Introduction: Certinia is pleased to welcome Tony Kender, Chief Revenue Officer for Certinia; and Lori Steele, EVP, Global Professional Services from Salesforce.
Tony Kender: Hello, everyone. I’m Tony Kender, Chief Revenue Officer here at Certinia. I hope you’ve been enjoying the keynote presentation so far.
We’re excited to have our top partner and customer, Salesforce, with us here today. I’m honored to introduce Lori Steele, Executive Vice President of Professional Services at Salesforce. Welcome, Lori.
Lori Steele: Thank you, Tony. It’s great to be here.
Tony Kender: Great. It’s great to have you.
Lori, to kick us off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and your role at Salesforce?
Lori Steele: Yeah, sure. I have the pleasure of leading our Global Professional Services business here at Salesforce. I joined the company just about two years ago, having spent the majority of my career in the professional services industry across a number of our large partners, working with Salesforce and other enterprise platforms. So, I could say I’m a career transformation professional services person.
When I think about our professional services business here at Salesforce, we’ve been growing and expanding at an unprecedented scale. We’re a global team of consulting professionals that operate in over 28 countries. We act as trusted advisors to our customers, along with our partners, to push the boundaries of speed and innovation with Salesforce. We help bring ambitious visions to our customers and new ways of working – beyond just technology – but to help our customers truly transform.
Our team is made up of some of the world’s leading digital transformation strategists, designers, architects, and developers that have deep experience helping transform our customers’ relationships with their customers, leveraging our Customer 360 platform.
As you know, we run our entire business on Salesforce and the Certinia PSA system. We run a global operating model with consistent offerings and capabilities that span the world.
As we’ve grown, so has the complexity of our business, and we continue to innovate together so that we can leverage the insights on our business and really drive value for our customers at scale.
Tony Kender: Thank you, Lori. Well, that’s awesome.
So, let’s just get into it. So, obviously, this past year has been an interesting time for Salesforce – and all of us – and I assume for your professional services business as well. What’s that been like for you guys?
Lori Steele: You know, it’s been both challenging and exciting across the last year and a half or so. Our customers needed to digitally transform faster than ever. The challenge is much more than just the technology. We see it as a customer relationship revolution. Leveraging these digital technologies to really be able to engage with customers in brand new ways. Every business, whether it’s B2B or B2C, across every industry needs to deliver more connected and trusted digital experiences.
The number one thing our customer is asking us about, as they adapt to these new capabilities, is really they want fast ROI, and they need to build digital agility into their technology and their business processes. Being clear about being able to have value and to be accountable with our customers for their joint success.
Our business is also experiencing significant change. We’ve had to shift from largely in-person work to remote work all overnight. We had to pivot to new product areas, such as work.com and Vaccine Cloud, and be able to skill up our professionals to serve our customers to quickly take advantage of these new capabilities.
I’m happy to say, both we and our customers have thrived. We’ve had an incredible year, and so has our professional services business. We’ve moved seamlessly into this remote work environment, and our customers want to continue to move even faster on their transformation plans. Frankly, I think we’ve done some of our best work in this challenging time.
Tony Kender: Well, Lori, that’s incredible. Yes, the shift to remote work has been an interesting one for all of us, that’s for sure.
So, with all this change, what are the biggest challenges you’re experiencing?
Lori Steele: You know, it’s been a challenging year, yet a rewarding year. Customers have been challenged about bringing new digital capabilities to market at a pace that’s unprecedented. Therefore, our business has been growing at a pace that’s unprecedented. They need more skills, more capabilities to deliver on their transformational objectives.
One of the most important things our customer needs is clear ROI, and to be able to create agility in their business. That agility is really important, and that’s not just our customers. That was something that we needed to be able to grow with our customers and to bring those capabilities to bear.
We’ve been seeing significant growth in our own business. So, as I think about how we have worked with FInancialForce and the PSA platform, it has been a critical part of us being able to move fast and to be able to create that digital agility that we need in our business.
Tony Kender: Incredible. I know, also, the shift to remote work has been an interesting one as well for everybody.
So, Lori, with all this change, what are the biggest challenges that you’re experiencing in your business?
Lori Steele: You know, really, we were scaling at a pace that we hadn’t seen before. It’s not just scaling across countries and geographies. It’s scaling across capabilities as well. So, bringing to bear more capabilities in terms of strategic digital transformation, more capabilities to partner with our customers, and new products that we’ve brought to market – such as work.com or our Vaccine Cloud, or now Data Cloud and other capabilities. We’re continually bringing new offers to market and having to invest deeply in the skills for our people. That’s been really important as we think about what we need for the future.
