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Customer 360

Q&A: Salesforce’s Sarah Franklin on Driving Digital Transformation on the Customer 360 Platform

After more than a decade in leadership roles at Salesforce, Sarah Franklin is now the EVP & GM of Platform, Trailhead and Developers. It’s a role that brings together her past experience working toward achieving a single purpose: empowering companies to undergo a digital transformation and build connected experiences for every customer, employee, and partner.

In this interview, we asked Sarah about her learnings since taking over the role, thoughts on the future of building digital experiences and what she’s looking forward to in 2020.

Since taking over as the GM of Platform, what would you say is the biggest difference between where the platform was in June 2019 and where the Customer 360 Platform is today?

The biggest difference between where we are now compared to last year is that we’re building one platform for our customers to drive their digital transformation: Customer 360. Historically, we’ve had multiple platforms simultaneously, but we’ve now taken the approach of focusing on a single platform that’s completely integrated — bringing together our low-code and pro-code tools. It’s allowed us to deliver a product that empowers companies to build a single view of the customer, and extend an incredible, personalized, digital experience to every customer, employee and partner.

What Platform product launch are you most proud of over the last six months?

I’m most proud of our release of Salesforce Evergreen, a Kubernetes-based serverless environment that allows developers to build on Salesforce with open standards. Adding Evergreen to the Customer 360 Platform was a representation of our team’s focus on building one platform, and a preview of our drive towards a serverless future.

Evergreen also increases developer productivity by adapting to what they already know and love. By providing developers with a platform flexible enough to let them use and deploy the technologies they know best — like modern industry patterns and open standards like Kubernetes — they are able to efficiently focus their efforts on creating apps that extend their Customer 360 data to deliver more engaging consumer and employee experiences, regardless of scale.

It’s pretty common that when companies look to better connect with their customers through an enhanced experience, they also realize that it’s equally as important to empower their employees to be more productive. How do you think the Customer 360 Platform empowers employees to be more productive in today’s economy?

When I think about ways that the Customer 360 Platform helps empower employees to be more productive, I think about three key areas:

First, it allows line of business users and Salesforce admins to create apps that automate simple tasks – something that would historically have required a combination of IT and developers to handle. And now through automation, employees are able to spend their time on more valuable projects, rather than on mundane tasks.

Secondly, our platform creates a community within your organization where employees can collaborate. By connecting employees to a single data source that’s shared across your organization, employees are able to more efficiently communicate questions and new ideas, and avoid unnecessary confusion that oftentimes comes when multiple employees are working on a single project in silos.

Lastly, it connects everyone on the team with a direct line to the Customer 360 data. Organizations can’t expect to have happy customers if their own employees don’t accurately know what the customer needs. Providing that information at the click of a mouse gives employees the necessary information to better understand, and so better serve customers.

As we continue to move towards a digital-focused future, more and more emphasis is being placed on the importance of knowing how to code for future generations of workers. Do you believe that we will soon be in a world where knowing how to code will be an absolute necessity, or do you see low code developers having a place in the future alongside professional coders?

I think it’s fair to say that coding will continue to be important as we move forward, it also might not be for everyone. The beauty of our platform is that you don’t have to be an expert in coding to be successful. Our platform is built to minimize code where possible by leveraging point-and-click development tools, which helps us democratize our technology and bring more people into the Salesforce Economy.

But while our low-code tools help minimize the technical expertise needed to be successful using our platform, we do realize that there’s a baseline level of digital literacy that everyone needs to know. That’s why we created Trailhead, our free online learning platform that empowers anyone to skill up in a variety of technical, business and soft skills so they’re equipped for the jobs of tomorrow.

How will you look to surface Trailhead throughout the Platform in a way it hasn’t to date?

I’m excited this year to fully embed Trailhead into the Customer 360 Platform in a way where we not only have learning trails, but things like guided product walkthroughs and Einstein actively recommending what learning you should be doing on an ongoing basis. With Trailhead more tightly integrated with our platform, service professionals can have customer requests routed to them based on their expertise and badges earned through Trailhead, ensuring the best possible rep is handling each specific customer interaction. Trailhead is already an incredible tool and we’re just starting to scratch the surface of how this can really help drive incredible interaction within our platform.