The world has gotten a little smaller while we’re all separated – yesterday, Trailblazers across the Tasman shared their expertise, experience and insights in the Salesforce LIVE: Australia and New Zealand keynote. And – whichever side of the ditch you say they belong to – Crowded House serenaded us live from their home studios in three continents to our home offices (aka kitchens, lounge rooms and dining tables). Here are the highlights.
Otene Hopa, Māori Advisor at TupuToa conducted a traditional Whakatau to open the day for our New Zealand viewers (and curious Aussies!), while Yvonne Weldon, Chairperson of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council delivered a Welcome to Country for Australia, before Craig Skinner and Pip Marlow spoke about the importance of diversity and equality.
“One of our core values is equality,” said New Zealand MD Craig Skinner, pointing out that the level of workforce diversity is a signal of the level of equality in society. “Māori representation in the technology sector is just two per cent.”
Last year, Skinner told us, Salesforce in NZ formed a partnership with TupuToa to assist Māori and Pacific interns as they build professional experience, networks and skills, while in Australia a COSBOA partnership is administering $670,000 worth of grants to small businesses with a specific focus on Indigenous-owned and female-owned SMBs.
This is not simply the right thing to do – although that’s a good enough reason to do it. There is a huge imperative to transform right now.
“2020 has been the most difficult business environment I’ve had to navigate,” Pip Marlow said. “We have to lead through this change.”
Companies need to be equipped to work from anywhere, sell from anywhere and service from anywhere – this is the digital imperative today, and diversity plays a role in how successful a transformation can be.
“Like customer relationships, employee relationships are all about trust,” said Di Terry, VP Solution Engineering APAC at Salesforce. “We’ve been thinking night and day about how to build trusted relationships. Work.com brings together organisational and health data, makes sure our employees are safe and well, and makes sure we can work from anywhere.”
Terry walked us through a demo of the Work.com app, and how it helps capture the right information to make sure an employee is fit for work while respecting their privacy, building trust with the employee along the way.
Joining us from lockdown in Melbourne, Xero’s Chief Customer Officer Rachael Powell shared some of the incredible initiatives her team has launched in the past six months in support of accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses.
“2020 has definitely brought about a lot of challenges none of us anticipated,” Powell said. “It’s important for us to have acted quickly, because uncertainty for our customers breeds fear.”
With its own workforce safe and set up to work from home, Xero was able to quickly turn its attention to helping those customers. While it couldn’t give them certainty it could help them navigate the mountains of information they were receiving and and support them in accessing government support packages.
The ‘Behind Small Business’ initiative saw the launch of a business continuity hub tailored to the changing needs of small businesses now, a customer response team with access to financial information who could help assess whether SMBs were eligible for government support, and the acceleration of product development including cash flow forecasting tools.
“What’s really important as we move into this new phase is to recognise that this is the new normal – we’re not going back,” Powell said. “Responsibility comes with this.”
Powell explained that Xero’s purpose of supporting small businesses is now more important than ever, and is driving Xero’s evolution from an accounting platform to a small business platform.
Watch the full discussion with Rachael Powell in the Opening Keynote, or tune in as Xero Executive GM Customer Experience Nigel Piper speaks about how Xero is innovating to put customers first.
“March was a very hard time for us and many retailers – we had to shut our doors,” said True Alliance Chief Financial Officer Roni Perlov. “Thank god we had digital capabilities.”
Perlov explained the True Alliance digital journey, which started 18 months ago. “We represent 20+ brands and, to do our job as brand custodians, we needed best-in-class platforms.”
Within True Alliance, a digital agency in partnership was tasked with engaging a partner and soon launched two commerce sites. By the time of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events, 16 sites were live – including headless commerce across brands including Lacoste, Speedo and Ugg.
“By March, we were well-positioned to aggressively launch ecommerce,” Perlov said. He credits the team, digital capabilities and supply chain with True Alliance’s ability to ‘capture the moment’ and weather retail shutdowns.
“The thing I’m most proud of is that we have a team of people that are very engaged - that doesn’t happen by chance.”
Watch the full discussion between Pip Marlow and Roni Perlov in the Opening Keynote, or tune in as Perlov dives deeper into how True Alliance continued to provide frictionless experiences while physical stores were shut down and 90% of the team worked remotely.
Okay, we have the official ruling: Crowded House is an Aussie band with NZ roots.
“I decided when the shutdown happened I would try and broadcast some music every day,” inimitable frontman Neil Finn told us from his LA home. He continued to do so for about two months, until he felt like he’d played every song.
“The power of music being made on the spot helped people to feel connected,” Finn said. “There’s no gatekeepers so we can communicate directly … it’s hard to feel intimate over a computer screen, but there are ways.”
When Finn introduced his remote bandmates – Nick Seymour in Ireland, MItchell Froome in Santa Monica, and Finn’s two sons Liam and Elroy – we had a small twinge of doubt about whether these far-flung musos could really cure our isolation-induced live music cravings. But then they started playing.
What else can we say – see for yourself! They’re belting out classic hits Something so Strong, Don’t Dream it’s Over and Weather with You right at the end of the Keynote, available now on demand.
Every Salesforce LIVE: session is available now, on demand – watch now.