Technology

1. Add a billing record to safeguard project

Although Workfront has recently added a recycling bin feature, deleting a project can cause panic, confusion, and loss of productivity, especially if the project you just deleted was a request queue. Prevent any worry around losing key projects by adding a zero dollar billing record to them.

Even if your company or group isn’t using the billing record feature for its native purpose, it can be used here as an extra layer of protection against project deletion. Simply go to the project, create a new billing record, and set the status to Billed”. Then, if someone attempts to delete the project this error message will display and the project will stay out of the recycling bin:

 

2. Make a placeholder job role to prevent assigning users to parent tasks

By default parent tasks can’t be updated or completed independently from their child tasks. The one task detail that can be independently edited on a parent task is the assignment; however, when users are assigned to parent tasks we find that it often leads to frustration when they receive the inevitable error message for trying update the status or completion percentage. To help prevent project managers and other users from accidentally assigning workers to parent tasks, create a job role titled “Do not assign – Parent Task”. Assign this to all of the parent tasks on your project templates and it will serve as a reminder/safeguard that these tasks are a summary of their child tasks and shouldn’t have a user assigned to them.

 

3. As a plan license user, view the resource planner by user

(Note: this assumes your Workfront instance has completed the prerequisites needed for Resource Planning) The Resource Planner is a helpful widget in Workfront to manage the allocation of resources to projects and forecast their availability for future work. Formerly, this was limited to only users who were listed as Resource Managers on projects. With recent updates, however, any user with a plan license can get valuable information from the Resource Planner by setting the view to “View by User”. If the view is set to View by Project or View by Role, results will only be returned for projects where the user is listed as a Resource Manager, putting you right back at square one. View by User doesn’t have that prerequisite and allows other plan license users to see the allocation of all users, regardless if they’re listed as a resource manager.

 

4. Change ID to name in text mode

(Note: this only works for details tab) When creating views and reports in Workfront, there will be instances where the information you want to display is too many levels away from the object you’re working on. This will limit the display options from the field explorer. For example, when adding a column to a task report or task view for the name of the project sponsor, you will find the only option is “SponsorID”. While this makes sense to the Workfront database, this doesn’t provide much value to users viewing the report. Luckily this can be changed with a quick text mode edit.

While in the report or view editor, click on the column for the ID field and switch to Text Mode.

  • On every line where you see “fieldnameID” change the “ID” to “:name”
  • For example change project:sponsorID to project:sponsor:name
  • Click “Save” in the text mode window, then save the view or report.
displayname=Documents
valuefield=project:sponsor:name
querysort=project:sponsor:name
valueformat=HTML
displayname=
linkedname=project
namekey=view.relatedcolumn
namekeyargkey.0=project
namekeyargkey.1=sponsor
namekeyargkey.2=name

 

5. Flag task commit dates greater than planned completion dates

Commit dates are set by task assignees and can’t be changed by the project owner. While the project manager is notified when commit dates affect the project timeline, it can be hard to quickly review a project and see which task commit dates are later than their planned completion dates. With some text mode code, the commit date field can be added to a task view with conditional formatting to display in red when later than the planned completion date.

This can be done by adding a blank column to a task view and switching to text mode, and pasting in the code below:

displayname= Commit Date
linkedname=direct
namekey=commitDate
querysort=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.icon=false
styledef.case.0.comparison.leftmethod=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.lefttext=commitDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.operator=gt
styledef.case.0.comparison.operatortype=date
styledef.case.0.comparison.rightmethod=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.righttext=plannedCompletionDate
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.name=fontstyle
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.0.value=bold
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.name=textcolor
styledef.case.0.comparison.trueproperty.1.value=d30519
styledef.case.0.comparison.truetext=

Click “Save” in the text mode window then save the view you’re editing. Now when viewing a task list, any user commit dates that are later than the planned completion dates will be displayed in red.

 

6. Link directly to queue topics

Have you ever instructed someone to submit a Workfront request and found yourself listing off the steps of selecting the proper request queue, topic group, then queue topic? Theses directions can be eliminated and the end user experience enhanced by sending them a link directly to the queue topic. Instead of sending the URL “domain.workfront.com/requests” with instructions on which drop downs to select, if you select the request queue & specific queue topic, the URL in your browser grows with each selection. This enables the URL to take the user to the specific queue topic without having to manually make any selections. This is incredibly handy when posting Workfront URLs on intranet sites for users to submit work requests.

 

7. Link directly to a sub-tab on an object

In similar vein to tip #6, URLs can also be built to take users to specific tabs on a project, task, issue, etc. To land a user on a specific sub-tab of an object, Workfront allows for a parameter to be added to the URL with the structure below:

https://<domain>.my.workfront.com/project/view?ID=5b6c7eb5003d2022cea3a135cca33ac1&activeTab=tab-project-updates

Normally when viewing a project (or task, or issue), the URL stops after the object ID regardless of which tab is being viewed. By adding the parameter “&activeTab” the URLs will navigate directly to the project tab of your choosing. Some more examples:

 

URL modifier Landing tab
&activeTab=tab-project-details-forms Project Details
&activeTab=tab-project-approvals Project Approvals
&activeTab=list-project-documents Project Documents
&activeTab=tab-project-updates Project Updates
&activeTab=tab-project-optasks Project Issues

 

The same concept and URL structure works on other Workfront objects such as tasks, issues, programs, portfolios, etc. For other objects, simply change the object reference in the URL examples above from ‘project’ to the object you’re referencing.

