Posts Tagged ‘conference’

This month, Josh and I were in San Francisco for the 10th Dreamforce conference along with almost 30,000 other people! Salesforce has again done a great job at orchestrating the event and launching into a lot of innovation that will continue to drive cloud computing for the years to come. Here’s a brief recap of some of the significant events and news we noted:

  • More Clouds! Salesforce announced significant changes in it’s Cloud-focused strategy. In addition to the Sales Cloud, Support Cloud, Collaboration Cloud (Chatter) and Data Cloud (Jigsaw), Salesforce  announced “database.com”. Looks like a nice abstraction of the “platform” (force.com) and the database tools, which can now be leveraged by cloud developers on any platform. Pretty cool!
  • Chatter, chatter everywhere! To no great surprise, there was lots of focus on Chatter at this year’s event. After the announcement at last year’s conference, where the keynote got painfully long as we looked into the early days of Salesforce’s play in the collaboration space, this year there was some actual there there. The conference app leveraged Chatter heavily and got 14,000 people using it in what became a vital communications channel. The conference also had several sessions on effective use and there were even case studies on Chatter’s use. And to make sure this stuff gets out there everywhere, now there’s Chatter Free (free Chatter accounts for everyone in a company).
  • Platform tools get much-needed love! This is the part of the post that is pretty geek-centric but makes a world of difference to folks like ifPeople since our jobs get easier with these kind of improvements :). One major improvement in this area is ISVForce, which will give those of us making new applications on force.com better access to the cool stuff that made Salesforce unique (multi-tenancy, zero-down time upgrades, and declarative Visuralforce, among others). VMForce (Java-for-Salesforce) got some mainstreamed (if you can call a beta mainstream!) and new the new force: Siteforce (cool CMS-like tools in the works). While Siteforce still looks really green, I know there are lots of us who work in the web world (and do a lot of Salesforce integrations) that are looking forward to seeing what this one is going to bring.
  • Open source gets airtime (and acquisition)! A very pleasant surprise this year was the increased language around open source, opening the platform up (“100% Open”), and the latest acquisition, Heroku. Heroku is a Ruby on Rails cloud hosting service that promises to bring a lot of excitement in the world of application development that integrates with Salesforce.
  • Volunteerism, Nonprofit, and Green more integrated with the conference! This year, the volunteer event went throughout the conference (instead of being the day before), so attendees could stop by between sessions and help. Very cool. The Nonprofit/Salesforce Foundation crowd grew to over 1,200 people this year (up about 50% from last year) and we were glad to see several of our clients in attendance. Also, green got some more attention with a Sustainability corner in the Expo hall. Notable where the compostable packaging at meals and all the staff who helped sort the waste stream into recycleable, compostable, and landfill! Bill Clinton’s keynote brought attention to the seriousness of this side of the event too, by drawing attention to inequality, instability, and unsustainability as the three biggest issues facing humanity today (read more about his speech here).
  • Tons of content (not really something new…)! As always, there are too many sessions to choose from all the time, but luckily they were all recorded and are quickly being uploaded onto Youtube.
  • More parties than you can shake a stick at! I was relieved to see people dancing at the Gala this year (I was scared after my first Dreamforce when no one danced while the Black Crows played). In addition to the official parties, there were some stellar after-parties, including the Marketing Cloud party at the SF MOMA (sushi and modern art FTW!). Tip for partners – get some help on DJ selection to rock those amazing club venues next year!

That’s my download from the event thus far. What did I miss that you thought rocked?

(And a note from me…seems several things I was excited about last year are still in the news from this year’s wrap ups. See other Dreamforce reviews here, here, and here).

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IfPeople made it to the SJF Summit on the New Economy in Durham, NC this September and found it

to be a truly inspiring conference. It was a strong showcase of how diverse and robust the new economy is. There were really incredible solutions in every area of clean tech from energy and waste water treatment, to irrigation and air filtration.  Counter to many misconceptions about green solutions, these businesses were showing the energy and water savings from these solutions is so great that the payback is often less than a year! 

Stop Leaving Money on the Table!
Companies that are using traditional means of addressing this issues are literally leaving money on the table. If installing a green air filtration system costs you a $100,000 investment up front, with a 1 year payback, your future savings after that first year are $100,000 a year before calculating in inevitable rises in energy costs.

