The Salesforce Spring ’14 release notes are out, and clocking in at 323 pages, it’s another big list of features to digest. In case you haven’t seen the announcements, the release itself has been pushed back about a month, and the new release dates are here.
Similar to the Summer ’13 and Winter 14 releases, 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, Sales Cloud and Chatter 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:
Salesforce1 – Salesforce1 was one of the main announcements at Dreamforce and the initial apps for it were actually released for Dreamforce instead of waiting for the next release – which would be this one. In Spring 14, we see a few nice enhancements to what came out at Dreamforce:
Navigation Changes – Some quick navigational changes were made. Dashboards can now be found using the global search instead of having to navigate to the dashboard search. If you are taking advantage of embedded charts – the new feature from Winter 14 (and if you’re not, you should be) – you can now views these charts from salesforce1 as well. Finally, a bunch of new objects can now be used within salesforce1 including Opportunity Products and Teams, Quotes and Quote Lines, Orders (new feature detailed below) and D&B Company which is available if you’re using data.com
Lead Communications – Salesforce1 has some nice easy actions from the Contact record that allow you to call the Contact directly, log a call activity against them or to send an email. These actions are now available from Leads as well.
Today Enhancements – I’m a big fan of the Today app. If you haven’t used it yet, it is an app included with salesforce1 (it’s available now) that combines all of the calendars from your mobile device and salesforce, as well as any tasks you might have for the day. Essentially giving you one nice mobile view of your day. Spring 14 brings a few quick enhancements, including the ability to hit members of an event with a quick message, automatically collapsing past events for the day to keep the it streamlined and events now show some of the participants names as well within the view.
Notification Changes – As with most mobile apps these days, salesforce1 has notifications that can be pushed to the device. With Spring 14, you can now receive notifications (either in the app, or to the device) if you are assigned a task, when someone posts to your profile and when someone comments on a post of yours. In addition to the new notifications, they are now available for up to 90 days.
Social Data – Twitter profiles are now available for Accounts, Contacts and Leads within salesforce. (same as the Social Contacts and Social Accounts linking) In addition you can now see “people in common” through Twitter of the Contact or Lead you are looking at.
Analytics: – The first four have probably addressed most of every admin’s top 5 reporting pet peeves:
Floating Headers – As you scroll down, the headers float and scroll down with you.
Percentages in Tables – On Dashboards you can now display percentages vs. just a decimal.
Flexible Sorting – If you have a summary or matrix report, you can sort each group individually.
Export Reports without the footers – The useless footers that drop into excel with every report export (seriously, did anyone use these?) can now be eliminated.
Hide Report Types – Not using certain report types? Now you can hide them so they don’t appear in the report builder
Embedded Charts in VF Pages – Building on the embedded charts from Winter 14, you can now embed those charts in a visualforce page as well.
Orders – Order functionality has been one of those oddball missing features within salesforce. It was easy enough to re-produce with either Opportunities or two custom objects so it wasn’t really a big deal that it wasn’t out of the box. However, as more and more appexchange partners started on one hand to process orders and transactions to feed into salesforce and on the other hand, ERP partners were then trying to pull those transactions over, it was becoming harder and harder to do something that worked for everyone. For example, if you’re Boomi trying to build a connector to salesforce, what do you use for Orders? You wind up doing nothing and leaving it to the customer to do custom. With salesforce rolling out Orders as standard objects, they are already working with the appexchange partners to standardize and use these objects vs. the custom ones that have been used up until now. If that works, you’ll then see the integration and ERP partners rolling out standard order integration connectors. With Spring 14, salesforce is essentially rolling out the object functionality, as well as some ability to process returns using these objects. Beyond that, it’s pretty straight-forward for now. The real win here is when the partners start to standardize on these object. Now, as a customer – and a lot of you already have your own custom order process and objects in place – you’ll need to decide if you move to these objects. Personally, if you already have integration in place, I wouldn’t yet. But, if you’re looking at building integration down the road, might be worth looking into.
