View from Worldwide VKO FY20
By Ruskin Kerslake, Sales Director – UKI/MEA
So, I’m writing this whilst sitting on a rather dilapidated BA 744, flying back to London, after spending the last fortnight at Vlocity’s HQ, which is based in the rather magnificent Salesforce Tower, San Francisco.
The irony that British Airways always seem to service the world’s major tech hubs with their oldest and most technically deficient planes never ceases to amaze me. Anyhow, I digress.
I thought I’d use this enforced (but appreciated) downtime to reflect and share a few key takeaways from the last two weeks.
My reason for being in an unusually wet and cold San Francisco was to attend Vlocity’s first Worldwide Sales Kickoff, plus also to participate in our New Hire Sales Bootcamp. A very informative, insightful, fun and motivational fortnight it proved to be.
As a new Vlociter, having joined in January 2019, these two events couldn’t have come at a more advantageous time. They’ve enabled me to not only familiarise myself with our Industry Solutions at a technical level but perhaps more importantly, understand the myriad of significant and tangible benefits Vlocity provides to its customers.
Vlocity’s Industry Solutions have a unique, proven and effective approach to rapidly deliver solutions that are built by industry experts, specifically for your sector.
The extended Vlocity Teams, in conjunction with several of our Strategic Partners, including Salesforce and Accenture, imparted immense thought leadership and in-depth reviews of industry trends within the Communications and Media, Energy and Utilities, Insurance & Financial Services, Health, and Government & Non-Profit sectors.
We discussed the key drivers and developments that are influencing how forward thinking customers are enabling true Digital Transformation and how our latest Industry Solutions (all natively and additively built on Salesforce) can effectively support all relevant industry requirements and their associated complexity.
With so much pertinent information being shared, it’s a real challenge to distill it into one article. However, here are a few topics that are top of mind, the ones that resonated most for me. I will explore these in more detail in future articles.
So, in no particular order, here are my top 5 takeaways:
1. The Power of Industry Solutions
Having been involved with Salesforce for over a decade, I’d like to think I’ve got a good grasp of how fast and easily customers can deploy a Salesforce solution, to address their business needs, albeit with varying degrees of costs for the services to deliver these projects.
As we all know, the vast majority of services dollars are spent on configuring Salesforce to support a customer’s business processes and reflect their cultural or industry nuances.
Not only does this conventional approach incur higher costs, effort and risk, it also creates complexity for ongoing support, reduces the ability to easily upgrade to take advantage of the latest releases (which you’ve already paid for), it will substantially elongate the time to go live. Essentially, customers are starting from scratch and not leveraging industry best practices.
Vlocity’s Industry Solutions have a unique, proven and effective approach to rapidly deliver solutions that are built by industry experts, specifically for your sector, with the capacity to support full concept to care processes, including CPQ, CLM, Billing and complex Order Management, all natively and additively built on Salesforce.
There are multiple inherent benefits to this approach, including; faster implementations, higher user acceptance and on-boarding, compliance with industry best practices (think TMF Forum for the communications industry), all of which contribute to customers rapidly recognizing significant benefits across their business.
2. Effectively Enabling Best Practices and Processes
One of the most common questions I’m asked by Prospects and Customers alike is “how can you (the vendor/partner) provide us with industry best practices. How can you advise us on the most effective methods and processes, based on what you’ve learned implementing this type of solution for multiple customers?”
In my previous roles, working for software vendors that are not truly industry focused, this was always left to potluck. If you were lucky, one of the consultants on your project might have some specific industry experience. However, this was never guaranteed and most certainly isn’t a Tier One approach, an approach that ensures success.
Choosing a Vendor/Partner that lacks a true industry focus has multiple downsides for customers. For example, you’ll likely to have to invest significant time and effort educating several of the Vendor’s/Partner’s teams on your processes and how a business in your industry operates.
You’ll probably have to provide these educational sessions numerous times. Normally they start with their pre-sales consultants, as part of the initial requirements reviews and demos. It then continues with their Professional Services Sales Team, as part of the scoping/discovery process. Finally, and if luck is on your side, it will most likely conclude educating their Project Team, as part of the Project Kick Off.
Not only is this arduous and time consuming, this lack of continuity and industry knowledge is a major contributing factor for project failures. As I’ve said before, by not working with an Industry specialist, you’re essentially starting from scratch, educating your partner and building a custom solution. Therefore, you’ll likely to experience all the challenges, risks and costs that are associated with this approach.
