Q. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital services in many areas of our lives. What are the three biggest changes you’ve seen in how the public sector uses digital channels?
A. We have witnessed tremendous transformation and response from our governments. They stepped in when we needed them most.
One of the most impressive lessons has been the speed with which governments have responded. Second, their agility. The third was the government’s commitment to citizens on a large scale. We are not talking about a few thousand people applying for something like a grant, but millions or even hundreds of millions applying for financial assistance or scheduling vaccinations against COVID-19.
The real question now is how to harness this agile, citizen-centric approach and apply it to day-to-day government services?
Q. Coming out of the pandemic, do you see citizens’ expectations of public services as significantly different? Has the pandemic been a big enough catalyst for change or will we see a regression to the old ways now that the emergency has subsided?
A. Citizens today want government services that are easy to access, transparent and timely. The private sector has raised expectations. Step back in time a few decades and we, as a population, were accepting complex and inconvenient government services and processes. When some of these services and systems were created, it was about the process, not the citizen.
At Salesforce, we firmly believe in putting the customer at the center of everything. Rather than designing around the process, design around the person and what they need. Technology makes this much easier today.
We won’t be going back. We have learned that it is normal to go fast. The world changes; governments must be responsive. Taking years to deploy new services or adapt is no longer acceptable.
Q. In what ways do you envision the nature and delivery of public sector services will change in the years to come?
A. Nobody would have imagined a short time ago that we would be self-service via chatbots with government services or that we would communicate with a ministry by SMS. Digital platforms have transformed the way governments can engage with their citizens and it will only accelerate.
We will continue to add engagement channels. The services, currently departmental and compartmentalised, and the experiences will begin to be connected between the departments. As a client, I don’t want to have to tell my story in the same offices.
Digital transformation is an opportunity to rethink the services, process, engagement and experience of government employees, in light of the power of a connected digital platform.
It’s also about what we can skip. For example, do we really need our customers to come and get a signature? Salesforce Customer 360, our services platform, makes this simple for customers. It bundles onboarding, case management, collaboration, and messaging.
Q. The pandemic has shown that citizens are willing to provide personal information if there is a benefit, such as with contact tracing. Do you see this trend continuing after the pandemic?
A. At Salesforce, trust is our number one value. Trust is built through the tangible demonstration of integrity, reliability, consistency, support and transparency – which applies to how government secures and uses data. In our experience, people are willing to share more data with the government if they continue to see a tangible benefit.
The city of Tilburg in the Netherlands is a fantastic example. The municipality is transforming citizen services on Salesforce by providing residents with a single, consistent point of access to all municipal services.
Q. What are you personally most proud of about Salesforce’s response and support to the public sector during the pandemic?
A. Salesforce was very aware of the critical role technology plays and we wanted to make sure we were doing our part.
In the first phase, we really focused on action, putting stakeholder capitalism to work – helping our customers and our communities. We have supported frontline workers and 300 hospitals around the world by delivering 50 million pieces of PPE (personal protective equipment).
We quickly understood the real need for technology to manage vaccines. We have focused our technology development and created Vaccine Cloud to help governments and other organizations manage vaccination programs. We have partnered with Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance – for equitable vaccine distribution, targeting 190 countries. Millions of vaccines have been delivered through the platform.
Q Salesforce has long been a champion of “stakeholder capitalism”. Can you talk about some of the opportunities for collaboration between the public and private sectors?
A. It has never been more important to work together. Government needs industry collaboration, insight and innovation. World events, even today, prove how important this continued collaboration is, and it can take many different avenues.
Take education. It’s no secret that we, as a society, as governments, as businesses, need more digitally equipped workers.
Salesforce’s Trailhead training platform provides the opportunity to get tech-savvy, free to learn Salesforce, to help bridge this digital skills gap. It has been transformational. I have people who work for me today who have come to my organization from very different career paths and who have used this platform.
Q. Salesforce prides itself on being a value-driven organization. How are these values incorporated into its work with public sector organisations?
A. At Salesforce, trust is our number one value. It’s the DNA of who we are and everything we do: every service, every decision, every investment.
The second is innovation. We are very focused on delivering innovative capabilities and technologies to our customers.
The third is customer success. We wouldn’t be where we are today as a company without the success and support of our customers.
Equality is our fourth value. It really encourages all of us as employees to invest in our community around us and provide a vision of what’s possible in the world.
And then, durability. We introduced our Net Zero Cloud to help organizations measure, manage, and report on their carbon footprint transparently. But it goes far beyond that, to our volunteer time, philanthropy and sustainability goals.
We are a values-driven company. It’s inherent in our culture and who we hire, how we interact with each other and interact with our partners in the world around us.