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ActevaRSVP Review

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The demandblog has been posting some AppExchange application reviews recently.  They did a good one for ActevaRSVP, who has a pretty impressive product.  See their review at http://demandbase.typepad.com/demand/2008/10/dreamforce-prev.html.

Note: ActevaRSVP is a current advertiser on this blog.

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Ribbit for Salesforce is Released

Ribbit has officially released its “voiceware” application that integrates with Salesforce.com.

I have been using Ribbit with Salesforce for ~3 weeks now and have been pleased. More important than anything for me was simply getting my voicemail digitally. Ribbit handles this for me. All I needed to do to activate it was call a special number on my cell, which sent AT&T a command to forward my voicemail to Ribbit (the Ribbit documentation says how to undo this change if you ever need to).

When someone leaves a voicemail, I can get it in a couple of ways:

Email

I opted to have Ribbit notify me of my new voicemails via Email. This way, I get an attachment with the file and can play it right on my Blackberry. The voicemail is also archived in my Google Apps account for reference purposes should I ever need it (even if I am no longer using Ribbit, I can still have that voicemail. It’s just a WAV file.). The downside of moving voicemail to Ribbit is that I no longer have visual notification that I have voicemail on my Blackberry. Getting it emailed to me eliminates the need for me to call in and check it. SMS is another option, but I wouldn’t be getting the file attached that way.

Salesforce

When I log into Salesforce, I see a nice message window on my homepage. All my voicemails are right there. The audio file itself is stored on Ribbit servers, but a record of the call is in a Messages object in Salesforce.com. This has call information as well as a text transcription. From the home page, I am able to tag my messages for easy searching later and I can also associate them to a Salesforce record. When I associate it to a Salesforce record, Ribbit creates an Activity with a link to the message file and a copy of the text transcription.

On the sidebar is a small message window and a dialpad. One of the biggest benefits of Ribbit is that of a “cell phone backup”. When a call comes to my cell and I send it to voicemail, the sidebar softphone rings. I have a chance to answer the call right from the Salesforce UI and talk through my PC. Alternatively, I can let it go through to voicemail. I am able to make outbound calls too, which is nice in the event that I don’t have cell coverage or just want click to call convenience.

Pros

The benefits are all about productivity:

  • Digitize your voicemail – You have the data and can do with it what you please.
  • Cell Phone Backup – Use the Ribbit softphone in Salesforce and put your cell phone away.
  • Link voicemails to your Leads/Contacts – you get a nice record of the call with a text transcription
  • Voice to text transcription is above average. It is by no means stellar, but it’s good enough to use as a reference for what the call was about without having to listen to it. Accents and slang tend to mess it up.

Cons

  • Cost – If you compare the cost to Salesforce licenses, it ain’t cheap. $25/user/month. If you compare the cost to your cell phone bill and think of the added benefit you get, it starts to make sense. Individual purchasers will likely compare it to their cell phone bill and it’ll make sense for them. Enterprise purchasers will likely compare it to the cost of Salesforce and that will be a harder sell. If you want voice to text transcriptions (which are extremely useful), it’s even more money.  What’s harder to quantify is the productivity benefits you might get out of such an application.  Productivity improvements is an area of cost savings that should further justify the price.
  • Can Slow page loads a bit – Even with the flash objects cached in my browser, the experience of loading my home page is slower with Ribbit on there. In my install, I decided to keep the Ribbit components on the homepage only and not have them follow me around Salesforce on the sidebar.  On Lead/Contact detail pages, you have a choice of the Flash component or a Messages related list.  l opted to put the Messages related list on my Lead & Contact for performance reasons and also for consistency sake.
  • You give Ribbit your login credentials – In order to have your voicemails there when you login, Ribbit needs to do background processing. This makes sense, but it requires you giving Ribbit a login to your system. Many company’s can’t afford a new license just for Ribbit, so they’ll end of giving them the admin login. I trust Ribbit with the login info, but it’s a risk to hand anyone login credentials. Ribbit doesn’t have much choice, though, if they want to get the data populated and ready for users when they login.  I think this issue could be eliminated if Salesforce allowed for a special user to be created for this purpose that did not take a hit on the customer’s license count. This is how Salesforce does it with their License Manager application. This should be a benefit of being a partner with a certified application.

Ribbit is definitely a nice product and their thinking is beyond just Salesforce.  It’s really a new platform for “voiceware” applications. Salesforce was their first target for a specific application aimed at the Enterprise. I would expect to see more.

You can get a free trial on their AppExchange listing.

Have you tried it? What do you think?

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Draggin’ Role 1.0

Publisher: DrivEnable
Product: Draggin’ Role 1.0
Company Homepage
AppExchange Page
3star.png

Michaelforce is a Salesforce administrator who has decided to create & share a new, free AppExchange application for administrators to use when managing roles. He is releasing it through DrivEnable.com. Per the listing:

Manage your role hierarchy with ease! Now you can drag and drop your way through any hierarchy modifications. Draggin’ Role is a free application that allows you to view and manipulate users AND roles from a single Custom Tab.

It is a handy utility to work with the role hierarchy, get the reporting relationships correct and associate users to it.

Draggin_Role.jpg

It uses the AJAX toolkit to do its work. You can see all the code he used to write it in your s-Controls and it could serve as a good AJAX toolkit example for you.

It’s worth a look. If nothing else, it should be a clear indicator that Salesforce needs to revamp the user experience in the Setup area. Especially when working in more complex/tedious areas to administer such as the Role Hierarchy, Forecast Hierarchy, Territory Management, Profiles, etc. It takes a lot of clicking to get anything done today.

An alternative to Draggin’ Role is OrgView by Dreamfactory.

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Auto-Complete Lookups

Publisher: Salesforce Labs
Product: Auto-Complete Lookups
AppExchange Page
4star.png

Salesforce Labs has another cool application out on AppExchange. This is a great add-on for usability. It is called Auto-Complete Lookups and it affects Account, Contact and User lookups right now, but more are planned.

Once you install it, you need to visit it’s web tab to get started. From that web tab you will be instructed on how to set it up. In short, what you do is:

  • Generate JavaScript on the Web Tab. Copy it to your clip board
  • Paste the JavaScript into the Messages & Alerts section of the homepage. If you have other text in there for your users, just paste the code at the bottom.
  • On the Setup | Customize | User Interface screen, set the “Show Custom Sidebar Components on All Pages” to true.
  • Start using it
  • After you have completed your third letter, the lookup starts.

    AutoComplete.jpg

    It uses the AJAX toolkit to perform the lookup. In my org, the performance was pretty good. I have no idea how it will perform with a large dataset.

    This is a great add-on that is very easy to implement and could be of great value to end users. I recommend it. It will get 5 stars as soon as it supports all objects.

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Form Assembly is available on AppExchange

The Form Assembly, which I reviewed back in September, is now available on the AppExchange. The service is largely the same as when I last reviewed it, but additional functionality is in the works.

The Form Assembly allows you to easily create web forms and collect responses. You build the web forms on their site. To deploy, you have the choice of having your form hosted on formassembly.com or downloading the code needed to run the form on your own site. They have an integration with Salesforce.com to auto-generate web-to-lead forms.

Check it out on AppExchange.

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