The Slingshot Effect – How Customer Centricity is the Catapult to Recovery
Announcer: FinancialForce is pleased to welcome Nicole Milstead, our Senior Vice President of Marketing.
Nicole Milstead: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. I’m Nicole Milstead, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing here at FinancialForce. I’m thrilled to extend a warm welcome to all of your for our second virtual FFX Summit. Hopefully we will all be together next year.
We recognize there’s virtual conference fatigue, and, for that reason, I can assure you we’ve worked extra hard and super diligently to create an experience that’s world class and meaningful for all of you.
This year, we’ve really raised the bar to deliver value to you. First, through customer content and engagement. Second, through heightened interactivity. Third, we’ve restructured our program content based on feedback and input from you over the past year. In its simplest essence, FFX is focused 100% on customer, 100% on interactivity, and 100% on value-add content.
Let’s move on to better define what that means.
100% customer focus. Well, let’s start with the stats. First, we have over 2500 customers registered to attend FFX. We have 42 customer speakers and 25+ customer-led sessions. This means that we have 100% customer-speaker participation in every single one of our breakout sessions.
On top of that, each one of our four keynotes involves customer content as well. At FInancialForce, we’re customer-centric. We realize that hearing customer stories, how customers work with their customers, what their business challenges, solutions, strategy, and successes are is the gold of any good conference.
So, let’s take a look at our keynotes.
First, you’ll hear from Scott Brown, our CEO, who will take you on a ride - you’ll see what I mean - to the core of customer centricity and the market pressures and demands to get there.
Next, you’ll hear from Dan Brown, our Chief Product and Strategy Officer. He will highlight product announcements and demo our latest features and solutions from both our spring and summer releases.
Next up is an interesting discussion between Tony Kender, our Chief Revenue Officer and also my boss, and Lori Steele, the Executive Vice President of Professional Services at Salesforce. Together, they will highlight how Salesforce leverages FinancialForce PSA to achieve business 360, to better anticipate customer needs, and to empower their team to be more productive and efficient.
Last, but not least, our Chief Customer Officer Scott Bajtos, will host a panel with Jellyfish, Siemens, and EAB - three of our customers who put their customers at the center of their business.
Next, I mentioned a 100% focus on heightened interactivity. Why is that? Why does it matter? Well, it matters because we want to keep you engaged. First, we’re introducing the FinancialForce Solution Center. Think of this as your online pavilion to get access to product demos, to get access to solution content, and to get direct access to our partners.
Next, there’s VIP experiences. There’s networking events that you all should have been invited to. You can extend your networking globally as we have regional participation from teams in Emea and Apac. There’s the ability to meet with our executives one-on-one. There’s chat channels that you can find in the bottom right-hand corner of the homepage.
Lastly, to keep it fun, exciting, and fresh, DJ Dante will be spinning the latest music and mixes for you.
Lastly, I mentioned a 100% focus on value-add content. In prior conferences, our session tracks were focused around the way our product portfolio is organized. But we listened to your feedback and input, and we’ve restructured our session tracks to be focused around job role, job function, topics, and content that’s important to those roles and functions.
Lastly, a big thank you to our partner sponsors, and a special thank you to our premier partner sponsor: Salesforce. I encourage all of you to go to the exhibit area to learn about our partner’s services and their commitment to client excellence.
On the right-hand side of the homepage, you’ll find the partner logos. You can click on each logo to go directly to their exhibit page and to interact directly with the partner. Again, a big thank you to our partner sponsors.
Lastly, thank you for attending FFX. We’re really excited to get to the core of customer-centricity together, and to help determine and define what it means for you to power better business experiences for your customers.
Announcer: FinancialForce is pleased to welcome Scott Brown, our President and Chief Executive Officer.
Scott Brown: Well, good morning, good afternoon and good evening to our FinancialForce customers all over the world. Welcome to FFX Summit.
This is our biggest event of the year, and I'm incredibly excited to kick it off. We're going to have an amazing three days ahead where we're going to share best practices, get feedback from you on how we can do better, have an opportunity to reward and recognize the incredible achievements of our customers, and most of all, just to spend time listening.
