Salesforce's Industries Summit threw up product strategy pitches and customer use case exemplars.

Salesforce Industries Summit - how Penn State and NBCUniversal are tapping into industry-specific clouds

That’s really our focus with the Salesforce industry solutions – we want to make it easy to digitally transform now.

So said Salesforce Chief Operating Officer Bret Taylor as he kicked off the firm’s Industries Summit this week, a virtual event built around the increasingly verticalized cloud offerings from the provider, as outlined previously by Chief Product Officer David Schmaier. Picking up on Schmaier’s pitch, Taylor argued that he can see a couple of common themes in evidence among users of the company’s industry solutions:

The first is really re-imagining traditional processes for this ‘all digital, work anywhere’ world. One of my favorites is around retail execution. For consumer goods companies it’s such a key part of building your business during the pandemic. Consumer goods companies didn’t necessarily want to send their folks into the retail stores to perform this task.  With virtual retail execution, reps can actually collaborate virtually on in-store promotions. It’s a great example of how maybe this is actually a better way of doing this and the pandemic forced it. It’s actually a new way of doing retail execution that actually might define the future of that industry.

The other thing that I’m really excited about, especially given all of our investments in Einstein AI over the past years, is how industry-specific AI is helping our customers move faster. I see this a lot in our Health Cloud around scheduling appointments, and using things like optical character recognition and machine learning for forms. In every industry cloud there’s industry-specific AI. It’s actually becoming an expectation. No-one wants to do the work that a computer can do better. It’s just such an incredible opportunity for forward-leaning companies.

The Salesforce perspective

It was left to Jujhar Singh, General Manager of Salesforce Industries, to expand on both of these themes or pillars as he dubbed them:

Our first pillar – accelerated transformation from anywhere – works for both B2B and B2C scenarios. For the consumer goods industry, we are launching virtual retail execution, whereby consumer goods sales reps, rather than visiting store to store and checking compliance, will have retail stores use a self-service option to record compliance through digital means.

In the new world, we also have appointment management for health as a new norm. However, still, the majority of the doctor’s schedule, even today, sits in EHR systems, like Epix and Cerner. Even when you start a virtual health appointment, in some cases you have to go back and consult with a doctor in person. In order to support these hybrid scenarios, we are introducing Intelligent Appointment Management, which uses AI to suggest appointment times. Once the appointment is booked, data is integrated with old systems, like Epix and Cerner, so you can truly operate in a hybrid environment.

The second pillar he highlighted was industry-specific AI and compliance. Singh said:

We have added specialization to the Financial Services cloud by going deeper and deeper into different segments. We are launching our new corporate and investment banking segment. Investment bankers who are working on an acquisition for a client need to collaborate with a large research team. In order to facilitate that compliance, we have facilitated it by precision data sharing, based on rules and access levels defined by material non-public information. We’ve also added AI. Investment research can be very manual, can be very unstructured and time consuming. With our newest innovation of Einstein Relationship Insights, we have AI-driven automated relationship discovery from different sources. You can actually find unanticipated relationships and insights and all of that research becomes a breeze.

Singh also cited a use case for the consumer goods industry:

We are bringing the silos of planning and execution together on one platform, creating an integrated route to market for the B2B side of the business. Another area where we are unlocking synergies is channel incentives. Channel incentives play an important part in many industries – high tech, consumer goods, manufacturing, automotive and life sciences. Channel incentives face major challenges as well. Innovation is rather limited. Multiple programs exist, but they don’t work with one another – rebates, shipping debit processes, B2b loyalty trade promotions, they are all isolated. To re-imagine this area, we looked to a solution we launched earlier this year, next generation Loyalty Cloud. Focused on experiential loyalty, rather than just ‘earn and burn’, it supports both B2B and B2C loyalty on one platform. We are completely redefining the meaning of channel incentives by making the next generation B2B loyalty work in tandem, all on one platform. Such re-imagination will help companies, particularly manufacturers, shift from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach

Customer view

So that was the vendor pitch; what about the user experience? Schmaier last week made the case that one reason for adopting industry-centric clouds is that they are more closely aligned to the world in which a customer operates, be that manufacturing or retail or whatever, and can allow for faster transformation and innovation.