So why aren’t these solutions already the norm?
Systems change is always on our mind…and our work is about giving companies that are bringing breakthrough solutions with a solid business model the sales and marketing tools and processes to succeed. So we hate to see good opportunities for going green go to waste! Here’s some of the barriers we see to that:

1. Resistance to change
We are resistant to change even when the dollars and cents add up. Take, for instance, a new approach to maintaining good air quality. Air quality in most factories is maintained by constantly turning over the air inside a building. Forcing air from inside a building to outside requires a tremendous amount of  energy. Not only that, but the air brought into the building must be climate controlled which also uses up energy.  A company we met at the conference has a different approach. Instead of moving air in and out of the building, they focus on changing existing air into something breathable and environmentally friendly.  They attract indoor pollutants into a bio-digester, which breaks down the compounds into inert particles.  It’s a completely different approach that doesn’t just require a cost-benefit analysis, but calls for a paradigm shift. 

People are resistant to such shifts. If we are going to meet the challenges of climate change, peak oil and water and other challenges, we will need to be ready to embrace the new paradigms required to make these shifts a reality.

2.  Poor sales process
Even if there’s a great opportunity to save money with a product, if the sales force behind that product is not effective in selling, there won’t be product uptake. People make decisions for different reasons depending on their role in the company, their interests, and their priorities. It’s important to understand what is relevant to the various parties in a sales pipeline and to make sure your company can systematically engage decision makers until they make the sale. Having strong systems for automating your marketing processes can make a huge difference in how many prospects you convert to customers. Without these processes it is even more challenging for innovative companies to bring their constituents along and help the masses embrace the changes you are bringing to market.

3.  Poor Key Messages
Different decision makers have different concerns that must be met before they invest.  The person concerned with compliance wants to know that your air purification system is going to work, and meet all regulations and standards.  The CFO wants to know that your ROI numbers are real and reliable.  And the maintenance staff who took care of the old system wants to be secure that they are not being put out of a job. Make sure that the messaging is right at the right time based on where you are in the sales process and who you are working with!

Alright green product and service companies…we hope that’s helpful insight from our takeaways from the SJF Conference. Hopefully we’ll see you there next year! And in the meantime, contact us for help on marketing and sales for your green products!

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On October 20-22, the Independent Sector is hosting a conference called “Forging a Stronger Future Together”. One part of the conference is the NGen series, a schedule of programming events that focus on the next generation of nonprofit leadership.  The subject of nonprofit leadership is a contentious one in the sector.

As Baby Boomers cycle out of their positions as Executive Directors of some of this nation’s  prominent organizations they are looking behind them and often finding there is nobody there to fill their shoes. According to Bridgestone’s 2006 report “The Nonprofit Sector’s Leading Deficit”, nonprofits are looking to fill an estimated 640,000 senior managers in the next 10 years. This places a pressure on nonprofits to find ways to engage younger nonprofiteers in the sector who could start filling this leadership gap.

As younger leaders take more prominent roles in organizations, new trends are emerging in how organizations are run. Below are three trends that are largely being driven by shifts in generational values and represent an opportunity for organizations seeking direction for evolving to also attract younger talent:

Using More Technology- Nonprofits can (and should!) leverage the best tools available for running efficient, effective organizations. Technologies continue to evolve at an accelerating pace across desktop, Web, and mobile devices. In the age of iPhones, texting, and skype, technology has fostered in a new era of interactivity that nonprofits can gain from tremendously. More than 30 million dollars was raised through mobile donations for Haiti. Technology is not just offering new ways of raising money, it’s also creating more efficient ways of meeting. Instead of flying to a new city, or using time to commute to a client, software like skype can be used to facilitate meetings online.

More relationships oriented – Facebook and Twitter are not just work distractions – they are indicative of how much more social our world has become. Your organization’s growth will have a lot to do with how well you manage your presence in many of (online) social spheres. It will also require more closely cultivated relationship with your constituents in order to stand out in their mind. As a result, CRM systems like Salesforce become increasingly important to having an edge on your business.

Hybrid Models-  The future of nonprofit organizations challenges the very premise of its structure. Many who are motivated to do good are willing to use market forces to do so. As a result, hybrid organizations that blend business with social causes are building momentum behind Social Enterprise, and the BCorporation.  To encourage new leadership to step in, it’s important to be open to considering new models for achieving your organization’s social aims. Consier how your organization (or new ventures) could work on revenue-generating models such as the L3Cs, Social Entrepreneurship, or BCorps.

In considering what your nonprofit needs to do to engage a new generation of leadership, consider how these trends can be applied to your existing structure so that you can move in a more progressive direction.

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This October, the Green Business Works Expo 2010 is coming, and ifPeople is hoping to see you there! On October 27, Chris will join a roster of speakers for break-out sessions around some of the latest innovations in sustainability. His talk, Sales and Marketing Optimization Through Technology Get Your Head in the Clouds!, will show green businesses how salesforce automation strategies can help their company make the most of their sales and marketing initiatives. If you want more than just the break out, you can get some insights on what might work for your own company by meeting Chris or Tirza at their table during the Expo on October 26th.

