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Cloud 3.0, the movement toward digital business that happened virtually overnight, is the new reality in the way businesses are conducting work. Salesforce is doing its part to support a more remote and distributed workforce that appears to be here to stay, a top executive says.

In a world no longer dependent on the ability to cement business deals with a handshake and other face-to-face interactions, Salesforce is looking to capitalize on its pending acquisition of Slack as well as acquisitions in the past few years of MuleSoft and Tableau. This will enable the company to enhance collaboration and customer interactions and achieve Cloud 3.0 infrastructure at scale, according to Bill Patterson, executive vice president and general manager of CRM applications at Salesforce.

The impetus is to solve the core question of “How do we facilitate trust between parties in an all-digital era?” Patterson said. “With all great questions comes an amazing ability to innovate.”

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Since last fall, Salesforce has been busy planning out how to enhance its digital roadmap. Most recently, in late March, Salesforce launched the next generation of Sales Cloud 360, aimed at helping sales organizations of all sizes boost revenue and increase productivity in a digital-first selling world.

CRM evolves during the pandemic

In many ways, nothing has changed and everything has changed, Patterson said. People have always been geographically dispersed, but that has grown during the pandemic and new rules have been enacted like GDPR, mandating how data can be stored.

In response, Salesforce rolled out its new architecture called Hyperforce, which enables all of its services to be deployed quickly in any public cloud, in November 2020.

“This technology is essentially about being conscious that work can happen everywhere so our platform has to run anywhere,” Patterson said. One month later, the company announced its intention to acquire Slack for $27.7 billion, which is still pending.

The idea is the same, he says; when people are working from anywhere and in a more digital-first way, the Slack interface will bring people together in a seamless manner to help business get done in the future.

Salesforce’s Meetings video meeting management system, which sits on top of any video call provider, is meant to take the place of the in-person sales meeting, Patterson said. It is designed “to turn every digital video meeting into sales engagement.” The system surfaces insights about the individual someone is meeting with, the company they work for and what’s happening in the news that can serve as conversation starters or prompts for salespeople to engage with, he said.

The company’s embedded Einstein AI assistant analyzes conversations to help the presenter. It can tell the user things like “the customer is trying to speak and you’re interrupting them,” Patterson said. “This conversation insight is really there to guide and facilitate better engagement and better selling through this medium of digital interactions that become … power tools that sellers in this digital-first world will need to thrive.”

Patterson called Slack “the gold standard around enterprise communications and collaboration and making work easy for business professionals,” and he said the company has no plans to change that.

Instead, the idea is to blend Slack seamlessly into Salesforce and make it easier for people in an organization to “get access to Salesforce data powered through Slack. So it’s not so much our vision for Slack but Slack’s vision for Salesforce.”

Patterson said he has no sense of when the deal might close.

Another capability Salesforce has created is Pipeline Inspection, a data and analytics tool that uses AI “to tap into the deals that matter most for selling,” he said. Because of how work has changed and data has become more digital, there is more “noise” and sales organizations need to know what data to tap into to help their business, Patterson said.

“Pipeline Inspection helps sales managers to sift through the data that comes in day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute in selling … and to home in on the right activities that will drive business.”

Patterson said that Salesforce’s goal is to “really help organizations make better sense of digital data and using it to power better decisions to drive better outcomes … We’re building a data-first world with these processes.”