10th October 2018


David Holstein, SVP of Revenue and Ken Bowman, Director of Technical Architecture weigh in.

Ken Bowman
Director of Technical Architecture

The Neocol Sales Team and I had the privilege of attending Dreamforce 2018 alongside another 170,000 of our closest friends in San Francisco. What a week! Dreamforce is a good time to meet new people, shake hands with some acquaintances, and hug some old friends! With so many Salesforce customers, partners, employees, and others packed into a few city blocks near The Moscone Center, there’s a plethora of opportunities to hear about new tech, features, product and service offerings and the like. Information Overload is the name of the game, and all the vendors, ISV’s and partners played it well! I learned about some killer product offerings from some groups and teams I look forward to working with in the future! Kudos on all the awesome new stuff coming out.

All the tech is awesome (even overwhelming at times) and a lot to process for us techy-type introverts. It’s tough to be around that many people for that long and not have a little mental stress happen, even for you extroverts! And that brings me to my observations on Dreamforce, Salesforce, the SFDC Ecosystem, and even Ohana.

At the other end of all of this technology innovation, bits, bytes, and profitability is People. What strikes me most about being a participant, and maybe even go so far as to accept the title of “Leader” in the Salesforce ecosystem, is the pervasive focus on the people we interact with. Whether it be client requirements for improving their employees’ productivity with Service Cloud, profitability with Sales Cloud, or their customer’s experience with Community Cloud, we’re really focused on the people. Even making the Setup tools and apps better helps consultants like me be more productive and provides a better daily experience as well. Kudos on this one Salesforce – keep it up.

In keeping with the theme of people-focused technology, we must logically take the next step towards the most important themes: inclusivity, diversity, acceptance, equity, and equality. Salesforce focuses on these things: they actively encourage and publicly establish focus and ally groups through Trailhead and Community focused events. We, as the rest of the ecosystem, should be holding on to these values of equity and equality in all cases as well.

Before you get all bent out of shape about “privilege” and “entitlement” and other interesting words, let me set a few things straight: what I’m advocating for is equity in opportunity, inclusivity of others’ ideas and thoughts, but not necessarily equity of outcome. High Tech is about exerting great efforts (and many times a little bit of luck, too) that result in some awesome outcomes. That said, though, we should be continuing to open doors and making strides on inviting persons from marginalized groups to join us.

Our beloved High Tech industry as a whole has done a pretty poor job so far of bridging the equality divide, especially when it comes to reaching out to women and other marginalized groups, sincerely considering them to be equitable, and investing in them. We’re still a very male-dominated sector. The good news though: with Salesforce and other tech giants creating an environment of inclusivity, we can bring diverse perspectives and thoughts to the table that were overlooked before. We’re doing better, but, we can still do even more. With ‘Ladies be Architects’ hitting the ground running this year and other initiatives getting off the ground, we can’t ignore the problem any more, Gents. Not only is it virtually impossible to ignore, its clearly evident that it isn’t right to do so. We (I’m including myself here) have profited and benefited from our boy’s club, and as a result, we should be the first ones to share those sometimes ill-gotten gains with those that don’t have the built-in opportunities that we’ve had.

I’m sure I could come up with the “3 best take-away’s from Dreamforce” technically, or the “Best vendor products you’ve got to try” and write about those, but that stuff is easy. For my time and effort, I came away with a renewed commitment to people. I want to tackle the larger issues — I want to champion real change and innovation, not just dots on a screen getting prettier. Bringing ideas to the table from multiple thought processes, experiences, backgrounds, orientations of all sorts and flavors, and focusing on bringing people to become the best versions of themselves gives all of us the best outcomes, both personally and professionally.

As evidenced by the beautiful, colorful people at Dreamforce 2018, the bottom dollar on inclusivity is pretty clear: Diversity of background and life experience delivers innovation and profitability. So, if you don’t want to do diversity programs because it’s the right thing to do, then do it because it’s the right thing to do for your shareholders. I, for one, will be reaching out with a renewed focus on inclusivity, diversity, and equity because that’s the right thing to do, and thoroughly enjoy the rewards of experiences, friendships, and professional outcomes that are sure to result!