The Expo will be full of information on everything from Assessing Supply Chain Opportunities to de-constructing Energy Policy. Not only will the breakout sessions be thought provoking and informative, there is also an impressive roster of keynote speakers who have made great strides in several green industries.With keynote speakers like Auden Schendler, Executive Director of Sustainability for Aspen Skiing Company or Alya Z. Kayal, VP of Sustainability Research for Calvert, it is clear that this conference is attracting a high caliber of accomplished men and women who are paving the way for more sustainabile industries.

Whether you’re coming for the breakout sessions, the great keynotes, or just to survey which businesses are engaging in sustainability, there will be something of value for you and your buisiness. You can register to attend here.

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Tirza’s just entered a contest and shared her writing on sustainability, the intersection of technology (including social media) and people networks. We hope you’ll check it out, and while you’re there, please take an extra 1 minute to vote for this blog post! This could get Tirza to Amsterdam to cover the GRI sustainability and transparency conference!

Please read and vote here: http://ow.ly/1KUF3

Comments at that link are welcome also!

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I’m at the CMSExpo event in Chicago, IL where over 300 people have gathered to discuss the state of the art in web content publishing and interactivity. I’m looking forward to the next couple of days hanging out with other open source community leaders as we share, train, and debate!

I’m giving a talk later today (1:30pm central) on Plone add-on products. As the talk is done, I wanted to push it out. The idea is to introduce new Plone users to products they can leverage for their website. One key area of interest from last year is the Plone-to-CRM (client relationship management) integration, so I’ve added a section demo’ing the simple parts web-to-salesforce integrations. The audience seems to have some experienced Plone people also, so I also mention (on just one slide) some developer tools.

I’ll check back for any feedback before I give the talk, so please add any comments!

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February will heating up in Atlanta! Not only will it be lots warmer than the Northeast and Midwest…we’ve got PyCon 2010 (the annual Python programming language conference) converging here. We hope to have you here! Today is the last day for early bird registration, so get on with it here.

Ok, if you’re still reading you need some more convincing, so here’s why you should care:

PyCon is where the thought leaders, community organizers, product developers, and enterprises using Python come together for an intense period of learning, exchange, and collaboration. In particular, we have:

This is a great chance to learn from others, gain new skills, and find out the coolest topics in open source! Have a look at the extensive sessions list (I’ll be giving 2 Plone-related talks, one on ecommerce and one on salesforce integration), check out a tutorial and consider staying a few extra days to sprint!

Then go register! Remember, Jan 6 is the last day for early bird! Save some $$ and get on with it already!

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This past month was the Dreamforce conference, salesforce.com’s annual massive event. This year attracted some 19,000 registrants apparently (fueled by the free access to Expo and keynotes). The keynotes seated 10,000, and the hall before arrival (see photo to right) was incredible – a vast sea of chairs. And the community is getting huge – there are now almost 70,000 paying customers on the platform.

This was my first Dreamforce and I was really impressed by the community. Everyone I met was very friendly, all about sharing knowledge, and passionate about salesforce. I spent a lot of time talking to people, went to a couple really good sessions, and saw a lot of new, cool stuff happening on the platform. I also came away from the event really excited about the work we are doing creating an integrated relationship management platform that includes an easy-to-use website with salesforce.com. I feared this would be blown away by the excitement of Sites and apps, but really it seems there is more of a need for that than I had anticipated (if you’d like to check out the demos we do of an open source platform integrated with salesforce, sign up for a free webinar offered monthly).

Strangely, I was 2,500 miles from home and the band that played for the Global Gala (Black Crows) went to my High School! Though it was a fun evening, I could count the number of people dancing on one hand…

I’ve still got a bunch of followup and processing of notes to do, so this is my first step at sharing what I saw, learned, and took away from the event.

New features:

It got kinda hard to tell the difference between what’s new-and-there-now and what’s new-and-coming-soon, but there was some cool stuff exposed at the conference. I was particularly excited to see that a new salesforce UI will be unveiled (in the future) and that social media is now more integrated natively. Here’s some more highlights:

  • Outlook integration: the Outlook integration finally got rewritten completely for salesforce. It’s a whole new world with this one. Currently it’s in beta, and you have to request to access it, but looks like leaps-and-bounds improvements (actually built on some of how the Google Apps integration works, so if you’re using Google instead, you’ve already got most of this). Something I would like to see for Google Apps is the “add to salesforce” button for emails that are in your inbox. Watch session video.
  • Content will be Free! One great announcement at the conference is that the Content product will be free! This looks like an amazing tool with pretty slick interface, and now it will be accessible to all! ETA still to be determined. Check out Content demo here.
  • Social Media Integation: There’s a great advance with integrating Twitter and Facebook with salesforce. In particular, the Facebook “Answers” app can be added to Company pages on Facebook and it ties right into the service/support activities in salesforce. The question and answer that happens with your community in Facebook can be incorporated into the salesforce knowledge base also (and then presented in other contexts!). Twitter messages can also be used to create cases in Salesforce (like @ask_dell), and you can reply from within salesforce! The Twitter app will be default in salesforce in near future, and can now be added for free. Another Twitter integration allows you to track conversations about your Accounts right on the account page!
  • Scheduling: Cloud Scheduler is a new tool coming soon. It’s basically the “evite for business meetings”. Ever had problems scheduling meetings, especially with multiple people? This looks awesome!
  • Drag and Drop Reports and Analytics: Customize reports with drag and drop! This will be a major improvement to usability of these vital features.


