In late September, I was fortunate enough to join an exclusive Salesforce Partner Briefing in San Francisco (of the roughly 3,700 Salesforce Partners, about 20 of us were in the room). Salesforce.com showed us what they are doing to enable us and our clients using their platform. We gained forward-looking insights into the roadmap for what is now Salesforce1 Community Cloud, including ground-breaking changes coming in the next few releases. Fasten your seat belts! For now, let’s focus on just some of the innovation coming this month in Winter ’15… If you have already been leveraging legacy Communities or legacy Portal products from salesforce.com, then Salesforce1 Community Cloud Winter ’15 is a break-through opportunity for you to transform your business with a mass collaboration leader. There are several notable new features that I will highlight in this post: 1. Community Designer – More Flexible UI If you have tried Site.com in the past, you understand some of the functionality delivered in the Community Designer (in Beta for Winter’15). This pulls contemporary conventions of object-oriented layout and configuration to your team for easier and more powerful community designs. It also allows your partners like 7Summits to move faster for you and lower your ongoing costs of ownership. 2. Community Templates – Jumpstart with Fully Responsive Design Although 7Summits has been developing responsive design solutions for device-independent mobile versions of our community solutions for years, Salesforce now includes the “develop once – deploy anywhere” flexibility of responsive design in its core product. Templates will provide a great jumpstart for your Community efforts, and I believe they will be a central philosophy of Communities moving forward. In fact, look for some 7Summits-developed Community Templates in the coming weeks as well! 3. Community Console – Community Management “Central Command” Launching a Community has been very straightforward on Salesforce Communities for more than a year now. However, once your Admin flipped the switches, then what? The power of 7Summits’ approach and solutions has been in the activation, adoption, and success of your community, including ongoing community management. Salesforce has created a new role-based metaphor for managing your community experience with a “command center” view in the Community Console. 4. Analytics – Move the Needle Any Community Manager will tell you that data and analytics are the secret to increasing adoption, activating key users, optimizing content, and course-correcting the community as it evolves to a roadmap for the future. With dashboards and analytics for communities, it is as if Salesforce has turned the lights on; providing an amazing resource allowing you to literally “move the needle” by managing what you measure in the community. 5. Content Management / Topics / and Feed Actions Content is the central challenge to any effective web property, but it is particularly critical for Communities. It is the content that attracts members and keeps them coming back. While its Knowledge and Answers functionality has helped provide the information meritocracy features of ranking and access to promote content, this has been an opportunity for Salesforce on the Admin side. Communities Winter ’15 allows for Community Managers to engage more proactively and curate content for users by choosing worthy content for the audience and highlight that content to promote it. It will also provide us with “Feed Actions” in Chatter. This will allow for a robust menu in the Chatter feed which greatly enhances actions users can take straight from Chatter. 6. Gamification – Through Profile Reputation 7Summits has specialized in gamification to activate Communities for several years now. The movement and the outcomes are well established. Until now, Salesforce.com was limited in this area to attributes of the profile that showed a person’s relative activity on Chatter in a Community. By closing the gap and including a deeper profile with Reputation functionality, Salesforce has given us the opportunity to incent users by various scored actions to reinforce desired behaviors in a community (10 to choose from and customize out of the box!). This is a huge advance and a best practice to greatly increase your success. 7. Simplified Licensing This has been a game-changer for our Clients. At one point, there were 30-40 SKUs for Salesforce Portals. Now, that number has been simplified to 4-5 for Salesforce1 Community Cloud. This makes it infinitely simpler for our clients to finalize the right licensing for the solutions we build together. Working with your Salesforce Account Executive, we can now get you under the proper license quickly so the work to configure your world-class Community can start sooner and you get to market even quicker. If you would like to review Salesforce1 Community Cloud further, please contact us for a personal briefing or come meet with us at Dreamforce ’14 at booth N1011 to discuss the ways in which we can leverage this evolving platform to transform your business!