Salesforce CIO Ross Meyercord has been growing one of the leading information technology teams in the broader IT space for the past three years. With Dreamforce 2015 quickly approaching, Meyercord shares in this interview how his department has supercharged app development to create a mobile-first workforce across their 17000+ distributed employees. You can also hear more about his lessons learned and how to build a mobile-first strategy at his break-out session, “Get the Inside Scoop: How Salesforce Uses Salesforce1 Mobile App”, at Dreamforce.
What have been the biggest shifts/trends for IT these past two years?
I have been in technology for the past 25 years, and I think these past few years have been the most exciting times I have seen. The pace of change in the fields of mobile, cloud, social, and insights is astounding. I’ll highlight the two most noticeable trends.
Salesforce has always been at the forefront of cloud technology, and over the last few years, we’ve seen our client’s mentality shift regarding cloud architectures. Three years ago, we received questions around is it possible to put this on the cloud? After it was determined possible, the next wave of progress begged the question should we run this on our own hardware or the cloud? Now there’s no doubt that cloud solutions are cheaper and easier, and customers are asking which cloud solution best suits their business. In the next few years, I think the remaining companies will ultimately get rid of their own data centers and turn entirely to SaaS/Paas/IaaS offerings.
The second major trend I’ve seen has been mobile moving from an afterthought to the target experience. Salesforce embraces a mobile-first mindset. It helps us prioritize and distill down the key components for mobile and then create the features that we need to extend to desktop.
What impresses you about the potential of mobile apps?
The beauty of mobile apps is that they have a chance to integrate into your customer’s lives at a much deeper level than a desktop application could. If you imagine someone using a program on their laptop, they’ll have to stop everything else that they are doing, use the program for some amount of time, then switch back to the context of their everyday life. With a mobile app, we can seamlessly integrate with a customer’s behavior, solving problems as they come up.
When we designed the Salesforce1 Mobile App, we wanted an app that would remove the need for an employee to carry their laptop. We created a portfolio of mobile apps that provided the same ease of use and utility. The main focus here was to build apps that integrate into the flow of how our employees naturally work. When a mobile app is built well, people use it in a series of micro-sessions that don't feel intrusive or cumbersome. It just becomes part of how you work.
What has been the most successful driver for adoption of Salesforce1 Mobile App?
UX matters. It rules. Assume the user can’t type and if they do, they can only enter a single piece of information to drive the transaction. Make the transaction easier, faster, more elegant than its desktop equivalent.
Developers can go down a dangerous path of designing a complex, feature rich app with multiple use cases. Instead, I suggest focus. Re-imagine the business flow and use case for the main painpoint your user has to solve. Build it on mobile with as few keystrokes and swipes as possible.
By creating a frictionless user experience, people will naturally adopt since they’re already more inclined to turn to their mobile device. You just need to prove that the mobile app offers the easiest and most convenient way to accomplish their goal.
How do you maintain a strong relationship between IT and the business units?
Talk. Get out in the field. Walk in their shoes. This happens at all levels within my organization. I align my IT development teams to business processes so they become experts in understanding the specific pain points and challenges of their users. This helps my team more effectively improve existing systems and identify new development opportunities. When our team develops an app or system that solves a real pain point, our business partners can’t wait to partner with us again.
Want to hear more from Ross about the latest IT trends and how the world’s most innovative company builds and manages their mobile-first strategy? Join us at Dreamforce for our break-out sessions, “Get the Inside Scoop: How Salesforce Uses Salesforce1 Mobile App”.