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Salesforce: Become a trailblazer in the age of the customer

The customer stole the show at the UK's biggest cloud event.

By Ellie Burns

Get the cloud technology equivalent of a swiss army knife, tent and a Bear Grylls hardback, because Salesforce have issued a call to action for businesses to become trail blazers – with that call to action coming complete with a mock American national park set up on the main stage at Salesforce World Tour.

As anyone who has encountered the British reserve will know, the US national park setup could have been a hard sell – Salesforce, however, had fellow Brit Simon Mulcahy, Chief Marketing Officer, to explain the premise.

Referencing the circular stage, Mulcahy said: “It looks like we are all sat around a campfire and that imagery is really important  – its very important because this imagery of the US national park system, this imagery of the outdoors, of exploration, of adventure, is super inspiring to salesforce. Its who we are. It’s who we’ve been for 18 years. 18 years of really inspiring adventure and of continuous growth – we hit $8.4 billion in revenues this last year.”

The outdoorsy setting also had another purpose, which was to sell the cloud giant’s ‘Trailblazer’ message and its Trailhead learning platform. Trailhead lets anyone develop skills through a series of ‘trails’, giving people a direct path to learning Salesforce for free. The technology equivalent of Brownies or Cubs, learners earn badges which relate to in-demand job skills.

“You are probably asking yourself whats going on? What is this all about? This whole US national park looking feel – well its quite clear its about blazing trails, its about becoming a trail blazer,” said the Salesforce CMO.

“A trailblazer is a pioneer, its an adventurer, its an explorer, its anyone who is actually using salesforce to transform their industry, their company and frankly also their career.”

Salesforce: Become a trailblazer in the age of the customer

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Salesforce are in a prime position in which to speak of trailblazing, Mulcahy drew upon the stats generated from IDC’s research into the Salesforce Economy which really hit home how Salesforce themselves are a trailblazer. Expecting a potential $389 billion GDP impact by 2020, as well as 2 million jobs created to serve the salesforce economy, Mulcahy said:

“These are crazy numbers and they are global numbers as well so they may be hard to connect to. Think of it this way, two thirds of the FTSE 100 are already on Salesforce.

“IDC says that basically by 2020 the GDP impact on the UK of the Salesforce economy will be £35 billion – thats 150,000 jobs for the Salesforce economy. This is explosive growth. Ladies and gentlemen we are all in the right place and this rocket ship is moving quickly – this is a very exciting time.”

That ‘exciting time’ has been called many things in the business and tech world – but Mulcahy went with one of the best-known terms.

“I don’t think I have ever been more excited about the opportunity that now lies in front of us. There is an incredible revolution going on. The World Economic Forum calls it the Fourth Revolution and where there is revolution there is opportunity, but there is also a lot of change.

“This is now a smarter and more connected world than ever before. This is a world where we have gone from the mainframe into the client server. We are well and truly in the cloud now, we are connected like never before. There are 75 billion things connected from smartphones to social networks to your car to your fridge to your toaster – and all of these things are pumping out information and are even being made sense of by this new world of artificial intelligence,” Mulcahy told the World Tour audience.

“And do you know whats happening, whats happening is amazing customer experiences are being generated. Experiences which are fundamentally changing everything.

“Here’s the truth of today, your competition is no longer just the people in your industry, it is anyone speaking to your customers and giving them an amazing experience. That’s why we truly believe that today we are in the age of the customer, where you’ve got to connect with your customers in a whole new way. You’ve got to put the customer in the middle of everything you do.”

The CMO did note that his comments could sound daunting, but immediately put concerns to rest after naming Addidas and Ocado as just two companies out of thousands who have successfully geared business towards the customer. This focus on the customer is not just fuelling the Salesforce Economy, but is also forcing Salesforce to innovate its existing platforms.

One need only look at the recent updates to Commerce Cloud – the utilisation of machine learning and AI to personalise and add predictive capabilities is all geared towards the customer experience. The company is also pushing partnerships with the likes of IBM and SAP Ariba, again all geared towards providing smart, AI functionality to improve the customer experience.

READ MORE: Shop with Einstein: Salesforce brings machine learning to the shopping experience

Recent research from the tech giant again highlights the importance of keeping customers happy. According to the research, 36% said that an inconsistent experience across mobile, online and in-store put them off a brand, with a further third saying that offers which were not relevant to them put them off purchasing.

The core message sold to the World Tour audience was summed up nicely by Gavin Mee Senior Vice President, Enterprise Sales and Head of UK at Salesforce, who said:

“For UK businesses and retailers, the results demonstrate the need for companies to put the customer experience at the forefront of their operations. It’s the biggest opportunity for brands to get ahead of the competition but it will only be successful if the experience is consistent and personalised across different channels, including web, mobile, social and instore.”


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