Sharepoint – Enterprise Salesforce 2.0

SharePoint 2010 icon

Image via Wikipedia

This video presentation provides a great demo to introduce the key new features of Microsoft Lync, and also the critical role of a Sharepoint site that feeds it too.

The value of these applications is magnified when they are used together. Sharepoint offers various Enterprise 2.0 features that enable staff to self-describe what organizational expertise they have, and the Lync client can be used as a ‘quick find and contact’ tool as the video demonstrates.

It’s this software that will power the next generation of ‘Salesforce 2.0’ applications.

Unified Collaboration

In the recent Cloud roadmap from the Canadian Government, they describe this part as Enterprise Collaboration.

It’s also known as ‘Unified Collaboration’ as it blends together the Unified Communications components like Lync, with Web 2.0 collaboration software for wikis and blogs, which Sharepoint provides in the case of the Microsoft stack.

These apps are integrated seamlessly through an underlying federated Identity system, what the Canadian roadmap calls ‘GEDS2.0’, which provides a single set of login credentials for internal, external and SaaS applications.

Salesforce 2.0

Outside of government a great example of how this can be applied is ‘Salesforce 2.0’.

Where traditional sales force automation tools (Salesforce 1.0) have been built on top of transactional contact management as their foundation, this new approach is centred on knowledge-centric content collaboration.

Originally sales force tools were born to manage the basics of customer contact details (eg. ACT!), and were then built up through adding the ability to manage your sales pipeline (eg. Goldmine).

You could associate sales opportunities against each contact, and run regular reports to show your pipeline of prospect activities and deal values. Even today they aren’t used for much beyond this in many cases.

What this highlights is that this approach provides static reports on the work being done, it doesn’t help you improve the work itself or do more of it.

Typically the bulk of work that salespeople are involved in is i) travel, ii) find an expert(s) and iii) manage proposal processes.

In other words they’re on the road to meet clients, and having found opportunities their main function is to organize and manage a compelling client proposal. Much of their time and value is based on knowing how the organization works and who to go to for the best inputs into client documents, and then implementing lightweight project management to keep it all on track.

Therefore the main functional areas they need are:

  • Expertise location
  • Project management workspaces / document collaboration
  • Dynamic contact management – Update their mobile devices from the above work areas

In short traditional CRM tools are used as management methods, to report on how much work salespeople appear to be doing. It’s mainly intended for their bosses with many staff finding the tasks time-consuming and actually counter-productive, demonstrating the cruel irony of 1.0 software, ie. Spending time reporting on your sales progress diminishes your sales success!

In contrast this next generation of Salesforce 2.0 tools are enablers of salespeople productivity, they help them do more of their work quicker. Principally because they’re oriented towards organizational work.

This will be achieved by wrapping the traditional CRM system with collaborative workspace tools with built-in agile project workflows, that embed dynamic team Unified Comms and automatic updates to mobile devices, and all within an overall context of Enterprise 2.0 knowledge management.

Salespeople will be able to build teams quicker, write better proposals faster and spend less time navigating ‘heavy’ CRM client software tools.

Microsoft Cloud Solutions

What this also highlights is how to define real business value of Cloud-based applications like Sharepoint, for ‘Microsoft Cloud Solutions‘.

Ultimately end users aren’t concerned with the underlying IT efficiencies that virtualization can enable, their motivation is the personal toolsets that will improve their own productivity. However demand for these tools will drive demand for the apps, which as the Microsoft video demonstrates can be transparently hosted anywhere and thus creates the need for Cloud services.

Furthermore this value is realized through a pre-developed integrated Unified Collaboration suite. Each app on its own has limited business value, it’s their synergy that brings each alive in a manner compelling for users, and having this level of application expertise in-house is beyond many organizations, making a SaaS solution ideal.

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