FinancialForce Community Live is a boutique event that is not an especially hard sell, although prospects are of course invited. Instead it is an opportunity for FinancialForce customers to bolster their knowledge of the solution, share experiences and offer their perspectives on the product direction. With more than 1,200 customers, FinancialForce did well to attract a crowd of some 500 total at this year's event held in Las Vegas. I was the only media person in attendance.
My attendance was at my insistence because while we have had conversations in the past with customers, they were early on in the company's existence and, in any event, FinancialForce has not considered its Community Live event as particularly news worthy. I understand that thinking but, for me, the chance to discuss implementations, understand progress on roll out and learn about managing change figure highly on the things for which I attend any event.
I therefore asked the company to provide me with an afternoon's worth of video opportunity to film some of their customers. We had four companies on deck from a broad spectrum of industries. All share two things in common - they're digitizing their businesses as fast as possible and believe that a commitment to a single platform is the right way to achieve that. They all use Salesforce for CRM in some shape or form. It was striking that in every case, the introduction of FinancialForce had led to an expansion of the Salesforce environment. Even more striking, the companies I spoke with view FinancialForce as much more than a good old financials ERP replacement. They see it as a way of both improving processes while making information visible and actionable across the whole business but without the hassle of integrating solutions or operating workarounds to ensure data consistency.
This is a far cry from what many might have expected going into a cloud based financials transformation. In all cases, the people with whom I had conversations talked about outcomes with a level of detail and clarity that was inspiring.
Here's a few brief notes:
- Implementing within 6 months and then cutting over to live while in the middle of a financial year. It is possible.
- Melding financial and customer data, presenting that to sales people who are paid commission on cash collected.
- Managing complexity and opening up new markets as a result of a unified platform.
- Transforming multi-geographical processes into a standard in which the users have process ownership as part of the change management project.
In every case, the journey is far from over. Each customer is looking to achieve more as it implements more of what the platform offers. Again, this is unusual because what we're seeing is fast paced implementation leading to results where everyone benefits and which, in turn, is leading to a hunger for more.
Next time around, I hope that FinancialForce feels sufficiently confident to open the kimono to more media and analyst people. Why? We are seeing the emergence of an important player in the market that is genuinely concerned to provide a service to customers well beyond the debits and credits and which can offer a platform approach that does not lock the customer in but provides flexibility to assemble a portfolio of solutions that meets need in a variety of ways.
Here then is my video conversation collection. One point to note. These videos are not marketing content in the traditional sense but are meant to convey a sense of how an implementation proceeded in the context of a business problem. As such, I let them run as long as they need to rather than develop a set of sound bites.