Mankiran Chowhan

Not ‘an era of change’ but ‘change of an era’

Goldilocks in Scuba-gear – How deep is Salesforce’s India going? The perfect person to answer that question is someone who does not shy away from adventures, and is always up to venture into a new, unfamiliar and exciting environment.

Mankiran Chowhan – VP – Enterprise Sales, Salesforce India calls the current scenario not ‘an era of change’ but ‘change of an era’. Just like the sky-dives and deep-sea journeys she has jumped into, Manikiran is taking a leap into the new data world with a lot of confidence in today’s CXO’s and CIO’s vision and ability. But what toolkits would these data voyagers need, and what’s Salesforce arming them with. We don’t need to hold our breath to find that. Let’s begin…

What has changed after Dreamforce this year? We saw quite some new-launch confetti. Would that manifest in India soon enough?

We all have seen the world change massively in the last two to three years. There was an unprecedented degree of data growth in 2021. We have noted how data-driven organizations are able to capture data and use it for better and smarter decisions. The roadmap we shared aligns with this direction—equipping enterprises well on this path. From ‘Genie’ to a partnership with WhatsApp, to the Slack canvas, we intend to cover all platforms and avenues for helping enterprises in customer engagement.

‘Genie’ is interesting. How does it confront the big interoperability issue to deliver the 360-degree ease?

One of the advantages that Salesforce has here is Mulesoft. We aim to bring different parts and systems together with ‘Genie’. It will empower enterprises to unlock data from different sources and multiple technologies in a cohesive and fluid way.

Is it easier or tougher to crack the Goldilocks Principle in CRM today? How do you achieve that ‘just right’ level of data-led intimacy in a world where privacy awareness and compliance get heightened like never before?

Well, companies have to be mindful about first-party data. At the same time, they have to be able to deliver experiences to customers as per today’s expectations – for example, if a customer leaves off at some point during browsing, you should be able to pick it up where s/he left and personalize the journey in a strong way. Our platforms can do that. We can give that power. There is a power in technology—when rightfully done.

The bi-modal way of IT is strong – in my opinion. One has to keep an eye on the future but also make sure of keeping a grip on the present-day demands and ways. Tech debt and future levers—both have to be managed well. It’s about managing both – the ‘as-is’ and also the ‘future-to-be’.

Is Salesforce ruling the front-end of digital transformation while the backend is reigned by others? What’s your strategy vis a vis rivals like SAP and Microsoft?

I cannot comment on competitors but our focus is to help our customers get closer to their customers. We want to make it simple and powerful to use anything –like AI, Cloud—for a 360-degree view.

What’s the Indian market like?

There is a big change underway here in terms of digital renaissance – including for legacy organizations. From Mental health to supply-chain resilience to digital transformation—we have seen how deep issues – that were earlier not into spotlight—are now everyday conversations. In a recent CEO priority report from Gartner, it was observed that the pandemic has brought about deep changes. There is acceleration on technology with a C-level priority now. We have seen that impact across many industries. We have clients in every vertical—BFSI (HDFC); manufacturing (CEAT, Pidilite); Retail and Fashion (Titan and Anita Dongre) and NGOs now.

A recent MIT report pointed out how CDOs are either getting saturated or irrelevant or facing CIO-overlap. Is that right for India too?

The bi-modal way of IT is strong – in my opinion. One has to keep an eye on the future but also make sure of keeping a grip on the present-day demands and ways. Tech debt and future levers—both have to be managed well. It’s about managing both – the ‘as-is’ and also the ‘future-to-be’. You cannot forget about today’s tools but you also have to be ready for how things in CRM will change with the future, like with Metaverse. I see executives wearing a lot of dual hats, and sometimes even three hats (CIO, CDO, CTO). In India, the CDO role is relatively-new. It was not that prevalent five years back so I don’t envisage too much CIO-CDO overlap. Time will tell if some duplication kicks in. But there is a clarity and well-marked distinction of priorities right now.

What is exciting ahead – for Salesforce?

Technology is not moving at an incremental level, but at an exponential level. It is right at the centre of change. Businesses have, and will, pivot to this centre of change. When I look at transformation today, I am reminded of these lines – it’s not an era of change. It’s change of an era.

Mankiran Chowhan

VP – Enterprise Sales, Salesforce India

By Pratima H

pratimah@cybermedia.co.in

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