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Top Ten Things You Should Know About How to Integrate Salesforce with Office 365

For the second consecuitive year, Salesforce and Microsoft have both been named as leaders in Gartner’s aPaas Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Application Platform as a Service with their respective offerings, Force.com and Office 365. Lately, the options for integrating data between the leaders has been growing, including out of the box features, developer tooling, and third party products.

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Do you need to integrate Salesforce with Office 365?

Below, I’ve collected a top ten list of what you should know about how to integrate Salesforce with Office 365.

1. Consider Off the Shelf Offerings

Salesforce ISV partners market applications on the App Exchange. Salesforce administrators and users who have been assigned the “Download AppExchange packages” can install apps from the App Exchange. Apps can be installed and evaluated in test, sandbox, or developer environments and deployed into production. The easiest way to start is to access the AppExchange and search for Office 365. You’ll find a number of apps like Trove (for file sharing), integrations with Outlook, document process automation and others.

Microsoft ISV’s market applications in the Office store. Site Owners can install apps in sites or request an app install by the Office 365 administrator. Apps require permissions, and the user installing the app must have sufficient permissions to grant access to the app, thus an Office 365 administrator may be required to install certain apps. Searching for Salesforce in the Office store is the best place to start. SharePoint apps include integrations for workflow and list/library connections.

Also, look beyond the app store for companies that create product connectors and developer tooling [e.g. MuleSoft)]

Next, I recommend that you learn about the integration features that are provided as part of the platform, Salesforce and Office 365.

2. Learn About Files Connect in Salesforce (for File Based Integration Requirements)

Files Connect allows you to browse and share files from a SharePoint site into your Chatter feed. Files Connect can be configured to share files from SharePoint either as a link or as a copy. A built-in viewer in Salesforce allows users to view files that have been shared as a copy, directly in the Salesforce UI. Further, Files Connect allows users to find documents, searching for a keyword within the document title.

3. Learn about External Objects in Salesforce (for Records Based Integration Requirements)

While Files Connect is for displaying SharePoint files in Salesforce, use External Data Objects to display list data in Salesforce. External Objects can be added as a tab or added as a related list to existing objects.

External Objects and Files Connect are both read-only. Also, additional charges may apply.

4. Learn about Named Credentials (for Custom Integrations Created in Salesforce)

Named Credentials in Salesforce function as a service layer for API calls into SharePoint in Office 365, isolating the developer from the pain of OAuth authentication. Named Credentials use the same authentication providers that are used by Files Connect and External Objects, mentioned above. The Salesforce administrator can configure access into SharePoint to use a single service principal, or allow users to authenticate on their own.

Authentication can also be accomplished as custom app dev for integration projects for those that have unique authentication requirements that are not supported by Named Credentials.

Trove is an example of a Salesforce hosted application which uses custom code for authenticating API calls into SharePoint in Office 365. The most recent version of Trove supports application principal authentication into SharePoint in Office 365. This feature requires that authentication is coded as a custom feature.

5. Consider Synchronization of Data as Part of a Scheduled Task

Consider out-of-the-box or custom built applications which can be used to synchronize data between Salesforce and Office 365. Copying data can have benefits such as allowing for full fidelity of the platform experience. For example, although External Objects are not supported by Salesforce reports, reporting can be achieved by copying data from SharePoint in Office 365 into custom objects in Salesforce.

6. Review the Integration Options for SharePoint in Office 365

Business Connectivity Services for SharePoint in Office 365 provides a list based, read/write experience for external data. However, because BCS for SharePoint in Office 365 does not support OAuth authentication, you will need to build custom, middle-tier web services to support a BCS connection. There are also products which can be used as the middle tier between SharePoint and Office 365.

7. Learn about Power BI

Power BI is another option to consider for integrating Salesforce data with SharePoint in Office 365. The Salesfore Connector for Power BI includes two predefined dashboards, and you can create your own.

8. Learn about Provider Hosted Apps for SharePoint

Provider Hosted apps are ASP.net web applications, typically hosted in Azure, which render as part of the SharePoint user interface. Developers can exercise full control over authentication, retrieving and rendering data. Using Visual Studio 2015 and the Salesforce Services extension, developers can configure a connection to Salesforce, including the OAuth configuration.

The Chatter integration that ThreeWill built for a prospective customer is one example of a Provider Hosted app that integrates with Salesforce. This application uses a certificate based OAuth flow, providing a single sign-on experience for users. The user interface and all data access are accomplished through the custom application, hosted in Azure.