 

8. Make sure your browser zoom setting is at 100%

Occasionally, when selecting a request queue or an option from a drop down field in older browsers, the drop down option menu appears on a random part of the screen or, in some cases, doesn’t appear at all. Although this seems like a major issue, 99% it’s not a bug and can be fixed very quickly. Double check the zoom on your browser and make sure it is set to 100%. In certain browsers, if the zoom is set to a value other than 100%, it can cause issues with drop downs appearing.

 

9. Link to documents in a project or task view

Use this text mode trick to create hyperlinks to documents from a project view. When creating a project/task view or report, add a blank column and switch into text mode. Copy and paste in the text mode code below, and be sure to update the <domain> section of the URL with the domain of your Workfront instance.

displayname=Documents
listdelimiter=
listmethod=nested(documents).lists
textmode=true
type=iterate
valueexpression=CONCAT({name}, - "https://&lt;domain&gt;.my.workfront.com/document/view?ID=",{ID},"; ")
valueformat=HTML

Click “Save” the text mode window, then save the view or report. Now, when viewing the results, the names of any attached documents will be listed along with a URL to navigate directly to the document.

 

10. Find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents

After Workfront has been implemented, there will inevitably be projects in your system that were either created by mistake or abandoned shortly after creation. While many of these can be cleaned up by searching your instance for “Untitled Project” and deleting any results, this doesn’t work for projects that have had a name change. To assist in system maintenance, use this text mode to find projects with no tasks, issues, or documents. Creating a project report, go to the filter page, switch into text mode, and paste in the code below:

EXISTS:a:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:a:$$OBJCODE=OPTASK
EXISTS:a:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:b:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:b:$$OBJCODE=TASK
EXISTS:b:projectID=FIELD:ID
EXISTS:c:$$EXISTSMOD=NOTEXISTS
EXISTS:c:$$OBJCODE=DOCU
EXISTS:c:projectID=FIELD:ID[/CSS]

 

Your audience is distracted by the constant noise of the daily routine. Every moment of every day is filled with information that is loud, boisterous, and consuming. In the constant battle for attention, screaming ads and neon visuals saturate your audience’s gaze for the sole purpose of transforming that brief attention to sales conversions. The marketplace is thirsty for any sort of competitive advantage and, right or wrong, the loudest voice is typically the most common marketing instrument.

So how do you create consistency, boost your brand recognition, and prevent your story from becoming just another face in the crowd? A cohesive, well-organized approach to your marketing is the best way to achieve those goals. One that leverages the insights and power of integrated technology platforms to understand target consumer segments better, implement a personalized approach that speaks to individual affinities, and forms enduring bonds between the brand and customer.

Integrated Platforms Create Consistency

An integrated marketing platform is a streamlined technology solution that caters to every stage of the marketing process, from strategizing and design to implementation and metric analysis. It’s an end-to-end, one-stop-shop that maximizes efficiency and effectiveness through seamless integration of data, innovation, and thought. In simpler terms, think of an integrated platform as a car that carries all the stages of the marketing process in a single vehicle. That vehicle is tasked with transporting those marketing components along the customer’s journey to arrive at the same destination — an impactful, successful campaign. If each of those passengers were to take separate vehicles, the likelihood of latencies in the process dramatically increase.

Traditionally, marketers have relied on different components from independent vendors, each of which might have done a tremendous job at their specific tasks but, as is often the case with segmented technology, those components don’t communicate well with one another. In the digital landscape, where margins for error shrink by the day, those traditional models are prone to information silos and communication gaps — detours and potholes forming along the customer’s journey. Naturally, such inefficiencies don’t lend themselves to the flexibility and foresight demanded by a modern, digitally-driven campaign. The segmented, disparate components of those traditional marketing pipelines can lack the free-flowing data and ideas needed for an agile campaign that can pivot on a moment’s notice and continually gauge impact. Integrated platforms, however, afford brands that seamless marketing required to successfully engage the modern consumer, creating a smooth, consistent, unified approach to the entire breadth of a marketing campaign.

The Bigger Picture

While each stage of the marketing process — strategy, testing, bidding, distribution, metric analysis — benefit individually from an integrated platform by shared data and effective communication, it’s the bigger picture that gains the most impact. It’s not the loudest voice that will provide the most significant engagement, conversions, and ROI for an enterprise. Instead, it’s the personalized touch running throughout a brand’s message that forms connections with the audience. In fact, 71% of customers now prefer customized ads and campaigns that speak to their unique interests and passions.

An integrated marketing platform gives brands and agencies the tools needed to create and maintain that personalization. With so many audience segments, each with unique and widely-varying affinities, information silos can be the death knell for companies wanting to engage at the individual level. Thankfully, as powerful as the particular components of an integrated platform is with their designated responsibilities, the platforms themselves are greater than the sum of their parts. In such a crowded and competitive environment, use integrated technology to tell a compelling story rather than the loudest one. Your campaign ROI and bottom line will thank you.

