.
  • Some great reporting updates:
    • Historical Trending – Very exciting and a little overdue, but great to see it. I actually had assumed this would be part of an additional cost add-on when it eventually came out, so terrific to see it released as part of the general release (with a couple of limitations). Basically, you now have the ability to store snapshots of data to report against so you can get trending information in reports. Awesome feature and should be a huge help for a lot of reporting. Some limits to be aware of though. First, looks like you can only store 4 months worth of data at a time and you can do 5 snapshots of data during that time. Looks like this is available for Opportunities and then up to 3 different custom objects. This means the other standard objects are not included – the biggest pain point probably being Cases. Finally, looks like it can hold up to 4M rows of data. If you go past that, it will stop collecting. Unclear if these snapshots count against your storage usage. So, overall a powerful feature that is a little less powerful due to the restrictions. However, it’s the first release it’s out, so hopefully this is something that continues to be expanded (or maybe there’s an option to expand it for a cost)

      Historical Trending Report Example

      Historical Trending Report Example

    • Embedded Analytics – Another very cool new feature. Now, you can add up to two report charts to your record page layouts. This was previously possible using visualforce, but now it’s part of the standard page layouts. Salesforce did a great job in how it’s setup too. Very easy to drag and drop a report into the page layout by using the normal page layout wizard. You can place the report chart anywhere in the page layout and then a simple options box does the rest (see below). The chart is automatically filtered by a field on the record – like the Account ID for example, so you don’t even need to modify the report. Then, the chart shows that report but just the data relevant to the record the chart is on. Terrific feature with a ton of value to present data to your users. There are some limits to how often you can refresh these – so if you have a high volume instance you might not want to set this to refresh each time a record is viewed.

      Embedded Analytics Options Box

      Embedded Analytics Options Box

    • Reporting API now available – You can now hit a report via the API to send result sets back to external systems or apps. Very powerful for any custom mobile apps you might be building as it let’s you give control of the report criteria to the users via config vs. having to hard code in the criteria/filters into an integration.

  • Chatter – As usual, Chatter also has some updates this release:
    • Sub-tabs in the profile – The profile page now has sub-tabs. If you have work.com, you’ve already seen how this is going to look, but now it’s standard. Makes the profile slicker and you also have the ability to add custom sub-tabs within the profile. This works similar to the apps functionality and different user types can have a different collection of tabs on their profile. I can see this being extremely handy for appexchange products (like work.com) where they are extending a profile record and possibly even for linking to user data outside of salesforce. This will be one we dig into more once it’s out.
    • Publisher Actions – Publisher Actions received a big update. First, you can now set default publisher actions for different objects and out of the gate, salesforce has introduced a slew of actions across the standard objects. For example, see the image below for all the new Publisher Actions on the Account record. As we mentioned in Summer, Marc Benioff has a vision of making the feed the primary interface with a record. This is another step towards that vision. In addition to the defaults, you can now Chatter “thanks” within the feed. This is a scaled down version of the badges in work.com (a post on this is coming soon btw). The badges are a good way to reward and recognize employees for outstanding work, and I think this will really catch-on within different organizations. Obviously, the full work.com license has more functionality, but the thanks action is a very useful feature on its own. Finally, the publisher actions are available as “smart actions” via mobile.

      New Publisher Action Defaults

      New Publisher Action Defaults

    • Chatter Groups can be archived – A minor annoyance solved – probably was more than minor if you were using groups heavily. Good to see.
    • Topics – A few quick updates to topics (which is turning into a great feature). First, they can now be followed so you’ll receive updates about a topic automatically in your feed. Second, the ability to create new topics is now a profile security setting (much needed) and finally, admins now can edit and merge topics when needed.
    • List View Creation can now be restricted – Profile setting which would prevent users from even creating private views. Great if you’re trying to force users to work from specific views.
    • Chatter posts & comments can now be 5,000 characters instead of the previous 1,000 limit

  • Salesforce for Outlook – Again, more improvements here and this is becoming a killer app. The “send and add” feature is now on the side bar (this was a little bit of a miss, but nice to see it corrected). Events can now be added from the side panel and it can be done to multiple contacts at once. When adding an event from the side panel, it automatically syncs the calendar event with salesforce, so no need to toggle it. Finally, a user can now hide the panel themselves from Outlook vs. needed to rely on it globally.
  • Some other Quick hits:
    • Opportunity Splits (released in Summer 13) and Product Families are now available in Forecasts
    • Pricebooks can now be a lookup relationship – Could come in handy at times
    • User Accounts can now be frozen vs. de-activated – An admin life-saver. Nothing worse than trying to de-activate a user in a crunch and finding out that user is all over workflow, approvals, and settings. Now, you can freeze and remove the other stuff later
    • List View Creation can now be restricted – Profile setting which would prevent users from even creating private views. Great if you’re trying to force users to work from specific views.
    • Approval Comments are now available as a merge field for email templates – Was always annoying not being able to do this – glad it’s fixed
    • Sandbox storage limits have been increased – Huge! Developer sandboxes have gone from 10MB to 200MB which makes them useful now for real testing. Much needed especially if you’re testing integration or a lot of scenarios.

    Finally, there are also a ton of betas and pilots in this release which I typically don’t cover until they are official features. I feel like I have to mention a big one though and that is Salesforce Files. This will without a doubt be all over Dreamforce, but this is what everyone was originally referring to as “Chatterbox”. Basically, this is salesforce’s answer to Dropbox/Box.net and from what we’ve seen it’s going to be extremely slick. I don’t know which features are in the pilot, but this will allow you to sync files from salesforce to your desktop and the way it was embedded into salesforce made it extremely easy to do. This is one I’m excited to get my hands on.

    9/5/13 Update – Salesforce has just started the press about Salesforce Files, and it looks like it’s actually not the original Chatterbox but a bit of a redo to expand it. Read more about it here and here.

    Next up will be the Service and Community features. A lot there to cover as well. Looking forward to Winter 14!

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