MEET THE TQUILA TEAM: Tim Davies


Tim Davies, UI / UX Practice DirectorMeet Tim Davies, Practice Director UI / UX. Tim joined Tquila in July 2012.

A design geek at heart, if you don’t see him engrossed in the latest online design gallery then, as a big gamer, you will find him playing military airsoft! Why not challenge him to a game…

Here’s what Tim has to say about his role at Tquila:

What I do

“User Interface concept and designs for mobile apps. Mapping a user journey and creating sales concepts and pitch materials to present to clients. I take part in client consultation and workshops to help clients get maximum impact from their applications and interfaces. I also deal with project management and oversee road mapping.”

Why I love my job

“It sounds like a cliche, but no two days are the same. This role has opened my eyes to a whole new way of working, I work fast, I work agile and I work fast again! Alongside some of the most talented people in the industry. Every day brings a new challenge with diverse projects.”

Why I love Tquila

“Tquila is a fun and creative brand that pushes the boundaries of traditional technology and helps customers achieve more from their Salesforce solution. We get to help customers see the bigger picture – and for me in particular – get to convince them of the importance of mobile! There is such a great culture here and the atmosphere is electric.”

Follow Tim on twitter @RandomTrashy

Want to be part of this? Check out our job openings or send your CV to careers@tquila.com

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4 things I love about Desk.com


4 reasons why I love Desk.comI’ve been on a bit of a service-related binge lately, studying for my Service Cloud exam and working with lots of clients on projects to help them better service their customer base.

When working with smaller companies, I’ve found myself spending more and more time talking about Desk.com. Here are the 4 things I really love:

1. Impressive out-of-the-box functionality

Desk.com provides quite impressive functionality, like case management (including Twitter), knowledge base, live chat and a mobile client.

With all this functionality I could easily see companies being able to establish a service presence in days rather than months.

2. Easy automation

This was one area that really impressed me.

The inbuilt rules engine is very similar to Salesforce’s own workflow and automation tools. This means that evolving business logic to provide better customer service is just as quick and easy as it is in Salesforce.

3. Gamification

Gamification is a hot topic right now (check out our blog posts on gamification!) – so I was pleasantly surprised to see it was built in to Desk.com.

I think gamification in the service space is great way to encourage the right behaviours when it comes to dealing with your customers.

4. Salesforce integration

A lot of the value of Desk.com comes from being able to piggyback off your Salesforce data. The Salesforce integration means there’s just once central customer database, saving organisations (and their information architects) hours and hours of time.

It also offers the opportunity to use a hybrid service model – for example, using Service Cloud for standard support, and Desk.com for premium support. And because of the Salesforce integration, there’s still just one customer database.

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Tquila’s Gamification Engine: Under the Hood


Gamification with TquilaAs Iain mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve been busy building a gamification engine on the Salesforce platform for a client.

In this post I dig a little deeper into how the engine works.

Design considerations
Having gathered requirements from the client, we first considered off-the-shelf gamification apps. Looking at what was already available gave us some great additional ideas – but also confirmed that we needed to create a bespoke solution.

As we designed the bespoke app, we kept a few key elements in mind:

  • It had to be flexible: our client’s business embraces change, so the gamification engine had to as well. It should be easy for an admin to modify the rules that award points and badges.
  • It had to deliver in real time: users want instant gratification, so they need immediate notification when they’re awarded new points and badges.
  • It had to be fun and sexy: users expect slick, engaging experiences. In order to successfully drive the end business goal – increased collaboration and productivity – the system has to make users love using it.

How the engine works
The first step is stakeholders deciding which activities they’d like to gamify.

Then an admin user accesses the Gamification Admin Console, and defines the specific actions that will be gamified – for example, “Lead Creation” or “Contact Phone Updates”. The admin then allocates points, based on specific activities and different users’ roles.

The next step is badge and trophy creation: uploading icons for each new badge and trophy, and defining achievement rules and weightings for each group of users.

The rule definition is fairly simple. Using common operators like AND, OR, NOT, SUM, the admin creates functions that include actions and weighting that users must fulfil in order to win an award.