Chatter – Not a big release for Chatter, but some nice new features:
Topics Improvements – We’ve talked quite a bit in the past few releases about how Topics will be increasingly more important and a way to organize information within salesforce. With Spring 14, Topics move beyond just Chatter and start to take a big step forward. First, Topics are now able to be set on records. When you activate this, the old Tags functionality is turned off (not a surprise that Tags is phasing that out) and users will have the ability to add topics on records. Topics can be suggested to your users based on fields you select. So, if you want Accounts flagged by their Industry, you can have that field offer the tag suggestion. This is still an evolving feature though. For example, if you go to the Topic page, records with that topic are not visible there yet. However, in this release, Topics is now a filter you can use in List Views.In addition to being across records, you can now endorse users for particular topics. Have a user who is a subject matter expert on a product line or a particular industry? Endorse them for that skill. There is also a Skills pilot that is just released – which seems really similar to this – so I’m not sure how these will work together. Essentially though, it’s a way to refer users asking questions or having issues on a Topic to the users who know that Topic well. Crowd-sourcing your internal knowledge. Finally, Topics are now in the Global Search as an auto-fill. Clicking on it will bring you to that Topic’s Chatter page. Personally, I’m pretty excited to see how this is all coming together. Used correctly, this is going to be a very powerful feature.
Announcements in Chatter Groups – Pretty cool new feature for Chatter Groups. Now you can add an announcement for all Group members to see. It sits in the left hand side (see the red highlighted box below) and can have an expiration date for how long it remains. Particularly useful as Chatter Groups are being used more in Communities.
Email to Chatter Groups – You can now email directly to a Chatter Group. Nice feature for forwarding important information. Any hashtag within the email is automatically added as a Topic to the post.
Data Import Wizard – A new Data Import Wizard is now available, and it combines all of the different stand-alone wizards that were out there into one consolidated loader. Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Solutions can now all be uploaded from this. (would be awesome to see KB Articles somehow make their way into this). Definitely an easier UI, but not much in terms of new functionality outside of a more stream-lined approach.
Feed Based Layots – We’ve spoken about this and so has Marc Benioff, so it’s not a surprise to see the feed view as a new feature. Cases have already had a “feed” view for a while now, but with Spring 14 it’s now available across all objects. Instead of having the feed across the top, it’s now a tabbed approach with the Chatter feed and all the feed actions on one tab, and the record details on another. For companies already embracing Chatter, this will be a very nice addition, but if you’re not leveraging Chatter too much yet, this probably won’t be something you want to activate.
Forecasting – More improvements to Forecasting. Salesforce has been steadily improving this over the last few releases. If you’re forecasting model isn’t too complicated, or if you’re just trying to establish one, you should think strongly about using this as the backbone for it. Spring 14 has a few improvements of its own. First, is the ability to flip between 3 different types of forecasts. You can now look at Opportunity Forecast from the stand-point of Revenue, Quantity or both, Opportunities with Splits based on Revenue, or Product forecasts from the stand-point of Revenue, Quantity or both. Each of these types can be enabled or disabled by the admin. In addition, in reporting, there is now a smart filter for Managers to be able to filter their results for just their direct reports. A nice usability improvement. Finally, more as an FYI, the old Forecast 1.0, will be retired in Summer 14, so if you’re still on that, you need to get off this release.
Flow Improvements – There’s some pretty exciting new stuff with Flow and Workflow. The most exciting is actually a Pilot (which I typically don’t cover), so you’ll need to get it enabled. Essentially though, you can now launch a flow from workflow. So, if you have a complex process with lots of steps that you used flow to map out, you can now have it triggered by workflow. Before you needed Apex to have this done. This will gives admins a lot more fire-power with their automation without the need for a developer. Outside of the pilot, there were some other improvements to flow as well: Picklist values are now automatically available to choose within flow, Date/Time fields are now supported, and there is now improved logging. If you’re a Flow user, including the Trigger from Workflow pilot, there are also a handful of other Flow pilots that would be worth looking at.
Improved Splits Flow – Splits get a UI facelift which is more of a wizard. Users can now move faster through adding a split.
More File Storage – File Storage has been bumped up from 612MB per user to 2GB. Hopefully this is a trend and we’ll see more data storage soon as well.
Overall, a pretty big release for salesforce, especially considering major features like Identity and Salesforce1 were rolled out for Dreamforce. Normally, those would have been part of this release making it even bigger. Be sure to check-out our Service Cloud and Communities write-up in Part II.
Harry is the CEO and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 18 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys debating Star Wars and Marvel with his son and sharing music and videos with his daughter. He is an avid racquetball player, bleeds Dodger blue, cries Jets green and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.