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Salesforce: Emerging Trends & Technologies – #DF16

Do you want to find out what Salesforce and other thought leaders see as emerging and digital technology trends?  At Dreamforce 2016, Kartik Chakkarapani, the Emerging Trends Track leader hosted a session with Peter Coffee, VP for Strategic Research at Salesforce, Kevin Brady, Chief Digital Officer at Cisco, and Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer at 7Summits to discuss these topics.

Kartik led off with the questions why transform, what to transform and how to transform?  We are in the age of the customer and intelligence needs to be pushed to every touch point and interaction.  This is AI and Einstein at Salesforce.  Kartik referenced the digital master concept that Perficient and Forrestor have pushed over the past couple of years. Defining Digital Transformation, Kartik says that DT is an organization change through the use of digital technologies.

Why transform?

Customer needs and habits are changing, they are better informed and expect higher service than ever before.  Emerging technologies are enabling new capabilities, and new entrants are coming into the market offering better service.  As the digital master concept says, you can either be a disrupter or be disrupted.

What to transform?

First is the customer experience.  You need great customer understanding (Customer 360), engage at all customer touchpoints and drive top-line growth.  Second, you transform operation processes, which we call business optimization.  This involves business processes, employee enablement and productivity, and data driven insights and intelligence. Finally you transform business models through new digital capabilities.

How to transform?

Frame the digital challenge – build the awareness, outside-in innovation, assess digital maturity, create a vision and align top team.  Second, focus investments and implement.  This translates your vision into action.  You should build a digital roadmap and governance.  Don’t forget you have to fund this over time, usually more than one budget cycle.  Third,  you have to engage the entire organization, with new behaviors and culture.   Finally you have to sustain the transformation by building skills, assessing progress and making course corrections.

Peter Coffee then talked about specific trends.  Interest over time falls and you have to worry more about the post-sale experience.  For example, if you take away selling phones from Apple, you still have a huge company that operates on the post-sale side of things.

Digital transformation is more than changing from filling a form on paper to filling it online.  Transformation is more about conversations. Chat and messaging apps have exceeded social networking traffic.  The number of apps we see in app stores today will be dwarfed by “bots” that hold meaningful conversations with us.  Alexa from Amazon is an example of a chatting bot.

Formerly high-wage skills are becoming, literally, websites.  Wolfram Alpha has replaced the need for a lot of custom development and learning.  Type into Wolfram Alpha “what are the odds of dealing a full house?” and the application will respond with information that used to take a whole course on statistics to produce.

What about Artificial Intelligence – haven’t we seen this before many times?  Here the conversation capabilities shine.  Instead of having to precode thousands of rules, newer systems understand conversations and applies machine learning that we’ve spent decades building.  Now we can “know” more without having to learn more.

We assume that all this innovation has to level off.  But does it?  Since IBM PC in 1985, cpu and memory have both grown exponentially. Networking has also gone exponential.  So we don’t as humans understand exponential growth, but it has been happening for a long time.

Kevin Bandy talked about reimagining work and value in a digital world.  The exponential growth mentioned above has had a tremendous affect on Cisco.  80% of the world’s network traffic now originates on Cisco devices.  Cisco did some research and found from CEOs:

  • 40 market incumbents will be displaced in 3 years
  • Every 18-24 months you have to reengineer your operations to keep up
  • 1 in 4 companies are responding to digital disruption right now

These changes are happening in every industry, so you have to reimagine work and reinvent a new operating model to accommodate digital transformation.  Kevin says you can’t just change your offers or portfolio.  You have to change the business model.   At Cisco they have completely changed their business model in past 24 months from a hardware focus to a software focus.  That’s impressive for a $50B company.

Dion Hinchcliffe talked about what is coming next?  Improvements in technology have grown exponentially and that has always been good for humans.  If we understand exponential technology change, this will help us prepare for even more change.   Jack Welch said, “If the rate of change on the outside is greater that the rate of change on the inside, the end is near”.

Organizations will need a new Digital Metabolism – moving from a push to a pull based model.  Pull implies a decentralized and broadly empowered model of transformation.  You can’t possibly do everything your self and you must pull in others to help.

Here are some examples of emerging tech:

  • Conversational user experience – bots are coming twice as fast as apps
  • Machine learning and AI – by 2020 $1000 will by computing power equal to 1 human
  • Autonomous pure digital knowledge workers – will alter work, and lead to new economic models
  • Everything is about to become connected – cars will generate petabytes of data; everything gives off streams of data 24/7
  • Omni-channel Digital Experience is the imperative for Digital Transformation.  This is the single most important value creator for companies.
  • Transportation becomes almost entirely digital
  • Powerful new forms of analytics will mature – predictive and prescriptive analytics is coming
  • Everyone can digitally create
  • Digital workplace is going to be very different – more virtual, full of data and borderless


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Mark Polly

Mark Polly is Perficient's Chief Strategist for Customer Experience Platforms. He works to create great customer, partner, and employee experiences. Mark specializes in web content management, portal, search, CRM, marketing automation, customer service, collaboration, social networks, and more.

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