I'm really excited to be here at FinancialForce. I've been CEO now for the last eight months. But actually, I knew FinancialForce quite well because I was a customer just like you. I was a customer twice, first at Cisco and most recently at TerraData. So, I bring a customer perspective to FinancialForce. Actually, I've spent the last eight months listening to you, meeting with many of the customers, and listening for feedback on what's going well, what do we need to do differently and better in the years ahead, and how can we help you to transform your business and your relationship with your customers? So, it's been a terrific eight months. I'm only the third CEO in the 12 year history of the company, and I think it's been great for me to bring that customer perspective, but also to learn from you.
The summit this year is virtual. Hopefully next year it will be in-person. I think we're all clamoring for that opportunity to actually see each other and spend time together. But this year, at this time, it's still the right decision for this to be a virtual summit. But I really look forward to having the opportunity to be together a year from now.
In the time that I've had in this role has given me the chance to have some interesting perspective, and I'd like to share that with you over the time ahead.
So, I'd like to start today with a bit of a personal story. I grew up here in the US in Wisconsin, and there’s many things you learn growing up in Wisconsin, like fishing and hunting and boating and snowmobiling. But my passion was dirt biking. I love going up to northern Wisconsin. When you're a young person, getting on a dirt bike and heading out on the trails is, well, it's freedom. It's a wonderful thing. I spent many of my early years out there biking with friends, and had a very good friend named Andy that called me one day many, many years later and said, “Hey, I think we should take a trip to the Baja Peninsula.”
This has been actually something I've always wanted to do. The Baja Peninsula is kind of a strip of land right off of southern California. It's part of Mexico, and they have a famous race called the Baja 1000, where dirt bikes and dune buggies and all kinds of vehicles race 1000 miles across the Baja Peninsula. So, it's well known, and I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to go out with a good friend and exercise my dirt biking skills.
So, we signed up, showed up in San Diego, went over to Tijuana, and I remember I got up about six a.m. that morning. We had breakfast and asked the guide, “So, how many miles are we going to do today?”
He said, “About 187.”
“Oh, great. How many are going to be on pavement?”
He said, “Six.”
So, I knew it was going to be an off road day, which I was excited about. I thought this is going to be a blast, it’ll be a lot of fun.
We headed out into the Baja Peninsula. Lo and behold, I spent the entire day crashing my dirt bike. I didn’t realize the Baja Peninsula conditions were incredibly different. Everything about Baja is sand, and I was continually wiping out, losing control of my bike, continually having problems because the conditions were unlike anything I’d ever seen.
At one point, kind of later in day one, I actually went through a turn. It was a fast turn. I swept through the turn, and I crashed into a cactus. It was painful. You wear good gear when you’re out there, but what you realize when you’re on sand, is fundamentally the way that you ride this bike that you’ve known forever changes.
So, I dusted myself off, I pulled my bike off the cactus. I brought it back onto the trail, and I was trying to kickstart the bike and get it going again. There’s a person called the sweeper that comes behind, and the sweeper came behind - this is a professional that’s part of the team that’s leading this roughly 30 people that were on the trip. He comes up next to me, and I’m trying to kick start the bike, and he says, “Stop! Stop! Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop!”
I said, “I’m sorry. I’m still learning how to navigate the sand, and I’ve never done this before.”
He says, “No. Don’t kick start the bike, or you’ll blow the bike up.”
I’m like, “Why?”
He points to the gas tank. When you’re on the Baja Peninsula, there’s no gas stations. Basically, you come up to people that have a 50-gallon drum, and you’ve got the hose, and they syphon it, and they fill your tanks. On the side of your bike are riding tanks that are made of plastic to give you additional distance, and I had punctured the riding tank, and gas was actually going down onto my engine, and I would have exploded the bike had I actually gotten it started. So, this sweeper saved my life.
I said to him, “I’ve just never dealt with conditions like this before.”
He said, “Listen. I have a couple pieces of advice for you. The first one is, you need to get all your weight on the back of the bike - on the back tire. Hang your butt off the back of the bike. It will give you control. Secondly, you need to go faster.”
I’m thinking I can’t possibly go faster. I’ve been crashing all morning and afternoon. He’s like, “You’ve got to go faster, and you’ve got to get your weight on the back of the bike. You will learn how to navigate these new conditions.”
