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3 things we learnt at the Salesforce World Tour, Excel, London

We recently attended Salesforce’s World Tour at Excel in London. As a business that has used (and delivered solutions for clients around) Salesforce for nearly 10 years, it was a good opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in the new ideas, partners and platform developments that Salesforce have been working on over the last few years.

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Here’s a snapshot of our key take-outs from the event:

1. Salesforce are clearly doing something right

It was one of the busiest and best attended events I have ever been to at Excel (or anywhere for that matter). I’ve never seen such a crowd of people make it seem so small. There was even one point (at the start of lunch) when I thought we might have to evacuate the building there were so many people trying to move in different directions. And while this might be a good sign for Salesforce – lots of customers and prospects all in one place – it didn’t make it an enjoyable experience for many of those caught up in the mayhem, trying to navigate from one session to another.

2. Businesses that are ‘digitally connected’ are 26% more profitable

Simon Short (Salesforce Head of Customer Success, EMEA) gave a great talk on what it takes to drive successful digital transformation within the enterprise. As a former Cap Gemini chap, he focused on some research (originally authored by Cap Gemini and MIT) that spent a number of years polling and reviewing the biggest and best businesses to see if there is a formula for successful digital transformation. It seems there is:

You can read the full report here however, put very simply there are businesses that have a high ‘digital intensity’ (those who spend lots of money’ on digital ‘stuff’ – building great websites, e-commerce platforms, or developing customer portals / apps etc.), and there are businesses that put focus on the process of transformation (structures, governance, leadership, processes etc.). The former represents the left axis in the picture above, and the latter represent the right axis.

Bottom left are the beginners – those who have not begun thinking or engaging with digital in a meaningful way. You could also think of them as the laggards. The top left are those businesses who are spending money on digital, but without any real plan or structures in place to drive meaningful impact to the organisation. Bottom right are the conservatives – businesses traditionally good at transformation programs, but are not yet engaged in a digital transformation journey. Then there is the top right – the stars. Businesses who are both spending money on digital, plus driving meaningful change and transformation across the organisation – driven from the top down (Nike and Burberry are referenced as two great examples). The Digital Masters are consistently 26% more profitable than the average. More interesting still; these businesses are 37% more profitable than the Fashionistas and 50% more profitable than the Beginners. Maybe it’s time to take a look at how joined up your digital transformation strategy and digital intensity / activity is?

3. Leadership is the key driver to successful digital transformation

We all know the story; ‘digital’ provides new ways of working – more efficient models that drive efficiency, productivity and innovation. However, without leadership defining and then driving a shared vision for the future for your business, without meaningful engagement with your staff (from top to bottom), without clear governance and objectives to drive transformation, and without technology infrastructure, investment and support – digital transformation (and the benefits it promises) will remain out of reach.

How joined up are the dots across your company? Does your board understand the commercial impact (for good and bad) digital can have on your business? Are your employees engaged around the messages and actions needed to drive change? Is your IT infrastructure fit for purpose?

A thought to finish on: If you think none of the above concerns you – that your business is in a more traditional sector, or that none of your competition are focussed on digital transformation yet, you’re wrong. Short’s research has identified at least one business in every sector that is in the Digital Master category.

The ultimate question posed here is a hugely important one: can you afford to let your competition be up to 50% more profitable than you? I know what my answer would be!

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