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Nokia and SThree show why a helping hand is useful for cloud success

Madeline Bennett Profile picture for user Madeline Bennett May 20, 2018
Adoption of cloud tech can be a daunting prospect, but tapping into expert advice is useful.

Nokia’s Geoff Dennis

When it comes to digital transformation and cloud deployments, everyone could do with some assistance.

Here are two companies explaining how they had a helping hand to achieve success.


Finnish firm Nokia is in the midst of a huge overhaul, which if all goes to plan, will see the business morph from the mobile handset maker to network infrastructure and health tech success story.

To achieve this reinvention, the firm has had to make several brave moves, shedding its Here maps and mobile phone divisions, and buying digital health specialist Withings. But none so dramatic as shelling out €16 billion on French telecoms equipment company Alcatel-Lucent, one of Nokia’s biggest competitors, in a move designed to boost its development of 5G networks.

The merger closed in 2016, leaving Nokia with over 100,000 employees, offices in 100-plus countries and annual revenues of around €23 billion. At the same time Nokia was taking another landmark decision - to invest in Salesforce Sales Cloud - as Geoff Dennis, director Sales & Marketing Capabilities at Nokia, explains:

We took a big bet to go with Sales Cloud right at the beginning of a massive acquisition. That was quite distracting. We had to put a lot of time and effort learning to meet new people, new ways of doing sales, new processes, new policy. Trying to work out where we wanted to be. And of course we had to sort out the tooling as well.

At the time, Dennis had no experience of Salesforce, as Nokia had been an SAP user for years. But rather than going down a gentle migration route of small pilots or letting staff pick the features they wanted, Nokia decided to adopt a more radical approach to the Sales Cloud rollout:

We’ve made some challenging decisions. We said no customization. If it doesn’t work out of the box, the company won’t do it anymore. That’s 120,000 people selling in every country around the world, from the tier-one communications advisors to the guy who just wants an optical switch.

We’re going to turn round and say your way of selling, your way of doing service, your way of doing pricing, you’re not going to do it because the software doesn’t support it. That was a career-defining opportunity for us - but it’s going well.

To match the firm’s brave approach to ‘Sales Cloud or nothing’, Nokia also decided to bypass more tried and trusted versions of the product, and jumped straight onto Lightning. Dennis says:

We just said we’re not going to anything old. We’ve got a very old Salesforce system in the acquisition we bought; we won’t go ahead with that. We’ve got an SAP system that is decades old. We’ll start afresh, and Lightning worked.

The project was delivered in rapid time, according to Dennis. By month four of the project, 1,200 users were on Sales Cloud; after six months, this had jumped to 8,000, and Nokia is now pushing 10,000 Salesforce users.

Dennis puts part of the success down to a tonne of face-to-face training, with his business colleagues flying around the world to inform staff of the plans. Nokia also asked for help from the experts themselves - Salesforce.

When he was sat in the audience at World Tour London two years ago, having just made the decision to buy Sales Cloud, Dennis admits he spent quite a bit of time panicking, before getting subsumed by the task of integrating the newly acquired Alcatel-Lucent. Once that was underway, he interviewed a few programme architects from Salesforce to help with the Sales Cloud implementation, and very quickly found his guy:

He’s been at my desk from the beginning. He will never – no, he will leave our side. He’s also there not just to help us make the project work – this project’s finished now - but to get us ready to do it on our own.

We’ve had quite an unpredictable massive expansion. We started with Sales Cloud, we moved into partner relationship management, CPQ, we’re doing customer portals now, getting into Service Cloud. None of it is what we expected. With that massive global network of experience he’s able to bring, he’s able to whisper in my ear, go that way, don’t go that way, think about this option. There’s never one right answer but we know that when we listen to this guy, it’s going to send us down the right path.

Now that Sales Cloud is embedded into the organization, Nokia is moving on to its next project, to transform care services via Service Cloud. For this, the firm is more focused on the benefits of the available training resources, rather than relying on its own army of staff flying around the world. Dennis explains:

The best decision we made there, and I wish we’d done it when we started Sales Cloud, is you don’t come to that project unless you’ve done the Trailmix that I wrote for you. Trailhead, you can go in there and build your own path – we put the Trail links together, you can do it in 15-minute slots or five-minute slots. Everybody has to do it before they come on the project. And that’s been brilliant.

Now everybody walks in the room and they’ve got an idea of what’s possible, as opposed to being on the project but not knowing if they really want to do this as they love their old tool. Now they’ve been through the Trailmix, they do know what it can do. They can ask the questions of the Salesforce team. That’s been really helpful.”

As well as being a fan of the Salesforce Trailhead online training portal, Dennis also rates the firm’s Success Cloud, remarking he wished it had been available when Nokia was embarking on its Sales Cloud rollout. Success Cloud, which launched last year, and the wider Salesforce community of five million members have the common purpose of connecting customers with experts that can advise and share knowledge, whether that’s other customers or Salesforce staff.


This expert base was key for STEM recruitment firm SThree  when it came to choosing new technology to run its core recruiting application on back in 2014. Garreth Hayes, managing partner, Global Marketing at SThree, recalls why the firm chose to build its app on the Salesforce platform:

The software bit of it we have, it largely worked. The bit that’s been valuable for us is the services side. Why were we doing this thing in the first place? It wasn’t so that we could have some software somewhere, it’s so that we would have people who would help us understand how to transform the organization.

This isn’t a toy for the marketing people. This is about how do we get 2,000 recruitment consultants to do things differently with millions of candidates who apply for jobs every year. It’s partnering with the guys in the Success Group at Salesforce to help us reimagine how you would do recruitment for the 21st century in a way that turns it into an efficient, scalable customer-friendly organization.

The most recent venture for SThree is a GDPR project that went live two weeks ago, aiming to learn more about candidates to give them a better experience. Hayes says:

It also makes our business more efficient, so we don’t have 2,000 people constantly on the phone trying to ask for the same set of information.

For the firm, this is just another step in its transformation project rather than the end goal. Hayes explains:

It’s only the beginning of the journey. Rethinking what recruitment is going to look like in the 21st century is never going to end. Expectations keep rising. Our customers are the people who’ve just come out of a restaurant or coffee shop or got off the plane where they’ve had a great service experience. We need to set our standard against that. The challenge for us is to keep looking up and out, not down and in.

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