9. Plan for Authentication

Authentication questions you should ask include:

  • Does the integration require user authentication or impersonation for security trimming and audit trails?
  • Will the integration always have an interactive user, and will that interactive user have credentials required to authenticate an API connection?
  • Does the integration support storing of “secrets,” such as those used for several aspects of OAuth authentication?
  • Does the integration support certificate signed credentials?

The answers to these questions will help determine which authentication flow you choose and thus the experience for end users. The authentication options and out-of-the-box features vary between SharePoint and Salesforce, and as a result, some of the requirements and design decisions may influence how much of the integration is built in Salesforce, SharePoint in Office 365, or in a middle tier service such as Azure.

10. Find Effective Online Training for a Deeper Dive

Online webinars and training courses can be a very efficient method to ramp-up on the technologies described above.

Parting Thoughts:

  • Determine if your data integration needs require data in real-time, or if the data can be delivered as a part of a scheduled task.
  • Consider if your integration needs can be met by third party or out-of-the-box features.
  • Consider custom app dev options in both Salesforce and Office 365.
  • Evaluate the licensing costs for third party solutions and balance these against the costs for a custom built solution.
  • Find effective training and learn more.

Join Us this Friday for a Webinar on Integrating Office 365 and Salesforce

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Eric BowdenTop Ten Things You Should Know About How to Integrate Salesforce with Office 365
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Checklist for Creating Better Blog Posts

Intro

Here are ten things that you can check the next time you post to your blog or LinkedIn.  Do all ten of them and you get a sticker!

1. Write to Your Audience

Think about who you are targeting for the article.  Are you trying to help them with a how-to article?  Maybe you’re curating a collection or sharing a presentation.  Or maybe you’re trying to give them a checklist like this article.

The primary audience for this article is people who want to make sure they put out a quality blog post.  I’m also going to repurpose this for a LinkedIn article to help colleagues with writing their first post on LinkedIn.

2. Backlink to Something You’ve Written Before

Always look to link not only to reputable resources in your article, but also make sure you link to one of your previous articles,  Or maybe a colleague’s article.

We also use a plugin to show recommended posts at the bottom of the post – perhaps another related article would help them.

stopwatch3. Don’t Go TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

Spell out the value of reading the post early and deliver.  Remember earlier today when you searched for the answer to that pesky question?  You were impatient.  Your readers are impatient.  They will give you seconds and not minutes to create value.

Read your article – anything that takes longer than 5 minutes needs to be broken up into multiple posts (IMHO).

4. Don’t Forget the Call to Action

What do you want the reader to do next?  Sign up for a webinar?  Download a white paper?  Present this as a button at the bottom (and sometimes mid-way) of the article to make it easy to take that next step.

5. Add an Engaging Graphic for the Featured Image

Along with the title, this is where you need to grab the attention of the prospective reader. To go on the cheap, use an image from Creative Commons.  The way I roll is using images from a service called ShutterStock – I signed up for the 25 images a day option and this gives me all I need to dress up an article.

6. Edit for Grammar

You don’t want to lose readers because of poor grammar – have someone review your content for grammar.  You know the people who do this well. I am fortunate to have Linda “Eagle Eye” Ryan reviewing all our articles for grammar.

7. Check Your Technical Content

Your reputation is on the line here – put your best foot forward.  For technical content, have someone smarter than you review your content before you click “Publish.”  Second best option is to share with a small group of nit-picky people who will actually point out where you missed a semicolon.

tag8. Tag Your Content

Don’t miss this step either.  This will be important to help make the article more “findable” when people see recommended articles, click on a tag cloud, or view and index of the blog.

9. Optimize for SEO

Now that your article is ready for the world – make sure the title and the content is SEO friendly.  I use a great plugin called WordPress SEO.  This helps me tweak the title to common Google search phrases, and it grades the article for how well it is prepped for SEO.  It gives you a checklist of things to fix to get a higher grade.  Brilliant.

10. Promote Your Article

The hard work is done, but now you need to make sure the world is aware of what you have to share.  I use HootSuite for Social (see a list of other tools I use on a daily basis – see how I just did #2 ;).  I also get in the habit of thinking of particular people that I know would benefit from the article, and I send them an email with a link.  Far as I can tell, people appreciate this and it’s so much better than the typical mass emails many people send.  And speaking of mass emails, I make sure and promote some of the key articles in a monthly newsletter.  This is a great way to drive more eyeballs.

Want more content like this?

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Danny RyanChecklist for Creating Better Blog Posts
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Useful Office 365 Links from Microsoft

Useful Office 365 Links from Microsoft

Here are some of my favorite links from Microsoft:

1. Website – Office 365 Deployment Center

https://deploy.office.com/

See what resources Microsoft has for a successful deployment.

