Salesforce Dreamforce is one of the biggest software conferences in the world. In the run-up to this event, we unveil our special TechByte series featuring high-profile Dreamforce attendees and MarTech Champions. We spoke to Latane Conant, CMO, Appirio to find out how she views the event.
MTS: Tell us about your role at Appirio?
Latane Conant: Appirio helps companies improve their worker and customer experiences with the use of digital and cloud technology. We deliver results in weeks or months, not years.
So, as CMO, I work with my team to ensure we stay relevant and that we practice what we preach. We are constantly working on improving our own Customer and Worker Experience through creative strategies like journey mapping, persona building, leveraging partner relationships, and much more. We have to be a use case of our own consulting methodology.
Also behind the scene, I need to ensure we hit revenue numbers while managing cost of sale. This means investing in the best demand generation programs, creating leading experiences that differentiate Appirio, preparing our team to execute, and fielding the best team at those programs.
MTS: Why you see Dreamforce as the B2B “event of the year”?
Latane: Salesforce recently did a study on the Salesforce economy. For every $1 of software they sell, it creates $5+ in positive benefit for partners, philanthropies, new jobs etc. We are of course a major part of that economy. Dreamforce is where all our customers and prospects are so naturally we want to be in that flow in a big way helping educate the market on the Virtuous Cycle, delivering a different experience, and ultimately meeting our people. We try to send a real mix of our people to Dreamforce because time and time again we hear that customers love Appirio because they love our culture. You can’t explain culture in an RFP response. You have to experience it. Dreamforce is the best place for customers and prospects to do that with us.
Appirio always stood out as an early adopter — a push-the-limits consultancy. We have a saying that it’s our job to be tour guides, not taxi drivers. If you want to be a tour guide you have to be on the pulse of all new industry trends and technology so you can direct customers to the BEST choice. Dreamforce and really the preparation leading up to Dreamforce ensures Appirio’s on the leading edge of Salesforce’s roadmap and ultimately where the industry is going. Our bolt initiative is a perfect example of something we worked on over the last year to unveil this year. A major investment but something we believe is the future for our customers.
MTS: As a strategic partner of Salesforce, what are your expectations from Dreamforce 2017?
Latane: We expect to hear a lot of conversations around Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is a hot topic right now, and rightly so. Last year at Dreamforce, Salesforce launched Salesforce Einstein, which embeds AI in the Salesforce platform. This year there is an entire day dedicated to AI.
– We also anticipate a lot more around Salesforce Lightning Bolt. Appirio is releasing some Lightning Bolt updates of our own at Dreamforce, and Salesforce recently announced Lightning Bolt to the AppExchange, which further enhances partner solutions like Appirio’s Retail Store Collaboration. With our solution, retailers can now collaborate better with their stores, getting real-time information about consumers, improving worker engagement and accelerating the feedback process necessary to scale their business.
– Our biggest expectation, however, is to show our customers the Appirio experience. We plan to roll out the blue carpet for them. From our Platinum program, Black Card experience, Executive Club, and legendary party — Who doesn’t love the 80s?
MTS: You just organized the San Francisco Worker Experience Tour 2017. What were the key takeaways from that event?
Latane: We did some awesome fireside chats with key figures from organizations such as UPS, Unum, and The First Tee, to showcase how businesses can transform on a massive scale. We talked about how with worker and customer journeys that are thoughtfully mapped out, and the right technology put in place, organizations can create an agile, productive, engaged workforce through unlimited access, continuous learning, and collaboration. Some of the highlights include–
- In New York, John Davisi, Senior Director of People Operations at Buzzfeed, and Jim Topor, Executive Director of Global Talent Sourcing and Recruiting at Celgene, discussed culture at their respective companies, and talked about the “three legs of the stool” — people, process, and technology.
- In Chicago, Lisa Feiler, Moen‘s Manager of HRIS and HR Administration, explained that they wanted to focus on the learning and development of their employees. So they partnered with Appirio to implement Workday, a platform that will allow them to better understand who their talent is and how they fit into the Moen structure. Since implementation, they’ve continued to build on their WX roadmap, adding Workday Talent Management and Recruiting, with plans to incorporate a learning system in the near future.
- In Atlanta, I talked about a simple way to recognize employees’ hard work — by using tools like Amazon’s Alexa to post a shout out to Salesforce Chatter for an employee’s job well done. With one verbal command, it offers an easy way to multitask, while still recognizing and rewarding employees.
MTS: How should modern marketers leverage data, analytic, and technologies to drive productivity in the “Age of Customer Engagement”?
Latane: The vast amounts of data at our disposal have completely revolutionized the role of the CMO across all industries and company sizes. At Appirio, we’ve worked tirelessly to create a culture of “why” in marketing. That requires having immediate, real-time data in front of everyone, so they can see our results and ask the important questions: Why are leads up? Why does this piece of content perform better? Why was this the most productive event ever? Without cloud-based solutions, we could never have the level of granularity, accuracy, and immediacy that we need to future-proof our business. It’s also created a new level of accountability, and helped create the amazing relationship we have with sales. We are one team with a common set of goals.
MTS: What marketing technologies are you looking forward to at Dreamforce 2017?
Latane: I’m excited to see many of the Artificial Intelligence sessions. AI is going to play a huge role in pushing marketing technology to the next level in creating true 1-to-1 customer journeys.
Of course, I’m also looking forward to seeing Appirio customer sessions — like Sodexo, who will be showcasing how companies can extend the power of Salesforce CRM with custom apps built on Heroku. And the Sierra Club, who will share how Marketing Cloud is the #1 platform for engaging consumers at scale.
MTS: What would be your message to Dreamforce 2017 attendees?
Latane: Dreamforce is a one of a kind experience, so try to organize yourself and don’t get overwhelmed. Try to separate the real from the buzz word lingo. Don’t be afraid to dig and ask what people REALLY mean. And stop by our booth to say hello. We’ll have lattes in the AM and booze in the evenings. What did I tell you…it’s a Different Experience!
MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Latane.
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