The Salesforce Summer ’13 release notes are out, and it’s a monster. Coming in at 258(!) pages, there really are too many features this release to describe in 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.
As always, in no particular order here are some of what we think are the most interesting new features:
- Communities – Communities has been in beta for a bit now, but goes out to the public with Summer 13. Communities is going to be the replacement for Customer & Partner Portal and really is the one of the key tenants of salesforce’s Customer Company vision. For existing customers of Customer or Partner portal, the portals will not change when communities go live. Each customer will need to make a decision to move to communities and that can be done on your own schedule. New customers will be on Communities only. Some of the big improvements in Communities over the existing portals that are coming in Summer:
- Chatter Feed – Similar to standard users, Partner and Customer users will now have a Chatter feed where they can collaborate, follow, and receive updates. Particularly in the Partner space, this has been a need for a long time and this will be a game-changer for how customers and partners can collaborate.
- Dashboards – Partner community users will now have access to Dashboards
- Identify – Curious how this will work, but users can login using different authentication services like Facebook, Google+, etc. Not sure how that gets centrally controlled with named users yet, but will be something we look at. As part of this, the standard login page gets a nice facelift.
- Easier UI Customizations – Looks like it’s easier to change the look and feel of the Community than it was for the portals.
- Pages Outside of Authentication – Similar to Sites, you can also have pages and applications – like Chatter Answers, Knowledge, etc. that are publicly facing as part of the community. I don’t think this is net new functionality, but it’s pulling together what used to be very separate pieces between Sites, Sitesforce, PKB and Portal into a unified platform with Communities. Will definitely make it easier to maintain
- Chatter Enhancements – Two pretty major enhancements to Chatter.
- Custom Publishers – Back at the end of March, Marc Benioff spoke about how Chatter will become the primary interface for salesforce. Custom Publishers are a big step toward this vision. Essentially, Custom Publishers allow you to place actions into the chatter feed. From an account, is creating an Opportunity a common action? Create a Custom Publisher and let this happen right in the feed. (see a screenshot example below). Activities, Cases, etc.- any action can be added as a Publisher with a custom layout for it as well. There’s no doubt that this feature will continue to be expanded on to evolve the feed into the core of salesforce. This also replaces the functionality from Winter 13 that put Tasks into the publisher.
- Topics – The hashtags have now been re-purposed as Topics in Chatter. By itself, this isn’t a big change, but with this releases Topics will start to become core to surfacing and linking information and even people. Do you have a user who continually posts about a particular topic? That topic will now be linked to them as part of the trending. In a few releases, this will power the Experts functionality salesforce has spoken about and shown. Outside of Experts, Topics will also connect similar records, files and data within salesforce.
- Owner & Checkbox Formula Fields – Two really overdue enhancements that have been a pain point for a while. Finally, Owner fields will behave like other Lookup fields within a formula and you can include information from the User table related to the Owner in the formula, like Name! We had to build countless triggers to get around this, and looking forward to ripping them all out. On the checkbox side, instead of having to make a text formula field that literally says “TRUE” or “FALSE”, you can now have a checkbox appear as the formula field type. Very nice.
- Opportunity Splits – Everyone won’t use this, but for the companies out there that split their opportunities across multiple sales reps, this feature will be huge. You’ll be able to split the credit for opportunities across multiple users as long as the credit adds to 100%. For opportunities that don’t need a split, it will be defaulted to 100% credit for the Opportunity Owner.
- Offline Data in Touch – This is only a pilot, but this is another much needed feature. Say good-bye to the old Offline Edition, as Touch looks to be the new way to store offline data going forward.
- Touch Improvements – Touch receives some new features as well. First is a new UI which modernizes the look and feel a bit. My favorite new feature is the new activity pane which now shows all your open tasks in a single list. In addition, with a click of the box you can now close an activity. Nice easy and intuitive interface. In addition, Visualforce Tabs are now supported within Touch and you can view/add a Twitter account using the Social Contacts within Touch.
- Enhanced Sharing for Reports & Dashboards – Officially called “Fine-Grained Sharing”, but in a nutshell, report folders now have more in-depth sharing options to allow users to be a Viewer, Editor or Manager of a report/dashboards folder. Much more flexible than the “Manage Public Reports” option available today
- New Admin UI – The Admin Setup gets a facelift and is organized in a much more intuitive fashion. I could make a joke that it’s finally organized at all, but it’s nice to see it re-done a bit. Veterans will probably need to get used to it, but it’s not too different. In addition, the user settings area gets updated as well, which makes managing your user settings – like Chatter, Email, etc. – much more intuitive (See below). Finally, for the developers, the developer console has also been re-done.
- Pricebooks – Pricebooks get a tab and actually get their own custom fields, making them more like other objects. What’s more encouraging here is not the functionality itself, but what looks like a steady trend to get some of the original objects that have been locked down and unable to be customized, onto the platform. Last release it was Opportunity Teams. Now Pricebooks. Competitors and Partners next?
- Salesforce for Outlook Updates – It’s great to see the steady improvements here as well. Summer 13 adds Shared Activities which allows a user to add an email to multiple Contacts. Probably won’t be used a ton, but it’ll be very handy when needed. We also get the ability to manually sync Calendar Events, Contacts and Tasks. Great to have the flexibility there. Finally, the sidebar now has the ability to see Cases related to a Contact and also can search related Custom Object and not just the Standard objects now.
- Visualforce now supports CTI – This was an annoyance we ran into a couple of times where if you had a visualforce section that contained a phone number, the click to dial would not work for that phone. There is now a VF component that enables click to dial, solving this issue.
- Chatter is now available for Android – The new Chatter is now out for the Android. That’s actually out now, so no need to wait until June
As more details come out about the migration plan, how you can move existing portals to this, and the licensing, we’ll write-up a post dedicated to communities to explain everything.
Service Cloud will be done in Part II, and this isn’t a full list of all the platform & sales features coming.