That was an idea that was supported by  Cletis Earle, Chief Information Officer at Penn State Health and College of Medicine, a Salesforce Health Cloud user whose experiences during the COVID crisis have been game-changing. He explained:

We had no idea we weren’t able to accommodate the speed of which this pandemic has actually blown through the industry. And we partnered with Salesforce to spin up the Health Cloud and really innovate, using the vaccine management tool solution. Just to put into perspective, the vaccine management requirements, just like COVID, was just a whirlwind of change and we needed to actually do things very fast. We needed to be scalable. We needed to transcend different types of industries, different types of topics and be able to scale out. We were able to leverage the vaccine management solution through Salesforce. We were able to stand [the Health Cloud solution] up in record time. We were able to not only do it, we did that securely, we were able to scale to at least 4 million patients at our sites without crashing.

That was just a transformation that healthcare has never seen before. So we were extremely excited at pushing innovation in an industry that needed it. No pun to the COVID shot, but it was a shot in the arm that we really needed. What’s more beneficial is this has just started, particularly at Penn State and Penn State College of Medicine. What we’re doing in central Pennsylvania is, we’re going to be using that same philosophy and that approach for everything that we do moving forward.

In terms of learnings for other users, Earle picked out a number of recommendations:

You need to be data-driven, you need to be able to scale, you need to be able to align yourself to agile methodology and prepare your organization. The culture of healthcare needs to adjust, be able to be more digitally engaged by working with companies like Salesforce, be able to tie in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning to really understand our customers are no different than any other vertical, and be able to engage the customer where they are, so that we can provide better care for everybody that we’re serving.

The combination of information is critical. In healthcare, we have the Holy Grail of data We have our electronic medical records, we have all of the things that are essential and ideal to be able to tap into, so that we can get the best outcome, whether we add, machine learning, Artificial Intelligence on top of it, being able to help our providers take care of their patients in different and unique ways, so that we could actually be at the forefront of care and not necessarily in a reactive state. I really would suggest that people look [around]. There are organizations out there that are doing things just like that. They are working to get the best experience, the best care. Let’s stop saying we can’t do it, and say we can.

Meanwhile Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships at NBCUniversal, a Media Cloud user, also picked up on the ability of industry-centric solutions to make transformation a faster experience.

Consumers are living at the intersection of media and technology, and our consumer-facing company is really about improving the consumer experience. We all know in the last year and a half, we had to have the best broadband possible. Aggregated content – [consumers are] insatiable when it comes to how much content they want to consume. Just at NBC Universal and Sky alone we have over 300 touchpoints, 300 brands where consumers can access content. And then of course streaming – we’re all gravitating towards consumption habits of any type of content through streaming.

So, the transformation is really driving the consumer experience to be the best as it is possible, and that transformation has to live with best-in-class technology, and then the best-in-class data maturation, which obviously led to the relationship that NBCU and Salesforce has, because in order to improve that experience, we’ve got to really accelerate transformation.

That need is being met, she said:

What’s so exciting is that what would have taken us a minimum of three to five years – and probably likely that five years – with resources we couldn’t imagine, we’re going to get it done in about one year. What I always say is that, if NBC Universal and Salesforce could accomplish this, if we could get this done, then so goes the rest of the industry, because [it’s] helping contemporize and modernize and sophisticate everything we’re doing. We are able then to make it interoperable with our partners.

And there’s more to come, she concluded:

For someone like me who has been at NBC nine years now, it’s literally a dream come true or a vision of the future that is here now, that I’m enjoying experiencing…There’s just never a stop – it’s always about what’s next?

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