#SalesforceQA | 4 min read
The latest in our Salesforce Q&A Series, we had the opportunity to speak with two huge players in the Salesforce ISV ecosystem. Wayne Parslow and Chris Hyde – Executive VP and VP of Technical Operations respectively – took the time to join Third Republic and discuss how Salesforce is now the cornerstone of digital transformation.
Third Republic (TR): Thanks for joining us guys! To start off, could you tell us a bit about how the Salesforce world has changed in your time working in it?
Wayne Parslow (WP): Well I haven’t actually been working in the Salesforce world that long; only since about last February, I guess. That being said, I’ve been a user of the platform since about 2003, and I think the thing that strikes me most about the ecosystem now is how it’s become a strategic platform. Back in 2003 when I was VP of Sales it was just this thing that I had to use but it was clunky, and it was slow – even syncing my contacts turned out a right mess. Since then, pretty much every company I have run has used Salesforce, and it really is now a mission critical platform that companies rely on to do pretty much anything and everything.
Chris Hyde (CH): Alongside that, from a people perspective, in the last 12 months especially I’ve noticed the user groups changing. I joined all of these groups when I first started at Validity, and they were initially run as MeetUps on external platforms – but since then, Salesforce has brought those groups internally onto it’s TrailBlazer Communities platform, what this says is that Salesforce is taking more notice and caring more about the people using and talking about their technology.
This is also evident in the growing number (and size) of the online communities surrounding Salesforce. Users are turning to social media and online groups to broaden their knowledge, find mentors and ultimately further their careers. I have not seen this be anywhere near as prevalent in my past career and it’s an area Validity intends to get more involved with by helping people in the community with knowledge, information and access to tools.
TR: With that in mind then, what emerging Salesforce trends are you most excited about, and why?
WP: For me, it’s the fact that it’s becoming the platform of digital transformation. Whether you’re a business that’s been around a long while, or you’re a new start-up, every organisation is having to come to grips with interacting with customers who are online, and who have a digital persona of sorts. And when you’re reliant on doing business in this digital space, then your data quality is absolutely critical; for instance, my wife has received about five promotional emails from a retailer, a couple of which think she’s not married, and a couple of which seem to think she’s male! When this happens, it creates a poor customer experience. So, Salesforce is now sitting in the middle of ensuring this customer data integrity and customer experience.
CH: As a bit of a geek, I’m excited about the prospect of Einstein – not only specifically to Salesforce but also in the broader context of AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. With this though, the data issues come up again – because if you don’t have good data feeding into your model then fundamentally it isn’t going to run well - so I’m excited to see how organisations overcome this issue of needing clean, actionable data.
TR: How might these affect Validity, and other ISVs?
WP: For us directly, it’s very simple – we want to build an organisation that provides companies the ability to trust in that underlying data. So, as the importance of data integrity increases, so too will our ability to grow.
CH: It’s like Wayne said; data is becoming a competitive barometer for organisations, so there is an ever-increasing scope for Validity to be the providers of that better data to help companies go through that digital transformation transition. We are already making great strides into this through, not only acquisitions but, developing capabilities like the Validity Trust Assessments.
How do you see Salesforce fitting into the era of digitalisation and digital transformation?
WP: They’re going to be foundational for it; the acronym CRM is really the clue because that’s the starting place. It’s the point where companies are going to store their data, and the pivot around which all of their digital transformation initiatives will take place.
TR: With that in mind, how does the likes of Validity and other ISVs fit into this era?
CH: Salesforce are good at what they’re good at, but they also have a really good ethos around partnerships and making sure people have their distinct part to go after. As that grows, the ISV side can only grow in tandem, and that’s clearly beneficial for us and others in the space.
TR: From both a marketing and hiring perspective, how do you distinguish yourselves in the world of Salesforce?
WP: We play all the instruments we can; we have specialist recruitment organisations, we use word of mouth, and we try to become important members of the community by attending User Groups and sponsoring MeetUps and Events. As an organisation, we want to be seen as a positive part of the community, and then we take advantage of the usual advertising channels on top of that. We’re hiring at a hell of a rate, and we’re almost at the point where our progress is only proportional to the number of people we can get on board.
CH: I think we’re in an interesting position, because we’re building a start-up company – especially in EMEA – but the product suite we have been bringing to market has been around for 15 years. As an organisation, we’re already trusted in the community and yet we’re also an exciting young company who are now developing brand new capabilities like the Trust Assessments I mentioned earlier.
Do you perceive there to be a skills gap in the Salesforce world?
WP: Yes; you simply can’t get enough experienced people to match the pace at which the market for Salesforce is growing. So, the challenge for us is to bring people in who have exposure to similar environments and provide the appropriate training.
CH: If you look purely at the numbers, there are more jobs open than professionals for almost all Salesforce roles. Salesforce has almost become a victim of its success in organisations; the platform used to sit as part of the sales team, but it’s become so strategic that it’s being integrated into core systems and that’s a skillset that more Salesforce professionals don’t have. So, not only are there just not enough people out there, but there’s also a peripheral skill set that these professionals now need.
So, do you think professionals now need different skills than previously, in order to be successful?
WP: It’s now more about personal attributes; has that person operated in a comparable environment, and can they adapt that experience to your business. The advantage of Salesforce is that there are a lot of people who have been a user, and are familiar with what it does, and so this can act as a short cut when you’re looking for people with appropriate knowledge and skills.