Dreamforce: Salesforce1, Crowdsourcing, and the Internet of Things

This year at Dreamforce, Salesforce announced “Salesforce1”, a new platform for connecting apps, services, and the internet-of-things. Or to look at it another way, imagine an Internet enabled world, where customers and objects are all interconnected and managed with a centralized system.

What does this mean?

Our partner, BrivoLabs, has been innovating in the Internet-of-things space for a while now. The company’s innovative SAM (social access management) platform provides contextual security and access control that fits the way we live today. It manages your everyday access needs using social and business networks to interact with buildings, businesses and public places.

To oversimplify – the physical world is becoming more and more interconnected to the virtual one. Using platforms and APIs to create apps that harness that information will be invaluable. On that same vein, being able to analyze the massive amounts of big data that will be created from people interacting with the physical world everyday will separate those that innovate for the future and those that simply watch time pass by.

How will this affect development teams?

Salesforce has been a technology front-runner and pioneer for over a decade, turning “cloud” into a mainstream word, and forever changing the way we look at business applications and platforms.

Salesforce is committing to 10X the API functionality with their new platform. Development teams looking to take advantage of the exploding API marketplace, which will only be furthered by the continuing growth of mobile and the new Internet-of-things market, will need to evolve the way they think about creating code. Companies can no longer afford to simply rely on being a .NET/Java/Oracle or even Salesforce shop. The myriad of people and objects interacting with each other will create even more layers of diversity amongst technology platforms.

Development teams of the future will have to evolve from being single-output creators and look to find ways to efficiently architect and then crowdsource areas of non-core competency. A community development platform provides a unique way to flip the model, and allow the best experts for any fringe technology to find the perfect problem to solve.

How will this affect data creation and analytics?

An unprecedented explosion of data is upon us in the Internet-of-things world. Data and the underlying metadata for the unlimited numbers of interactions between individuals and the physical objects that create their world is a new opportunity for businesses smart enough to see the value.

Data science is a team sport. Harvard Business School’s Megablast algorithm optimization is probably the most powerful example of this. Looking for a way to improve a very important, but very slow algorithm for dna sequencing, Harvard hired two full-time researchers to work on the math for a full year. After a year, the researchers delivered a solution that was over 5x faster, and about 6% more accurate.

Then Harvard tried crowdsourcing – using a platform to tap into hundreds of thousands of the world’s best data scientists in a competition-based crowdsourcing model – to find the best algorithm for the task. In two weeks, the community delivered a solution that was 970x faster and 8% more accurate than the original.

A new connected world

Salesforce1 is the beginning of looking at our global interactions in a new way. Everything and everyone connected and centralized.

Thinking about the new challenges that technology advancements like Salesforce1 create through the lens of old development techniques and org charts will be one way to miss out on this latest opportunity. The world is connected in ways we’ve never seen before. We need to approach these new world-generated challenges with the same vision and inspiration that created them. Tapping into the power of crowdsourcing can make the world your technology development partner.

The quickest way to discover a lack of discipline in Marketing

It’s about less, not more.

It was true long before the age of 140 character limits with Twitter, and 7 seconds of video limits with Vine:

“A whisper in a quiet room is all you need. There’s so little noise, so few distractions, that the energy of the whisper is enough to make a dent.On the other hand, it’s basically impossible to have a conversation (at any volume) in a nightclub.” — Seth Godin


The only argument a marketer has for generating more content, more noise instead of less, is SEO. Therefore, blogging, website content, and most other hosted content repositories are often beholden to their true masters: search results. In these – and only these – instances it can be beneficial to optimize for noise over signal, depending on your web content strategy.

There are other content vehicles that marketing owns that are not SEO oriented — and here’s where you’ll see the biggest difference between disciplined marketing and noisemaking.


Freelancing vs. Crowdsourcing: Should Enterprise IT be in the Talent Management Business?

With the recent merger of oDesk and Elance, boasting a community of about eight million freelancers, it appears that the online talent marketplace is booming.

“For businesses hiring people for one-time projects in areas like software development, website design, customer service and translation, there is no longer a need to stay local. A company in New York can arrange for someone in Uzbekistan to create its website, for example. And chances are that the Uzbek worker will be willing to work for much less pay than a comparable one in New York.” – NY Times

Taking a step back, this growth is a very natural and expected evolution. Taking a proven model like contracting, then adding the scale and automation of the internet to create an accessible talent pool of 8 million workers, just makes plain sense.