Between constantly segmenting audiences and affinities, finite ad spend, a crowded marketplace, and distracted consumers inundated with a wall of advertising noise, marketers have their work cut out for them. Establishing and maintaining robust engagement and conversions levels — as well as the accompanying ROI — can be a daunting task if a brand doesn’t have a deliberate, well-organized strategy steeped in analytics. Fortunately, the very same digital technologies that have helped create such a fickle, segmented, and congested marketplace also provide marketers effective solutions to cut through the clutter, identify their target audience, and deliver an impactful message that generates the ROI they crave. With these analytics-driven best practices and tools, marketers have a variety of solutions at their disposal to inform and refine their marketing strategies, realize that ROI, and gain an enduring competitive advantage that can be budget-friendly and effective.

 

Find the Right Stack

Much of marketing is a repetitive series of steps that, while beneficial when conducted thoroughly, can also drain already limited supplies of time and resources. Of course, every dollar spent on such routines, no matter how integral they are to the process, has a direct impact on your ROI. Therefore, virtually any source of gained efficiency will lift those metrics and have a cascading positive effect on your campaign. Ad stacks that streamline everything from ad bidding and A/B testing to analytics and retargeting give marketers compelling solutions that can enhance performance and lower overall costs if adopted appropriately. Once implemented, these tools can free team members to work on more value-added responsibilities that would otherwise mire them in vital but arduous, time-consuming tasks. Ad stacks lend convenience to your efforts, giving your marketing process a focused and precise sense of direction that eliminates inefficiencies and, thus, boosts your ROI.

 

Use Insightful, Focused Metrics

In the age of big data and predictive analytics, marketers don’t lack for information to propel their message. The problem, however, is the volume of information itself. Just because a wide variety of metrics can be automatically created, tracked, and analyzed doesn’t mean that they necessarily should. Despite the significant boost to overall efficiencies afforded by automated technologies, an overindulgence in metrics that don’t ultimately add value to a campaign can hamper ROI through diluted efforts, a lack of focus, and failure to keep an eye on the proverbial prize. Marketers should be especially cautious against such overindulgence, avoiding vanity metrics that don’t contribute true meaning and insight into a marketing message. Instead, they should concentrate on analytics that positively affects a campaign and increases ROI. While any particular brand and agency might have different key metrics given their unique market position, industry, or goals, certain metrics tend to be more ubiquitous than others — aside from ROI itself, of course — including PPC, lead ratios, conversion rates, and a handful of others. Likewise, use the proper metrics in the most insightful context possible to keep a campaign on track and maximize ROI. While campaign results are essential to measure in gauging total effectiveness, metrics add the most value when they are used to steer a message throughout a campaign, not merely provide data points in hindsight. Integrating real-time performance data into key metrics will inform a campaign and reveal necessary changes to be made as the campaign evolves.

 

Experiment With Your Approach

Extending the previous best practice a bit further, utilizing your analytics platform and the key metrics it generates can be extremely beneficial to tailor your message in the most advantageous way possible. Thankfully, analytics in the digital age has rendered the traditional, laborious process of A/B testing antiquated and nearly extinct with the prescient insights of real-time data and a robust ad stack with an abundance of analytical capabilities. As your campaign progresses and evolves, continue to measure for impact using a variety of combinations of creative, copy, distribution channels, and any other critical components. In doing so, your analytics platform will reveal which particular combinations yield the most significant results, allowing you to pivot your campaign towards any direction that will maximize engagement, conversion, and the resulting ROI.

Workfront reporting is great. But you’re pretty much limited to either basic visualizations or tables. If you find yourself using tables a lot, chances are you’re trying to display a whole bunch of information associated with a single record. And while you can easily just tack on additional columns to accommodate this information, sometimes doing so becomes more of a hindrance than a help.

So let’s look at some advanced formatting options you can employ to help consolidate information (and pretty things up a bit too!). Take a look at the screenshot below. This is pulled from our user directory where we found ourselves wanting to display more information than was feasible in a table. So we broke it out into things we need to more closely monitor and/or sort on such as groups and teams. We then collapsed what I’ll call “secondary” information into a single column and applied some fancy formatting to help make it all a bit more legible.

 

 

So what’s going on behind the curtain. It’s really just two main tricks:

  1. Shared columns; and
  2. HTML formatting

 

Shared columns

Let’s look at the shared column function first. The second column in the report–“Name”–is technically two columns combined into one which, oddly enough, actually requires three columns. In the code below you’ll see a reference to column.1, column.2, and column.3. Column.1 is really just pulling in the username, but it uses the default field code which comes with some additional features beyond just the first and last name–most notably the status of the user profile (i.e., registered/unregistered)–so it’s a good idea to pull this directly from the text mode of the username field (or just copy it below!).

Similarly, column.3 contains the default code for the avatar field. The magic happens in the code for column.2 (lines 13-17 below). There are two key things going on here. First, and most importantly, is the code “column.2.sharecol=true”.This is the code that tells Workfront to join the adjacent columns on either side. IMPORTANT! You ALSO have to include the sharecol code on what would be the column to the left in order for everything to work. In this case, that’s column.1. The other interesting piece of code worth mentioning is on line 16. The <hr> (horizontal rule) tag is what inserts that nifty line between the username and avatar. Now, in theory, you can leave “column.2.value=” blank. But in this case it’s a great formatting tool to help provide both visual interest and some boundaries between the two data elements. Alright! Grab the code below, drop in the second column of your report and let’s hop on to the next piece: HTML formatting (it’s worth pointing out, the column identifiers in text mode start at zero so column.1 technically refers to the second column of the report. If you wanted this to be the first column you’d need to subtract one from each of the column identifiers, i.e, column.0, column.1 and so on).

