Tag Archives: salesforce.com

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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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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Large data volumes and the Force.com Data Architecture

A few weeks back I shared a salesforce.com whitepaper that gives the high-level details of the architecture underlying the Force.com platform. For those looking to learn more about the database underpinning the platform you can find even more information in another whitepaper titled “Best Practices for Deployments with Large Data Volumes” [PDF, 629KB]. As someone who does a fair amount of writing I can confidently say this is one of the best salesforce.com whitepapers I’ve ever read. The content is great but the format is what makes it.

The Virtual Database Structure

The Virtual Database Structure

The primary purpose of the document is to give architects the options and approaches when dealing with orgs that have, or will have – you guessed it – large amounts of data. As a byproduct though it ends up revealing information about the virtual database shared by all tenants. Salesforce.com has literally built a database within a database (databasception?!) with its own optimising features such as divisions, virtual indexes and skinny tables!

In short, if you ever have to deal with large amounts of data on the Force.com platform, or if you’re just the inquisitive type, I bet you’ll learn at least one new thing from this great whitepaper!

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Tech Teardown @ the Salesforce Dev Meetup

Last night I attended the (newly re-named) London Salesforce Developers meetup at the very cool 10Gen offices near Old Street.

For anyone thinking that a developer meet up is a daunting experience which is only for the select elite who will shun the newbies – think again… As a fairly green developer, I found myself getting advice from certified technical architects who were more than willing to help me understand the platform and how I could learn more.

This could only have been done in the friendly vibe that the London salesforce developer group provides – no egos, just loads of cool, like-minded people talking about work they are proud of (along with free beer and pizza).

My highlights were:

  1. Hearing what the community is excited about
    The open panel gave some real insight into what every one is getting excited about after Dreamforce 12. Mobile is very much the talk of the town.

  2. Salesforce Celebrities
    I found myself getting a little starstruck meeting a few of the major Salesforce community celebs, like @Petercoffee and @bob_buzzard, and hearing what they had to say.

  3. Being inspired
    Hearing from the panel that getting into mobile development is not a scary thing got me inspired to go home, fire up Xcode and start going through GitHub for some projects.

If you’re a Salesforce developer – or interested in what it’s all about – I highly recommend coming along to the next one!

See more about the London Salesforce Developers group on Meetup.com

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London Force.com Meetup featuring VP of Developer Relations, Adam Seligman

Adam Seligman giving a BOSS of a talk.

There’s only a week and a half to go until the next London Force.com Meetup where we’ll be discussing some of the great technology we’ve seen or heard about at Dreamforce 2012. This year was a whopper of an event so be sure to RSVP and remember that developers, admins and all other Force.com-ites are welcome!

As an added bonus we’ll have the VP of Developer Relations for Force.com and Heroku at the event to give a short talk about his great passion for both platforms. Registering for the event is super simple, and the event detail are:

Headline: Teardown of what happened at DFX and a special guest from salesforce.com!

Date and time: Wed Oct 10 at 6:45 PM

Location: 116-120 Goswell Road London, EC1V 7DP, London

RSVP link

Hope to see you there!

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Chatter + GPS = Tquila Loco for iPhone

Here at Tquila Labs we have a few brand-spanking new mobile apps that we’re showing off, let me whet your appetite by telling you about Tquila Loco for iPhone.

Our team has built an incredible location-based app that lets you check into your Salesforce Accounts, Contacts or Opportunities using Chatter and your iPhone’s GPS – think of it as foursquare for Chatter. We’ve thrown some gamification into the mix too taking user adoption to a nearly addictive level!

Internally we’ve been using the app with enormous success. We have people working all around Europe and now it’s easier than ever for them to know who’s nearby, often letting them draw on the skills and connections of one another. What does this mean for the bigger picture? Sales close quicker and our network of knowledge is better lubricated, business couldn’t be better!

If you’re in or around London and would like a demo just let me know.

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Dreamforce ’12 technical take-aways

Nic TassiniWhat an amazing week at Dreamforce X – with an awesome vibe and feature announcements. The Tquila team attended a lot of interesting sessions, but the developer keynote was the most mind-blowing for techies!

Here are my technical take-aways:

It’s now incredibly quick and easy to create hybrid and native mobile apps using Touch. A set of templates is already available – you just need to clone one and develop your idea. Everything’s set up for you already – even integration and authentication.

In addition, a completely new set of mobile VisualForce components is now available, enabling you to build mobile apps only using Force.com as the main platform. It’s easy to then reference these new pages into a native app cloned from a template.

Here’s everything you need to get started: http://developer.force.com/mobile

Don’t forget to download the free mobile development guide!

Definitely a game changer! At first glance it may seem that it’s just embedding an external application using the well-known iframe. But it’s not! You can embed your existing app and leverage an inbuilt integration layer, which enables you to understand who the logged-in user is, and to query Salesforce to fetch and update data. Everything is designed to be simple: just include a javascript library and go for it!