The 2 Types of Work: The Type That Wins, and the Type That Delays Losing

There’s a fantastic special running on PBS’s NOVA series that details the incredible feats of architectural innovation behind some of Europe’s greatest cathedrals. This special focuses specifically on the stone mason’s challenge in building incredibly tall (reaching to the heavens), strong (everlasting), and graceful (wide internal space) monuments to their beliefs.

The problem these masters faced was that they were stuck using the exact same skills, tools, and materials that builders had used for years to build big, bulky, and tightly packed castles.

At the time these cathedral architects were in direct competition with each other to cement their legacy (pun intended). Each wanted to be known as the artist behind the most elaborate and beautiful of these buildings. Yet it wasn’t simply about who had the best design or who could work the hardest. What these early builders were trying to do had never been done before. They had to find innovative solutions to problems that one had ever tried to tackle with stone. They had the near impossible task of building enormous, beautiful, and safe “bubbles” out of rocks.


Big Bets, No Limits, Open Source – How Tech Giants Flip the Process using Community Innovation

I have a simple rating scale for blog posts

There’s the ones that you read that sort of suck a few minutes out of your life. Not much different than overhearing a conversation between your dad and his best friend about their jean shorts.

Then there are the posts that catch you. They explain something new. Perhaps they frame something you already know in a fresh new way. You enjoy them. You wish you wrote them.

The last category are the mind-blowing ones. The simplest way to categorize these is to bucket them as the ones you just don’t forget. You wish you had the skills to write them.

Masters of their own destiny

This week, Gigaom’s Om Malik posted one of the latter types. At least as far as I’m concerned. It’s an excerpt from an article he wrote for Fast Company. The article is: Masters of Their Own Destiny – Why Today’s Giants Build the Tech They Need To Stay On Top.


Reversing the Innovation Process

I stumbled across a gem of a quote in the “Talk of the Town” section of an old New Yorker magazine yesterday. The subject matter was focused on art and design, as members of a Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) panel were judging products for the best fit in the MoMA gift shop.

Applied to the world of community software development, this quote rings home a problem, and a solution, to a situation we are all familiar with:

“‘Reversing the process is always so interesting,’ Tsao said, ignoring Chorpash’s comment. ‘I mean, the best chefs go to the greenmarket to see what’s fresh, but we are so egocentric about design – it’s always, I want to make something. When industries are dying because they don’t have the imagination to revitalize themselves, we, as designers, can be catalysts to reanimate these companies.'”


Why Your Contractors Will Never Create Your Community

The arguments for curating a community around your company, products, and/or API are pretty simple and clear. Software is eating the world. APIs are the new business development medium. Developers are the new kingmakers.

It only makes sense to curate the kingmakers. The problem is the disconnect between building a community, while simultaneously contracting out work.

This concept reminds me of one my favorite scenes from the Godfather Part II:
— Michael Corleone: We saw a strange thing on our way here. Some rebels were being arrested, and instead of being arrested, one of them pulled the pin on a grenade he had hidden in his jacket. He took himself and the captain of the command with him.
— Guest: Ah, the rebels are insane!
— Michael Corleone: Soldiers are paid to fight; the rebels aren’t.
— Hyman Roth: What does that tell you?
— Michael Corleone: They could win.


The Final Frontier of Cloud Democratization – Technical Talent

One of my favorite posts from the CloudSpokes blog, as we ramped down the blog after merging communities.

In the early days of Salesforce, CEO Marc Benioff masterminded a brilliant marketing campaign titled, “No Software”. Perhaps inspired by Apple’s campaign around “Think Different”, the No Software mantra was clearly an emotional play, targeted to a very specific set of individuals.

Much like “Think Different”, which is not grammatically correct, “No Software” isn’t exactly true. Salesforce.com is most definitely software, but at the time delivered through a vehicle that was completely novel and refreshing (SaaS, aka, Cloud). The connection here likely revolves around Benioff’s adoration of Apple’s Steve Jobs, though it could just be a coincidence of two great marketing visionaries coming up with short and expressive mantras…