For this first installment of the CMO Cloudside Chat interview series, I sat down with Sumant Anand, Head of Public Sector Sales at Vlocity. Sumant recently joined Vlocity bringing over thirty years of experience and perspectives in the government tech industry.
We talked about the cloud gap in public sector, $600 hammers, Al Gore and the transformation that the Industry Cloud is now bringing to agencies such as the City of New York.
Rip Gerber: Sumant, welcome to the Vlocity family and the Salesforce ecosystem. As we say here, we are delighted to welcome you into our “Industry Ohana.”
Sumant Anand: Thank you, Rip. I’ve been a fan of what David Schmaier, you and the Vlocity team have been doing over the past few years. The vertical-specific approach you’ve taken to transform customer experiences with omnichannel, pre-built applications has been sorely needed in the public sector for a long time. I’m looking forward to bringing these technologies to our public sector organizations in North America.
Rip: Speaking on behalf of my fellow citizens here, I’d say that the front-office of nearly every government agency is in dire need of going digital. When David Schmaier founded the company, transforming the “citizen experience” was one of top goals –
Sumant: – by building apps on the Salesforce Customer Success Platform.
Rip: That’s right. If government agencies had access to easy-to-configure, industry-specific applications –
Sumant: – or in this case, “government-specific” applications –
Rip: Correct. If pubsec agencies had mobile and cloud apps built for their unique needs, we’d all have better experiences with our local, state and federal administrations. So let’s talk about innovation and government. Why is the public sector so far behind in adopting cloud technologies?
Sumant: Funding is always a challenge of course, and that’s why the cloud is so compelling over big ticket legacy stacks. The Public Sector is a vertical that is hungry for innovation. Government needs are different than corporate needs when it comes to front-office technologies like CRM. But not that different when it comes to delivering an omnichannel digital experience. Before Vlocity I spent a lot of time at big firms like IBM and Oracle working with decision-makers at our government agencies, for example, helping to deliver a digital strategy for case management at agencies such as State Health and Human Services and Social Services. Now they all want mobile and cloud apps.
Rip: In the corporate sectors, our customers talk to us all the time about “Industry Cloud” and “Going Digital.” Do those concepts really apply to agencies like HUD, the FDA or my local child welfare agency?
Sumant: Absolutely. A digital environment that helps an organization become more agile and more customer-centric is the future, whether it is at a global insurance company like New York Life or a public sector organization like the City of New York. Every agency I talk to wants to digitize operations, create agile end-to-end solutions and ensure their employees, partners and customers – we call them citizens in the public sector – are more productive and more engaged. The cloud is clearly the way to go.
Rip: You don’t often think of government agencies wanting to create value. I’m always reminded of those Defense Department procurement scandals of the 1980s –
Sumant: – the $600 hammer –
Rip: – later immortalized by Al Gore and his "Hammer Awards." After inventing the Internet, he tried to reinvent government to weed out waste.
Sumant: Transforming the public sector experience is more than fixing the government's financial management systems. It’s about fixing the experience we have as citizens, whether it’s the flood of paper-based processes, legacy systems that don’t talk to one another, or the lack of mobile apps. That’s where Vlocity is creating value for our government sectors.
Rip: Can you share some examples?
Sumant: Sure. Any government service were you are able to connect with more people more quickly and more conveniently. Case management and housing administration are two prime areas where government agencies have been looking for ways to improve the levels of service they provide. With the cloud, activity is more shareable, more visible. This is a big boost for productivity and enhancing people’s lives.
Rip: Switching gears here, Sumant. You’ve worked at some big technology firms to serve our government – what drives you personally?
Sumant: Simply, I’m passionate about doing something that makes a difference. I started in IT sales 30 years ago back in Mumbai, India, at Tata Consultancy Services and from there I came to the states, Virginia to be precise. Then I caught the CRM bug and eventually joined Oracle and ran CRM sales in the Healthcare and Public Sector verticals. Another company where I ran the Public Sector team was acquired by IBM. I’ve seen the potential of what new technology can do to old systems and processes. Vlocity and Salesforce are the most innovative and transformative technologies I’ve seen in the past thirty years. That innovation drives me deep down.
Rip: You’ve had a very successful career implementing change. One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
Sumant: I’m a very centered guy. I have a wife, two children and make time for yoga and my beloved squash – but I never rest on my laurels and I always strive for excellence. That’s the key. When you’re always curious and pushing for excellence it becomes contagious, and pretty soon everyone around you is aligned in vision and committed to transforming the business right along with you. It’s not for me to say it’s leadership or not, but I can tell you I’m excited to channel my passions and collaborate with Dan (Dan Israel, Head of Vlocity Public Sector) and Dave (Dave Orrico, Head of AMER Sales) and the other great folks I’ve met here at Vlocity to develop new business and tap new Public Sector markets – within the U.S. and globally.
Rip: No doubt the beginning of a great journey ahead.
Sumant: It’s the opportunity that the Industry Cloud affords all of us. Great people plus great products on Salesforce a great platform... all within a winning environment that prizes customer success above all. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?
Rip: I like how you do your math! Thanks again Sumant. It’s great to have you at Vlocity.
Sumant: My pleasure. Thank you, Rip.
(If you are interested in learning more about Vlocity Public Sector Apps, you can reach Sumant directly on LinkedIn here, or via email here).
Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer
Rip Gerber has 25 years’ experience inspiring and leading great people to build disruptive, market-leading companies, raising over $500M in venture and IPO funds that have delivered a collective 5x return on invested capital. He currently serves as Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer of Vlocity, Inc. where he leads all go-to-market activities, brand strategy, and global business development. Gerber has helped propel Vlocity as the fastest-growing Salesforce partner (out of 5,000) for four years in a row.
Rip is also an international best-selling author and accomplished musician. Throughout his career he has driven a dual agenda of ‘pragmatic creativity’ and ‘warp-speed innovation’ in the enterprise software, mobile, and Software-as-a-Service industries, where he has served in CEO, GM, Board Director and CMO roles for several venture-backed and seed-to-IPO companies. He started his career at the CIA and has served in management roles at Firestone, American Express, Nokia, Publicis, as well as founding and selling several tech companies including @once, Commtouch and Locaid. He has a biochemical engineering degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard University.