As part of our Industry Solutions, Vlocity’s Customers gain access to the Vlocity Process Library (VPL for short, stop sniggering at back).
The VPL is a collection of pre-built assets, such as workflows, page layouts, reports, OmniScripts™, consoles etc, that are commonly used in your specific Industry. The VPL means that you’re not starting from scratch, reinventing the wheel, and therefore wasting time and money on unnecessary configuration. Instead, you will benefit from our experience delivering our solutions to 100’s of customers, within your industry, with similar business processes and objectives.
This is a great way to rapidly and easily adopt industry best practices, speed up your implementation, whilst reducing risks and costs.
Choosing a Vendor/Partner that lacks a true industry focus has multiple downsides for customers.
3. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
During our SKO, we were lucky to have had two revered senior industry leaders, Miguel Milano, President of International at Salesforce and Saideep Raj, Global Managing Director at Accenture, address our teams. During their sessions, they shared their thoughts on our respective businesses, the industries we focus on, how these industries are changing, the drivers behind these changes, what customers are demanding from the Cloud and how our respective organizations can work together to ensure a successful customer experience.
These sessions were not only incredibly insightful and motivating, they were very candid and honest. This level of trust can only exist if you share the same beliefs, approach to life and business and have a robust and transparent relationship with your partners.
Why is this important? Having previously worked hand in hand with Salesforce, building several businesses and also with a company who held the opposite philosophy, I can say, hand on heart, the first approach to a partnership works best for everyone involved, especially our mutual clients.
Salesforce Partners are stronger and more effectively positioned to deliver success to our mutual customers if all parties are fully committed to a successful partnership. It was extremely refreshing and comforting to have seen this level of reciprocal commitment, in abundance, at our SKO.
It’s great to be back working with Salesforce and other Strategic Partners like Accenture, shoulder to shoulder, putting our customers’ success first.
4. Nothing Beats Meeting Face to Face
Having spent a significant and rewarding proportion of my career working for American software companies, I strongly believe these type of events (SKO’s etc.) are pinnacle for setting myself, my colleagues and customers up for success.
Whilst technology provides us with huge advantages and conveniences, I’m adamant that it cannot replace the importance and value of meeting your colleagues, peers, customers and partners face to face, especially when you’re based in a different territory from HQ. The last two weeks absolutely validated this.
I had the privilege of spending time with our Product Managers, Founders, Executives, Partners, Customers, Services and Operations Teams, and many more people over the two weeks. Although I’d only been at the company a few short weeks before the kickoff, my colleagues and peers made me feel like I’d been with the company since its founding four years ago.
It’s provided me a great insight into our heritage, our raison d'etre and how I can help my customers get the best from our industry solutions to enable their future growth and rapid success.
Salesforce Partners are stronger and more effectively positioned to deliver success to our mutual customers if all parties are fully committed to a successful partnership.
5. It Does Rain in California
When leaving a very dark and wet London at 5:00 am on a Monday morning, I was somewhat smugly looking forward to getting some early February sunshine in San Francisco. I always find February a great time of year to visit this city, it normally helps banish Blighty’s Winter Blues.
I love San Francisco, even though it’s very apparent that it’s social problems are getting worse. However, like most cities, it’s never at its best when it’s pouring down. I’ve never seen anything like it in my 12 years visiting this city.
However, even the rain, high winds and cold snap couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm and motivation. Nor could it stop me from concluding that here at Vlocity, we are at the vanguard of helping our Customers and Partners achieve something truly remarkable, achieving what many have previously found to be unachievable.
All in all, it was a very valuable and fun two weeks, despite the weather. Without wishing to sound obsequious, having been exposed to what we’re are doing here at Vlocity, our core values, beliefs, focus, objectives and how we are building upon our mutual Customer success, I’m very much proud to be a part of this innovative organization.
With all this in mind, I’m excited and looking forward to hitting the ground running, helping my customers and future customers alike benefit from the exceptional things we are doing here at Vlocity.
Sales Director – UKI/MEA
Ruskin has over 25 years experience in the Technology and Software industry, working for leading Vendors and SI's, spending the last decade focused on and working with Salesforce. Ruskin was one of the original founding team who built Tquila, growing it from a 10 person company to becoming Europe’s largest pure play Salesforce Systems Integrator, which was ultimately sold to Accenture.
With a technical pre-sales background, Ruskin understands how to take the complexity out of the complex, successfully delivering true and measurable Digital Transformation to some of the worlds largest and most renowned companies.