Cloudside Chat: Rip Gerber and Dominic Dinardo Discuss the “3 Secrets of Vertical Cloud Software”

The 3 Secrets of Vertical Cloud Software

Welcome to the CMO Cloudside Chat interview series, featuring one of Europe’s first industry cloud executives, Dominic Dinardo, Vlocity’s EVP & Managing Director of EMEA.  

At the Salesforce London World Tour this week, I sat with Dominic to learn more about his success strategies leading European operations at Salesforce, Veeva and Vlocity. And about boiling frogs, Scottish inventors, and how to partner with customers.

Rip Gerber: Dominic, always good to see you. To start off, I wanted to ask you about another famous Scottish innovator, James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, the Godfather of the Industrial Revolution.

Dominic Dinardo:  Thank you, Rip, for acknowledging my home country. Very kind. We’re actually on the fourth industrial revolution today.

Rip: Fourth? How so?

Dominic: Watt’s creation of the steam engine was the first, the Age of the Mechanical. The second industrial revolution was the time of one of America’s greatest business innovators, Henry Ford.  That was the Age of Mass Production. Most people think we are now in the third industrial revolution, the Digital Age.

Rip: We’re not in the Digital Age now?

Dominic: We are still going digital, but a fourth industrial revolution is now upon us. The Digital Age started in the 1950s and brought us semiconductors, mainframe computing, personal computing, and the Internet.  That’s the digital age, when we started moving from an analog world to a digital world. But a fourth industrial revolution is now here, a smarter, more connected world, all from advancements in the cloud, social, mobile, IoT, and AI.

Rip: You know your history, Dom.

Dominic: I have a lot of history in this space. I worked as a Solution Engineer for Marc Benioff in the early days of Salesforce, back in 2002 and witnessed first-hand how he and the Salesforce team have ushered in this new industrial revolution. I’ve been hooked ever since, first with Salesforce, then with Veeva building the first vertical app on Salesforce, and now taking it to the next level with Vlocity, delivering many deep industry cloud apps on the Salesforce Customer Success Platform.

Rip: What have you learned from Salesforce, Veeva and Vlocity through the years?  What are your success secrets?

Dominic: Rip, I believe that there are 3 core tenants, 3 “secrets” that underpin customer success with the cloud.

Rip: The first?

Dominic: Don’t fight the future. Just as James Watt and Henry Ford showed, fighting a disruptive technical innovation is completely futile. Cloud computing has given us a superior technical and business model. It’s faster, better, cheaper and here’s a key thing people forget, it’s cost predictable. Enterprise applications just weren’t like that before.

Rip: If cloud apps have all these benefits for large enterprises, why aren’t they all adopting them faster?

Dominic: You will find plenty of people around you who will tell you reasons “why it can’t be done”, but those reasons keep going away. Many of those innovation naysayers are protecting their interests, this is especially true of the legacy systems builders that today still hold many large companies hostage. I talk to the top executives at the biggest companies in Europe all the time, and you’d be surprised that many of the CIOs and CTOs at large companies believe their legacy IT vendors are holding them back, even holding them hostage.

Rip: So when you say ‘don’t fight the future,’ the secret here is that industry cloud is giving these companies agility and flexibility they’ve never seen before?

Dominic: Exactly right. The Industry Cloud takes this to the next level - mission critical applications that give you 21st-century agility. Once a company understands the benefits it’s a no-brainer. Remember that many of these great companies have been locked into the same technology stack for ten, sometimes twenty years.

Rip: You are reminding me of the ‘boiling frog’ fable: if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

Dominic: It’s an ugly metaphor but so true when it comes to legacy CRM. Sometimes I find executives who are unable, or unwilling, to react, because the threat of costly technology, like custom building on top of legacy stacks, that threat arises gradually.  When I talk them and show them the future with a platform and apps like Vlocity and Salesforce, they get it.

Rip: What’s the punchline?  CIOs and CTOs don’t have a lot of time...what’s your secret to convincing them fast?

Dominic: Put it in financial terms. Every $1 you invest in your old legacy strategy is $5 of technical debt replacement 2 years from now. The industry cloud is coming at you, your competitors are adopting it faster and gaining on you. So think about the consequences of not transforming. Don’t fight the future. Embrace it.

Rip: Any other secrets to your success, Dom?

Dominic: Partner well. It sounds obvious but so many people just don’t do it. I try to surround myself with the best colleagues I can possibly find. I seek out the most skilled and high-integrity people that I can find. I don’t limit this to our own employees. The future working world will be built on value-adding partnerships much more than ever before. This means our technology and consulting partners must be of the highest possible quality and professionalism.

Rip: Good advice. So this is about working with Salesforce, and ecosystem of Global Systems Integrators, companies like Accenture, IBM, Deloitte, Capgemini, and other ISV’s like DocuSign and Matrixx?

Dominic: When I say “partner”, I include customers, employees and all stakeholders. We chose to partner with Salesforce because not only does it have a superior platform technology, but it operates at the highest ethical standards. We have a high-value alignment with our partners. The same thing often happens with our customers.

Rip: What do you mean by partnering with customers?  

Dominic: I feel personally responsible for the success of our customers. If I do that right and I can make my employees successful, and make my partners and all stakeholders successful too. Partnering well creates the best possible cycle of virtuous success. We spend a lot of time at “work”, we might as well make it a good experience for everyone and partner well.

Rip: That’s not only a success strategy for Industry Cloud, it’s a success strategy for life.

Dominic: The third secret to success that I’ve found key in my career is to stay educated. This might seem so obvious that it doesn’t need saying...but, many people fall into the trap of learning enough to do their jobs. Don’t do that. If you have a few minutes spare, learn something new, learn something more. The Digital Age is accelerating and it won’t wait for you to catch up, so, stay awake, stay sharp, stay educated.

Rip: It’s obviously worked for you, Dom.  Congrats on all your success, and thank you for sharing your leadership secrets.  

Dominic: Always a pleasure, Rip.  And since you are on a learning journey yourself, I recommend you continue to learn more not only about my famous fellow Scot James Watt, but also the many Scottish inventions you probably didn’t know about, like the television and the telephone.

Rip: I’ll do that. Thank you, Dom.

Dominic: Thank you, and lang may yer lum reek.

Rip: What does that mean?

Dominic: Like I said, stay educated.  Look it up!

(If you are interested in learning more about Vlocity or Vlocity EMEA, you can reach Dominic directly on LinkedIn here, or via email here. Dominic also referred me to this site to enhance my understanding of Scottish inventions.)

Rip Gerber

Chief Marketing & Alliance Officer, APAC EXEC Sponsor

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 Alliance 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 3,700) for two years in a row. Gerber also oversees Vlocity’s partner ecosystem and Vlocity’s APAC region.

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.