David Holstein
SVP of Revenue

Another Dreamforce come and gone. New relationships created, old ones refined. Customers, partners, and employees alike truly feel part of the #Ohana during this week each year.

While I am no stranger to Dreamforce and the ecosystem, Neocol attended the conference for the first time as a united team. Aligning individual and collective goals ahead of the conference allowed each of us to get the most out of the event. Essentially, we put together our own Dreamforce trailhead tailored to our organizational desires.

Keeping a pulse on the partner ecosystem as well as assessing long and short-term market opportunities were key goals of mine being responsible for our go-to-market strategy. With that in mind, I found there to be two key themes critical to continued success in this ecosystem. Note: there are many different ways to be successful. While neither of these themes are new, they are more relevant than ever before. Let me explain.

1. Focus, Focus, Focus
“The successful warrior is the average person, with laser-like focus.”
– Bruce Lee

The Partner Keynote at Dreamforce was chock-full of valuable information. Although many of the points made during the keynote were, for the most part nothing new, it still gave consulting partners and ISV’s alike the opportunity to hear from those running the sales and alliances functions at Salesforce.

SVP of Industries, Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, shared that the TAM (“Total Addressable Market”) for B2B business is $26 billion and B2C is $55 billion. EVP of Alliances, Tyler Prince, shared that there is approximately a 3x services revenue multiplier for every $1 of Salesforce license sold.

If you’re like me, you’re doing the math. The potential based on these numbers alone, is massive. And, for many small consulting partners (by small I mean the RSI group and below) these are game changing. However, simply registering as an ISV or Consulting Partner doesn’t mean you’re ready to maximize your ability to capture the largest part of the market possible for your organization. The reality is this: there is revenue to be had everywhere in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Focus from the top down will allow your organization to unlock its true value in the Salesforce ecosystem. Focus will align your executive team and create processes that enable growth across the sales and delivery functions. Focus will help your Salesforce partners understand when, specifically, to call you opposed to another firm (or two!). Focus on the B2C or B2B experience within an industry across specific clouds will set clear expectations between yourself, Salesforce, and the end-customer, ultimately setting everyone up for success.

For many small firms, focus can be a difficult concept because it may feel like the firm is limiting its potential to capture revenue with a wide net. I’d challenge that thinking, as would the alliances team at Salesforce and the firms within the ecosystem that have grown exponentially.

We’ve found our focus at Neocol: one that suits our skillset, ignites passion in our employees, and also addresses a market gap. We look forward to working with our partners and customers in this capacity!

2. The Talent Gap

I’ve written about this before and this topic’s emphasis at the Partner Keynote goes to show how important it has become.

SVP of Alliances & Partner Sales, Kori O’Brien, spoke about the talent gap that has come as a result of Salesforce growing faster than the partners in the ecosystem. While there certainly is impressive growth within the ecosystem, it is no secret that small-to-midsize partners struggle to find the time to cross-train & cross-certify their teams amidst a battle to capture as many billable hours as possible.

And, as Kori O’Brien highlighted, the overwhelming majority of buyers expect an Amazon-like buying experience. While Salesforce is helping address this gap with a LinkedIn-like solution for Salesforce certified & available employees, partners must also get creative in the way that they are attracting, retaining, and developing critical talent.

We, too, feel a bit of this pressure at Neocol. Our customers want more and we want to continue growing in order to serve our customers in the best way possible. While we use traditional methods to attract talent, we are already thinking about how to execute something a bit more creative that addresses the Salesforce talent gap while also addressing a much broader employment epidemic.

I cannot give away this secret just yet – but it is truly visionary!

At Neocol, we hear these messages loud and clear. We will be addressing both of these in the short-term as well as enacting a few key pieces to ensure these remain core to our long-term strategy as an organization.

We are excited to be in this ecosystem and already planning next year’s Dreamforce!


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