Sure enough, got the weight back, went markedly faster than I normally go, and suddenly I began to understand. Even though the bike floats a lot on sand, and it kind of is loose underneath you. You begin to learn the dance of how to control the conditions on something I’d been doing my whole life, but with a completely new paradigm.
So, why do I bring up this personal story, other than to get you all to the Baja Peninsula?
I actually think my experiences on Baja are just like what we have experienced during Covid. This has been a remarkable time, and it’s been a time of learning. All of us have the business that we had going into Covid - we had that dirt bike. We were accomplished at running that business. We knew and understood the conditions, but, suddenly, when Covid came, everything changed. It changed for me, it changed for you, it changed for everybody.
There were lessons I learned along the way. This is a picture of me on the Baja Peninsula, kind of towards the end of the trip.
When you have new conditions, like Covid, you have to adjust. You have to learn to get the weight back on the bike. You have to go faster. You have to learn about what things have to change, even though you’ve been riding that bike your entire life.
Covid has been challenging for all of us, but it’s also presented an incredible opportunity for all of us to not just readjust what we’re doing, but actually thrive in this new economic environment.
So, let’s talk about that. There’s been a really interesting dynamic in terms of the K-shaped recovery that we’ve seen. If you dialed back and actually went back to 2020, folks were predicting that we would have negative GDP growth, they were re-trenching their businesses. So, they were reducing their employee base. They were reducing their consultants and outside services. Everything was contracting. It was pulling back. Everybody was expecting that we were going to go into 2021 in a much leaner footing, and really a rebuilding year - a restructuring year - economically, in terms of jobs, and in terms of the services economy.
Couldn’t have been more wrong. Actually, what happened was we saw a dramatic increase in GDP, and a dramatic increase in requests in needs for service economy workers. That’s created the gap. You see a tremendous gap between the demand that’s there today, in the capability to fill that demand in the services economy.
So, if we look at the evolution of the services economy, it's kind of informative to kind of look back and see all of the things that we’ve been through over the last 30 years.
We started with a very bespoke services economy. Whether we were building large, autocratic systems, or doing activities, all those things that we were doing back then were very bespoke. Sort of like if you have a car, and somebody sends you a kit to build the car - or you go to the mechanic to actually do repairs on the car. Everything that was done back then was very monolithic and large, and was very bespoke.
Then we moved into productizing and really taking services to the next level. Saying to ourselves, “What can we do to standardize these offers that we have in a build-once-use-many model, and have the opportunity to begin to apply all those learnings we had from the bespoke era, tino create off-the-shelf offers for our customers.
Like the car analogy, this would be like having an extended warranty or a service plan. But, essentially, we began to productize and deliver services in a much more standardized, in a much more efficient way. Then, we saw the emergency of Cloud. This is the opportunity to actually take those services that we have, and turn them into subscription offerings. The “anything as a service” era. The opportunity to say to customers you can pay by the drink. You can get services in any way that you’d like,and we will give them to you as a subscription that you consume along the way.
So, if you think about it as a service in a car analogy, there’s a lot of car manufacturers today that actually allow you to have a elase, and then swap cars even every few months. Like, Porsche is an example of this, where they allow you to come in, drop off the keys, get a different car, and off you go. The subscription economy is a big part of how people are beginning to deliver services today across a wide variety of industries.
So, that's where we are today.
Where are we going? Where we’re going in the future is this digital emergency. What you see is the combination of transformative technologies along with human capital coming together to allow us to actually create entirely new service offerings. The digital emergency of artificial intelligence, of machine learning, of our PA. All these technologies allow us to begin to develop the synergy of digital transformance and technology, working together with human capital, to deliver a completely different experience.
This is really amazing, the technological change that’s happening, and how we can begin to apply these technologies to an entirely new set of use cases, and an entirely new set of service offerings. That relationship between customers and service providers is really becoming very symbiotic. Today, those connections between the technology insights nad those highly-skilled individuals is really the new era of services and where we see things going in the future.
So, this digital emergence is really the combination of new technologies and really doing more with our human capital than we’ve ever done before.
So, if you begin to think about this, we’ve had this K-shaped recovery. We’ve had this emergency of the services economy, and, now, we’re beginning to see the pull back that I talked about earlier - wasn’t a retrenching, wasn’t a reduction, wasn’t negative GDP, wasn’t a reduction in the services economy. It was actually a slingshot that has just been released.
