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Out of Africa - how Standard Bank has driven transformation around the Salesforce platform across 18 countries

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan September 21, 2022
It’s a massive program of change, one that involves executive leadership, setting an example and coming up with songs about Salesforce.


How do you achieve a complete transformation to a common Salesforce platform across 18 countries in 18 months? Well, you could start by checking out how Africa’s Standard Bank has pulled it off.

The firm’s corporate banking arm has been a Salesforce user for 17 years, but in June 2020 the group CEO signed one of the cloud firm’s biggest deals globally to make Salesforce a key part of its platform ambitions.

Celebrating its 160th birthday, Standard Bank is Africa’s biggest financial services business, operating in 20 countries across the continent. That scale brought its own challenges, recalls Neil Pryce, Head of Salesforce at Standard Bank:

Our biggest challenge is fundamentally that we’re implementing a platform, the first time that Standard Bank has implemented a platform across all countries or segments in a federated operating model. Up until now, each country had their own tech stack. They might have used similar tech to other countries, but this is the first time we are blanketing the whole group with a single technology.

He adds:

We want a Salesforce platform which spans many countries and each country is their own bank. They've got their own licence, their own board, so we have to get them over the line to participate. One of the ways [we do this] is we have an overall business case and a business case by country, which then helps them get comfortable.

The bank is using nearly all of the offerings in the Salesforce portfolio, with a couple of exceptions in the shape of the recently announced Net Zero Cloud and, more surprisingly, Slack. Given that the project involves so many countries, that seems like an unusual omission. Actually, Pryce reveals, they use Microsoft Teams, although that situation may be changing soon:

Our group CIO is on the Salesforce advisory board and he normally likes to try and make sure technology stays in lane. But he came back to us from New York a couple of weeks ago, and he said to me, ‘I think there's something in Slack, you need to have a look!’. I fell off my chair because normally he's not promoting additional investment. I really want to take a deeper look at Slack. I use Slack personally, I love it. Given that we’re such a big Salesforce shop, it's a missing piece of the puzzle.


Leaving that to one side for the moment, Pryce articulates the vision for the bank - that all of its 33,000 client-facing employees will eventually use Salesforce. At present, around 17,000 are up-and-running. The bank also has a proud boast to make - it has 24,500 certified Salesforce Rangers in its ranks, second only to Salesforce, according to Pryce.

Pryce has been consciously building up Salesforce skills in-house, creating a Center of Excellence (CoE):

I wasn't the most popular person with system integrators, but I figured out all the Salesforce engineers across the African continent, and then I went and hired the best ones I could. We have a CoE of about 30 people. We have a very strong team of engineers.

Not that everything can be done in-house on a program of this scale, he adds:

One of the challenges, which is interesting, is that, particularly in Africa, there's a shortage of  Salesforce skills. Obviously we had a bunch of our own and, other than Salesforce, we've got another 10 system integrators that we use. We use basically the Indian majors,  we use all the IBMs and Accentures that that you see around, plus we use a lot of local system integrators.

As the roll outs have taken place, lessons have been learned en route, says Pryce:

With the first couple of countries, there was a tendency that people would create custom fields in Salesforce and then immediately go to senior financial services cloud experts to say, ‘We have to map the old systems into Financial Services Cloud, so that we can use as much of the standard functionality or else we’re going to deny ourselves’. So we have a shared data team, which helps all the countries. They’ve got expertise in extracting customer files from core banking systems and synchronizing customer files and working with APIs. That really helped us with our migrations, to have a shared data team that’s a Center of Excellence..

The bank also has to manage its governance requirements, which are extensive:

We have a Salesforce steering committee, an ethics committee, country steering committees. It’s just the nature of the beast that we have a very federated model. In other companies, I think you've got a lot more autocratic style where someone says, ‘Right, just go ahead’ and you might have [things] a lot leaner, but it's just just the way our organization operates that we need such a huge structure.

Leading by example

One of things that the bank has done really well, reckons Pryce, was to pick a country to be ‘best in class’, get everything working and then act as an exemplar for others to emulate. That country was Uganda, where there was great enthusiasm for the program. Yvonne Namutosi, Salesforce Country Head for Uganda & Global Lead for Servicing, Standard Bank, explains:

The Uganda leadership was hungry for Salesforce enablement, because we are a client-led business. We are the biggest bank in Uganda. We are to become more than a bank, we are to became the platform business. So our Chief Executive and the leadership team were more than ready for the Salesforce program and that really gave us a very good starting point. We did our implementation, and when the countries saw what Uganda could do, they were able to buy into it.

There is a coalition of 720 Salesforce champions across the continent to help evangelize, she adds:

These guys are advocates of Salesforce, they are close to the customer, they're close to the staff, but they also get to interact with the leadership to give constant feedback on what's coming through and what we need to be able to improve to achieve our aspirations. We've also put up change champion forums across the group and in the countries to drive the change management activities. We have a product owners forum, where all the different product owners from different countries and businesses come to share how the system is going, what needs to be improved.

Clear value metrics have also been settled upon in order to prove proof of benefits. Namutosi says:

In Uganda, we measure Salesforce adoption and utilization in individual pockets, teams, branches, segments, country, up to board level. We are also able to create visibility of how we are performing on our clients experience metrics. Visibility is up to group level. We are able to know how we're improving in terms of NPS customer satisfaction, fast call resolution. That visibility is helping us actually be able to improve our client experience across the different

Another aspect that needed to be factored in is the sheer diversity of the African continent. That brings with it a need for ownership and localization. There’s no one size fits all approach to encouraging adoption, with each country encouraged to find their way, says

Every country has taken their Salesforce journey and localized it in a way that they are able to relate to it. For example, in Malawi, they've chosen a soccer theme to drive the Salesforce agenda. One of the fast facts they have in their soccer game is that people that use Salesforce actively are more productive and achieve a greater NPS rating. That is their theme, aspiring for 100% utilization of Salesforce.

In Ghana they had a lyrical battle. They put up a competition and asked the different teams to come up with songs, videos, reggae, hip hop and everything else to really drive the Salesforce adoption

While the idea of songs about how great Salesforce is might not work for everyone, it has in the case of Standard Bank, where Namutosi can point to clear benefits:

We’ve seen a 40% improvement in NPS in Ghana. In South Africa, our biggest market, we have 3,500 active agents, serving our clients in the voice branch and taking 45,000 calls every day. Uganda is proud of a 90% utilization of services and we're aiming for 100%.

We can see the value created for our clients and, more importantly, our staff members, because they can see the value of Salesforce and what benefit it brings for them.

For more diginomica stories from Dreamforce 2022, visit our dedicated Dreamforce event hub. 


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