For example: in order to achieve the “Lead-Gen Leader” badge, a user has to create 50 leads and update all the phone numbers for the leads. To set this up the admin would define the rules as:

AND(50″Lead Creation”, 50″Contact Lead Phone Update”).

To keep the evaluation process simple, the functions are compiled into an easy-to-process tree dataset. Using the Composite Pattern, whenever a new badge is created, the dataset is loaded and the evaluation is carried out invoking the same interface on different nodes, whose implementation depends on node types: AND, OR, NOT, SUM, etc.

Keeping users engaged: What they see
Each user has a “Social User Profile”, which acts as their gamification and achievements dashboard. Here they can see which badges and trophies they’ve achieved, future goals, points, trends and their activity timeline.

To simplify navigation and tap into users’ competitive spirit, we created a number of widgets, like friends and rivals.

To support the engaging UI, we added some different kinds of notifications. An element of instant gratification is important, but users don’t want to feel inundated, or suffer from email overload. So we’ve balanced different levels of on-screen notification. We built a nifty javascript framework that collects notifications and displays them in Salesforce – either as subtle animations or full-screen events, depending on the achievement.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Tquila’s approach to gamification, please get in touch! We’ll follow up with a code-centric post soon, which will give you more insight into the structure of our system and design decisions we’ve made.

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Life @ Tquila: The video


Want to hear more from the people in the video? Follow them on Twitter!

In order of appearance: @tquila_wes, @eoin_tquila, @laura_tquila, @sarah_tquila, @tquila_kc, @tquila_becci, @jaysenmoita, @tquila_james & @wendfu!

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We’re building a gamification engine on Salesforce!


Tquila loves gamificationPiow piow! Gamification is so hot right now. In fact it’s probably too hot, with many online services adding badges and a leader-board to their sites without always thinking about the business value. Its popularity means there are also a lot of misconceptions about gamification (How can I make my accounting app more like World Of Warcraft? Can I bring Angry Birds into my sales pipeline?).

So what is gamification? Gamification is about bringing elements of what make games fun, addictive and rewarding in to every-day business applications. Why? Because if you can harness even a part of the energy users put in to games like Plants vs Zombies (yes really), you can super-charge your customer activity and employee performance.

Recently I’ve been working with a team at Tquila on some exciting new gamification features aimed at driving specific user behaviours within Salesforce. We’re not just adding trophies, we’re starting from business goals and working up from there. We’ve pinpointed different behaviours we want to encourage (initially around capturing quality contact data) and have built a bespoke engine to help our clients change their focus over time.

Why didn’t we use one of the myriad of gamification add-ons currently available? Because we spent time understanding our client, and nothing out-of-the-box was going to get them where they wanted to go. Cost was also a factor: why pay a monthly fee per user for something quite generic? Instead, we created a bespoke gamification engine that’s easy for the client to manage – and we’re all really excited with the results.

We’ll continue the rollout in the coming months, and we’re looking forward to sharing the lessons we’ve learned. My colleague Dario has driven the technical design, and is keen to share information on the engine itself. If you’re interested in learning more about gamification, this book by Kevin Werbach came out in October last year, and is an excellent start.

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5 Open source Force.com projects for Admins and Developers


I’ve previously mentioned the growing popularity of Force.com projects on github and I wanted to call out a few that are likely to be interesting to most developers out there.

Infinite Scroll

Infinite scroll has been a popular concept on the web for a while now, and is a neat alternative to pagination in some cases. This Force.com project allows you to add the infinite scroll capability to your Visualforce pages by dropping the required components into your project.
https://github.com/joeferraro/InfiniteScroll

Stratosource

Stratosource is an incredible project that aims to be your one-stop-shop for backup, source control and release management on Force.com.
https://github.com/StratoSource/StratoSource/wiki/What-is-StratoSource%3F

Milestones

Milestones is has been around for a good while now and is an incredibly competent project management tool from Force.com Labs.
https://github.com/ForceDotComLabs/Milestones-PM

Find Nearby

Another great application from Force.com Labs, this one (in it’s current form) allows you to find and map Accounts, Contacts and Leads within a certain area.
https://github.com/ForceDotComLabs/FindNearby

Automated Testing for Force.com

Getting fully featured Continuous Integration up and running can be complicated. Automated Testing for Force.com gives you many of the features of CI, but in an easy to install and configure package!
https://github.com/mbotos/Automated-Testing-for-Force.com

If there are any other great open source projects out there that you’ve found useful I’d love to hear about them too.

