What Technology Era are you working in?

Jim Szafranski, Director of Sales, Salesforce.com Practice, Vertex Computers

Jim Szafranski, Director of Sales, Salesforce.com Practice, Vertex Computers

In talk daily with Customers -- each with their own set of issues, challenges, needs and constraints. But, they all have one thing in common -- they all want to do more for less. So, as I wrapped up my fourth annual Salesforce Dreamforce Event in San Francisco, I was struck by the fact that each of the 150,000+ Attendees attending wants the exact same thing. So, first, ask yourself .

What Technology Era are you working in?

Not sure? Let's see if we can help you decide.

Where's your data?

First, where's your data – Sales, Service, Warranty, Billing, Forecasts, Spreadsheets, Contracts, etc.? Furthermore, where is your data physically -- i.e., servers, laptops, hosted servers, Cloud, or Hybrid?

Businesses’ critical data needed on a daily basis is dispersed among multiple applications, servers, and data sets. And, it’s time consuming to find. Worse yet, when you do find the data, is it the right data, and do you trust it?

How many Spreadsheets are you using to manage your Business?

And, did you create the spreadsheet, or did someone else? Was it validated? Are you using the latest version? Do you trust it? And, how much time do you spend each week maintaining, updating and emailing those spreadsheets? Now, multiply that number by the total number of salaried Professionals, to see the true 'costs' of those spreadsheets.

How old is Critical data?

There's nothing worse than bad data, but isn't old data really 'bad data'? Ask yourself 'how old is the data that you're relying on to make Business decisions'? And, if it's not Real Time, then it's potentially 'bad data!

What are your ‘Systems of Record’?

Most Businesses have multiple Systems of Record, including:

ERP -- or 'Back Office'

Databases -- e.g., Access, SQL Server, Oracle

Excel™ spreadsheets -- dozens or even hundreds

CRM -- or 'Front Office'

And, while a single system of record is tough to find, if it's more than a few, then the data better be in sync.

Do you use Reports or Dashboards?

Sounds like a strange question, but Reports are a carry over from the 1970's. And, unlike today's Filter-based Reports, every question had to be answered with a unique Report. With today's solutions, Reports -- and Filters – should be nothing more than Dashboard 'components' visible on all devices -- even Mobile.

Can you find any critical document that you need -- in seconds?

If you're like me, on a daily basis you need to get your hands on any of the following documents:

- Proposals

- Contracts

- Customer -- or Prospect -- documents provided as part of a deal or RFP

And, how much time do you spend getting your hands on them? Finally, once you do find them, are they the latest version, and do you trust that you are using the most current -- and approved -- document? We have a saying – ‘if it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist’.

How long does it take you to get things done?

Seriously, ask yourself:

Are your methods mostly manual in spite of all of the applications your company has in place?

Are you still re-keying data into multiple systems?

Can you run your Business from your phone?

It may sound crazy, but, if the right solutions are in place, having Mobile access to all of the above data is nothing more than standard functionality.

So, really, what Computing Era are you working in? Let's try to put that into perspective. Here’s a simple matrix that I developed for our own Salesforce.com Practice to see how we ‘stacked up’ using these questions and some simple metrics.

So, while this Survey may not be ready for Gartner’s official review, I think it should raise some questions as to the ‘Technology Era’ you’re working in and help identify possible areas to eliminate manual methods and legacy applications that aren’t providing Business value.

So, assuming your computing environment isn’t ‘Current State’, what can you do? Here are some suggestions:

• Identify and prioritize the applications and processes that are not adding value. These will be easy to identify just by asking your users.

• Look at Salesforce.com’s market leading solutions to eliminate manual methods while accelerating collaboration and ‘Real Time’ data sharing.

• Build a Business Case to justify your recommendations. Some companies have formal NPV, ROI, and/or Payback formulas to follow. And, leverage actual Salesforce.com Customer Success Metrics.

If you’re like most companies, you won’t have to work hard to develop a defensible Business Case to ‘move the needle forward’. But don’t try to do too much. Best practices generally favor short, highly effective – and even ‘disruptive’ -- changes with measureable ROI. But, time is money, so don’t wait. Or, put another way repeatedly at the Salesforce Dreamforce Event –Speed is the new currency of Business!’

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