We transformed very quickly to work in an all-digital environment. We both know it’s not going back to the way it used to be. We need to now be able to work virtually, with our customers, and at a speed that we’ve never worked before.
So, it’s really taxed the organization. On the other hand, I think it’s allowed us to create much more flexibility in the organization, and to be able to serve clients in very new ways, just like they’re serving their customers.
Tony Kender: The innovation at Salesforce, especially during that time, is legendary. So, congratulations on that.
Based on those challenges though, where does Certinia fit in? How do we help you?
Lori Steele: You know, Certinia is an essential part of our platform. I always say you kind of don’t know where Salesforce begins and ends and how it connects to Certinia and the PSA system. It really allows us to connect end-to-end all the way from our sales teams, all the way through our project execution.
We have a tool that allows us to also have insights about our business, to give me a complete 360 view of how we’re running our business, and to have the insights and the analytics to be able to respond quickly to customers in this rapidly changing market. I will tell you, it gives us the flexibility and agility that we need to be able to transform at scale.
Tony Kender: I’m so glad you said that. You know, as we demo our product, our customers say all the time, “Is that Salesforce or Certinia we’re looking at? Where does one end and where does one begin?” So, that’s so true. So, I’m glad to hear you say that.
Well, so, look, you mentioned scalability. We worked really hard to develop the most scalable PSA solution, and all on the Salesforce platform. If it wasn’t scalable, you wouldn’t be able to use it because of your size.
Now, today, you heard Scott Brown’s keynote: how the growth in the services economy is taking off coming out of this economic downturn. Clearly, you at Salesforce are seeing an exponential amount of growth – which is fantastic. Can you talk about this and how Salesforce is managing that growth, but also how you’re delivering it in a customer-centric manner?
Lori Steele: Salesforce, overall, has, indeed, been growing – and it’s been growing quickly along with our professional services business. I like to say the entire Salesforce economy has been experiencing a tremendous amount of growth. We work collaboratively without partners, our ISV partners, our SI partners, as we serve our customers.
I will tell you, though, that how we serve our customers hasn’t really changed. The key way we serve our customers is that we stay focused on our core values. That is: trust, customer success, innovation, and equality. These values guide our business. We’re committed to trusted stakeholder relationships, reliable infrastructure, data privacy, and we guide our customers to deliver transformative outcomes and mutual success. We put our customers first, acting as a trusted digital advisor in creating the right solutions. We apply a beginner’s mind, the creativity that we need to continuously learn as an organization, but to also drive transformation at scale.
The pandemic has certainly changed our world, and it’s changed the way we work and live. It’s not only an opportunity to find success from anywhere; it’s an imperative. This imperative requires us and our customers to accelerate their efforts to build direct and trusted relationships with their customers.
Tony Kender: Well, thanks, Lori, and it definitely shows through that Salesforce puts their customers first. We feel it as a partner. We’re honored to be in the partner ecosystem. Those core values you talked about are tremendous, and they also definitely show through in how Salesforce operates every day.
Shifting gears a bit, though. Given your team’s extensive experience using Certinia PSA, what would you say is the value of Salesforce and Certinia together on the same platform?
Lori Steele: So, Certinia supplies us with what I call “mission critical tools” connected to Salesforce that allows us to run our business end-to-end. We can enhance our business interactions so that we spend less time one tool development and support. We spend more time on quality sales and making sure that our projects are successful.
Having a platform such as this really allows us to have full visibility into the lifecycle of a sale, all the way through the execution of a project. Most importantly, it lets us mine high-quality insights so that we really understand our customers’ success factors, and we can anticipate their next move and act swiftly. It has been essential for us to achieve the agility and resilience of our business so we can rapidly adapt as the world around us is changing, as our business is changing, but we can still innovate and drive transformation at scale.
Tony Kender: Wow, everything you shared with us today, Lori, is absolutely fantastic. I appreciate your candid stories and in-depth industry insight. You’re truly an industry thought leader.
We believe that Salesforce and Certinia together enable companies to see their whole customer and empower them to truly be customer-centric, seeing their business in full color – as we like to say.
Under your leadership, Salesforce is the quintessential example of that. So, thank you, once again. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to speak to us.
Lori Steele: Thank you so much, Tony. It has been a great partnership. We really appreciate it.
Tony Kender: Well, everyone, that’s a wrap. I hope you enjoyed hearing insights from Lori Steele as much as I did. Enjoy the rest of your time at Certinia Summit, and thank you.