Integrating with SalesForce.com

The folks at open[Fn] have just released a SalesForce.com integration for SurveyCTO and other ODK-based systems, and we’re very excited to have this new option available to our users. (On days like these, we’re so grateful to be connected to such a thriving open-source community.)

As many of you know, we’ve chosen to focus SurveyCTO almost entirely on data-collection, with the theory being that far better tools exist out there for data visualization and analysis. But if we’re going to send our users to other tools and platforms for working with their data, then we need to at least make it easy to route one’s incoming SurveyCTO data into those other systems. Over the past year, we’ve introduced datasets as a way to flexibly route and combine subsets of incoming data within SurveyCTO, and we’ve built a way to connect datasets to Google Sheets and Google Fusion Tables. It’s technically possible to route data through Google on to many other systems, so we’ve been a bit slow to add other direct connections.

Here, open[Fn] has provided one much-needed direct connection, to the SalesForce.com platform.

Now, if you’re thinking, “why would I want my data in SalesForce?”, I have two answers for you:

  1. Despite the fact that their website still markets SalesForce as a CRM (customer relationship management) platform, it’s really a wildly powerful and flexible platform for all kinds of things. For a growing number of organizations, SalesForce is used for data management, monitoring dashboards, data visualization, and all manner of internal applications and processes.
  2. SalesForce is pretty expensive — unless you’re a nonprofit, in which case it’s incredibly cheap. If you’re a nonprofit, the value you can get from using SalesForce dwarfs the cost many times over.

SalesForce is great for lots of things, but data collection is not one of them (particularly offline). That’s why the SurveyCTO+SalesForce combo is such a powerful one: it allows you to use SurveyCTO for what we’re good for (collecting data) and use SalesForce for what they’re good for (managing and visualizing).

And where do these open[Fn] guys come in? Well, they’re a new nonprofit focused on creating social value by helping different technologies connect with one another. In this case, they’ve developed a service that will basically pull your incoming form data from your SurveyCTO server and push it into your SalesForce database(s). All you have to do is give them access to your SurveyCTO server, give them access to your SalesForce databases, and provide them a “map” for where individual form fields should go in your SalesForce system — and they basically take care of the rest.

For all the details, check out their website. There, you can also vote for the new technology integrations you’d like to see. SurveyCTO-ODK-SalesForce is just the beginning: they have many more integrations in store!

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