Salesforce World Tour offers hard-learned lessons from Australia's complex digital transformations

Leaders transforming complex organizations with Salesforce gathered at Salesforce World Tour Sydney 2024 to share key learnings for IT and other transformation stakeholders on how to manage complex, customer-centric digital transformations.

Projects included a complete redesign and transformation of the technology stack at HBF, where since 2018 the healthcare organization has been moving toward being 90% in the cloud via AWS by mid-2024, as well as replacing its core system with Civic.

The advice ranged from having a clear vision from the beginning to adopting a clear strategy and architecture to support scaling into the future. These leaders also recommend choosing transformation partners well, hoping to pivot and focus on the end customer.

1. Create a strong vision and project alignment from the beginning.

Improving the service and experience it could provide to customers was the fundamental vision that guided and united the State Trustees Victoria team in its continued service transformation with Salesforce, according to Brett Comer, CFO and General Manager.

With responsibility for supporting vulnerable clients across the state of Victoria with their financial and legal needs, including people with disabilities, Comer said: “It was very clear at the highest level that we were doing this for our clients, not to make our work”. easier.”

SEE: Top IT trends IT professionals should be prepared for throughout 2024.

Success was always underpinned by a collective vision and alignment from the beginning. Comer said this included getting buy-in on who the project was for, why it was being done and how to do it, as well as the importance of Salesforce and what that would enable.

Comer added that the vision was supported by ensuring success was measured, supporting teams through change management, and ensuring that both teams and partners shared the burden of the project, as well as seeing real-world results, such as compliance with customer payments.

2. Detail a clear strategy and build architectural foundations that can support scale

Crystal Warner, Salesforce capability lead at the South Australian Department of Education, said the success of the Department's review of the Salesforce-powered services it provided to students and schools with additional needs came down to having a strategy. .

Since joining two and a half years ago, Warner said it had turned the strategy into a “bible” to ensure the project stayed on track.

“Every time a new feature was talked about, I always came back to how well it aligns with what we want to achieve,” Warner said.

Getting the architecture right was also critical to ensuring the Department of Education could scale in the future, he said. By using Salesforce Education Cloud, Warner said he was able to capitalize on out-of-the-box functionality and then make it his own, improving delivery time and value.

3. Choose wise technology partners and systems integrators to drive business acceptance and customer outcomes.

Billy Martin, general manager of transformation delivery at HBF, said the company was careful in choosing vendors and systems integration partners as part of its critical, holistic digital transformation, and that key partners eventually included PwC, Salesforce and AWS. .

By forming a consortium, which included 55 people among its partners, Martin said HBF moved in the direction of designing a technology stack that was less technology-focused. This ensured that business representatives could understand it better and customers were prioritized.

4. Focus on end-user experiences to maximize adoption rates.

National Australia Bank has increased the presence of its unified CRM, powered by Salesforce, from 40% to 73% of the institution's bankers in more than 12 months. The next step will be to implement the platform in its personal and business banking divisions, and its corporate and institutional banks.

Charlotte Cadness, digital, data and analytics executive at NAB, said the bank had achieved a 90% adoption rate among users by creating a “wonderful experience”, informed by working with them to create a “lovable minimum product”. , not just a viable minimum. Product.

SEE: The big IT challenges Australia must address to seize the AI ​​moment.

Gerrod Bland, chief digital officer at NAB, said this focus on user experience sometimes resulted in the team iterating designs 15 or more times in an effort to create intuitive experiences for users of the platform.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression,” Bland said.

5. Expect to pivot as project and business needs change.

HBF's digital transformation involved an important pivot mid-project. Having divided the project into three horizons, the last of which was the replacement of its core system, the decision was made to change the main suppliers mid-project and combine the last two phases of the project into one.

Billy Martin said this broader rollout proposal was mitigated by taking a “dark launch” approach. By deploying early to a production environment and testing, HBF was able to fix any issues before deployment instead of seeing them arise during hyper-care.

6. Encourage employees to love data through AI.

For 100 years, Australian energy company Endeavor Energy has been pivoting towards being a more customer-centric business, due to changes in the dynamics of the energy market. With data set to play a critical role, Melissa Irwin, director of data, people and sustainability, said AI could be the crucial hook needed to build a data culture.

Irwin said that because employees have an interest in using AI and benefit from the insights it is likely to provide, they are more likely to be committed to ensuring the data they collect and use in company systems is clean. and lead to good model results.

Having used AI for a while before the explosion of large language models, Endeavor Energy is now actively encouraging the use of AI among employees in the form of CoPilot and its own version of ChatGPT, so that employees can be partners in the future of AI. the business.

7. Never forget the customers the transformation must serve.

Warner's project at the SA Department of Education impacts 30,000 users in the state's schools, including students with special needs. He said it was critical to focus on the outcomes users needed and wanted, as well as championing them when it came to design.

The project now allows multiple stakeholders to access student information across two types of records from a single place securely, and will expand from nine to 12 types of records in 12 months. Warner said its success was demonstrated when users themselves requested more from the platform.

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