Customer Reflections: A user's first Dreamforce and Community Day

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Customer Reflections: A user's first Dreamforce and Community Day

Asha Aravindakshan is the Director of Talent Operations at Ashoka, an international citizen-sector organization. Ashoka has the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system-changing ideas into practice on a global scale. The organization uses Human Capital Management to manage their HR. They are a recipient of our annual 360s Customer Excellence Award for HCM Excellence.

customer reflections
Jeremy Roche, myself (Asha Aravindakshan) and Sam Loveland. 360s Customer Excellence Awards ceremony at FinancialForce Community Day 2014

As a Dreamforce first-timer, I was excited to see the all-star line-up of speakers, hear about the new product revelations and meet other Salesforce enthusiasts. My expectations were exceeded!

From hearing Hillary Clinton speak about one of my favorite topics, education, to watching the Beach Boys perform their hit “Good Vibrations” live at the Moscone Center, the star studded line-up did not disappoint!’s announcements of robust analytics capabilities with Wave and enriching the Salesforce1 mobile platform with Lightning were well-complemented with in-person customer testimonials.  I was impressed to hear the exclusive new product launches of wearables and PonoMusic player by and Neil Young, respectively.  I also had the chance to check out the Foundation Zone, which was a wonderful resource for nonprofits in the context of the larger conference. All in all, the announcements confirmed the positive business impact of customer-centric interactions through the platform. 

Admittedly, I most enjoyed the Community Day, which supplemented Dreamforce and gathered together’s worldwide staff, customers and business partners.  As an existing Human Capital Management (HCM) customer, I was delighted to hear CEO’s Jeremy Roche’s one-hour keynote focused exclusively on the HCM app and launch of the Everyday HCM. 

Everyday HCM integrates the HCM app into an employee’s day-to-day use of the Salesforce1 platform, which makes for a seamless user experience.  The day continued with a better understanding of the HCM three-year roadmap directly from the Product Managers, including enhancements requested by Ashoka.  My Community Day highlight was accepting a 360s Customer Excellence Award for Ashoka’s successful implementation of the HCM app exactly a year after I took over the project.  Community Day wrapped up with a reception, where I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeremy about his keynote.  Imagine my surprise, when he quoted Ashoka’s award application for the 360s Customer Excellence Award and shared that he wanted to implement certain HCM modules at in the same way! 

My time at Dreamforce included presenting with at two sessions – one at Dreamforce and the other at’s ERP Central.  The first session, “How Employee-Centric Systems Lead to Customer-Centric Cultures”, featured the latest research from Forrester and my examples of how Ashoka’s increased employee engagement led to improved productivity and stakeholder engagement.  I enjoyed sharing the before/after stories of how Ashoka’s talent function was able to consolidate 45,000 digital and physical files into one system of record, the capability in the HCM app to open up 1,000 employee goals worldwide to improve accountability and the benefits of transparency within the HCM app to increase productivity amongst 300 staff in 47 countries.

HCM customer panel ERPcentral
Mike Halvorsen of Asset Planning Services, Alan Hall of Jacobus Consulting, myself (Asha Aravindakshan of Ashoka) and Jonathan D’Sa of FinancialForce at the HCM customer panel at ERPcentral

The second session was a HCM customer panel, which provided me, Asset Planning Services and Jacobus Consulting with the chance to share our stories on implementing the HCM app into Salesforce in an interactive dialogue.  It served as a tremendous learning opportunity for both the panelists and audience members. 

Overall, the Dreamforce experience was inspirational in considering the possibilities available to Ashoka on the platform.  The FinancialForce team proved to be amazing hosts and I am grateful to them for their hospitality.  Can’t wait to see what this hard-working team puts together for 2015!

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