Jan 162009

Morning folks…hopefully you all are keeping warm.  Seems like the whole continent needs an electric blanket right now!  But, being inside while the weather reads ungodly negative numbers has allowed me to continue to play with my new online fascination – Twitter.  Many I have talked to (physically) usually look at me funny when I say the word Twitter, but that response will disappear very soon in my opinion (do you remember the last person who asked what Facebook was???).

What is Twitter (I still ask myself that question!) you ask?  Well, it’s a great little community at twitter.com – like any other site, you need to register (name, email) and then you are officially on Twitter.  However, it’s much more minimalistic than many other social communities you’ve been to.  There are tonnes of great articles/sites/howto’s/videos out there, but usually I put it this way – it’s like communicating with the world through your facebook status.  Nice, short, sweet and to the point.  Now, the ruse….why?

Reading through the tweets on my screen, and visiting many sites, the reason why people tweet seems to be very personal and diverse.  Some like to create a large network of followers.  Others market their wares (whether it be a product, service, blog or website), and others are there just to be part of a larger community and learn/mentor/discuss.    Why Do I Tweet?  Well, let’s answer that…

1) Oooooooh – Shiny!

Yep, Twitter is the big thing people seem to be talking about on the Internet these days.  Just as when Facebook broke out, there seems to be a tonne of new users joining the latest trend, and that’s ok!  I am one of them.  I love to try and keep up to date with as many as new communities, applications and developments on the net.  Twitter is one of them.  Like many others I know, I signed up over a year ago, wrote a couple of tweets (the page is quite simple – you have a form up top, with a simple question to answer … “What Are You Doing?”) and then it sat there, as i really hadn’t been able to figure out what to do with it.  Then in November, I used it to pass along info about the Dreamforce keynotes to friends back in Ottawa (meeting a couple of people via Twitter along the way), and I’ve continued to play with since.  And the big reason why is Twitter still excites me like a shiny playtoy.  Something new always strikes me about it, and I am back messing around in it.  Also helping is applications for Twitter on both my iPhone and on my desktop (right now, I like Tweetie on the iPhone and TweetDeck on the laptop).  After over a year of daily facebook time, Twitter is taking over as my community du jour….

2) Hello World…

It sounds like a marketing schtick, but it’s true.  We live in a global community know, no longer divided by land and sea.  Looking at my followers and followees list (this is the equivilant of friends in Twitter – you can follow people you think are interesting, and other people can follow you), I am surprised to see how geographically diverse the group is.  I’ve met and chatted with people from Hawaii, Dallas, New York City (I really need to take Steph one of these years), South America, New Zealand, England, Japan, Russia, Norway…I could likely name more places but I think you get my point.  And these just aren’t online friends anymore.  One of the first people I followed was a Tweeter named geekycyberdad (real name – Shawn).  While getting ready for Dreamforce 08,  I had begun searching Twitter for Dreamforce chatter, and stumbled upon his name.  We followed each other, and slowly got to know each other through our updates.  Since then, we have become Internet friends, joking back and forth about sports, politics, and temperatures (I’m sorry, Shawn, but you really should let me go to Miami for you!).  Shawn is one example I have…there are many others.  Without twitter I would not have been able to meet (and keep up with) some absolutely fabulous people.

3) This Just In…

I’m sure you’ve all heard about Flight 1549 by now…it’s been all over the net.  Well, a neat thing happened while I worked yesterday (while it happened).  I use TweetDeck (an Air app that you can use to chat and view Twitter), and all of a sudden, the updates started to come fast and furious.  Quickly looking, I see that many I follow are talking about the plane that is floating in the Hudson.  This all within 5 minutes of the plane landing in the water!  No CNN or MSNBC coverage yet, just Twitter.  A couple of minutes later, I knew the flight number, where it was going, what happened, where in the Hudson it was, and had access to pictures of the rescue effort.  Later in the evening, Steph and I were discussing what Twitter had done with this event.  What we concluded was that Twitter (and other communities like it) are now the news breakers for our generation, while the TV stations of the world have become like newspapers of old – it may be a little slower, but they put together a nice little informative package for you (well….most times…).  Not a new concept, but it is so much fun to see in real life!

4. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding

Like most people in the world, I love to help when I can.  And what better place to do it then when I am speaking with the world (or at least the subset that knows me so far…).   If you didn’t know from the sidebar, I run a Salesforce.com consulting firm here in Ottawa.  I’d also like to think that we here know a little bit about Salesforce.com as well (although on certain days before coffee kicks in I may disagree) and as such, I will ping people who tweet out with a “Yelp!  My salesforce…” message.  Done this a few times, and had three people ping me back.  Two took ten minutes, and another one 30 minutes.  And with that, a good deed for the day was done.  No bills, no charge, no requirement whatsoever (I do love a thank you though, and gotten it three times!).  I love what I do, and make good money doing it already.  If i can help others who happen to be in a bind, then I have had a good day.

Other ways people help is by forwarding URLs to new stories or information portals, many of which I would miss (I love to surf, but not that much! ).  The stories that I find extremely interesting and teach me something I retweet (think of pressing the forward button on the email client, and that is retweet!).    I don’t have the ability to read all of them, but what an amazing way to help, just by sharing.

How far can this help go?  Many many stories and assistance has come through the net – David Armano spearheded a touching call for help just after Christmas to help a family in need, and what was done made me happy to be human.

So, there you go…why I tweet.  It’s new and interesting, it’s global, it’s real time and it is caring.  For those on twitter and don’t follow me, there’s a link to the right – would love to see you on there.  And for those not yet on, why not give it a try?

Jan 052009

So, I must admit I have rung in the new year spending time with family, and trying to leave the work stuff aside for a bit. I have also, however, continued my new love affair with Twitter by reading, posting and pretty much figuring out the best way to use this tool to learn and to share. I am still in neophyte mode, but have met and read some excellent tweeters/tweets.

I have noticed a great amount of chat and questions around what 2009 will bring, and of course, the “what ya think will happen” questions. My simple answer for this – not a clue! If there is one thing I can predict, it is that I am in no way, shape or form, an expert in any field to predict or trend. What I do have though, are thoughts and beliefs in how xLerate can act to continue to grow, while also helping our clients succeed. And with that, I hope to accomplish a triple win – where our clients, our selves and us as a whole gain.

So, what are these ideas? Glad you asked…

1). Time to focus
We are a Salesforce.com consultancy. This statement in itself is much like saying I am a man. It really doesnt focus on what we can do for clients, and need to do to grow and succeed. As such, we here have spent a good portion of December focusing in on a strategic initiative to let us all know where we are heading, what we need to do along the journey and where we will be at the end. Simple thought, eh? Throw in the day to day operations of clients, running a company, talking with new prospects into an 8 (or 10, 12, 14) hour day, along with personal lives and sleep and it no longer is easy. So, often we are worried about walking that we forget, or refuse to plan where we want to go. Without the focus of a goal, and a plan to achieve, the risk of spinning your wheels corporately increase. The spin on the planning here at xLerate is our mimimalization of the long term plan. Thanks to the elephant in the room, also known as recession, we have plotted a series of goals for 3, 6, 9 and 12 months to keep a short leash on our focus and our adherence and variances.

2) Salute your solution.
Those who know me personally know my love of music, so the use of such a great song as a title make me giggle with delight. However there is much truth to the line as well. Not only do we help others with Salesforce.com but we use it ourselves. As such, a good hard look at our own CRM. After setting our goals, a major area of focus this year for us is our support packages. The next step was for us to ensure our technical solution would allow us to measure and assist us in out focus. As such, we have rewritten our customizations within the service and support module of salesforce, and creating new reports and a dashboard to measure our actions and goal attainment. Now, whether you use salesforce, or another tool, know what it can do for you, and utilize it. You’ll be squeezing out the most on your dollars spent on your CRM, and helping yourself acheive success.

3) Know when and what you can do.

We are all busy people – case and point.  When looking at xLerate’s client list every single one of them has a Salesforce Administrator who has another major job activity, whether it be customer service, operations or sales.  This is fine, but it can lead to a CRM initiative falling to the wayside, especially in busy times, or when money is tight.  I am no exception to the rule.  There are many things I would like to do to help us via our CRM – whether it be new reports, new customizations, or even creating new applications to add on.  The fact of the matter is though, there is only 24 hours in the day and we all have other important factors which equate to our day.  What we have done here at xLerate is prioritized these new features and functions, and laid out when and how we will accomplish this.  Only by doing so can I ensure that they get done.  And, for areas that are not the focus of expertise, we will need to utilize outside help.  In this way, we control our costs (both through internal time and external fees), and have a set date for completion.

So, there you have it, folks.  Three areas in which we have laid out plans and goals to accomplish what we need to do.  Now, the proof in the pudding is in completing them.  But, I have it on good authority that we here at xLerate will know exactly where we are come the end of the year after using these goals to meet our end game.  Hey…that does sound quite a bit like a prediction after all, doesn’t it…



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