This predicament has helped fuel the rapid growth of vertical industry cloud provider Vlocity, which builds its industry-specific applications natively on the Salesforce platform. Ranked the fastest growing of Salesforce's 3,700 software partners for two years running, it currently has 70 customers, two-thirds of them in production. Communications and media is one of five industry verticals Vlocity targets — the others are insurance, health insurance and public sector, with energy being the latest to join the portfolio.
Telia Finland last week joined the two dozen communications customers that are known to have gone live with Vlocity. Others include Canadian telecoms giant Telus, T-Mobile and KPN in the Netherlands, Sky Italia and Cellcom Israel. I took a call last Friday with Dan Ford, VP and General Manager of Communications, Media & Energy at Vlocity to find out more about the Telia implementation.
Telia Finland, previously known as both Sonera and Tele Finland before rebranding in March this year, is one of Finland's largest mobile operators and also a big provider of fixed communications and TV in the country, with around 4.3 million subscribers. It has a legacy back office system from Polish IT vendor Comarch and turned to Vlocity and Salesforce for cloud-based, omnichannel CRM and BSS (business support systems) to drive greater sales productivity and business agility.
After completing a pilot last year, the first phase of the multi-stage transformation project was recently rolled out in just nine weeks. It consolidates functionality and business processes that previously ran across twenty separate sales and marketing systems, and which agents can now access in a single, integrated customer engagement system consisting of Vlocity Communications and Salesforce Service Cloud.
It's quite typical for customers to begin with a quick deployment to a single department before rolling out more widely, says Ford:
Customers want to start in a very limited way and deliver very visible results, and on the basis of that business win go on to follow-on phases. That pattern's become pretty established.
The first phase at Telia Finland rolled out to about 200 users serving SMB business customers. Ford tells me it gives sales and service teams a 360-degree view of the customer account, provides guided selling and service processes, opportunity and lead management.
There's also been a strong focus on modeling dozens of new mobile digital offerings in preparation for the introduction of configure-price-quote (CPQ) functionality in the next phase, with ordering integrated to the existing back-end systems.
Quantifiable business results
The 9-week go-live for a first phase is not unusual, says Ford, nor the rapid realization of quantifiable results:
One of the recurring themes is the speed with which we're getting these customers live and the kind of business results they're experiencing.
Previous examples have delivered some impressive statistics. As we reported from last year's Dreamforce, Sky Italia achieved a 10.5% reduction in call time, a 20% decrease on the most common activities that service agents carry out, and reduced its systems integration spend on application development and configuration by a fifth. It also made headline savings of €1.8 million it would otherwise have spent on Siebel upgrades. Ford adds that its agent training time is down 70%, and it has seen a 25% drop in IT infrastructure costs. It is now up to 8,000 users on the Vlocity system.
Telus, who also spoke at Dreamforce, says moving to contract management using Vlocity and DocuSign has reduced the time taken to complete a contract from a whopping 41 business days to less than five. In combination with CPQ, quoting and ordering is 54% faster according to Ford and there has been an 80% improvement in product launch time.
Results like these reinforce the case for extending use of the platform across the organization, he says:
If you're able to accelerate your ability to capture cash by a month and multiply that across thousands of contracts, those business results get the attention of the CFO.
Vlocity is in the market at just the right time to help these organizations move forward with digital transformation, he adds.
We just feel like we're exactly the right place at right time as more and more operators transition to cloud.
The vendor continues to build out functionality tailored to its market. Recent additions to the communications product include a retail telecoms clienteling application that allows consumers to set appointments for store visits, and provides in-store queue management as well guided selling and guided service to help troubleshoot questions about service, billing and so on. Order management, especially orchestrating the sub-components of a complex order through to completion, has also been an important focus.
Ford tells me that Salesforce's introduction of its own Quote-to-Cash functionality after acquiring quote-to-cash vendor Steelbrick in late 2015 hasn't impacted Vlocity, whose customers are generally dealing with much more complex propositions:
We're solving a different problem, which is industry-specific CPQ. For example, a multi-site, 10,000-line items telco order is different than an order capture for buying a bunch of books or a desk. It's very different from the use case that Steelbrick is trying to solve.
That's just as well, since an important part of Vlocity's proposition is that it remains faithful to Salesforce's native object model, which means that any changes to the underlying objects — even an extension into additional functionality — are replicated within the Vlocity platform to ensure smooth continuous upgrades to new Salesforce releases.
Vlocity's mission is to replicate the earlier success of now publicly listed life sciences vertical provider Veeva, but across multiple industry verticals rather than just one. Ford says that plan is currently on track, with Vlocity's growth to date exceeding Veeva's "at a comparable stage of development."