The Salesforce phenomenon part two: how it helped us go digital

Potentia Insight

In our last newsletter, we looked at the Salesforce phenomenon and the explosion of its adoption, community and ecosystem in recent years as well as the sustained combustion expected in years to come.

So why all the hype? What compelled us and so many to join the hysteria?

I remember experiencing Salesforce for the first time back in 2008 when a client had utilised it as an applicant tracking system for recruitment and asked us to upload CVs for roles they were hiring for. At that time, there was already a bit of hype around Salesforce so I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. I was sorely disappointed. It felt like I was visiting a website from the early internet era - boring page layouts, little or no colour and very basic web controls. My decision was made - Salesforce is rubbish. To be fair, shortly after I learnt that what I had seen was very vanilla implementation, out of the box with little customisation.

Fast-forward five years to 2013 when I embarked upon a mission to find and implement a new recruitment system for Potentia. As we were about to give the green light to one system, Greg Savage, a long-time recruitment industry legend suggested that we have a close look at Jobscience, a recruitment application for Salesforce. He showed us real time charts and graphs in beautiful colour. The data was visualised in an incredibly effective way, which as Greg had said enabled better recruiter activity planning and decision making. We fast-tracked demos and due diligence, and the Salesforce solution quickly became our first choice.

Moving from a recruitment system to a business platform

Within a few months, we had implemented Jobscience/Salesforce and the solution more than met our requirements. However, a few months after that is when our Salesforce journey and realisation of its value really began. As we defined our strategies around key business outcomes and sought to execute them it dawned upon us, almost accidentally, that while we initially went looking for and found a new recruitment system, we had implemented a business platform. Every business initiative since then has been enabled digitally through Salesforce and the rich ecosystem of partner applications that tightly integrate with it:

  • Remote business process outsourcing using Chatter and queues
  • Business analytics and data visualisation on giant TV screens in the office using Geckoboard
  • Real-time spreadsheet integration and reporting using Google Drive, Google App Script and Sheets
  • Marketing campaign management using MailChimp
  • Rich customer feedback using GetFeedback
  • Data manipulation using Gridbuddy
  • Outlook mail integration using LinkPoint360,
  • LinkedIn integration and Salesforce lookup using Ebsta
  • World class natural language CV search using DaXtra

That’s just the current list. For next year, this will be expanded further. All of these connected Apps provide additional rich functionality but with integrations that just work and in a way that feels native.

Where we’ve seen the greatest power though is in the level of drag and drop field customisation, formula calculation and manipulation that we can manage ourselves using the core Salesforce custom fields functionality. Any refinements to our business process can be reflected and configured in Salesforce fairly effortlessly. What’s more is that these changes can then be pulled through to the enormously powerful inbuilt reporting framework and then visualised using dashboards. As our business changes, Salesforce changes with us and, what’s more, these changes are captured and documented.

I’m happy to say that over time Salesforce has become prettier. I’m happier still to say that as of this quarter it’s undergone somewhat of a facelift using the new Lightning Experience. Now it's sexy too. This new user experience is also more customisable than ever via a drag and drop approach.

Salesforce Lightning Experience

Photo credit: Salesforce Winter '16 Release Notes, 'Reading a dashboard'

This journey really has helped me realise that with the right strategy and execution, Salesforce enables a business in a box paradigm.