Salesforce Exec: Acquisitions of ClickSoftware, Tableau Provide Opportunities

Salesforce sees opportunities from its recent acquisitions of ClickSoftware and Tableau Software, according to Bill Patterson, EVP and GM of Service Cloud at the company.

“Our biggest competitor still in the field service domain is the pen and paper,” he said Sept. 18 at a group investor meeting hosted by Evercore ISI in San Francisco, noting many front office operations centers are “nondigitized.”

Therefore, “we see a large opportunity to bring more modern technology to that front office operations,” he said, noting field service software company ClickSoftware provided the technology that Salesforce based its own Field Service Lightning service on two and a half to three years ago when “we first debuted it to the market.”

Salesforce “had a great strong partnership with the ClickSoftware team, so much so that we wanted to complete and further cement that relationship with the acquisition that will lead to the next wave of innovation and growth for us, largely speaking,” he explained.

Salesforce disclosed in August that it planned to buy ClickSoftware for an amount expected to be about $1.35 billion.

“The opportunity is kind of large and profound,” Patterson said Sept. 18, adding: “I would say, it’s not limited to just, say, the technician marketplace” because home health care professionals and financial advisors are among the types of organizations using this technology. “There is a broad need for kind of modernizing the service operations that are out in field, and we see that need in such a way that’s driving great opportunity for the platform of field service,” he said.

The ongoing 5G rollouts and growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected devices “absolutely” stand to fuel even more potential demand for field services, according to Patterson.

He explained: “As every organization looks to the digital kind of transformation of their own business, it’s creating moments of great opportunity for growth or products that are complex. And I think, in servicing those complex products in the world, that’s what our Field Service Lightning product does. It helps kind of ensure that that’s done with efficiency and care, and ultimately drives great customer satisfaction. And that’s why I think, again further cementing our thoughts and differentiation, the ability to close loop from the service centers, to the field service center, to the service experiences to the communities and then binding that all the way back to the complete view of the customer, that’s what’s leading customers – companies — to invest in Salesforce for this part of their transformational strategies.”

Regarding Salesforce’s purchase of analytics platform company Tableau, closed only a few days before the ClickSoftware announcement, he said it was “early days for me to comment specifically about Tableau’s innovation or Tableau’s technology.”

But he said: “As it relates to supply and demand or interconnectivity of that supply and demand in the labor force and service, organizations today have really struggled with being able to kind of make all the pieces come together. And imagine, for a lot of companies, their service labor force is pretty fixed, and it has capacity but it’s pretty set, if you will. And let’s say that the marketing team may not always be aware of how much capacity is in that labor force. And so, our ability to kind of help organizations connect with supply and demand of how much labor needs to be invoked as a result of marketing activities or sales initiatives or new product launches, combined with kind of the actual capacity and utilization of that labor force in the service centers, that’s just one great visualization that companies today struggle with … being able to see the big picture and see how it all kind of comes together. And what happens oftentimes is, without that insight, who suffers most is the customer.”

What tends to end up happening is that a firm’s customer service team “often gets blamed that they’re keeping company customers on hold when, in reality, the simple exercise is of showing others what the capacity and demand of the service center might mean” – and that means “product teams need to build better products or experiences, or marketing teams need to be more thoughtful for when they run those ads or when sales teams needed to really push — make those sales pushes because the labor force may not be available to just be there with an elastic supply,” he said.

“So, I think, that’s the kind of example that we’re excited to introduce with new visualizations and technologies such as that — such as Tableau,” he told attendees, adding: “I think that’s the kind of thing you can be sure that is on our minds to solve for our customers moving forward.”