Salesforce’s Winter 12 Features Announced

On the heels of Dreamforce 11, salesforce has just published the Winter 12 release notes. If you were at Dreamforce, it won’t come as a surprise, but this is a big release. All in all, there are 150 new features in this release, and a lot of big ones. Here are some of the highlights.

    • Analytics Enhancements – Coming out of Dreamforce (more on my Dreamforce thoughts in another post), this is what I was most excited about. Starting with this release, there is a terrific roadmap of new features for reports and dashboards, which is going to be a big win for customers. Just to name a few of the new ones in Winter 12:
        • Dashboard Filters – Tired of creating a clone for a dashboard just to get a cut on a different metric, like Region or Industry? Dashboard filters allows you to add a filter to the dashboard, that when changed, applies to the filter to all the dashboard components. A small, but terrific feature. For now, it can only be a picklist, lookup or text field. (let’s hope date fields are close behind)
        • New Reports Tab – A slick re-design of the Reports tab. The image shows it nicely, but essentially it combines Reports and Dashboards into one place to find and run them. An enhanced search has also been added for those customers with lots of reports or dashboards. A few other additions helps admins manage the folders and creation a bit better, so all around a good addition.

      • Visualforce Charting – This is a pilot, but salesforce showed it at Dreamforce and it looked very slick. Essentially, visualforce reports are much easier to build as there are now pre-built components for reports and charts which means you won’t need to start from scratch building them.
      • Reports are now in the Recent Items list
    • Chatter Enhancements – As expected, there’s a few new Chatter enhancements, but I almost see this as the next level of Chatter. It’s no longer just a feed.

 

    • Chatter Messages – Messaging and Presence now built directly into salesforce. This is a big collaboration enhancement, as now users can see if someone is logged into salesforce, and send them a private message. Just another step to allowing the team to remain in salesforce to get all the information they need.
    • Customers in Private Chatter Groups – Your Customers (or Partners, which I think is even bigger), can now be invited into private and secure Chatter groups so they can collaborate with your salesforce users. Share files, posts, messages, etc. just like you would with a normal salesforce user. Best of all, it’s free.
    • Chatter Approvals – Approvals can now be managed through the Chatter feed
  • SiteForce – Salesforce showed this off at Dreamforce 10, and it’s coming live in Winter 12. Too many details to cover here, but essentially, SiteForce is a CMS editor to create pages for Sites easier. Currently, if you want to really change your portal look and feel, you’d need to create visualforce pages. With this, you get much more flexibility in what you can customize, and from the look of it, the ability to do it a lot easier than visualforce.
  • Social Contacts – Directly from the Contact record, you can now view a Contact’s Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin feed. This is the next step in Salesforce’s push to “socialize” the enterprise and I can see where Radian6 will step in soon to enhance this even further. For now, this is simply a way to view the feeds, as long as you know your contact’s user ID for these services. Speaking of which…
  • Data.com – Jigsaw is now called data.com. First, one of the big announcements at Dreamforce was that Data.com now contains a subset of D&B information. This is big. Previously, Jigsaw was great for contact data, but pretty poor around Account information. D&B was the exact opposite. Now, with one service you can get the best of both, completely integrated with salesforce and with the ability to make it even more powerful with API access. This is becoming a must have if you do serious lead nurturing or outbound calling. In addition to this announcement, there are a few new enhancements within salesforce, including the ability for users to save searches and improved exporting. Finally, back to the Social Contacts. With Salesforce’s focus on the “social enterprise”, it is clear that Data.com will be making a strong push to start capturing company’s and contact’s social accounts as well as their email and phone.
  • Forecasts – A revamp of the Forecasts feature. A new, impressive looking UI, and some nice improvements to the usability. From the notes, it’s hard to tell if it is more flexible though, which has always been the biggest issue.
  • Salesforce for Outlook now supports Outlook 2010, including 64 bit. Still no ability to create Cases from an email though.
  • CTI 4.0 – Of course, this doesn’t mean the phone vendors will support it just yet, so may be a lag before you can take advantage of this. Biggest part of this is it now supports Chrome as well the Mac – again, you need your phone vendor to upgrade before you can use this.

Winter 12 looks like a well rounded release with a few big enhancements and a lot of smaller enhancements to really fill it out. After the somewhat light Summer 11 release, this is one we’re excited to get our hands on. Can’t wait for the pre-release instance to get more details on some of these items. As always, we’ll post more as we find out.

Update: The pre-release is now out: http://success.salesforce.com/ideaView?c=09a30000000D9xtAAC&id=08730000000aDnTAAU

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