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A truly transformational year for the Salesforce ecosystem

Why Dreamforce 2017 was a watershed year for the Salesforce ecosystem

November 10, 2017

 

 

That’s it folks. Another Dreamforce over in the blink of an eye.

Compelling discussions around the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the launches of improved, easily customizable products such as myEinstein were among the highlights. However, this year there were none of the earth-shattering announcements or truly ground-breaking product launches we’ve come to expect. But that doesn’t mean Dreamforce didn’t deliver.

In fact, despite the relative lack of fanfare, we think 2017 was a landmark year for Dreamforce and the Salesforce ecosystem. Here’s why…

marc benioff Dreamforce 2017

In recent years Salesforce has evangelized customer-centricity, with Dreamforce the main mouthpiece to preach the customer success gospel.

But it wasn’t until this year that Salesforce’s customers and partners proved they weren’t only taking this message onboard – they were actioning it.

As a result, Dreamforce 2017 was a watershed year. A year where organizations transitioned from merely talking about the importance of customer-centric transformation, to delivering on it (and then sharing the results).

From Liberty Global and Hawaiian Telcom in the Media and Communications track to RMIT in the Salesforce.org community, we saw Salesforce trailblazers across industries passing on intriguing insights into the challenges, outcomes and key takeaways of their very own customer-centric solutions.

So, what were the vital lessons we learned that you can action from these enlightening sessions?

The right tools are paramount

Numerous customer success sessions ironically began with the same theme – failure.

Organizations had undergone complete business transformation programs, only to find their new technology couldn’t deliver what they initially set out to achieve. As a result, they’d had to start from scratch. Again.

While it’s true that many great successes were spawned from failure, in digital transformation terms, the costs are too high.

Spending the time, effort and money necessary to complete a technology systems overhaul, only to have to repeat it, would be a major setback for any organization. Consequently, it pays to choose the right technology.

The greatest success stories at Dreamforce were told by businesses like TV4. These organizations had implemented single integrated platforms, built for customer success using cloud components that worked together seamlessly with their industry-specific downstream legacy systems. 

So, where did the organizations sharing success stories find their technologies? The Appexchange proved a great initial source for companies on the hunt for technology that works together. Even more invaluable still was talking to people who have been through the same process to see what has worked for them and then engaging directly with a solution provider (without the inevitable noise from their competitors).

Salesforce AppExchange CloudSense Dreamforce blog

The importance of an MVP

Another takeaway from the customer sessions we saw was the importance of delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) quickly.

To get the best out of a cloud-based solution, you need to get your MVP out fast, learn what will be of value to your organization and follow that up with further iterations.

Both Proximus and Liberty Global emphasized the important role this methodology played in their successful transformation during their respective sessions.

Hand in hand with an agile approach, delivering an MVP means your business reinvention can be collaborative and considered at every step.

It also ensures you won’t end up a year or two down the line with a solution that doesn’t fit your organization, wasting bundles of time, money and resources in the process.

Culture is key

One lesson we heard repeated in almost every customer session, was that failing to consider culture in a customer-centric reinvention would be catastrophic.

In successful transformations, culture is used as the foundation for change.

Culture key for successful business transformation

Clearly technology and processes are vital, but ensuring the people in your organization are ready to use these new platforms to deliver for your customers is essential.

Your technology will only work as you intended if your people are ready to use it to make a difference for your customers.

If this year’s Dreamforce proved anything, it was that organizations that prioritize culture in their transformations – before, during and after implementation – are the ones that see the best results.

Don’t fall victim to transformation fatigue

With more businesses undergoing transformations, the phenomenon of ‘transformation fatigue’ is something we heard at Dreamforce this year.

Experienced employees in enterprise organizations may have been through numerous transformation programs. Often these projects may have been going on for a long time, with little to no success.

This means change fatigue is becoming increasingly common. If left unchecked it’s something that can undermine the key process of changing your culture that we’ve just discussed.

So how can you avoid this?

During any change program you need to consistently show how your projects will look on the other side of the change – what progress will each step of your project bring? This helps bring people along on the journey with you. Building customer journeys to give concrete examples and focusing on outcomes will also pay dividends when trying to banish the spectre of transformation fatigue.

At Dreamforce, it was the businesses that had focused on sustainable change, built around customer satisfaction, that delivered exceptional transformation programs.

Is your organization ready for a successful transformation? Read our post on the 5 essential steps to success for any organization undergoing a digital transformation for a helpful guide.