There’s an App for that (part 2) – Salesforce Connector

Product Spotlight:  Salesforce Connector

Salesforce Connector puts your desk phone to work by integrating your telephony capabilities with Salesforce.com.

My life before Salesforce Connector:

I used to work for a company that sold financial software to small- to medium-sized businesses.  We used Salesforce to manage our leads and our prospects, as well as, our communications with our accounts.  One morning, one of my accounts called in with an issue, which was resolved.  As soon as we hung up, I opened Salesforce, searched for her account record and started logging in her call.  I wanted to take note of her issue in order to make a follow up with her in a few days.  That’s when my phone started ringing.  After typing in a few quick notes, I answered my call.

I had every intention of returning to her information record and adding more details on our conversation, but it turned into a hectic day…one thing after the other, and I just didn’t get back to it.  I didn’t think to do it the next day, or over the weekend.  By Monday, I couldn’t remember exactly what her issue had been and I was preparing to make my follow-up call.  I logged into Salesforce hoping to find something of value in my notes.  It was just a series of words and incomplete phrases…

Phoned.  Probs with Softw Transport Step by step Resolved.

Wow.  Not the least bit helpful.  And transport?  What did that mean?  Did I mean to type export?  Was she trying to export to excel?

Luckily for me, this was something minor.  I was still able to make my call, ask a few vague questions, and her answers jogged my memory.  My account appreciated my follow-through and she had no indication I couldn’t remember what the problem was in the first place.

But what if I would have inaccurately notated details of a contract negotiation, or there was something very specific I needed to follow up on?  My goal is not only to bring my clients great products, but to also provide them with superior service and support.  If I had to call her back and ask “I’m really sorry, I got busy the other day…what was I supposed to do for you?”  I’m not doing my job.

My life with Salesforce Connector:

As you know, in the business world, life can be very fast paced.  In this instance, having a few additional seconds could have meant the difference between incomplete notes and an accurate record of an important call.

Salesforce Connector gives me what I need, even before I know I need it.  When an account or contact calls me, Salesforce Connector scans the database and their information record in Salesforce instantly pops up on my computer.  With one click, I answer their call and their call is logged in Salesforce.  With their information right in front of me, I can easily take notes right as the call is occurring.

Other features include click-to-call from the Salesforce interface, new contact notification, and the following call control features:  hold, transfer, conference, cancel and hang-up – all within the interface.

What is even more exciting is a new feature that is coming soon.  Speak to text translations will automatically store a transcript of my conversation in the notes section.  Can you imagine being able to recall, word-for-word, every point made during a contract negotiation?  That is a powerful tool.

Click here to learn more about Salesforce Connector.

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How the Cloud Increases Productivity

Here’s a simple, yet real-world, example about how doing business in the cloud can increase your productivity:

Recently, we drove down to Miami Beach for the 2012 IT Expo.  I was in charge of booking the hotel rooms for our group.  I had gotten a couple requests from my coworkers…”will you book us a hotel with a decent gym?” “Please make sure we are close to the Convention Center and area attractions.”  I wanted to make sure everyone was happy.  I started my hotel search on-line, through a travel search engine, to compare rates and amenities to narrow down my choice.  I looked at a good 10 places before deciding on one.  I just needed to confirm a couple of things, so I called in to the reservation desk.  While I was on the line, I booked our rooms.  As plans often do, ours changed.  I had to call the reservation desk and extend our room reservations for another night.  I was in middle of making great headway on an important project, and suddenly, I was sidetracked.

I was so focused on my task at hand, I couldn’t remember which hotel I chose.  All I could remember was that it was my last call before lunch on Monday.  I needed to get the room extension done quickly.  I was working on a deadline and didn’t want to waste valuable time searching through my emails for my hotel confirmation to jog my memory.

This is one of the many reasons I love having the cloud enabled for our phone systems.  I just opened my call log in my toolbar, went straight to Monday, right before lunch, and clicked to dial.  My phone automatically started ringing on speakerphone.  This was perfect because I was instantly put on hold and my wait time was “greater than five minutes.”

While I waited, I switched windows and pulled up my email, and found my confirmation number.  With the on-hold musak playing in the background, I switched back to my project and got back to work.  A few minutes later, I finally got through to customer service.  I pulled up my confirmation number and updated our room reservation in a matter of seconds.  After my call was completed, my phone automatically hung up and I continued working on my project, with virtually no interruption – my fingers never even left the keyboard!  All the information I needed was stored in the cloud and instantly accessible in Internet Explorer.  I didn’t have to break my concentration and waste valuable minutes searching for phone and confirmation numbers.