2. Blog – The Office 365 Blog

http://blogs.office.com/

Important announcements found here.

3. Roadmap – Office 365 Roadmap

http://roadmap.office.com/

Microsoft is more visible than ever, publishing the roadmap for all to see.

4. Podcast – Ok, two for this one…

5. Training – Office Guide – Introduction to Office 365

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/training-courses/office-guides-introduction-to-office-365#

Great click-through training to get you up and running.

6. Forum – Office 365 Forum

http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/default.aspx

Leverage the community by posting questions here.

7. FAQ – Office 365 for Business FAQ

https://products.office.com/en-us/business/microsoft-office-365-frequently-asked-questions

Basic questions answered here.

8. Deployment Guide – Office 365 Deployment Guide

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh852466.aspx

You’ll need a carafe of coffee to get through this one.

9. Success – Office 365 Customer Success Center

http://success.office.com/

Drive adoption and learn about how others are using Office 365.

10. Support – Office Support Center

https://support.office.com/

If all else fails, search here for common issues and top solutions to problems.

Do you have a favorite link/resource from Microsoft for Office 365?

Please share your useful Office 365 links in the comments.

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Danny RyanUseful Office 365 Links from Microsoft
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Ten Lessons Learned from My Biggest Business Mistake

In 2012, we started a new venture with Plantronics that was different than any we had taken on before. They wanted to work with a partner to build an integration between their API and platforms like Jive, Salesforce, and (eventually) Microsoft. We had built integrations between all three of these platforms – the SharePoint Connector for Chatter, the Jive Connector for SharePoint and countless integrations with Microsoft’s products (especially SharePoint). The concept was simple – when you get an incoming call, Plantronics would hand off the Caller ID to our app, and we would look up all the information available about the caller.

Watch this video and this interactive walkthrough click through.

The big difference this time was we were going to fund the development. We were used to “work for hire” project work (another example is our integration with Polycom) – the client hires us to build the product, pays us an hourly rate, and the IP gets handed over at the end of the project. This one we were footing the bill and building our first product offering. We felt optimistic doing this because Plantronics was (and is) a great Partner to work with – we were hoping to leverage their Marketing and Sales expertise to mitigate the risk of us not having big budgets, and we felt emboldened because we weren’t doing this alone.

Tommy and I didn’t enter into this lightly – focus had helped us create a lifestyle company (in our case our focus on building on SharePoint – so that with each new project our consultants have plenty of experience to pull from and not late nights trying to learn the technology of the week). This was one of the decisions that we made that could potentially be waterline (a decision that could sink the ship).

Long story short, we built a technically great product – within 6 months or so we launched a product that was web-based, had a Windows app, an Android app, an iOS app, and a Chrome extension. And it demoed really well. Problem was I wasn’t signing up paying customers – I was demoing with Sales Enablement Departments, but this was a new area and no budget set apart for this type of product. The fear of every venture occurred – we ran out of runway.

What Are the Lessons Learned and Good Things That Came From the Effort?

Here’s my list of ten things that I learned:

  1. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. I appreciate more what product companies go through (the development isn’t the most difficult part). Most service companies want to be a product company because of the recurring revenue and multiple for business valuation. Conversely, most product companies want to be a service company because of the lure of daily bill rates and the demand from customers for a single vendor solution.
  2. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I love how we are able to help clients but the consulting business can feel like a grind where you never have enough visibility into the future. With product, you have the same challenges with customer retention.
  3. We have over 5,000 users, but this is primarily because we are named similar to the Popcorn Time app. I now know why so many apps “look” like other apps (accidental sign-ups).
  4. Expect to spend as much money on Marketing and Sales as Development. In fact, expect to spend more.
  5. Entering a new market vs an established market. Contextual intelligence is a new software area. On sales calls, I was having to define why you need this thing in the first place. As a small company, this is not something we can afford.
  6. Hire an experienced growth hacker – The Salesguy (me) was new to Product Marketing and I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
  7. Focus on releasing on one platform – even though we took a hybrid approach, it probably would have been good to just focus on one platform.
  8. We couldn’t do what we wanted on iOS (get Caller ID), but we could on Android. Android has more open APIs at this time. It’s also easier to make updates on the Play Store vs. the App Store.
  9. When changing business models, it is probably best to create a new business entity to not confuse your customers. Even though we have helped product companies build their offerings, creating one of our own can mix your message.
  10. Along the same lines, maintain a separate P&L for the product business. This helps you make better decisions about the viability of the venture.

