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June 8, 2015updated 21 Oct 2016 5:51pm

We ask Accenture: Why do Salesforce customers need consultants?

Interview Accenture GM for Salesforce. Many thought the SAAS leader's original ‘No Software’ big statement spelled the end for SW consultancy.

By Sam

When Salesforce invented SAAS the perceived wisdom was that it was the end for consultants. Ten years in and the received wisdom is that being a Salesforce consultant is a big, lucrative market.

Saideep Raj, is Global Managing Director, SaaS and Emerging Platforms, Accenture. He says the firm bet big back in 2008 that Salesforce was a coming force. It was, he says, a good bet.

But given that the original SAAS proposition was one type of software and one type of model, how did Salesforce consultancy become boom time?

The reality of SAAS deployments, says Mr Raj is change, scale, integration expertise, diversity and pace of change.

"When Salesforce had the big ‘no software sign’ [as part of its original marketing], the question levied at us was: "Well, what do you guys do? This means they don’t need services."

The challenge for the consultant was to crack the code on where customers are looking to drive value from implementations.

Says Raj, for the {Salesforce} administrators in the business, the change they are trying to drive has a lot greater throughput than the old on premise systems which were pretty much just bug-fix. Now these are engines for change. Clients are going with Salesforce because they want to change.

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This means they need process change and behavioural change around the toolset. That’s often where the consultants come in.

Accenture sees an ecosystem evolution around Salesforce with clients solving bigger end to end problems.

It is no longer about plug in the app and turn on an individual slice of a function.

Raj says: "Plugging in the app might work for a department or a tactical function. But for companies fundamentally changing their sales organisation and their channel to addresses new markets and provide new products, just turning the tool on is not going to do that."

Integration
On the integration front tools from Salesforce are not standalone, says Raj. They are tightly integrated into the fabric of an architecture. Many if not most Salesforce engagements involve significant integration with other systems.

Deployment
The deployment of Salesforce is now an important aspect of the model.
Says Raj: "The requirement may be to take a model that works for one division or territory and adapting it for another. Global companies are coming to us and asking what are the best practices for doing that."

One surprising element is that global deployment can also lead to hosting opportunities. Clients are asking Accenture to run these solutions.

"You’d think, you implement it and you walk away but actually what’s happening is clients are asking us to run centres of excellence to help maintain their solutions."

End of the suite?
Does the combination of cloud and SAAS mean the end of large software suite implementations?

The answer from Raj is a qualified: Not yet.

Cloud is still operating in a hybrid mode.

"Clients tend to move fractions of their load into the cloud. The analysts are saying this is currently at the 14-16% level. A lot of the suites are still there. And if you look at Salesforce a lot of their messaging is about how to integrate with SAP and other suites.

What future for Force?
Last year Salesforce moved into analytics with Wave and launched it different clouds such as Salescloud and Servicecloud. Raj says for the consultant it is about use cases.

We looked at our clients and thought: "What are the use cases? We identify the use cases that are relevant for the client and how we implement that."

For Wave the project use case is visualisation of sales analytics. They are not using it for big predictive analytics. It is really taking analytics into the hands of the sales people.

Accenture’s approach to digital transformation is industry solutions, around telecoms and healthcare and life sciences particularly.

As for its internal change it is addressing clients who are looking to drive outcomes.

Raj says: instead of traditional model or engaging and hiring a consultant and us billing for it we’re much more focused now on how do we create an outcome? And Accenture is on the hook to create that outcome and Salesforce is becoming the platform for this.

Accenture bought Tquila [a UK Salesforce consultancy]

The motivation for the acquisition was its complimentary skills to expand the portfolio.

Raj says "When we looked at the skills within Tquila, they have very strong technical competencies, technical architects are an area of good strength. They have a complimentary set of skills for the vertical markets they have been serving which we see as being very helpful."

Fundamentally Tquila have the same philosophy as Accenture around Salesforce certification around the different clouds, Servicecloud, Salescloud and others.

Accenture acquired 100 practitioners with technical architect certification.

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