Aaron talks about the benefits and challenges of becoming a Salesforce partner, discusses how digital transformation has affected the ecosystem, and offers his predictions for Salesforce in the next 5-10 years.
Salesforce Republic (SR): You’ve had an incredibly successful career in tech, much of it focused around Salesforce.
Could you talk us through how you got to where you are today?
Aaron Shook (AS): I discovered Salesforce in 2016, over 12 years into an engineering career, and was blown away by how rapidly I could deliver business value using the platform. I decided to focus on learning everything I could about the architecture of the platform so that Green Irony could be the best at leveraging Salesforce in the highly complex digital transformation scenarios that I saw it as a fit for.
The MuleSoft acquisition in 2018 really filled in the rest of the puzzle since it covers the biggest technology challenge that exists in any digital transformation initiative: integration.
SR: As the Founder of Green Irony, what are the benefits and challenges of becoming a Salesforce partner?
AS: The biggest benefit is becoming a part of the Salesforce Ohana and being the most critical part of delivering success to Salesforce customers. Salesforce Founder/CEO Marc Benioff had a partner-first strategy from the get-go, and the platform needs to be leveraged properly to deliver the success story that everyone wants to tell.
The biggest challenge is differentiating from the competition and breaking through the siloed, highly specialized delivery skillsets that have been developed for each on-platform capability. We think of Salesforce as much bigger than just Sales or Service cloud configuration.
SR: What advice would you give those who are looking to start their own player in the Salesforce ecosystem?
AS: The ecosystem is large and growing, so focus on being the best at something specific. It can be a broader play like Green Irony’s (be the best at complex digital transformation an architecture) or it could be much more narrowly focused like being the best CPQ partner for SaaS fintech companies.
SR: What emerging trends you are seeing at the moment? Are there any particular skills that Salesforce professionals should be focusing on as a result?
AS: There’s a big knowledge gap for what happens outside of configuration in the blue cloud. The ecosystem is so focused on cloud-specific workflows and configuration that the bigger picture of how Salesforce works as a key component in the enterprise is missing.
Configuration is the easy part but still gets the bulk of the focus from today’s professionals. Tomorrow’s Salesforce experts will need to be much more technology enabled and have a better understanding of how Salesforce operates as part of a cohesive enterprise strategy rather than a siloed solution with a simplistic, error-prone integration strategy.
SR: How do you think digital transformation has affected the Salesforce ecosystem?
AS: In my view, the ecosystem has been slow to catch up, but it’s coming fast. The platform itself is an amazing fit for the needs of digital transformation, but solution architects need the right mindset to apply it correctly. Salesforce’s go to market strategy is very focused on specific clouds that all exist on the Core platform (e.g. sales, service, revenue, experience, platform, etc.) but digital transformation requires a much broader platform play.
Those who want to be successful at digital transformation need to think much bigger, leveraging Salesforce as as system of user engagement for key internal and external stakeholders. Workflows are then architected to fit the needs of these stakeholders while driving governance, repeatability, scalability, adoption, measurability, and continuous improvement.
SR: What are your predictions for Salesforce in the next 5-10 years?
AS: It will grow into a more cohesive, bigger-picture enterprise solution. The technology is
already there, but the solution-oriented thinking of applying it correctly is still in its infancy
in the field for the most part. More forward-looking customers are already on this train and
it will only pick up speed in the coming years.
SR: Finally, what is the best piece of advice you have received throughout your career?
AS: Don’t be afraid to do things differently and blaze your own trail.
If you’re a Salesforce professional and would like to join Aaron in our Q&A series, please get in touch with us today!