Salesforce – an easy explanation
One of our competences is to develop custom enterprise solutions for our customers based on the Salesforce1 Platform.
Due to the fact that I wanted to get deeper into the Salesforce topic and that I received a lot of questions about Salesforce from different sources I started an interview with Martin, one of our Force.com developers. He has an extensive experience with the realization of projects on Salesforce1 and answered some questions about how to get an easier access to this issue.
Salesforce developers can find a complete overview at https://developer.salesforce.com.
1.) Can you define Salesforce1 in your own words?
The Salesforce1 Platform combines Force.com, Heroku and ExactTarget Fuel as well as adding features for mobile, social media integration and other cloud services.
The central building block is Force.com which is a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS). It provides the programming language APEX for logic and VisualForce for presentation, reducing the time needed to generate and build user interfaces. It also comes with a persistence layer to store your data in a database (transparent to the developer), a web based IDE supporting the development cycle, a vast number of services and features, and much more …
While Force.com is mostly used for internal Enterprise Apps (Salesforce calls them „employee-facing apps“), Heroku is meant to be the gate to the customer. It’s a relatively low level PaaS solution giving you the freedom to choose your own implementation technologies like Java Enterprise, Ruby or PHP. Heroku is a scalable cloud based solution providing you with “Dynos” that serve as application containers (like servlet engines). By changing the number of Dynos you can scale your application to the needs of the customer. Heroku also adds value to your solution by providing Add-ons like datastores, logging and monitoring solutions, document, image and video processing, messaging solutions and more. These add-ons can be accessed in your application via an API.
Another new component in the Salesforce1 ecosystem is Salesforce Lightning. It enables programmers and business users to create enterprise apps that run on your Desktop browser and at the same time on your mobile device (leveraging the Salesforce1 app on the mobile devices as a runtime container). Lightning gives you an App Builder for drag and drop app creation and a number of standard GUI Widgets to use. If you have special needs it’s possible to implement and integrate custom widgets.
Lightning Connect gives you point and click integration for other enterprise systems like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.
Other important features that Lightning provides are the Process Builder, the Schema Builder and a Community Builder.
Last but not least to mention is “ExactTarget Fuel”, a cloud based marketing platform. It’s meant to be used by the Marketing department to deliver marketing campaigns over different channels like social media, websites, mobile devices, emails and more. It enables analytics of the campaigns and can leverage predictive intelligence to trigger actions as part of a marketing campaign based on customer behavior. All this without any programming.
2.) What are the target groups of Salesforce1?
As there are so many aspects covered by the Salesforce1 platform it makes sense to split up the answer:
Force.com is definitely targeted at the Developer who needs to create custom enterprise applications adding function and features to the Salesforce CRM solution but also to create completely new standalone enterprise apps.
The Heroku platform is also targeting the developer, this time for web applications directed at the customer. The developer has the freedom of choice among a number of supported development technologies like Ruby, JEE, and others allowing them to leverage existing skills in the development shop.
All Salesforce1 Lightning features are generally targeting the developer even though some components like the App Builder could even be used by a savvy non-technical business user.
As stated before, ExactTarget Fuel is mainly used by the Marketing department. No need for programming here. Users are marketing staff.
3.) What is the spirit and purpose of Salesforce1?
Salesforce1 provides solutions necessary for the successful growth of your company – whether a newcomer or a FORTUNE 500 company. Given that there is no need to install soft- or hardware, the solutions are quickly ready for action and in no time at all you will see results. Salesforce1 does this by providing a huge set of cross cutting features like User Management, Security, APIs, Field Tracking, Audit Trails and much more …
In essence, Salesforce1 simplifies daily life and reduces operating costs at all levels. From hardware setup and running expenses, required specialist personnel, reducing outages and minimizing security risks. Users using this platform enable themselves to focus more on creating a product, rather than supporting the infrastructure around it.
4.) Do you have an example you’re working on at the moment?
Yes, at the moment we are developing a Salesforce-App which extracts different data about the number of visitors on a website including, for example, the assumed company name for a visitor.
Such a „companies visit“ is a relevant for B2B client management and should therefore be recorded within the Salesforce CRM system. The goal is it to generate leads or opportunities with the knowledge of the companies visit.
Thanks a lot to Martin to give me some of his time answering my questions about Salesforce in an easy kind of way.