The cloud is a proven tool to help you increase productivity and efficiency in your organization.  How has the cloud improved your business’ productivity?  If you are not utilizing the cloud….what are you waiting for?

How the Cloud is Affecting Business and (Could Be) Saving You Money

The last time your server went down, your office lost power, or your phone system went down, how long did it take to recover?  Were your employees able to continue talking with clients seamlessly?  Or did the shortage cost you thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours?

As Marc said in his recent blog post, traditionally (Cloud services) have been considered as just a replacement to a traditional phone system in the back closet.  He doesn’t disagree, but his statement is important in this case because what if the Cloud really is just a replacement to your current back office closet solution?  Wouldn’t that mean you could prevent your server from going down, your office from losing power, or your phone system from cutting out?  Even if you couldn’t prevent these things from happening in the first place, wouldn’t you at least be able to be prepared with a backup plan to ensure your business continued to function smoothly and efficiently with no interruptions?

The amount of time lost by not preventing PC and server outages is staggering.  In the past 2 years, 49% of businesses reported data loss.  The longer your business struggles to overcome small glitches like downed power lines, or major disasters like hurricanes or blizzards, the more your corporate survival is at risk:

I’m not only talking about outside forces or software and hardware failure or destruction, but user and human error too – data corruption, viruses, hackers…all of these things not only make you rethink how secure your back closet system is, but they can cause your business to slam on its brakes for minutes, hours or even days.

To make matters worse, if you have multiple locations, they probably all rely on your corporate headquarters with one main server, so if that server goes down, every location goes down.  It’s detrimental to your business when no one can access shared files on the network drives, when sales can’t take payments, when purchasing can’t contact suppliers, and when customer service can’t access account info and contact clients.  How much time and money does that cost you?

Cloud computing stats you didn’t know

As I learn more about our industry and how things we use everyday integrate seamlessly in the Cloud, I’m finding more and more interesting statistics relating to exactly what we do with data over here.  The old days have been replaced with data mining, data storage, data exchanging, data…everything.

Did you know?

Are you prepared? #BusinessContinuity #DisasterRecovery

And finally – didn’t you ever wonder what happens in the tech world every 60 seconds?

It’s the Hole You Want

By Paul Levering

Like the adage of what came first, the chicken or the egg, it is all about perspective. Similarly, when deciding how to grow your business, it is also about perspective – Method versus End-Result.

It is my perspective that by moving to the cloud your business will reach the next level, the end game, because Cloud Services allow capitalization on traditional services that originally required the purchase of equipment.

In other words, now you can get the hole you want – without having to buy the drill.

The End Game

The Cloud is not an isolated trend and nor is it unique to software.

  • Sharefile – Who has a dedicated IT staff for data backups and knowledge management? Sharefile is a cloud service provider of password protected online storage space for business users.
  • Salesforce.com – What tool can be used for real-time collaboration & management of customer information? Salesforce is a cloud service provider of password protected online CRM for business users.
  • Telovations – How can a business phone system be responsive to business growth & contraction as well as natural disasters?  Telovations is a cloud service provider of managed telecommunications and collaboration services to businesses with guaranteed quality.

However, do keep in mind the following considerations when evaluating a Cloud Services provider:

Security:

  1. Know the security features and policies of your provider.
  2. Are your transmissions encrypted?
  3. How do you connect to your provider? (public/private)

Stability

  1. How do you connect to the provider?
  2. What is their reputation for uptime?
  3. Is there equipment redundancy?
  4. Is there geographic redundancy?

Backups

  1. What is the backup policy of your provider?
  2. How long is data stored?
  3. Where is it stored?

Keeping My Head in the Clouds

by Elizabeth Vanneste

How often were you told to “get your head out of the clouds” when you were a kid?  “Pay attention!”  “Stay focused!”  “Get serious!”  Were you raised thinking out of the box was discouraged and not a path to a successful career?   I have been fortunate to have stumbled into a career in technology and telecommunications where I have been able to draw clouds at work almost every day since the mid-1980s.  Of course, we didn’t talk about the cloud much outside of work back then – it was simply a way to describe a network in which data or voice could travel over a variety of different paths to connect end-users.  And now, after years of using clouds on whiteboards and in PowerPoint, the rest of the world has caught on!  Now, it is actually COOL to have your head in the clouds.