Now with over 7,000 nonprofits having received donated licenses to use salesforce.com, nonprofits are a serious part of the salesforce community! Over 800 attended Dreamforce and there was an entire track for Nonprofits. Many of the sessions emphasized how “do-able” salesforce is for nonprofits, even without tech skills or big budgets. So not as much wiz-bang, but some genuine stories of how salesforce is being used.

The Salesforce.com Foundation was also front and center during the keynotes (check out their much-improved, new website!). The company’s 1/1/1 model has led to:

  • 165,000 hours donated
  • 7,300 organizations getting donated licenses
  • $18 million in grants being awarded.

Some of the content highlights from the nonprofit sessions include:

  • Donor and Member Management 2.0: A “down to earth” session with a small nonprofit (3 people) up to a larger group. Also includes anouncement of a new, free app for taking donations on your website (with Amazon payments) and mapping them into your salesforce instance (as account, contact, and opportunity), called eGiving. Watch video here.
  • Nonprofit Starter Pack: Steve walks you through how to get the most out of the starter pack the foundation produces for nonprofits. Watch video here.


There are now 1,000+ apps available to extend salesforce! There is a lot of good stuff out there, but it can be hard to find with all that stuff…here are a few apps and things to check out to enhance your salesforce experience.

  • There’s an app for that! A session oriented at sales folks, but generally applicable for anyone. Many of apps featured are free. Also serves as a nice intro to AppExchange. Watch session here.

More to come…but that’s all for now!

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Picture 8

For nonprofits, conferences represent terrific opportunities to network with other organizations, learn about new resources, and get insight from renowned experts. But with the economy in the dumps, it’s difficult for budget-tight orgs to foot the bill for travel expenses and registration fees.

Thankfully, the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) has come up with a solution (to the travel problem, at least). The organization is hosting a 2-day event entirely online on September 16 to September 17. Called NTEN: Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission, the conference is based on the NTEN book of the same name, teaching nonprofit leaders strategic approaches to navigating the often overwhelming world np tech.

What makes this conference especially interesting is that NTEN has taken pains to make sure that attendees get the same networking opportunities they would at an in-person event. NTEN plans to create an online community around the conference, allowing attendees to ask speakers questions and network in an interactive learning environment. NTEN will also record and archive all sessions, giving attendees the ability to re-watch their favorite speakers.

All in all, it sounds like a pretty good deal. We’re attending, so if you can’t make it, we’ll let you know what happens.

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We are very excited to announce that our session on open source as a model of collaboration got accepted to one of the premier conferences on systems thinking in action! We decided to go to our core experience and crafted a really solid session that Tirza and I are very excited about. It builds on our work in open source communities, and especially the Social Sourcing approach we pioneered. The work on this talk will kick off a series of articles later this spring and summer, including the “principles of open source communities” (can’t believe I couldn’t really find something good out there on this already!) and more on the social sourcing model in action.

Here’s some more on the session as we proposed it. Working title: “Open Source Your Collaboration: Save Money, Increase Engagement, Build Community”

Description: The model of Open Source software offers lessons for those organizations seeking to cross institutional boundaries for genuine collaboration towards shared goals. We will review the tools, techniques and cultural norms of sustainable communities, highlight where these may challenge entrenched mental models and habits of organizations. We will show how to create shared ownership and foster continuous listening within a diverse collaboration. We also offer a straight-forward approach for those wishing to lead or facilitate collaborative projects. The presenters will speak from their experience in Open Source projects over the last 9 years, as well as from their experience extending this model to non-software projects.

Learning goals:

  • Understand Open Source software projects as a form of distributed, self-sustaining collaboration.
  • Learn the Social Sourcing process for leading projects based on a collaborative design process that engages participants and creates shared ownership of the outcome.
  • Identify where open collaboration models can potentially clash with existing mental models and organizational culture.
  • Take home tools and techniques for ensuring the needs of members are continuously heard and responded to in their work to build sustainable collaboration.

If you’re interested to check out more on the topic, see the Pegasus Communications website for the conference. Hopefully we’ll see you in Seattle in November!

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