column.1.displayname=
column.1.linkedname=direct
column.1.namekey=name
column.1.querysort=name
column.1.sharecol=true
column.1.textmode=true
column.1.tile.name=component.user.name
column.1.usewidths=true
column.1.valuefield=name
column.1.valueformat=HTML
column.1.width=100
column.1.tile.template=/WEB-INF/jsp/lists/components/username.jsp
column.2.sharecol=true
column.2.shortview=false
column.2.textmode=true
column.2.value=<hr>
column.2.valueformat=HTML
column.3.displayname=
column.3.linkedname=direct
column.3.namekey=avatar
column.3.textmode=true
column.3.tile.name=component.avatar
column.3.usewidths=true
column.3.valueformat=HTML
column.3.width=100


HTML formatting

Ok the next part looks a lot more formidable but it’s actually pretty simple. Using the sharecol principles we just learned, this piece is really just creating unique columns for the formatted text (title, manager, access level, etc.) and the corresponding user data. So, for example, in column.4 you have the word “title” and in column.5 you have the actual user title data, all of which gets mushed together using the sharecol=true function.

The important lines to pay attention to are the ones that contain HTML formatting such as line 6 where you have <font color=000000><b>Title: </b></font>. Admittedly, this is all a bit easier if you’re already familiar with HTML and CSS, but technically this is just taking two simple HMTL attributes and wrapping the text “Title: ” in them. As you may have already guessed, the font color attribute allows you to change the native color of the text while <b> is making the font bold. A couple things I want to point out. First, the colors we’ve used are what’s known as hexadecimal or “hex”, colloquially. You may have seen them with the hash symbol in front. Ours, obviously, do not have them. Workfront text mode will accept either. Additionally, Workfront will also accept basic colors in word format (i.e., red, black, blue, green, etc.) so if you’re working with a very simple, primary color set, a lot of times that’s just easier. And finally, Workfront also accepts RGB values. In the example above, we would just change the hex code to an RGB value as well as the corresponding HTML attribute: <font color=rgb(0,0,0)><b>Title: </b></font>. A lot of options. Use what feels easiest.

So what are some of the other formatting tricks you can employ beyond bold and font color? There are certainly some limitations that you wouldn’t encounter if you were using traditional CSS but we’ve compiled as complete a list as we can think of at the end of this post.

One last thing I’ll point out about the columns that contain formatted text: since they’re not referencing any actual data, they all use value= as opposed to valuefield= or valueexpression=. As you start to adapt this to your own needs it’s an important thing to take note of.

column.4.displayname=User Information
column.4.sharecol=true 
column.4.shortview=false 
column.4.textmode=true 
column.4.usewidths=true 
column.4.value=<font color=000000><b>Title: </b></font> 
column.4.valueformat=HTML column.4.width=200 
column.5.descriptionkey=title 
column.5.linkedname=direct 
column.5.namekey=title.abbr 
column.5.sharecol=true 
column.5.shortview=false 
column.5.textmode=true 
column.5.usewidths=true 
column.5.valuefield=title 
column.5.valueformat=HTML 
column.5.width=200 
column.6.sharecol=true 
column.6.shortview=false 
column.6.textmode=true 
column.6.usewidths=true 
column.6.value= <font color=000000><b>Manager: </b></font> 
column.6.valueformat=HTML column.6.width=200 
column.7.descriptionkey=manager 
column.7.link.linkproperty.0.name=ID 
column.7.link.linkproperty.0.valuefield=manager:ID 
column.7.link.linkproperty.0.valueformat=int 
column.7.link.lookup=link.view 
column.7.link.valuefield=manager:objCode 
column.7.link.valueformat=val 
column.7.linkedname=manager 
column.7.namekey=manager 
column.7.querysort=manager:name 
column.7.sharecol=true 
column.7.shortview=false 
column.7.textmode=true 
column.7.usewidths=true 
column.7.valuefield=manager:name 
column.7.valueformat=HTML 
column.7.width=200 
column.8.sharecol=true 
column.8.shortview=false 
column.8.textmode=true 
column.8.usewidths=true 
column.8.value= <font color=000000><b>Access Level: </font><font color=CC0033> 
column.8.valueformat=HTML column.8.width=200 
column.9.descriptionkey=accesslevel 
column.9.linkedname=accessLevel 
column.9.namekey=accesslevel 
column.9.querysort=accessLevel:name 
column.9.sharecol=true 
column.9.shortview=false 
column.9.textmode=true 
column.9.usewidths=true 
column.9.valuefield=accessLevel:displayName 
column.9.valueformat=HTML 
column.9.width=200 
column.10.displayname=Primary Associated Fields 
column.10.sharecol=true 
column.10.shortview=false 
column.10.textmode=true 
column.10.usewidths=true 
column.10.value=</b></font><hr><font color=0000FF><b>Primary Job Role: </b></font> 
column.10.valueformat=HTML 
column.10.width=200 
column.11.descriptionkey=role 
column.11.displayname=Primary Job Role 
column.11.linkedname=role 
column.11.namekey=name 
column.11.sharecol=true 
column.11.shortview=false 
column.11.textmode=true 
column.11.usewidths=true 
column.11.valuefield=role:name 
column.11.valueformat=HTML 
column.11.width=200 
column.12.displayname=Primary Associated Fields 
column.12.sharecol=true 
column.12.shortview=false 
column.12.textmode=true 
column.12.usewidths=true 
column.12.value= <font color=0000FF><b>Home Group: </b></font> 
column.12.valueformat=HTML column.12.width=200 
column.13.descriptionkey=homegroup 
column.13.linkedname=homeGroup 
column.13.listsort=nested(homeGroup).string(name) 
column.13.namekey=homegroup 
column.13.sharecol=true 
column.13.shortview=false 
column.13.textmode=true 
column.13.usewidths=true 
column.13.valuefield=homeGroup:name 
column.13.valueformat=HTML 
column.13.width=200 
column.14.sharecol=true 
column.14.shortview=false 
column.14.textmode=true 
column.14.usewidths=true 
column.14.value= <font color=0000FF><b>Home Team: </b></font> 
column.14.valueformat=HTML 
column.14.width=200 
column.15.descriptionkey=hometeam 
column.15.linkedname=homeTeam 
column.15.namekey=hometeam 
column.15.shortview=false 
column.15.textmode=true 
column.15.valuefield=homeTeam:name 
column.15.valueformat=HTML



