The Winter 15 release notes are out, and we’re on Part 3 of our 3 part series detailing the more interesting new features. In Part 1, we discussed the new Winter 15 features for Sales, Salesforce1 and the Platform. In Part 2 we spent some time on all the new Service Cloud features. Now, for the 3rd and final part, we’re going to focus on the Collaboration type features around Chatter, Communities and Work.com.
In no real order:
- Files Connect – Another major new feature in the overhaul of salesforce’s Files strategy comes with Files Connect (and is this the first feature to come from all of the Salesforce/Microsoft BFF announcements?). Files Connect is essentially the ability to share files from outside salesforce – like in Sharepoint – within the same feeds and ways you would share files within salesforce or uploading from your computer. The release notes talk a lot about Sharepoint and how you’ll be able to add Sharepoint content directly into salesforce – as well as search for it. What’s more interesting though is the release notes don’t actually mention Office 365, but in the screenshots (see below) the example they are showing is actually an Office 365 connection, not Sharepoint. Seems like there are a few other connection points that might be possible. Office 365 is pretty interesting to be able to connect to as well. Overall though, a terrific direction as it shows salesforce is not trying to close their walls, but rather make itself more powerful for its users by connecting to other platforms.
- Action Links – Another Pilot feature that I keep claiming we don’t talk about. If they didn’t make the pilot features so cool I wouldn’t have to! Actions Links is very cool and I’m excited, so I’m going to share. Action Links give you the ability to add a button to a Chatter feed that can fire an API, download a file or go to a URL. Basically a button that causes some kind of action. In the release notes they show two examples (below) of how this can be used to build out custom Approve/Reject actions, Download links or even an Ordering action to fire an API to go a buy something. This is extremely powerful – especially when you look at how this could be used within Communities or Mobile Apps. In a Self-Service community, you could now answer a Case and actually provide your customers with options of different actions they can take. “No, that feature you asked for doesn’t exist in your Silver package, but by upgrading to Gold, you can have it.” Give them one button to learn all about the feature and another to upgrade now. In Communities where you want the customer to give you permission before you go and perform a change for them. Give the customer an Action Link in the Community to approve your ticket. Plenty of internal salesforce options here, especially to make Approvals more powerful, but also just to improve process workflow. How about Accept/Reject processes for Lead Passing to sales? You could have simple buttons for Accept or Reject this Lead. Sales rep picks one, it fires off a trigger to stamp the lead with all the data needed for reporting, and boom, you’re all set. We used to need visualforce to make that nice. This is as flexible as you can think of use cases the way this is built. Sadly, it’s a pilot, but if you have a super-cool use case for this, talk to your AE and try to get in.
- Ask Questions in Chatter – This was a beta (but a closed beta) in Summer 14, so we discussed it a bunch in that post. I love this feature and am very happy to see it’s now fully available to everyone in Winter 15.
- Community Templates – Interesting new feature for Communities and one I’m going to need to play with a bit. Communities now have pre-built templates that you can choose to give you a nice quick-start to the community vs. having to brand it from the basic look and feel. Communities has 4 different templates to choose from, and the Self-Service Communities has another 3 templates you can select. On the self-service side, these templates go beyond just look and feel but also highlight different functionality – like Knowledge, Mobile or Q&A – depending on the template you select. Especially if you don’t have anyone to help you design your Communities, this is a nice feature to give your community a more stylish and modern look. Finally, there’s also a template for Identity users – which creates a nice looking single page to display all of the Identity login options you support.
- New Community Analytics – Building on the Communities Analytics Package released in Summer 14, three new and dashboards are now available (note – looks like this will be available on the AppExchange shortly after Winter 15 goes live). The first dashboard centers around Self-Service functionality including metrics on Questions and Answers, Public Page Views (think Public KB) and contributors / visitors to your community. A second dashboard is all about Topics metrics. Finally, the third is a Moderation dashboard to provide metrics on flagged contents and the users getting flagged. The original dashboards also got a couple of more metrics. Very nice to see them building on this as this is key to manage a successful community.
- Custom Login, Logout and Self-Registration Pages for Communities – Yes! With the switch to Communities from Portals we lost the ability to customize the Logout page. That’s fixed with this which is big. On the Self-Registration and Login pages, this was always possible, but it appears to be easier to manage now with this enhancement and it also supports the Community Templates we discussed above. Very happy to see this addressed.
- Reputation Changes – A couple of small enhancements to the Reputation Management feature that came out in Summer 14. First, you can now load custom icons – similar to Work.com badges – for different Reputation Levels. A nice way to personalize your community even more. In addition, when a community user moves up to a new level due to their activity, you can now send Level Up Notifications to let them know they’ve advanced. Finally, looks like there are some changes to the Questions and Answers points system, but from the notes I can’t tell what’s different from what came out last release. Looks like it was upgraded though.
- Report on Files – Small feature, but handy. Now you can report on all of the publicly shared files in your instance. You can report on attributes like when it was created for the public, is it password protected, total times it has been clicked and the last time it’s been clicks. A nice admin report to make sure stuff isn’t being shared that shouldn’t be, and also to keep an eye on if users are doing it properly.
- Unlisted Chatter Groups – Want to collaborate in Chatter, but need some extra privacy and not let users know the group exists unless they are invited? The new Unlisted Chatter Groups is essentially Chatter Groups with that extra level of security. These groups won’t appear in feeds, group listings, search, etc. unless you are a member. Seems like the behave pretty much the same with some small limitations. Haven’t heard a big cry for this requirement, but I can see using it now that it’s available.
- Communities can now display Nicknames for Users – Pretty handy for Public Communities where you can now display the user’s nickname instead of their full name. With the Public Communities becoming bigger, this was a needed enhancement.
- Badges Upgrade – A bit of a change to Badges where there is now a Badges tab which makes Badges more like other objects with List Views, etc. In addition to the new tab, you can now also add custom fields to the Badges object. Not sure how much you’d use this, but I suppose for additional tracking information this could be handle. I’m assuming if Badges have a tab and can now have custom fields, all of this is probably available in reports as well.
- Automatically suggest Work.com Skills – Skills, which act a little like Topics but only available for Work.com customers, can now be set to auto-suggest based on Chatter Posts of the users. This is similar to how users can be endorsed for Topics, but is a lot more controlled and can be used to identify subject matter experts through-out your instance.
Well, that’s it for Winter 15. Another exciting release and with it coming out right before Dreamforce, I’m sure we’ll see some surprise new features that get announced there and are immediately available. Hope to see you at Dreamforce!