C-level briefing: Keith Block, Salesforce President on a disrupted business world; a vertical market strategy for London, relieving partner tension; speaking business language and the tech firms customer CEOs are not visiting.
At a press and analyst briefing toward the end of Dreamforce, the Salesforce conference which drew 150,000 plus attendees to San Francisco in September, SVP and President Keith Block opened his remarks saying "It has been a pretty good couple of days, lots of enthusiasm and good feeling, customers are feeling a lot of attention from us, a lot about success and there’s been a lot of leveraging of our technology and our customer success platform."
Block identified consistent themes of the Salesforce conference.
"Every CEO and senior exec I spend time with tells me their agenda is growth and shareholder value. And when you have those conversations, it is clear customers and companies can no longer cut their way to prosperity. "
"It is all about innovation and we are really in the age of the customer," says Block.
The activity in the marketplace that Block focuses on is addressing changing business models and shifting Salesforce to address this by speaking the language of industry.
Pivot to vertical markets
Being a disruptor means Salesforce lives with disruption and Block says that over the last couple of years the company has changed.
"Some companies pivot from a horizontal geographic model to a vertical model overnight and its a huge disruption as you can imagine. You have to realign all sorts of territories. It would be highly disruptive and not the most efficient cost model. What we’ve done over a couple of years is build a vertical capability and build those vertical organisations. So the way it started was to look logically at a city, say London, big in financial services. So we’d say in London lets create a financial services selling team, rather than one across the whole of EMEA."
"Over time you find an industry you want to go hard into. You turn it into a national vertical or a global vertical. So in many of the top 25 [global] cities we have some sort of orientation. The same holds true in the US. In the US we’ve got healthcare and life sciences, financial services, financial services cloud, and public sector. That’s the evolution that we’re going on. We’ve done it very carefully and we’ll accelerate."
Building on the platform
Accenture agreed to build a trade management and promotions package. A critical, core business process for Consumer Packaged Goods firms, will be built on the Salesforce platform.
"Accenture has historically been an incredible partner of ours and have signed to become an ISV in the consumer packaged goods space. They are particularly strong in that market – you go to 48 of the top 50 CPG firms in the world and talk to the board and they will talk about Accenture influencing where their business goes," says Block.
This will serve as a model for further SI engagement.
Going forward Salesforce, he says, will always stay the course with its customers and not get distracted.
"We’re all about the customer. We don’t dilute ourselves from selling servers and infrastructure, that’s not our gig, we’re not in general ledger and accounts payable. We’ll always focus on engagement with the customer. That way our product is architected, the product is multi-tenant and built on a meta data model so when you customise everything is carried forward. Think of it as an ISV, the way the product is architected everything is brought forward to minimise customisation. So if you have customisation, when you upgrade it is upgraded automatically, so we will not leave our customers behind. We’re very focused on our platform, that’s our secret sauce, and we won’t be diluted. You’ll continue to see our product portfolio grow. But it will always be based on our platform."
Next page: The partners, the opportunity, who are customer CEOs visiting