Additional attributes

Italic
Attribute
<i></i>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font color=0000FF><i>Home Group: </i></font>
Output
Home Group:

Bold
Attribute
<b></b>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font color=0000FF><b>Home Group: </b></font>
Output
Home Group:

Font size
Attribute
<font size=></font>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font size=18><Home Group: </font>
Output
Home Group:

Font color
Attribute
<font color=></font>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font color=red><Home Group: </font>
Output
Home Group:

Font face
Attribute
<font face=></font>
Can you use it in a sentence?
<font face=comic sans><Home Group: </font>
Output
Home Group:
(side note: please don’t use comic sans!)

Enterprise DevOps. On the surface, it seems like the right answer to keeping business objectives running at optimum levels. But when your IT team dives a little deeper, the complexities rise to the surface and progress stalls before it even has a chance to begin.

Before you dive into a DevOps initiative, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Can your current tools address security and application monitoring for maximum visualization for informed decision making?
  • Can your current infrastructure leverage the cloud?
  • What type of containers will be utilized for deployment anytime, anywhere?
  • How will you utilize automation to ensure stable and scalable deployments?
  • IT teams will support internal systems that employees use. How will you cultivate a collaborative culture between development and support teams?
Whether you’re launching a DevOps initiative internally or seeking help from a third party, starting with the right infrastructure is critical to your success. Before you take the first step, begin with a thorough system evaluation to ensure an end-result with a seamless workflow, end-to-end transparency, and holistic reporting.

DevOps: System Evaluation Overview

Automation Tools

End-to-end workflow automation is a critical part of any DevOps toolkit. These tools should enable your team to submit requests effortlessly, sync & export documents, and integrate financials when necessary.

Configuration

Syncing information between systems; the ability to create custom workflow events and triggers; and aggregate all your data for secure analysis, reporting and sharing is a critical part of DevOps. Evaluate current configuration tools and systems for their ability to work with the other components of your system.

Intelligence

DevOps tools include a healthy mix of intelligent solutions that can provide both analytics and security monitoring, capacity planning, and availability and performance. Features like cross-platform syncing, data aggregation from different systems, available in a web-based platform are critical to intelligent processes.

Cloud & Virtualization

The best DevOps toolkits include a hosting environment that eases application installations and configures security easily. In advanced cases, application support and managed administration services are required. Platforms like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, & Amazon Web Services are the best place to begin, but access and knowledge of cloud add-ons are critical to collaborative DevOps environments.

DevOps Solutions

If your infrastructure lacks the systems and tools listed above, it doesn’t mean you can’t begin moving toward DevOps solutions right away. Custom software solutions are available to bring your infrastructure up to a healthy mix of orchestration and automation tools.
While there are plenty of great SaaS options out there, they are inherently designed to meet the needs of the masses, and the heart of DevOps is using software to do exactly what it is you need. If you’re going to evaluate a SaaS option, look for all of the following features before you start a trial:
  • Platform Synchronization
  • Eliminates Manual Processes
  • Data Storage, Accessibility & Security
  • Workflow Automation w/ Event Triggers
  • Robust data Analysis w/Data Aggregation
Powerful all-in-one solutions can help you get started on the right track, and an expert consulting team can work behind the scenes to bring development projects and add-ons up to standard.
Once you’ve evaluated your company’s preparedness to implement a DevOps initiative, don’t forget about culture preparedness. DevOps implementation and changes should establish a culture that learns and changes, together. The most critical asset in your business—your people—should receive the same level of attention as other areas. Planning a people strategy while preparing your infrastructure for DevOps will ensure long-term success.

Organizations need agility to craft and distribute useful marketing messages that can convert in a highly segmented, fickle marketplace. With seemingly countless marketing solutions now available, the advent of the ad stack – both independent and platform-based – is in full swing. Of the many different options available, an innovative solution from one of the digital environment’s older and well-established names is leading the charge for comprehensive, flexible, vertically integrated marketing suites that is redefining the industry – Adobe.

Adobe’s Marketing Cloud at a Glance

Available on a subscription basis with several optional components that range in specialty from Adobe’s creative foundation to analytics platforms, campaign management tools, and social media integration, Marketing Cloud aims to be a one-stop shop for organizations needing a comprehensive solution without relying on different vendors.

