The Salesforce Solution: In Conversation with John Kelleher
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting ─ albeit virtually ─ John Kelleher, the Area Vice President of Enterprise Sales UK, at Salesforce. The leading VP took the Supply Chain Digital hot seat and openly discussed Salesforce’s business model, the company’s partnership with IMI Critical Engineering, and the ways that digital transformation has affected global supply chain networks.
John told me that he has been “at Salesforce for ten years now. I’ve been in enterprise software sales directly and in leadership and management for the last 20 years. My career began at Jaguar Land Rover as a manufacturing engineer; then I moved over to supply chain, working for the supplier-side of the company as a key account manager. My first big enterprise role, in the software-realm, was with Siemens ─ I spent a while selling engineering software to support product, life cycle management, product development, computer-aided engineering and computer-aided design into automotive, aerospace and manufacturing.” John then moved into consumer packaged goods as a white space exploration for PLM, “which kind of brought me into Salesforce; to develop the relationship and grow Salesforce footprint with Unilever ─ I enjoyed a wonderful partnership with Unilever as we do to this day ten years on, and is now, one of our largest consumer packaged goods customer globally.”
Wondering why John was telling me specifically about this entrance point, the industry-leading VP told me that the “journey was interesting and important because it actually informed the relevance of Salesforce to manufacturing and consumer goods companies beyond just CRM with Unilever.”
We were on limited time, but I felt that it was necessary to get John’s take on exactly what Salesforce does, and what they can do for your business. He willingly shared. “Salesforce was a startup, at first ─ and whilst now a US$17bn organisation work hard to maintain a startup sense of innovation and agility, but, in reality, we’ve been in the game for two decades now. Back in ‘99, Salesforce was one of the pioneering companies that took cloud-based technologies into businesses. Our initial area of capability was focussed on CRM, Customer Relationship Management, where we supported our customers to establish a customer-centric approach to their sales and business development activities, enabling them to be better connected to their customers with improved visibility and integration across their sales processes. Fast forward twenty years and Salesforce has built a complete 360-degree suite that has extended the capabilities of classic CRM into customer service, marketing, and eCommerce ─ both B2C and B2B.” More recently Salesforce has made major acquisitions in the areas of integration and analytics with the respective acquisitions of Mulesoft and Tableau. Both maqui brands, they are enabling us to support customers maximise their existing technology investments and optimise cross-functional processes, whilst maintaining customer centricity and importantly providing an opportunity to digitally integrate the front office (Salesforce heritage) with the back office. This unification critical to support agility in new business models required to succeed in an increasingly volatile world
On Salesforce’s partnership with IMI Critical Engineering, John was willing to share his insight. “[Salesforce has] got a long-standing relationship with IMI. Whilst our initial engagement was around core CRM, we have built a richer 360-degree relationship with them and now support other areas of capability and are working closely with IMI to extend the relationship further. IMI continues to develop capabilities on the Salesforce platform, and we are working with them on key strategic pillars such as Customer Satisfaction and Commercial excellence to support IMI’s sales and customer services pre-and-post sale.” End-to-end, if you like.
John added that “The relationship is very much based on traditional Salesforce CRM. The reliability is there, and the partnership continues to gro on this foundation, which suggests we continue to deliver value for IMI and how they manage their front office processes. Due to COVID-19 situation, reps that were on the street ─ as it were ─ have been brought in-house easily as their front office estate is built on cloud-based capabilities like Salesforce. The company was able to adapt to the new sales environment far quicker than they would have, with more traditional on-premise capabilities. So it’s a traditional starting point, but with modern technology, we’ve been able to help IMI Critical Engineering adapt quickly in a highly volatile world.”
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.