If I had to add an eleventh good thing, I would definitely say that creating ThreeWill Labs as a part of this venture.  We need to stay ahead of the curve, and our Labs Group helps us do this.

A part of why I’m writing this article, I suppose, is for closure. We invested a lot of time, money and energy in bringing the product to market. And now we are about to move on and use parts as an asset for projects and future integrations.

Since I’m writing this during work hours – If you’re looking for a great partner to build your next product, reach out to me. I now can empathize with some of your challenges. I’d love to share more about my experiences and learn about yours over a coffee.

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Danny RyanTen Lessons Learned from My Biggest Business Mistake
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ThreeWill Top Ten Posts from 2014

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Danny RyanThreeWill Top Ten Posts from 2014
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How the Rules of Improv Can Make You a Better Collaborator

Last year for my birthday my thoughtful wife gave me Improv Lessons at a local place called the Red Door Playhouse . After my first night of practice I was hooked. I love to get out of my head and into the moment – Improv requires you to be present and forget what happened that day.

What I’ve come to realize is that Improv can teach us a lot about how to become better collaborators. It has certain rules, or a better word would be guidelines, that you learn about when taking Improv classes. Google “Improv Rules” and you’ll run into several lists.

The night before my first show I came up with my own curated list – what worked for me…here they are with some insights on how they might make you become a better collaborator.

1. Say Yes

Don’t shoot down other’s ideas…give them time to breathe and develop. Sometimes people need to think out loud to work through a problem.

2. Say Yes, And…

Contribute to the conversation…share your perspective and be willing to put yourself out on a limb. The world needs more contributors.

3. Play the Foil

In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character. In improv, I love this technique. Someone starts out bubbly and happy – a sour pus enters the room and its instant comedy. With collaboration, sometimes you need to play the devil’s advocate. But, let your colleague know you are going to play having a contrasting view to build their case better.

4. Don’t Try to Be Funny

This is the paradox of improv – the moment you try to be funny, you aren’t. Be your character, develop the relationship, and trust that when you are being real that’s funny enough. This applies to collaborating as well – don’t be the jerk that is always trying to turn a situation into a comedy routine. Life is funny enough and God has a great sense of humor.

5. Don’t Ask Questions

Sure, questions are a part of collaborating. But let’s stop overdoing the questions and make some wise assumptions. In Improv, you try to stay away from asking questions of your partner because you make them do all the work. In collaboration, the same thing happens.

6. Listen

You know the saying –you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. The silence is ok. Enjoy the silence and listen to your partner and react.

7. Enjoy the Moment

If you’re having a good time, chances are your colleagues (and audience) are as well. Have a blast. Others will too…

8. Commit

If you are going to play an emotion, commit completely. Let the intensity build and drive through the fear. When collaborating, be willing to make and keep a promise. Even the small ones.

9. Be Honest

This is a key value at work. At a private party this past Saturday, we were doing a scene where I was an old man trying to make it past a pushy TSA agent (played by an F-bomb laden Leah). While in the scene, Seth (Seth and Leah are the owners of Red Door Playhouse) yells out emotions and I have to suddenly take them on. He yelled out an easy one for me – narcoleptic (I know, not really an emotion) – this was a slow pitch for me but for some reason I couldn’t think of what it meant. I sorta froze and panicked. The scene when on and ended well (thanks alot to both Seth and Leah). All my best ideas come when walking off the stage and it dawned on me if I was just honest it would have all worked out. An old man has the worst memory – why didn’t I just say I’m feeling narcoleptic, but with my memory I have no idea what that means. I have a feeling some of the audience would have enjoyed the honesty.

10. Above All, Make Your Partner Look Good

Your goal is to make your partner look like the Improv Star that they are. It’s about supporting each other and trusting each other.  You’ll become the world’s best collaborator if you’re interested in making others look good – who wouldn’t want to work with you?

Hopefully you’ve learned a little more about improv and how to collaborate better. If you’re addicted to improv like me, leave a comment below if you have a favorite rule that you’d like to share that has helped you.

And since I’m writing this on a Friday afternoon I have to make a quick pitch for my company. The topic is not that far off because we build collaborative solutions. Drop by our website to learn more about what I do when I’m not getting my improv on.

Oh, and if you’re in the Atlanta area:

Thanks for reading, don’t forget to listen and always say yes!

Here's some pictures of my swell group...

Here’s some pictures of my swell group…(credits to Seth)

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Danny RyanHow the Rules of Improv Can Make You a Better Collaborator
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Top Ten Takeaways from Dreamforce 2013

Here’s my list…What would you add? 

1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

This topic was everywhere. Much more than Cloud. Or Social.