Using the universal Adobe interface as the basis for most of the component UIs, Adobe takes full advantage of its popularity to create an immediate sense of familiarity between the user and the many different parts available within the platform. Perhaps more importantly, however, organizations can choose which of those components are necessary for their specific needs, not forced to subscribe to unneeded functions that would increase costs and complexity.

As a direct competitor to similar platforms from both digital titans like Google and Yahoo as well as ad stacks from specialized vendors, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud shines with its ability to seamlessly combine immersive, engaging, customized creative with the distribution channels most impactful in reaching a highly segmented audience with wide-ranging affinities. Its analytical tools allow organizations to track results in real time, measuring effectiveness through the ever-important metrics needed to inform and guide the campaign amongst a crowded and complicated marketplace.

Although a streamlined and efficient ad stack solution for any organization requiring a considerable degree of vertical integration, those that are unfamiliar with the classic Adobe UI face a steep learning curve that, while in no way too great of a barrier to prevent proper implementation and usage, can be somewhat overwhelming at first. With an abundance of training materials available as well as outstanding customer service, however, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud should always be on the short list of options for organizations in search of a potent ad stack that blends utility with convenience, power with flexibility.

Is Adobe’s Marketing Cloud Right for You?

As compelling a solution as Adobe’s Marketing Cloud can be for most organizations; it’s not the only solution available. In fact, when an organization is in need of a new ad stack platform, the decision should always begin with a choice between a comprehensive, unified platform and an independent ad stack built of several best-in-breed vendors that are market leaders in specific functions but don’t necessarily work well in conjunction with one another.

Simply put, organizations must choose between a high degree of convenience and efficiency versus maximum ability. For instance, if an organization needs a comprehensive analytical platform that specializes in isolating and analyzing nuanced metrics, they might be best served to build an independent ad stack built around a specialized analytics platform. In this case, while a vertically integrated solution like the Adobe Marketing Cloud is abundantly useful and more than adequate for the vast majority of organizations, it’s analytical abilities might fall short of this highly specialized need.

For organizations looking for a combination of power and convenience, the Adobe Marketing Cloud is writing a new ad stack narrative, one that effectively addresses nearly all of the marketing needs for the majority of companies within the marketplace. Organizations no longer have to choose between ability and efficiency.

Salesforce released its Einstein platform to the public in Spring 2017, giving the average user access to powerful CRM with promised AI predictive analytic powers. The release came with a tidal wave of hype, promising revolutionary changes to marketing departments. Companies have had time to implement Einstein for a period of months, so accurate reviews are in. Experts believe that Salesforce Einstein is an excellent tool with a number of useful analytic uses. While it isn’t entirely stand-alone, the basic platform does more than simply complete data-based applications. Einstein probably deserves about 80 percent of the original hype. As stats go, that’s not bad.

The Hype

Salesforce hailed its own product by announcing that “The world’s No. 1 CRM is now the world’s smartest CRM . . .” The company also emphasized Einstein didn’t need the major customization that other similar platforms required because it contained “state-of-the-art algorithms built directly into the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Platform . . .” You get the picture. What was already a premier product would now usher marketing into the promised land of predictive data, and ultimately, finalized sales, enchanted customers, and home-grown marketing gurus.

The Reality

Salesforce Einstein Analytics Platform costs $75 per month per user, approximately the same price as Adobe Creative Cloud, which features Adobe Sensei. For that reasonable price, you get many features, including advanced sales and service apps. You can use them to analyze data from any source up to 100 million data rows, according to Salesforce. You can also create your own custom apps and dashboards and have access to all the online training you need. The platform isn’t as advanced as others, but it provides an advantage to companies without their own data geniuses on staff. It takes time to set up and manage effectively, despite the rosy predictions on the Salesforce site.

AI Capacity

Some experts say that Einstein doesn’t include actual “cognitive computing” (AI) but instead uses machine learning (ML). However, the company’s partnerships with Watson and other industry leaders provide Einstein users with impressive analytic power. For marketing departments, the pertinent question isn’t “Is this ‘real’ AI?”, but “How does it help us do our jobs?”

The machine learning allows the program to study data and determine, for itself, how to predict the future. Einstein constantly analyzes new data and makes model adjustments, determining what tasks you need to address next in your marketing efforts. Einstein can tell you which sales prospect is “most likely to close” and also sort a mailing list according to who’s most likely to open your email.

Einstein goes way beyond simply organizing data. It can, on a daily basis, make your sales department more efficient and effective. Whether it’s defined as actual AI probably won’t affect you or your employees.

Other Features

Salesforce offers other advanced features. For instance, your company can also use the Product Identification feature to manage inventory and improve sales potential. In addition, the Brand Detection feature helps your marketing department learn more about customer preferences and offers tools to refine sales campaigns. The technology also offers features that increase customer satisfaction. Visual search employs visual filters that let consumers find products that meet their needs. They can also take product photos and find out where they’re available.

Nuts and Bolts

Salesforce touts Einstein as a way to democratize AI. You don’t have to have your own data scientist to join the marketing analytic revolution. It’s not as simple as subscribing to the service, however. While many features are packaged in easy-to-use Cloud applications, customizing it for your particular company takes a little work and some online training. Yes, it’s pretty easy to use, but like any platform, it requires study and practice, particularly on the part of admins to fully use it. You have to build a model for your business and also refine your data so you get the best results. In short: Excellence in, excellence out.

Company Success

Salesforce boasts a number of high-profile success stories, and these online testimonials pack a punch. Companies such as Adidas, AWS, US Bank and Farmer’s Insurance are on record praising Salesforce offerings.