We pulled back and created tension that we now realize is an opportunity for everybody that’s in the services economy. We pulled back, and then, bang! Super fast, here in 2021, we have seen a rock ship of activity. In fact, if we just look at FinancialForce from the low of Covid to where we are today, we have 60% higher daily active users. It is a slingshot. We are seeing it. We’re seeing a tremendous amount of demand. In this world, yes, you have to drive the motorcycle differently. You can't keep doing things the same old way. But with the era of digital emergence, companies now need to recenter around their customer, and nurture partnerships that are going to lead to those win-win experiences.
So, it’s literally been a slingshot effect into the economy, both the services economy and the broader economy. We see that gap being an opportunity for everybody that’s in this market today.
So, what are the kind of four key levers that we see companies focusing on to take advantage of the services economy transition? Well, the first one is really digitizing your business. I was talking to a fellow CEO of another Salesforce ISV. We were talking about how Mark Endreson said years ago, “Software’s going to eat the world.” The observation that he made was it’s not software that’s going to eat the world. It’s software companies that are going to eat the world. Those that digitize their business, and really take the intellectual property and capabilities they have and digitize them, are going to be the winners in this new economy.
He gave me a great example. He said Starbucks. Starbucks is amazing at shift management. Right? All these retail stores and all these people moving around. They’re experts at it. Well, they’re going to take the intellectual property of that, codify it, and actually sell it to other retailers so that they can use the shift management capabilities that they have today, and actually make that part of what they do as a business.
We think of Starbucks as the place we go to get our double venti latte, but they actually, in the future, may be the expert in the industry on shift management.
So, digitizing everything you do is kind of that first key imperative. The second is about innovative experiences.
One of my favorite experiences, as a consumer, is Spotify. I’m a huge Spotify lover. I happened to be with my daughter this week. My daughter just got a cat. His name is Orion. I’ve loved many of the innovations that Spotify has had: family playlists, your hits for this particular year, it helps create playlists of new things called “Taste Breakers.” It’s got all these capabilities that, over time, have improved the experience for me. Well, my daughter introduced me to pet playlists. She actually created a playlist for Orion, her cat, by answering what is the animal, what is the nature of the animal. All kinds of questions about Orion the cat, and suddenly, on Spotify, they now have a playlist for Orion.
This is an innovative experience, right? We have to continually reinvent that experience with our customer.
So, people in this digital transformation are looking at how can I take the technology and the IP I have, and then apply it to creating innovative experiences just like they did for Spotify with pet playlists. Which is crazy, innovative, but a great experience.
The third leg of this stool that’s a key imperative is around customer insights. The deep insights you get by looking at the customer journey end-to-end. It used to be, in the past, that you looked at customers at a point in time. Today, everything about their experience - from the moment they have an interest in your product and begin to navigate the digital web looking for information - 70% of that information they gather before they even talk to somebody at a company, all the way through to them renewing a subscription service. Now becomes an opportunity to mine what are the insights about that particular customer, and how can I serve them better?
The fourth imperative is about enterprise agility. If you think about the transitions we talked about in the services economy, it requires a very agile IT environment. It requires an environment that allows you to constantly change, allows you to envelope and change in a way that creates new offerings very quickly, and the people that will win are those that bring things to market fast, that are agile, and listen and respond to the customer needs that they detect in the marketplace.
So, the fourth key imperative has really been around enterprise agility. All this is done, obviously, in service of the customer. So, when we think about our customers, we ask the question: “Are we helping you to deliver this to your customers?” We get a lot of feedback on it. You see great examples here. Thom at Elastic, and Dan at Willow, and these customers talking about how we’re the backbone of their services, how we’re helping to provide new insights, how we’re helping them to feel confident in their management team - with the metrics and how they manage the business - and how we are helping them to improve their client experience.
We ultimately want to help you to get a unique view into your customer, and help you to deliver better experiences for them, and work across those four key imperatives. That change is crucial to your business, and we here at FinancialForce are committed to helping you to achieve that change.
