Dreamforce16 - Johnson & Johnson set to replace legacy systems with Salesforce

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez October 4, 2016
The Medical Devices arm of Johnson & Johnson is aiming to get a 360 view of its customer by standardising on the Salesforce platform.

Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices

is undergoing a global overhaul of its commercial systems, where the strategy is very much focused on ripping out legacy and replacing it with Salesforce across the board.

It hopes that standardising on the force.com platform will enable it to get a better view of its data and align cross-region business strategy.

On day one at Dreamforce 2016 I got the chance to sit down with Sanjay Singh, IT Director at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, who explained that when he joined the division he found that there were almost two dozen Salesforce implementations worldwide. However, Latin America had recently moved all of its regions onto a single Force.com instance, providing motivation for the business to standardise globally.

Singh said:

I took over the role of the sales product role owner, everything that is sales orientated from a systems perspective. We quickly realised we had a bunch of Salesforce systems, 22 actually. Some of them have been historically set up and then not had the sponsorship to continue running and were abandoned. We didn’t have a very cohesive strategy - which we have since put in.

LATAM were ahead of the game having started in 2007, they now have everyone in the region on the platform. Doesn’t just do sales, they’ve built it out as a really nice platform. We are looking to build out that idea across all the other regions.

Singh explained that whilst the starting points for the global rollout are different, what he is trying to do across the four main geographies for Johnson & Johnson, is to “replicate the philosophy” of LATAM’s implementation. Meaning, using Force.com as the base, for each region to then decide what capability they need from Salesforce, to build on top. He said:

Whenever I describe Salesforce, I describe it as a brick wall. It depends on how far and how high you want to build this wall, depending on the bricks that go into it. Ultimately we look at force.com being our basis, then you have all the different clouds on top of it and you keep laddering up the capabilities depending on where you want to go.

Having a multiple of different capabilities on the same platform and then migrating from our legacy applications, which may be dotted around, into this capability and then building it out.

Out with the old, in with the new

Singh’s plan is to ultimately replace all of Johnson & Johnson’s commercial legacy systems with the force.com platform and Salesforce applications. He said:

Some of them are already consolidated in the sense that we’re not using them, we’ve already off boarded people and so on. The actual number now is far lower than that. As we move through it, we want to build these significant regional capabilities that cover our commercial domain as a whole.

And in so doing, rationalise everything else. Including off our legacy I hasten to add. Much of our legacy has complimentary capabilities in Salesforce. So as we ladder up in terms of sophistication, we will look to migrate these users into it and decommission the legacy. So we will get to the point where we don’t have legacy.

Singh said that the company will try and get rid of the legacy “as soon as possible” - where he estimated that it would be a three to four year timeline. I questioned whether this timeline was realistic, given that a lot of companies complain that they will be stuck with their legacy for years, despite having a comprehensive cloud strategy.

He remained confident and said:

I have experience on my previous job of literally eliminating legacy within 18 months. I got rid of everything and moved it all to Salesforce. I think it’s how you approach it. The way I look at it, is building up a maturity level. That maturity level, provided you can demonstrate it’s the equivalent or better than what you’re currently on, or the benefits of being on a connected platform, outweighs perhaps your own local system.

You can make the psychological move in peoples’ minds. That tends to be the hardest thing. It’s very often the human factor - you’re used to it, don’t want to move on to something new. So we have to make the financial case, as well as the emotional case.

But then equally, with technology moving on, you often need to upgrade and so on, and those things can be cost prohibitive. So we utilise these opportunities, wherever they may come, in order to incentivise people to move into these strategic capabilities.

The benefits and risks

'Johnson & Johnson' offices in Barajas district in Madrid (Spain).
Johnson & Johnson HQ

Singh’s ambitions for Salesforce at Johnson & Johnson is largely based on his previous job, where he undertook a similar rollout and saw the benefits realised. He said that at his previous company, the business soon realised that they didn’t need all the “peripheral stuff”. Singh added:

And actually it was better to be on one platform because of the interoperability, it meant that they could see from different channels where the data is. It was interesting to see the behavioural change that drove. People suddenly realised that they have a 360 view of the customer.

What can I get insight wise from that? Which then would advise where I spent money. It became truly trying to understand all the different data points and the insights you get from it, to then invest in certain opportunity areas.

However, Singh was quick to admit that becoming a ‘Salesforce house’ also carried risks for Johnson & Johnson. I highlighted to Singh that companies now often tend to avoid going all in with one vendor, in an attempt to avoid lock-in. However, he said that the ubiquity of the Salesforce platform was a requirement for a company like Johnson & Johnson. Singh said:

Are there dangers in it? Absolutely. Unequivocally so. It does worry me actually. Like anything else, the more dependent you are on any vendor, that can be a really bad thing as well. Depending on whether the vendor has a monopoly position or otherwise. It’s a fine balancing act. The catch-22 is that businesses are becoming so sophisticated because consumers are becoming so sophisticated, so we cannot operate very well in a disconnected environment.

You have to be connected. A platform like Salesforce would absolutely enable you to do that. But in so doing, you bring all your eggs into one basket. So from a business perspective, there’s less competition, the cost of jumping off is extortionately high. That is a concern.

But Salesforce, with its capability roadmap, represents a very good opportunity for us. Right now I don’t think anyone has the depth and breadth of coverage that Salesforce does.

However, there were a couple of things that Singh admitted that he would like to see from the Salesforce platform. He said:

Industry verticals would be very, very nice. I know they’ve dabbled, but truly for a health and life sciences business, having an industry vertical you can use of the box would be very, very welcome. Very often we have to take what is given to us and then augment it with our own development, or with app cloud vendors and so on, in order to give us that solution. Personally I’d like to see more of that.

The second thing I’d like to see is more offline capabilities. The philosophy with Salesforce has been to be all online, but the reality is that in hospitals you often can’t have Wifi and connectivity. It has real challenges for us. Recognition that the whole world isn’t connected would be grateful.

Image credit - Medical team working at the hospital all together © Production Perig - Fotolia.com

Disclosure - Salesforce is a diginomica premier partner at time of writing.