Salesforce.com as an engagement layer solution

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We need to connect our information to our processes and systems, and our stakeholders need to be in line with our business priorities.

Co-authored by Sowmi Jagadeeshi, vice president, Capgemini

Imagine if you could provide more value to your employer. Many of us would likely start by addressing unproductive or disruptive activities like:

  • Emailing less
  • Interacting with fewer applications we use
  • Reversing blockades to access information reliably, easily, and from anywhere, on any device.

In fact, a 2016 study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that nearly one-third of our time is spent reading and responding to emails – nearly a day and a half per week! In addition, almost 60% of those emails were found to be completely unnecessary and disruptive. In fact, an email is initially – and for many – always, disconnected from expensive systems that are supposed to be meaningful to an organization.

Think about having connected information and communications for meaningful records or activities that need to be captured. Every employee seems to have at least one side database, application, or spreadsheet.  Of course, it has some value because why would we have it otherwise? But it is disconnected and likely to contain errors and wrong assumptions or conclusions because the information is stale and outdated. Having accessible and connected information not only improves efficiency – it makes our decisions and actions more relevant and accurate.

Have you ever been asked to wait a few days for a response to an inquiry because your service provider does not have the information they need to resolve it?  Worse yet, some of us may have been the ones delivering that very message. This may be due to the lack of information in our systems, the lack of accessibility to the information, or, simply because the organization realizes that it made a mistake and needs time to work on a remedy. Actually, it can be all three reasons combined.

Making connections to drive transformation

The hard truth is that if your organization does not achieve a base foundation in providing quick, efficient, effective, and valuable connections, a disruptive industry force will. However, the challenge most IT organizations face is time, and that’s due to the complexities we created. It is our duty in IT to serve our organizations in terms of business priorities, not IT priorities. We must take advantage of the technologies available today. Therefore, we need to connect our information to our processes and systems, and our stakeholders need to be in line with our business priorities.

Some companies are already achieving this ideal state. So, how do we do it? Here are some tasks we recommend:

  1. Identify the value drivers for your customers, partners, vendors, community, and employees (e.g., your stakeholders)
  2. Align your stakeholders to defined processes that influence positive outcomes for your business
  3. Align your systems to those processes and stakeholders.

Sounds simple enough, but how should you align your systems to those processes and stakeholders?  In a prior post, we introduced the concept of an engagement layer – which should be an important component in your digital transformation strategy.  An engagement layer acts as connective tissue between your applications, your business workflows, and your stakeholders (please see: Diagram 1 referring to our earlier conversation of how an engagement layer could work for a Landowner Management process – from our landowners to the payments they receive).

Diagram 1

Innovating with Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com is an intriguing solutions provider for companies with a digital vision. For many, the Salesforce.com name means solutions for sales teams and customers. This is not the only case anymore. Identified regularly as an industry innovator, the company has created a mass following and driven positive corporate culture changes for many of their customers who have embraced its technology along with its principals of transparency, equality, and collaboration. Companies of all shapes and sizes across all types of industries espouse the success of their Salesforce solutions.

Here’s why considering Salesforce.com’s solutions tool chest is important. Our smartphones have created an experience we now expect from every interaction. As a result, our employees, partners, vendors, and customers demand the same experience. If you do not meet this expectation in the coming years, you will be left behind by your competition and risk losing employees.

In my opinion, Salesforce.com has cracked the code, or DNA make-up if you will, of common needs across applications:

Engagement layer

Diagram 2

Once applications have these elements, there is context that makes it unique. Salesforce.com gives you advanced toolsets and multiple ways of integrating with it. This means it can either pull or push information from or to those specialized systems or give you the tools to absorb it. As a result, you can create an environment that connects everyone to get work done. It doesn’t have to become the system of record (SOR), either. As an engagement layer, it is exceptional at originating, extending, or supporting the in-between activities related to those records. This will enable you to have clean data capture – important for those transactional SOR systems that are not always meant for widespread access.

Defining the new way of working

Connecting stakeholders is key to establishing a culture of transparency, accessibility, and collaboration.  The old model works as follows:

  1. You receive a request from those you interact with because you are aligned to that channel of communication, or it somehow fell on your lap. In the worst case, the request is not even your responsibility and you need to find out whose responsibility it is.
  2. You find that you have a dependency or you are ready to hand it off to the next person.
  3. You communicate the request through the hierarchy – usually to your manager – to secure their help in getting others to resolve it.
  4. Your manager then talks to a peer in another department who will decide if their subordinate is available to address the need.

This hierarchical dependency and control (please see: Diagram 3) is not a structure that will survive. Even an organization with ten different heads can create numerous opportunities for bottlenecks when its personnel and communications are not aligned to the company’s value chain.

engagement layer

Diagram 3

Companies that connect one another along the value chain will emerge as leaders. It gives conversations and actions purpose, and it clears the road for efficiency and effectiveness (please see: Diagram 4).

engagement layer

Diagram 4

Winning the future of work

The results are speed, fewer emails, less meeting paralysis, and closer alignment to business goals. Because the system is easy-to-access and easy-to-use, users don’t mind responding to a request while winding down for the day at home. More importantly, when users understand the capabilities of the supportive system and can spend time on value-add activities, they start to ask questions about expanding the system’s reach – working to establish a culture of continuous innovation and improvement. Now that would be magic in a bottle for many of us!

For the land-to-ledger process introduced earlier, we see how an engagement layer applies common application needs across the value chain processes and to those stakeholders that support those processes (please see: Diagram 5). This architecture truly facilitates an end-to-end landowner management capability, from the landowner account(s) down to the G/L transactions that make up any payments to them, and everything in between.  In fact, Capgemini is working with The Shalennial Group to offer companies that connective tissue for the land-to-ledger process leveraging the Salesforce.com platform.

engagement layer

Diagram 5

Although this clearly shows how common elements of software relate to this scenario, it does not necessarily mean all needs are met. This is where you can leverage Salesforce acumen and explore possible solutions that either need to be built within Salesforce, connect with Salesforce, or where a solution on the Salesforce App Exchange can help fill the gap. So, as you embark on evaluating your approach to executing your digital transformation initiatives, consider Salesforce.com’s engagement layer platform as a solution. You can connect with us and we’d be happy to show you how we have helped others unleash the power and capabilities of Salesforce.com.

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