There are 2 key use cases for Canvas: retooling your old apps, and building next-generation social apps.

Inside the Canvas creation page you also have the option to create a new app hosted on Heroku, and choose between Java and Ruby templates. This example app will be the baseline for your development and it already includes the code for the integration with the logged-in user and Salesforce.

Another big shift! With this new feature you can log in to several different external services and platforms directly from a Salesforce tab through a SingleSignOn process.

Even better, while you’re working on your favourite SFDC app, you can be notified if another service has an update for you.

Identity can also be used as a SingleSignOn provider. The consumer world already has the Facebook ID – and with Identity, we can now think about using our Salesforce login as the sign-in source for social networks, custom applications, services and existing platforms.

Heroku Enterprise for Java
Absolutely one of my favourite announcements: you can finally leverage an enterprise offer on Heroku, where you can select your preferred stack, with OpenJDK 6, 7 or 8, Tomcat 7 as servlet container and Memcache to support distributed caching.

It’s now also possible to better manage the deployment process, adopting Atlassian Bamboo as a continuous integration server.

Last but not least, a brand new Eclipse IDE plugin has been launched, making app management easier. Import them, change the main information, browse logs and scale up and down… all directly from your IDE.

The enterprise package isn’t free, but it does give you premium support.

More info here: http://blog.heroku.com/archives/2012/9/19/announcing_heroku_enterprise_for_java/

There were lots more exciting announcements – like ChatterBox, which lets you store files in a trusted, secure, enterprise-grade storage system; Chatter Communities, which enhances customer communication though external community functionality; Work.com Cloud, which brings gamification to the office; and the Marketing Cloud, where the baseline is a mix of Radian6 and BuddyMedia.

Check out all the highlights on the Dreamforce YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/dreamforce

See you next year!

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Force.com: Top Testing Tips Session at Dreamforce 2012

After an 11-hour flight from London the Tquila team has arrived in San Francisco for DFX! I hope to see many of you around town, and if your schedule isn’t already full it would be great to see you at an awesome session I’m delivering on Tuesday, September 18th: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM at Moscone Center West, 2024.

Ami Assayag and I will be talking about “Top Testing Tips” on the Force.com Platform. We believe that our talk will help you take your Apex code testing to the next level with sample code and open source libraries that make these advanced topics easy. You’ll learn to save time with SmartFactory, which automatically creates complex test data for tests isolated from your regular data, and how to test web callouts cleanly and completely using interfaces and mocks. Finally we’ll talk about how to make sure all your team’s tests run regularly with native Force.com automation that takes a fraction of the time of full continuous integration.

You can register for the session here, and feel free to grab me after the talk if you have any questions or just want to say hi.

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The All New Salesforce.com AppExchange


The AppExchange launched in 2005 as the “iTunes of Business Apps” on the Force.com platform, and after a slow start has enjoyed a geometrically increasing amount of popularity. This is not only evident in the number of providers and apps, but also in the number of apps installed – over a million app installs last year and around 1.5 million so far this year.

More recently salesforce.com has refreshed the AppExchange and we at Tquila believe a number of the changes will bolster salesforce.com’s position as a market leader. A few important changes that we’ve noticed are:

  1. An emphasis on images as is the ever-growing trend on most of the internet. A picture is worth a thousands words and is incredibly engaging so make sure that you’ve got a great logo and your images are top-notch.
  2. Social media sharing is more obvious.
  3. The site design has been brought up-to-date giving clients more confidence that your cutting edge solution really is cutting edge!
  4. More categories and search options but not so many that they’re overwhelming.
  5. It looks awesome on mobile devices!

These are some of our favourite features, what are some of yours?

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Headed to Dreamforce? Win a limited edition Tquila DFX t-shirt!

Cross-posted from Thoughts from Tquila

Tquila's DFX t-shirt?Our Tquila word cloud t-shirts have been a hit – with our team, clients, partners and even people on the street!

So as I’ve been preparing for Dreamforce, I’ve been thinking about a t-shirt design that our DFX team would love to wear – and that shares the Tquila message. (Hey, I’m a marketer, what did you expect?)

There’s a lot of inspiration – 10 years of Dreamforce, great speakers, loads of exciting announcements on product and platform, and an AMAZING band. And of course, I’m excited about sharing the experience with some of my colleagues!

Taking all this inspiration, we’ve come up with a great new design – a limited edition, once-only t-shirt for the Tquila DFX team and a few of our closest friends.

I’d share more details, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy on the design. All I can say is that it’s very cool, and that I can’t wait to wear it!

Want your very own Tquila DFX t-shirt?
Because I’m a (reasonably) generous sort, I’ve had a few extra t-shirts printed to share with people like you.

If you’d like your own Tquila DFX t-shirt, all you need to do is leave a comment below, or tweet @tquiladotcom with the hashtag #tquilatee – and tell us why you think you deserve one!

Get creative – only the best 3 answers will win!

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