The Salesforce Solution: In Conversation with John Kelleher
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting ─ albeit virtually ─ John Kelleher, the Area Vice President of Enterprise Sales UK, at Salesforce. The leading VP took the Supply Chain Digital hot seat and openly discussed Salesforce’s business model, the company’s partnership with IMI Critical Engineering, and the ways that digital transformation has affected global supply chain networks.
John told me that he has been “at Salesforce for ten years now. I’ve been in enterprise software sales directly and in leadership and management for the last 20 years. My career began at Jaguar Land Rover as a manufacturing engineer; then I moved over to supply chain, working for the supplier-side of the company as a key account manager. My first big enterprise role, in the software-realm, was with Siemens ─ I spent a while selling engineering software to support product, life cycle management, product development, computer-aided engineering and computer-aided design into automotive, aerospace and manufacturing.” John then moved into consumer packaged goods as a white space exploration for PLM, “which kind of brought me into Salesforce; to develop the relationship and grow Salesforce footprint with Unilever ─ I enjoyed a wonderful partnership with Unilever as we do to this day ten years on, and is now, one of our largest consumer packaged goods customer globally.”
Wondering why John was telling me specifically about this entrance point, the industry-leading VP told me that the “journey was interesting and important because it actually informed the relevance of Salesforce to manufacturing and consumer goods companies beyond just CRM with Unilever.”
We were on limited time, but I felt that it was necessary to get John’s take on exactly what Salesforce does, and what they can do for your business. He willingly shared. “Salesforce was a startup, at first ─ and whilst now a US$17bn organisation work hard to maintain a startup sense of innovation and agility, but, in reality, we’ve been in the game for two decades now. Back in ‘99, Salesforce was one of the pioneering companies that took cloud-based technologies into businesses. Our initial area of capability was focussed on CRM, Customer Relationship Management, where we supported our customers to establish a customer-centric approach to their sales and business development activities, enabling them to be better connected to their customers with improved visibility and integration across their sales processes. Fast forward twenty years and Salesforce has built a complete 360-degree suite that has extended the capabilities of classic CRM into customer service, marketing, and eCommerce ─ both B2C and B2B.” More recently Salesforce has made major acquisitions in the areas of integration and analytics with the respective acquisitions of Mulesoft and Tableau. Both maqui brands, they are enabling us to support customers maximise their existing technology investments and optimise cross-functional processes, whilst maintaining customer centricity and importantly providing an opportunity to digitally integrate the front office (Salesforce heritage) with the back office. This unification critical to support agility in new business models required to succeed in an increasingly volatile world
On Salesforce’s partnership with IMI Critical Engineering, John was willing to share his insight. “[Salesforce has] got a long-standing relationship with IMI. Whilst our initial engagement was around core CRM, we have built a richer 360-degree relationship with them and now support other areas of capability and are working closely with IMI to extend the relationship further. IMI continues to develop capabilities on the Salesforce platform, and we are working with them on key strategic pillars such as Customer Satisfaction and Commercial excellence to support IMI’s sales and customer services pre-and-post sale.” End-to-end, if you like.
John added that “The relationship is very much based on traditional Salesforce CRM. The reliability is there, and the partnership continues to gro on this foundation, which suggests we continue to deliver value for IMI and how they manage their front office processes. Due to COVID-19 situation, reps that were on the street ─ as it were ─ have been brought in-house easily as their front office estate is built on cloud-based capabilities like Salesforce. The company was able to adapt to the new sales environment far quicker than they would have, with more traditional on-premise capabilities. So it’s a traditional starting point, but with modern technology, we’ve been able to help IMI Critical Engineering adapt quickly in a highly volatile world.”
SafeAI attracts $21m funding as SmartMix AI tool launches
SafeAI is driving the transformation of the mining and construction industries through connected, autonomous sites. With chronic labour shortages, unsafe working conditions and frequent project delays, these industries are in a unique position to benefit from autonomy.
Unlike on-road applications of the technology, autonomous heavy equipment operates in controlled environments, which means companies can create smarter, safer, more productive project sites today that create meaningful, near-term impact.
“We are at a tipping point for autonomous heavy equipment,” said Bibhrajit Halder, founder and CEO at SafeAI. “We’ve proven that autonomy makes work sites significantly safer and more productive; now, we are on the cusp of mass adoption. Together with our valued partners, customers and investors, we’re poised to deploy autonomy in off-road industries like construction and mining, at scale, to rethink the way heavy industry operates.”
Heavy industry is a large, growing global market, ripe for disruption. The construction equipment market alone is valued at $140 billion, and expected to increase to $175 billion by 2025; construction-related spending accounts for a staggering 13% of global GDP, or $11.5 trillion.
But there remains significant room for growth; in construction alone, higher productivity could create an estimated $1.6 trillion in additional value. With just 25% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 in existence today, autonomy can bridge this productivity gap with greater efficiency and 24/7 operations. SafeAI is at the forefront of this transformation.
“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in the autonomy space today; but it’s clear the biggest opportunity for this technology is off-road,” said Mark Blackwell, General Partner at Builders VC. “With its industry-leading autonomous software, scalable retrofit approach and partner ecosystem, SafeAI is uniquely poised to capitalize on this opportunity. We’re proud to support the company in its next chapter of growth as demand for autonomous heavy equipment continues to skyrocket.”
New investors LTC, DG Ventures, MACA and Vimson Group, and existing investors Autotech Ventures, Brick and Mortar Ventures, Embark Ventures, Monta Vista Capital and Obayashi Corporation, also participated in the round. The funding comes on the heels of a year of rapid growth for SafeAI, including new partnerships with Obayashi, Goodyear and Macnica, and expansion into Australia’s booming mining market.
A pilot program with Obayashi Corporation last November saw a Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck autonomously complete a vital on-site function and carry out load-haul-dump cycles.
Giatec debuts SmartMix AI tool
Giatec has debuted what it claims is the world's first concrete AI tool for producers, SmartMix. The web-based AI tool allows producers to optimise concrete ingredient proportions, reduce cement usage, and predict the performance of their mixes while still meeting project specifications.
Giatec believes this tool will lower Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from concrete production by 400 million tons annually, the equivalent of taking 110 million cars off the road.
SmartMix builds on Giatec's first AI software program Roxi, which has collected millions of data points from the company's SmartRock wireless concrete sensors across 8,000 projects and 80 countries.
Giatec's head of research and development, Andrew Fahim, said the new technologies are going to pave the path forward for the industry to meet increasing infrastructure demands.