Trust us…Salesforce.com

 

cloud

Photo by Micky Aldridge

I had the good fortune to go to breakfast with a group including Saleforce.com Chief Trust Officer Patrick Heim. Besides a great free meal at Old Ebbits, there was a lot of great conversation around the way Salesforce.com and Force.com are being leveraged by the public and private organizations and some of the problems it is helping solve. For those that don’t know Salesforce does a lot more than Salesforce Automation with thousands of solutions implemented by various organizations including everything from survey management to security assessment tools like our PSAFE application. Of course given the presence of Saleforce.com’s Chief Trust Officer a lot of the conversation was security related. I’d like to share a few of my takeaways from what I thought was a very valuable meeting.

  • Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service: Patrick Heim had an interesting take on these three models and noted that while platform as a service and software as a service can be transformational for organizations he did now feel as strongly about the infrastructure as a service model. His reasoning was that Infrastructure as a Service might lead to some efficiencies from a cost standpoint, but that it could also perpetuate and even accelerate some organizational problems by making it easier/cheaper to rapidly stand up new server instances, etc. This in turn simply adds to the complexity of what must be managed by the business, security staff, etc. With platform and software as a service there is a much more of a focused value proposition for the business and hopefully a better technology to business mapping.
  • Federal Implications for the Democracy in the Cloud: This is old hand for a lot of people that have been following Salesforce.com for a long time, but the implications of it are interesting particularly when looking at useful cases like public sector vs. private sector security requirements. Salesforce.com has consistently maintained a stance that as it evolves its business to meet evolving requirements in areas like security for example that the bar will be raised across all of its customers. US laws around federal usage mean that things like citizenship; monitoring and other issues may force Saleforce.com to evolve its democracy in the cloud stance to meet the demands of the world’s largest democracy. This may include having federal specific pods to handle federal transactions in order to maintain compliance while bringing their capabilities to the federal government.
  • Dealing with security questions: One of the big things customers get concerned about with the cloud is the multi-tenancy aspect of it. Essentially your stuff is right next to someone else’s stuff, so how secure can it be? Heim had an excellent way of presenting it, which is essentially that Saleforce.com manages a fairly homogenous technical environment. Basically,  Saleforce.com benefits financially by developing economies of scale around hardware, software and even things like skills/HR but that all of this lends itself to enhanced security because it reduces complexity and streamlines things like patching, etc. My first thought when he mentioned this was the 500+ systems that many cabinet level agencies in the federal government of the thousands of applications many Fortune 500 companies have within their organization. Most of these are built to purpose with limited standardization of hardware and software and diverse skill requirements. The level of complexity inherent in securing this is obvious when you look at it from this standpoint even before you think about the additional cost and inefficiency driven by this sort of environment.

At the end of the breakfast several of us stayed after to finish coffee and talk about how we are leveraging Salesforce.com within our organizations and the one thing that kept coming up is time to value. For us this is critical because there is so much focus by both our both public and private sector clients to get to value quicker. Saleforce.com and Force.com have enabled us to bring our customers secure solutions, quicker while reducing costs and alleviating them of the pain inherent in managing complex IT environments. I talked about this a bit in my post “SAAS and a tropical vacation- Their surprising similarities”, but this breakfast was real world validation of the change Cloud, Software as a Service and companies like Salesforce.com are bringing to the marketplace and how it is transforming the way organizations work. Has your organization looked at SAAS solutions? Are you using Salesfore.com or Force.com anywhere?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Going Mobile: How to prioritize your application portfolio

It is now commonly accepted that the world is a pervasively connected place. More and more customers’ and stakeholders’ expectation is that work and play will occur anywhere, anytime and via any device. Below are a few facts from the recent publication Digital Government: Building a 21st century platform to better serve the American people:

  • Mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to grow from nearly 1 billion in 2011 to over 5 billion globally in 2016
  • By 2015, more Americans will access the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs
  • As of March 2012, 46% of American adults were smartphone owners – up from 35% in May 2011
  • In 2011, global smartphone shipments exceeded personal computer shipments for the first time in history

These facts are driving the requirement for both the public and private sector to provide access to resources their stakeholders need in this new mobile context. There are many issues that an organization will face in attempting to meet this new expectation. The effort to go mobile will often be tied to other efforts around digital strategy. At times it will be a component of a larger push towards service orientation, in concert with data management initiatives, or coupled with any one of a number of transformational shifts within the technology landscape that are changing the way that organizations do business. Tying an organization’s mobile strategy together with other initiatives will often make sense. The natural synergies that come into play enable the efforts being made to achieve one objective to simplify the attainment of other goals.

With that being said, I have tried to keep thing simple in this article and focus primarily on the characteristics that should be evaluated as the organization looks across its application portfolio to prioritize what should go mobile first. This is an inherently simplistic approach that does not take into account the myriad of opportunities to reduce redundancy, become more efficient within customer facing processes and tie to a cleaner implementation of the organization’s data layer. There are simply too many variables involved to address them within a single article, however addressing these issues within the application portfolio should be considered a critical step in developing a real mobile strategy. The following characteristics should therefore be seen as tools to better understand your application portfolio in the mobile context and not as a comprehensive approach to creating a mobile strategy or methodology for evaluating your application portfolio in the mobile context.

With those caveats in mind I think that the following are some of the key characteristics that should be considered when evaluating the application portfolio for mobile opportunities:

Number of Users
Sensitivity of Data
Application Lifecycle State
Criticality
Mobile Requests

Number of Users

I think that the number of users is a both obvious and underappreciated criterion for going mobile. The numbers game at the top of the page tells the story. With so many mobile users and with almost half of the American population owning a smartphone it is highly likely that any application with a lot of users will also have a lot of users who expect to be able to use the application in the mobile context.
Sensitivity of Data: This is critical because of the implied dependency to maturity of the mobile capability of the organization that will be deploying the application. Having a mobile application that includes personally identifiable or sensitive information requires the application provider have put time and effort into the security of the information in transit and on the device as well as general mobile device management and security.

Application Lifecycle State: This is a factor because the cost of “going mobile” may be easily rolled into the re-development or refresh of an existing capability or built into the development of an early stage application development effort. The return on investment may not be as high on an application that has just entered its maintenance phase; of course the ROI may also be highly dependent on other criteria.

Mobile Requests

Many organizations have begun to change the manner in which they engage with both internal and external stakeholders. The entrance of social media and the focus on enabling conversation has made it easier for stakeholders to advocate for things like mobile access applications. Are you listening? Evaluating your application for mobile opportunities can be much easier if you engage your stakeholders directly with regard to their priorities.

Criticality 
See the factor above, but add your understanding of the organization as an executive. You can’t crowd source leadership. The factors above are things that should be considered from a common sense perspective however every organization has unique circumstances, political factors, maturity challenges, and opportunities. Get the most out of moving your stakeholder experience to the mobile world by ensuring that you don’t put too tight of a box around how you move forward. One critical mistake that can be made when considering the move to mobile is to simply begin “porting” applications to mobile.

Conclusion

I think the characteristics above should help you begin to think in the right direction, figuring out what works for your organization will require some tailoring. If you have an approach you are using at your organization that has been working I’d love to hear about it @jmillsapps on twitter.

                                       

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.