Kone, a leader in escalators, elevators and moving walkways, used Salesforce Einstein in conjunction with IBM Watson to build a customer-centered company in lieu of a hardware-centered one, allowing them to thrive around the world. They attribute much of their recent success to the Salesforce platform.

The Bottom Line

Salesforce has been a wildly successful Cloud Computing, CRM-based company for some time, but their addition of Einstein to their customer offerings has enhanced their business and made AI (really machine learning) more available to the those who aren’t data experts.

Einstein is not the most advanced platform you can choose, and you may need to pair it with Watson or add other Salesforce products to reach the productivity level that you desire. Still, experts in the industry rank it pretty high as a tool that helps most marketing departments. Will it unleash marketing magic on its own? No. But it will give more power to your marketing efforts. For companies looking for predictive analytics, Einstein is worth a try.

Have you ever been working in a Workfront project and needed to find the point of contact or name of the person who originally submitted the request? If so, you’ve probably also experienced the annoyance of having to navigate back to the original request just to find that information. As you’ve probably already guessed if you read the title, there’s a much simpler way. With a little easy set-up on the front end you can save yourself some serious aggravation.

 

  • Add a calculated field to the request custom form
  • Give the field a name
  • Set the format type as needed (for all the list fields below the format will be “Text”)
  • Add the appropriate issue calculation in the calculation area (see listing below) and click Save
  • Add the same calculated field to the corresponding project custom form
  • In the calculation area enter the name of the calculated field and click Save

 

And that’s it! Pretty easy, huh? So what these calculations are going to do is create a field on the issue form that references a native issue object (project queue, original requestor, etc.) and—since a field can’t self-reference—the project calculation will point to the same field on the only possible related object: the request. Repeat the above process for any additional data points you want to capture.

 

Requestor name

Field name: Original Requestor

Issue calculation: Owner.Name

Project calculation: Original Requestor

 

Queue project

Field name: Queue Project

Issue calculation: Project.Name

Project calculation: Queue Project

 

Parent request type

Field name: Parent Request Type

Issue calculation: Queue Topic.Parent Topic Group.Name

Project calculation: Parent Request Type

 

Request type

Field name: Request Type

Issue calculation: Queue Topic.Name

Project calculation: Request Type

 

Requestor company

Field name: Requestor Company

Issue calculation: Owner.Company.Name

Project calculation: Requestor Company

 

Request reference number

Field name: Request Reference Number

Issue calculation: Reference Number

Project calculation: Request Reference Number

 

Primary contact

Field name: Request Primary Contact

Issue calculation: Primary Contact

Project calculation: Request Primary Contact

 

 

Blockchain is a pretty popular buzzword these days. The sudden boom of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin brought a lot of attention to the technology. Blockchain is much more than just a buzz, however, and it’s becoming very apparent it has the power to change the way business is done in nearly every industry — from banking to SEO.

What Is Blockchain?

It’s a complicated technology, but essentially a blockchain is an immutable, decentralized ledger. That means that instead of a sole third-party record keeper, every party to a blockchain would have a record much like a spreadsheet. As transactions occur, the spreadsheets are simultaneously updated. If someone falsifies data on their spreadsheet, the blockchain would notice the discrepancy from the majority of the records and nullify the bad data. Because it’s nearly impossible to alter the data on all the ledgers, a blockchain is a very secure way to verify and move or exchange assets. It also creates a permanent trail from start to finish. That trail can guarantee the legitimacy of key aspects of SEO — determining if web traffic is human or bot, detecting black hat methods much more easily and reducing the staggering amount of money lost to digital ad fraud.

Link Building

Link building has long been an important part of SEO. That doesn’t mean the same tactics that applied in the 90’s can work today. For example, it’s possible to see some ranking boost from blog comment linking, but those look more like spam every day and their weighting is significantly less than it used to be. Natural link building has long been the most effective strategy. Blockchain will make it way easier for the major search engines to detect and penalize any website they catch buying paid links. Though it’s discouraged today, enforcement is difficult and under-utilized.

Verified Data

User interaction data matters a lot. It’s helpful to your marketing team and necessary for web crawlers to rank your site. That data can be diluted by bot traffic and hurt your rankings. Implementing a blockchain solution can verify human traffic and separate it from the bots, giving you better insights and higher rankings. Paid digital advertising is full of fraud because it’s currently impossible to tell if an ad was clicked by a human or bot. Blockchain technology is a very viable solution to this multi-billion dollar a year problem by connecting advertisers directly with verified potential customers.

Keyword Research

It’s difficult to determine just how a keyword plays out in different settings. The results vary across devices, location, users etc. With a token incentive, keyword research could utilize background space on thousands of devices to create an in-depth aggregate of data-heavy results.

 

While the full impacts are still uncertain at this junction, it’s not likely to be long before technology leaders start to leverage blockchain as a means for securing and processing interactions as much as they do transactions. And that means that you, as a marketer, have a whole new ballgame to learn. Thankfully, it’s likely to be one that rewards good SEO habits and practices, stamps out bad, and works to create a more democratic playing field.

Have you wondered if you’d benefit from one of the new marketing tools powered by artificial intelligence? Some of these platforms make claims that sound almost magical, and it can be tricky to sort out whether they’re worth the investment. Here’s a look at three of the major players in marketing AI, together with an overview of their unique capabilities — as well as a glance at which claims are over the top.

