By: Soma Tah
Have you ever wondered what makes Salesforce- which was considered as a disruptor in the CRM space -the most innovative company in the world? What do they do to keep the innovation engine running at full throttle?
According to Deepak Pargaonkar, Senior Director of Solutions Engineering at Salesforce India, the secret to Salesforce’s culture of continuous innovation lies in their ability to listen to the customers and quickly bake those feedbacks into the products in the form of new capabilities or features.
He speaks on some of the innovation projects that the company has embarked on recently, which not only keeps the company’s innovation engine running, but also help them gain competitive advantages over others in the market.
Q. With the new technologies coming in, how do you keep pace with the disruptions in the market?
We have been rated as the most innovative company worldwide by Forbes. Our breakthrough with a multi-tenant cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model, itself was a big innovation on its own merits, and we never looked back since then.
We took the set-up and eventual upgradation pains away with our delivery model and then kept on adding new capabilities such as native mobile app capability, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, etc. We have kept on building a future-proof and scalable architecture to ensure that the businesses can be run anywhere, anytime and on any device.
We kept growing these capabilities both organically as well as inorganically.
Q. Could you explain how?
I would like to mention some of our recent innovation initiatives in this context. For example, we have acquired vision analytics startup MetaMind and now integrated the capabilities into our AI and analytics engine, Einstein. We are delivering 475 million business outcomes on Einstein.
We also keep listening to new ideas and suggestions from our customers through our IdeaExchange platform, and they often get baked in as new product capabilities or features.
Now, if any organization has to embark on an AI project today, they need an infrastructure to store and manage a huge amount of data, as well as a data scientist to consolidate the data, define and develop the algorithms for strategic business outcomes. We have done all these heavy liftings in our cloud and we provide the tools for customized requirements also.
We have also created a new online gamified learning model with Trailhead, to make it easier for the users to understand the features in an interactive and fun way.
Q. Innovation may be a continuous journey for you. But how do you differentiate yourself from the competitions?
I would say that is customer success. We created a new business and technology model, where customer success becomes very crucial for us. There could be a lot of new technologies coming in every day, and Salesforce could also be innovating, but it does not really make a difference unless the technologies and innovations are used to transform business outcomes.
Hence, despite being known as a product company, we have started a new service, ’Ignite’. Under this new offering, our consultants and professionals work closely with the customers to co-create some fundamentally different and disruptive business models and then power them with technology. Also, rather than taking a one-product-fits-all approach, we are trying to put the power in the customers’ hands of organizations and trying to deliver to the customers’ expectations the way they need it
We acquired an innovation-consultancy company, Gravitytank and have embraced the design thinking principles in our consultancy. Design thinking helps us to understand the requirements and pain points of the customers and to design a solution that addresses them in a better manner.
Q. But there are a number of small and nimble companies in the Indian market struggling with a tight budget and limited resources mostly. Do you bring your innovations to them too?
We have seen a growing number of customers defining and deriving innovative outcomes on Salesforce platforms, and they are from across all verticals- financial services, professional services, hi-tech and manufacturing including small and medium businesses(SMB).
SMB is a unique segment, where a lot of innovations keep happening day-to-day in its own way. You will often find one person juggling multiple roles, as they don’t always have dedicated budget and resources for different jobs. The person who is responsible for selling also responsible for services, growing the customers, and deliver on the bottom line as well.
Hence, we have packaged the same CRM platform capabilities that power Fortune 500 companies, in a product named ‘Salesforce Essentials’ that is tailor-made for them. We have eased deployment and management headaches, and also integrated AI capabilities for making the product intuitive to automate routine tasks.