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The Force.com Streaming API


The Streaming API isn’t new but I thought I’d put together a post to document my experiences and get some source code onto Github to help you get started.

Streaming APIThere are different ways to interact with the Streaming API i.e. from within the Force.com Platform using Visualforce, or from outside the platform using the language of your choice. Either way you’ll need to implement the Bayeux protocol, which is easier than it sounds because there are many libraries out there to help you out.

At it’s core all you need to do is create a push topic – which is the registration of an SOQL query for use with the Streaming API – that the client subscribes to. The client then waits for updates or inserts and handles the data appropriately. I’m not going to go into too much detail since a lot is covered in the docs, but if you’re interested in a working example you can get my source code here. Note that for my source code to work you’ll need to create a push topic more or less in the following way:

PushTopic pushTopic = new PushTopic();
pushTopic.Name = 'AllAccounts';
pushTopic.Query = 'SELECT id, name FROM Account';
pushTopic.ApiVersion = 26.0;
pushTopic.NotifyForOperations = 'All';
pushTopic.NotifyForFields = 'Referenced';
insert pushTopic;

You’ll need to execute this code using the System Log or the Execute Anonymous capabilities of any appropriate app.

Lessons Learned

  • The API will only feed through information that is inserted/updated after the page/app implementing the API opened/started.
  • You cannot use aggregate queries e.g. you could not create a running total of the sales amount this month.
  • You cannot use it with Chatter objects.
  • You can only have 10 concurrent subscribers i.e. only 10 instances of your page/app could subscribe to a topic.
  • You can use Workbench to experiment with the Streaming API as shown below:

Workbench and the Streaming API

If you’ve had any interesting experiences or projects where you’ve had to use the Streaming API let us know in the comments!

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It’s time to say thank you to the men of Movember


collage last blog post imageSadly, Movember has now come to an end. On Saturday 1 December, thousands (maybe even millions) of men all over the world said goodbye to their mos as they shaved them off to mark the end of this – now very famous – month. But their fundraising efforts will be felt by many for years to come.

We’d like to thank all the guys who put aside their vanity for 30 days for this great cause and to everyone who donated to the the Tquila team. Our hairy chaps raised an impressive £1,380!

We must also say a huge thank you to Paul Andrew, Mark Wakelin and John Turner from our executive team, who agreed to personally match whatever we raised this year – doubling our contribution to £2,760.

And congratulations to Karsandas Liladhar (father of our very own Jay Liladhar) who donated to the Tquila team and won the draw for a coveted Tquila T-shirt!

Until next year! Movember Out.

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Offline Salesforce on an iPad: Tquila Anywhere


You know we love Salesforce – and we’re very proud to have pioneered the ability to work with Salesforce when you’re offline, on your iPad.

Ever wondered how easy it really is to use Tquila Anywhere? Check out our nifty new video and see for yourself!

Interested in seeing Tquila Anywhere in the flesh? Get in touch!

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We’ve appointed a new CEO!


Alistair Wildman, CEO of TquilaWe don’t blog about it a lot, but the Tquila team is continuing to grow. Our hire is Alistair Wildman, who’s been appointed our new CEO!

Alistair was most recently salesforce.com’s UK SVP of Enterprise Sales – and we’re delighted to welcome him to the team. His experience and passion for driving business transformation through mobile and social innovation mean he’ll fit in nicely with the Tquila team!

Curious to find out more about Alistair? Follow him on Twitter: @alistairwildman

Our former CEO Paul Andrew will remain closely involved with us. He’s retaining his role as Chairman, and will continue to fly the Tquila flag for us around the world.

See the full press release on the Tquila Thoughts blog

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