Salesforce targets jobs growth and promotes the idea of a digital HQ

Salesforce’s Robin Fisher says people should learn Salesforce tech skills.

Salesforce is promoting the results of a new IDC study that estimated that the customer relationship management and enterprise solutions company and its ecosystem of partners will generate 31,800 new jobs in South Africa by 2026.

This level of growth seems surprising for a company that most South Africans don’t believe they interact with, but Robin Fisher, senior area vice president for Salesforce Emerging Markets (and a South African), says that its solutions are already fairly pervasive in South Africa.

“If you pop down to Woolworths for a salad, they use Salesforce, if you put on a pair of Ray-Bans, they use Salesforce. Multichoice, Standard Bank, Engen, Cape Union Mart, Mortgage SA, Distell… they all use Salesforce. We just don’t do a good enough job about making the public understand that we are the front office of customer relationship management for many companies in South Africa.”

So, it’s clear that the growth isn’t coming off a very low base, but what is contributing to it?

“Where we have done an exceptional job in the market is in growing,” says Robin. “We’ve reached critical mass and we’re going to be setting up shop in South Africa in the short term. It’s safe to say that Salesforce will have a legal entity directly hiring employees on top of supporting our ecosystem. We already have a big team supporting South Africa, but now that will continue to be augmented onshore in South Africa, with aggressive plans for hiring. We’re looking at high double digits in terms of headcount.”

The IDC has identified the other lever for jobs growth in the partner ecosystem. “There will be employment with companies using Salesforce, partners and system integrators ranging from Accenture, IBM, PwC and Deloitte down to regional systems integrators – mom and pop shops and consultants.”

Robin adds that there is also a channel of independent software vendors, who build products on their tech stack and then go to market. In addition, he says, there will be the jobs that support these jobs – training companies and tech companies, for example.
“These are seemingly ambitious targets, but that’s what seems to be out there,” says Robin. “The South African in me wants to do the right thing by South Africa as well.”

He says that what’s keeping him awake at night is making sure that they are doing enough in the South African market to build the technical skills base and knowledge of Salesforce to support what’s coming down the road. “We’ve got to create the skills for those 30,000 jobs. People need to skill up on Salesforce – it’s about to be an in-demand skill.”

Developing a digital HQ
Working at a company that sells a cloud-based solution dating back 21 years, Robin has great insights into the evolution of this space, and how it supported the workplace during Covid-19. In this new world of work, he says, it is essential to have a “digital HQ”.

“Every company is saying, ‘We don’t want to build infrastructure and technology stacks, what we want is to get closer to our customers, employees and partners. We want to make sure we can bring communities together on any device. We want to work from anywhere in the world now.’

"So a digital HQ is about saying we have information in the back end – meeting information, a CRM system – and putting it in the cloud in a secure way, with push applications so that people don’t need to come to the office.”
Using this principle, Robin says that most of Salesforce’s staff work from home.

“You need to make sure your employees can work from anywhere. But if people are working from home, you need to be able to measure productivity – looking at a sales calls pipeline, customer resolution. The tools that allow you to work from anywhere also have to ensure productivity. That’s not to say Big Brother is watching, it’s just that if you are working, we need to know you are working.”