Season’s Greetings from Improved Apps

Winners of the Seasonal Competition for Innovative NoticeBoard uses 

We recently invited our Improved Noticeboard users to suggest some innovative approaches to using Improved Noticeboard within their organisations.

We were flooded with responses and have picked the best three as winners.

Congratulations to:

 

Shea Mixon from AmerisourceBergen

Andy Louca from Thomson Reuters

Michael Allen from Color Consultancy

 

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The future of true context sensitive help is here…today…

I strongly believe that most context sensitive help solutions around today are lacking in context, which would be funny if it wasn’t so annoying.

 

We see various definitions out there in the public domain like…Context-sensitive Help provides information about the user interface of an application relative to the task a user performs. Which completely ignores the user’s real context, as it seems to mean that the only context is where the user is in the app!

 

Wikipedia states: “Context-sensitive is an adjective meaning “depending on context” or “depending on circumstances”. It may refer to: Context-sensitive grammar. Context-sensitive language. Context-sensitive help.” Which covers a lot more scenarios closer to the real world.

 

So when we think about all of the above variations…to get true context sensitive help we really need to consider the following:

  • Who is the person and what is their Role?
  • How experienced are they?
  • How do they like to digest information (Video, text, be shown something or listen for example)
  • What is their preferred language?
  • What area of the application are they currently in?
  • We need to know where they need help and the data from the current record they are looking at should also provide context.
  • What content they are engaging with and if it was useful!
  • Is the person happy? Did they get what they needed, when they needed it? 

 

All of these questions relate to the user as the focus of context, the context in this case being the user’s experience, preferences, learning style, their actions, their history, their behaviour and any issues they may be having.

 

 

So without this depth of knowledge, context sensitive help that only addresses some of these elements or provides just field or application level help are barely any use and offer very limited value to your business or your users.

It needs to go way above this to get things right…

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Technology…making communication more remote

By Paul Field – CEO @ Improved Apps

 

telegraph wires

Two recent reports highlight the significant ways that mobile phones have changed the way we deal with each other.

The first, from the BBC focuses on the increasing addiction we have for our mobile phones.

If you have children with mobiles, you will be familiar with the impossibility of getting them to put down their phones even at meal times. When children and millennials get together they rarely seem to raise their eyes from their devices, making you wonder why they bothered to meet up in the first place.

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Talking our way to new technologies – blue sky browsing

Blue sky backdrop to modern building

The journey to innovation…

I’m really looking forward to next week as I’m going to spend a chunk of quality time with some of my favourite people… People-time?… And me, supposedly a techie?… That can’t be right… can it?

 

Technical types have a reputation for living in developer caves, from which they emerge only to forage for pizza and to curse users who keep breaking their lovely code. Perhaps that’s why a much younger me felt so comfortable slipping into I.T from the entertainment industry. I was used to set designers moaning at actors for getting in the way of their beautiful scenery, and sound engineers (as I was) blaming audiences for soaking the sparkle out of otherwise wonderful concert hall acoustics.

 

But we’re not really like that (come on fellow developers, back me up on this!)  In fact, we’re at our happiest when we can make useful things happen for those people who have interesting problems to solve, but who can’t speak ‘machine’.

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Improved Apps 2014 Review – Chief Technology Officer

Graphic

Developments in 2014

Last year was certainly busy on the Improved Apps factory floor!  Our development team really enjoyed talking with our Customers and Prospects to shape the direction of our three major product releases of 2014.

 

Among the features we provision to our growing customer-base:

Custom styling enhancements

You can now alert the user to specific embedded help and highlight it by using the data-driven filters and custom styles.  It grabs people’s attention encouraging action, when all they did is look at a record!  A great example is highlighting a helped field to show that the embedded help has been updated.

More places to embed help and updated templates

You can now embed help and training to the Salesforce record titles and the global Salesforce ‘help and training’ link.  We also packaged additional Topic templates to offer a broader range of presentation formats.

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In the Summer time…

Summer ’14 – a distant memory…

When Salesforce Summer ‘14 hit the streets, after some delay, it certainly packed some great new features – social and gamification capabilities such as reputation tracking, improved email and attachments handling, plus a host of further improvements to core CRM capabilities and the Salesforce1 user experience.

Please Release Me…

This was a big release, with a weighty 300+ pages of release notes – and there were also a few little surprises in store. I can’t help thinking that one particular announcement, nestling stealthily about two thirds of the way through, might have hit some customers and partners hard. It concerned ‘improvements’ for Home Page Components – the sidebar to you and I.

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A Flash Of Inspiration

It had been one of those weeks. I’m pretty sure we all have them from time to time: deadlines approaching, projects not progressing, to-do list expanding exponentially. The kind of week where your computer locks up every time you finally manage to make that vital, hard won edit to your masterpiece of a planning document or your internet connection goes down in the middle of a particularly important web conference your boss asked you to lead. The week in which you miraculously secure the career-enhancing meeting with the senior VP you’ve been trying to catch for months, only to get delayed en route by some ridiculous office- or transport-based misadventure that is as implausible as your excuses subsequently sound to the exec in question. The kind of working week where you curse the technology of our age for ensnaring us and not liberating us. You know the kind of week I mean.

 

Added to that, the UK had been “enjoying” a bout of unusually sultry weather. Nothing that would trouble anyone living on the Tropic of Capricorn, you understand, but sufficient to deprive your average Brit of sleep, given ill-prepared Victorian air conditioning (open windows) and a constitution more honed to the demands of light drizzle than sunshine.

 

Thus it was that when Friday evening finally arrived I was happier than usual to put my computer to bed for the weekend and begin the process of unwinding with a walk. I’m fortunate to live a few streets away from what the locals around here like to think of as “the sea”: the Thames Estuary probably wouldn’t pass muster for those accustomed to drinking in a vista of Pacific rollers – or even the murky swell at Skegness – but there are worse sights to behold on a summer evening. There’s a pleasant stroll to be had along a ridge of high ground that runs parallel to the promenade. It affords the visitor an uninterrupted view of the Kent coast some six miles away, wending its way past power station chimneys and sleek wind turbines before it heads for the more timeless skylines of Whitstable, Reculver and Thanet, where the tired river finally reaches the long-dreamed of North Sea.

 

When I arrived, the mid-summer sun was setting somewhere behind skeins of formless, grey clouds that spoke of humidity but weren’t quite ready to deliver relief to the thirsty earth. The air was completely still and the sea flat calm. About a mile from the beach, a pair of diminutive sailing dinghies were struggling to make any headway towards the entrance to a small channel that grants safe passage back to the local cockleboat wharves at all states of the tide. Lights on their masts were joined by the dim amber glow of Kent’s sodium street lamps and the intermittent blossoming of traffic signals marking the change from red season to green and back again.

 

The scene, whilst pretty in its way, was as familiar to me as it surely was to any other local that night – and yet…

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