Salesforce Einstein

Einstein is the AI platform created by Salesforce and launched in Fall 2016. It has grown in sophistication since then, using customer data to automatically generate models. These models are continually improved by the AI, which analyzes the history of data and decides which factors are most accurate at predicting the behavior of individual customers. As the unit receives more information, it learns which of its models need adjusting, without the need for any intervention by developers.

Salesforce recently announced that its Einstein engine is now delivering over 1 billion pieces of information to its customers each day. It ranks lists of sales leads and puts information at one side of the screen to show each prospect’s probability of deciding to buy. For marketers, Einstein sorts email lists and says which recipients are most likely to open a given message. Salesforce’s director of product marketing Ally Witherspoon gives an example in Wired of a solar energy supplier discovering through AI that a person’s chances of buying are influenced by the pitch of their roof. In the future, she envisions, satellite photography could tag prospects’ homes according to the geometry of their roof.

Einstein is also in a partnership with IBM’s Watson, integrating its own CRM data with Watson’s insights. This wider reach offers access to customer data sources beyond what Salesforce itself is able to collect.

Motiva AI Cloud

Motiva works with Oracle’s Eloqua to optimize messaging through its ability to characterize audiences. In the words of Chris Diehl, Motiva’s CTO, the purpose of the AI is “removing the need to manually define the relevant population.” Diehl points out that by using artificial intelligence, marketers can discover new affinities and associations and “uncover meaningful populations that exhibit shared content preferences.” In other words, the AI gives new insight into whom to target and which target populations can be grouped together.

The real-world example that Diehl describes is very similar to that offered by Witherspoon when she talked about Einstein. Diehl mentions learning the external web browsing behavior of a marketing audience, then using that data to sort and rank this audience. Once the Motiva AI platform knows these people’s messaging channel preferences, it will advise the marketer about how to customize their messaging. In one example, a healthcare provider used Motiva to vary and improve the messaging sent to patients, and achieved a doubling of click-through rates.

Adobe Sensei

Adobe Sensei is an interesting addition to the AI mix, because unlike Salesforce or Oracle Eloqua, Adobe didn’t originate with CRM and marketing. Instead, the company drew on its deep graphic expertise and entered the AI universe through its interest in recognizing and manipulating visual data. This exploration eventually led Adobe to capitalize on the fact that logical patterns lend themselves to machine learning as readily as do visual patterns.

Fortune magazine says, “Sensei pores over tons of data (the more the better) to detect patterns and present results in a visual way.” While Adobe offers much the same customer experience options as the other two marketing AI systems mentioned here, it plays up two specific virtues: information security and cross-device access. Its “Cross-Device Co-op” program lets brands who use other Adobe marketing products recognize their consumers regardless of what type of device those consumers use. Adobe points out that marketing spend will decrease, because companies can “focus on people, not on devices.”

A number of banks currently use Sensei. If anonymous users visit the bank’s website, the AI platform can make suggestions about products to show them, even if the user doesn’t have a profile with the bank. HSBC used Sensei to highlight a specific product and saw a 109 percent increase in customers reaching that product.

But Will AI Really Help You Market Your Products?

Automatic customer model generation is flashy, but the amount of time it will save you depends on your individual needs. A platform like Salesforce allows businesses that aren’t Google or Facebook to simply purchase AI power without having to customize it and teach it what’s important to that particular business. That efficiency can definitely come in handy if you need help identifying your audience.

Eloqua Motiva can develop and dynamically revise models for messaging prospects automatically, so that the human marketer doesn’t have to waste time testing out which message will work best with which group.

On the other hand, when Einstein itemizes the factors it uses to score prospects, that transparency can either be helpful or distracting. And it’s definitely hype when Salesforce puts out a press release saying that by 2021, “AI-powered CRM activities ‘could’ increase global business revenues by $1.1 trillion and create 800,000 net-new jobs.” Salesforce customers alone, it points out, will account for $293 billion of those jobs. While it does seem promising that AI will increase the number of jobs overall, due to streamlining the time-consuming processes of segmenting and testing audiences, sky-high predictions are not enlightening.

Sorting Out What AI Can Offer You

Tech developers are understandably enthused over the capacity of AI, and marketing is indeed a practice that needs to be — at least partly — data driven. Fifty-one percent of marketers currently use some form of artificial intelligence, and no human being can handle data with the finesse of AI. But the claims made by some of these companies go a bit too far; they imply that you can just toss an AI platform into your marketing campaign and passively let it work its behind-the-scenes wizardry. As Motiva’s website seductively promises, “Turn it on, get results.” No AI platform can synthesize the intuitive insight of a skilled marketer.

There’s an elusive sweet spot between the creativity of a human marketing professional and the efficiencies offered by artificial intelligence. AI can be a useful tool, as long as you identify your goals ahead of time and have a clear idea of how you’ll use intelligent data manipulation to streamline your daily tasks. Certainly the platforms we’ve mentioned above can save time by making sure you’re speaking to the right audience, delivering the message they want to hear via the channels they like best. Furthermore, each system focuses on differentiating themselves from their competitors by delivering something unique. In our upcoming posts, we’ll take a deeper dive into what each of these three brands have to offer. We’ll examine their specific benefits and help you determine which one would be most applicable to your particular situation. We’ll also sort through the three brands’ own verbiage and clarify which of their claims are actually meaningful and which ones are just … well … marketing.