So, this customer-centric approach really eliminates that siloed view of a customer, and changes the orientation of the business. For many, many years, we talked about things - about “to cash.” That used to be a big industry moniker. Code to Cash was a very narrow view of the customer, and it really didn’t actually look across that expansive view of the relationship over time. There is a long-term relationship that you have with many data points and interactions, and really, in the future, we need to realign to something far more valuable for the customer.
So, if we pull back our aperture, and we kind of look, we realize that there’s a lot of people that need insights into that customer. Sales, services, customers, IT, finance. There’s many people that need a common view of the customer, of their journey, and how they actually utilize your technologies, your products, your services, and - ultimately - what their experience is with you as a customer. So, clearly, we want to begin to look at a unified view of the customer, and understand how that customer from a 360 degree view is having an experience with you, and how we can improve that experience over time.
So, as we pull back the lens, it becomes clearer that everyone needs to have a shared view of the customer. Everyone needs to see all the information associated with that customer, and each work group can work together to build better customer outcomes and more durable relationships over time. If we pull back that aperture just a little bit further, what we realize is the entire customer experience is not quote to cash. It is an opportunity to renewal. There’s a long-term relationship that you have, and the key here is all parts of your IT infrastructure need to work together to actually allow you to have that linear view, that longitudinal view, and see from an opportunity all the way to renewal - everything that is happening with your customer - and get that 360 degree view.
The focus is zeroed in on your customer and on their success. Actually, we’re going to have a session coming up with Dan Brown, our Chief Product Officer, and he’s going to talk about a new capability that we’re bringing in - a new product we’re bringing to market - that’s going to help you even further get depth of that 360 view and understand how you can deliver better customer success for them.
But, ultimately, the way to deliver this is a combination of Salesforce and FinancialForce together. This is how we deliver that complete 360 degree view. It’s a single system, no APIs, all the data is on the Salesforce platform, everything works together in real time, and this brings the entire view into focus. It’s a tool that tailors your customer engagement for the customer or cohort that you’re working with. You have a complete understanding of the financial impact of everything that you do, and everyone knows how to continuously drive Customer SAT, retention, expansion, referrals, and all the activities that are going to help you grow that customer lifetime value, and grow that customer NPS.
Salesforce and FinancialForce is very powerful together: allintheforce.com platform, all allowing you to deliver that customer 360 view, all giving you that insight to helping you understand how can we create that deep, meaningful, and profitable relationship. Many people have talked, for years, about customer-level P&Ls. We can actually deliver those by the combination of Salesforce and FinancialForce working together.
So, what we’ve just been discussing is more of the mechanics and the world around us. Now, let’s look at the combination of digital business, innovative experiences, insights, agility that have come to become more efficient, and allow us to do more high-order tasks. You see what our customers are telling us about how we’re participating in that transformation. We’re helping to see their customers in full color. We’re providing end-to-end visibility. We’re providing a new level of insight. We’re the single source of truth. That’s that customer 360 view that we’ve been talking about.
The technology can help you to go faster to scale, and also make things smarter, so it’s easier to make decisions along the way that are quicker, and better, and - often - require less human interaction. That’s the importance of the connected end-to-end integration.
But what you see here is that, really, customers are telling us that FinancialForce allows them to see the things that are vital to their business, and the ability to capture that big picture in real time.
As we know, more than anything, this all starts and stops with your customer. Making your customers central to everything your organization does, across all your business functions - from finance to sales to top management. Then, and only then, can you not only see your customer, but you can see your customer in full color.
With Salesforce plus FinancialForce, we enable you to see the whole customer sot hat you can not only predict, but pivot, and scale up, and scale down, expand, contract, do everything you need to do quickly and easily.
FinancialForce uniquely enables you to see your customers in full color, to see your business in full color, to see projects in full color, your financials in full color, your ecosystem in full color, and your future in full color.
But you can also truly be customer-centric with your customers to deliver them better experiences, to innovate for them, and to see your customers across every role authentically as they truly are with all their unique differences - again, in full color. That is a direct line to business growth.
So, whether you find yourself on dirt or sand, take confidence in knowing that with the customer at the center of your business, you are definitely on solid ground, and you can fully seize the opportunity in front of you.
We, here at FinancialForce, appreciate the opportunity to partner with you on that journey, and I hope you have a fantastic FFX.