Not only is the network part of the cloud, but applications are too.  The ability to access applications is no longer limited to a physical office or a specific device.  Workers are remote.  They are mobile. And, they use multiple devices – PCs, Smartphones, and tablets – to access the cloud and improve productivity.

What’s so great about having your head in the clouds?  Well, here’s a list of things you no longer have to worry about:

  1. The next named storm (or other disaster). Here, in hurricane country, we need to be prepared for the next big storm, but I know that our company can continue to operate even if our office building is out of commission.  Our cloud based system can route our calls wherever we happen to be because of system and network redundancy.  This means we can continue to support our customers and stay in business despite these types of complications.
  2. Technology obsolescence.  Are you an early adopter who always buys the latest and greatest only to have your bubble burst when a newer version is available 3 months later?  Or, are you still using the mobile phone you bought 3 years ago?  In either case – the cloud will set you free!  Pay for applications and services as you need them with the confidence of knowing, that as newer technologies and additional applications are deployed, they will be available in the cloud.  You no longer need to predict the winners and the losers, as cloud providers will offer a menu of choices that you can choose and pay for when you need it.
  3. Access to Talent. Knowledge workers are a company’s most valued asset.  When one of our key team members’ spouses relocated, we were able to keep her in the company because the cloud enables us to work remotely and be integrated into the rest of the business. We have had great employees relocate and are still part of our team because of the cloud.
  4. Capital Budgets and unpredictable growth patterns. Does your company set a capital budget but then scramble to provide infrastructure for an unexpected 30 new hires? Or does your company regularly over-estimate need and then have unused capacity? With a cloud based solution, you no longer need to scramble. You can add and remove users as needed. So, your expenses are aligned with your business’s needs and you can invest your capital into growing the business.

So what are you waiting for?  Now is the time to have your head in the clouds!

Cloud — Biggest thing ever!

by Mark Swanson

Last month, at one of the Information Technology trade shows, one of the industry’s pundits made a startling prediction — that the shift to the cloud computing platform will be bigger than the shift to the Internet or the shift from the mainframe to the PC. I think it depends on how you look at it. Cloud computing is really not all that new. In fact, many people claim that we are back to where we started from in the 1960s when computers were time shared from a remote location. Sun Computer coined the phrase, ‘the network is the computer’ decades ago when they had a vision of computing as a utility. This transition is not about inventing a new platform like the mainframe or the PC, but really a transition of how we use computing. What is fueling this transition is bandwidth. We now have enough fast bandwidth to deliver the same kind of experience that we have on desktop computers so we are starting to use devices to access the platform rather than use the device itself. It is affecting everything — hardware, software, the way we use computing and even the way we view computing. This is the phase where it truly has become a utility. If you look at it this way, I think that it is at least as big as the shift to PCs or the Internet.

From the end-user perspective, what is driving this shift? The interesting thing about this question is that it is consumer end-users that have been driving this transition. Corporations’ budgets have been in lock-down mode for the past four years, while applications like Google Mail and Facebook have been growing exponentially. Consumers are years ahead of business in adapting the many tools and conveniences found in cloud computing. In my opinion, the reasons for this are as follows:

■ You can use the cloud from any device. iPhone, Android, iPad, notebook, netbook, it does not matter.

■ You can use the cloud independent of location. Remember the days of running around trying to find a phone data port to dial up the Internet? We send our e-mails while we are stuck in traffic — on the median, of course!

■ You can use the cloud to pool resources. Want to put together a team of great accountants? Geography is no longer a factor, as you can find talent on LinkedIn. In an argument about a fact with a co-worker? ‘Google it’ and leverage some expert who might be half way across the world. In the pursuit of leveraging the world’s resources, cloud computing is revolutionary.

Where do you think we are in the transition process in business? I still think we are in the early stages — less than 10 percent there. In our business, the vast majority of companies still keep their phone systems in the back closet and pay someone $125 an hour to come out and make a change to them. Most companies are still figuring out how to use the cloud and whether or not they’ll use the public cloud, private clouds, or hybrid clouds. There are still a lot of questions out there, but that’s a great thing!