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July 27, 2015

Salesforce UK Chief: Preparing for Uber-isation

C-level briefing: Andy Lawson, UK MD at Salesforce, sat down to discuss the future of the platform and driving innovation in the business.

By James Nunns

Panoramic views of the ever changing London skyline from the Salesforce Tower set the scene for my chat with Andy Lawson, where agility, innovation and investment were key subjects.

Lawson wants to help enable people to do their jobs better, clearly with Salesforce’s own offerings in mind to be the backbone, but it’s not just about being a big company that has the power to help, it’s about being fast.

"It’s not the big companies anymore that make the difference, it’s the fast companies and what Salesforce is all about is its agile, innovative and fast and that’s how we compare ourselves to other people."

Being fast and agile isn’t always easy though, with legacy systems often held up as the boogieman and the great ball and chain around the neck of businesses that want to modernise, but are unable to.

Lawson sees that one of the issues is the lack of spending on innovation: "If you take an IT budget, only 10% of that budget is spent on innovation, the rest is on business as usual."

The company aims to help companies to not be bound by legacy infrastructure, but what Lawson has noticed is a shift from who is driving innovation.

"What you see is that it used to be a push from IT, but now because the workload is so high, that it’s the business itself that’s clamouring for that information. How do I do better? How do I do it simpler? How do I empower my people?

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"I think it’s that push from the business because they are conscious of ‘Uber-isation’."

The mentioning of Uber isn’t exactly new in tech circles; the company is held up as the great disrupter, for bad or good. The impact the company has made is now used as an example for companies to show to those that are unwilling to modernise.

"Companies will come in, and they (existing companies) have to want to change, that’s because of disruptive technology."

Innovation can mean different things to different companies which may be in a slow moving market that is not experiencing disruption. It can simply be a tool like Concur, so you can do your expenses automatically, something which Lawson now takes for granted but is something I wish we used.

Looking forward and Lawson stressed that it isn’t just about Salesforce, but it is also about the ecosystem.

According to him there needs to be: "Guidance from the whole community coming together to give a better joined up solution."

The company expects to see a bigger push on predictive analytics, a trend which Lawson has seen in the market.

Particularly, Lawson expects to see telcos taking more advantage of their data, which was described as a "gold mine" by one telco that Lawson spoke to.

The subject of telcos brought the conversation full circle back to innovation, with companies struggling to move away from legacy systems. As companies move past these issues, the next step will be to combat privacy issues with data use.

Lawson expects that as long as the customer sees the benefit, then acceptance will be coming, although legislation may also have to step in.

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