The big announcement was not a new company name, but rather the introduction of the Salesforce1 platform. It’s a move to provide a single mobile experience for Salesforce services and Partner apps from the AppExchange. My favorite quote from the week about mobile came from the Marissa Mayer/ Marc Benioff discussion – “mobile a wave large enough for reinvention.” In other words, the platform switch to mobile is a big enough change that there will be an opportunity for companies to rethink the way they serve their customers.

2. UX/UI Design

Another quote from Marissa Mayer – “It’s not just about usability, it’s also about usefulness.”

How can we make apps that are more useful. How can we nail the couple of key mobile workflows that are most important to our users?

3. Getting To The Bottom Of Your Todo List Is Not The Goal

Yet another nugget from the Marisa Mayer conversation.

You can’t tell I enjoyed the conversation with Marisa Mayer.  Just focus everyday on higher priority items…if you never get to the bottom of the list that’s a good sign. You are spending your time on more important tasks and not the least important.  Nice little nugget of wisdom that will help me sleep better at night.

4. The Salesforce Ecosystem Is Alive And Well

Last year we were in a booth with our good friends at Plantronics.

This year, I had the chance to spend more time with people at the expo. It’s amazing to see how healthy many of these companies are – their were more cars given away this week than I can count on one hand. My whole marketing budget for a year could be consumed by purchasing this magnitude of a giveaway… My impression is that partners are thriving – even the ones with competitive products to Salesforce.

5. Rain Won’t Stop the Party

We had plenty of rain this week – but that didn’t stop anyone from having a great time.

They had a huge bubble structure on the street between Moscone South and North. And the Blondie/Green Day was at AT&T stadium where there was plenty of cover (and box seats to show the customers love, I’m sure). The most brilliant move was to hand out umbrellas for free (with no branding – not sure if this was intentional or not).

6. Authenticity Is In

One of my favorite moments from the week was the conversation between Marc Benioff and Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, the CTO of Whole Foods.

They talked about how the corporate values shape their company. You could tell how passionate they both were about making an impact in the community. There was something refreshing about the conversation – it felt real, authentic.

Technology Business Leaders Address Salesforce Conference

7. Did Salesforce Just Make A Move Towards On Premise?

I was intrigued by the announcement from Salesforce and HP – a new offering called SuperPod.

No, it’s not the option of hosting Salesforce on premise yourself…It’s a dedicated hosted service offering. I’ve heard from some of our customers that for reasons of data security that they can’t go with Salesforce. I wonder if having HP host how/if this will address this show stopper.

8. An “App For This And An App For That” Is Out

One of the more interesting moves that Salesforce made was to consolidate their mobile apps into one app (aptly name Salesforce1).

If you were like me, on the flight home I removed all the miscellaneous Salesforce apps (Classic, Logger, Salesforce Contacts, etc) from my iPhone/iPad. They were in a Business folder on my second screen. Now, the Salesforce1 has a coveted spot on my home screen. A side benefit is I don’t have to think about which app to open to log a call or update an opportunity…

9. Today Feature On Salesforce1

As an Outlook junky, I have used various Salesforce and Third-Party integrations with Outlook.

I’m using Outlook for Salesforce right now to integrate my calendar, tasks, and emails with Salesforce. For the iPhone version of Salesforce1, they added an app called Today. You can use it to merge both your local calendar and tasks with Salesforce. Check it out if you haven’t already…

10. It’s The Customers

I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone do this better – Salesforce gets out of the way and lets Customers talk about their success.

The promotion they give almost feels like they obtain a “Rock Star” status. It’s a bit of marketing brilliance (I could do this better – the client testimonials are good, but how can I elevate the project sponsors for our clients better and give them a medium for sharing the success? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Bonus Takeaway…

11. Philanthropy Comes First

The first 20 or so minutes of the keynote focused on the Salesforce Foundation.

This put things into perspective for the day. Tommy and I had more conversations about how we can formalize what we do to give back to the community (in the past these conversations would be dominated by technical topics, just another sign we are getting old). We are talking with others in the company about using the 1/1/1 model at ThreeWill. Of course, we love things that come in threes!

A side note about the importance of the Salesforce Foundation – we’ve been fortunate to work with Salesforce over the last couple of years (helping out with some Salesforce/SharePoint integration).  During one of the first meetings we had, they started the conversation out with talking about the Salesforce Foundation and how important it was not only to Marc Benioff, but also all the employees at Salesforce.  In other words, it’s not just lip service.

We’ve got some more blog posts on the way about #DF13 – they will be more technical than mine if you are the coding kind…

Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section below!

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Danny RyanTop Ten Takeaways from Dreamforce 2013