Salesforce commits to create a future of new opportunities

Mukesh Kumar, Alliances and Channel Regional Vice President-MENA, Salesforce explains how Salesforce has equipped its channel partners in the MENA region and has transformed them into trusted advisors in enabling customer’s digital transformation.

Digital transformation has become a lifeline for survival of businesses. What are the steps taken by Salesforce to address this surge and how have you equipped your channel to address this demand?
Middle East and North Africa channel partners are rapidly shifting from selling solutions to becoming trusted advisors in enabling customers’ digital transformation, and specializing in industry verticals, such as banking and finance, government and public sector, and retail sectors.

Salesforce’s Partner Program supports more than 70 active channel partners in the region in implementation, consulting, and independent software vendors.

Middle East channel partners are eager to invest in the staff training and salesforce certification to stay on the wave, maintain their partner membership, and offer trusted advice to customers. During the pandemic, the shift to Work from Anywhere, and the reduction in travel, have led to more partners investing in their virtual training and certification.

As part of Salesforce’s consultancy partnership model, we have been educating our Middle East channel partners to achieve two primary goals: 1) Develop their skills and resources fast enough to meet business demand, and 2) Remain knowledgeable about Salesforce’s evolving solutions portfolio. Both lead to providing our customers the support to ensure they are successfully adopting our world-leading solutions.

How has Salesforce revamped its MENA Partner Programs to accelerate business in the region?
As part of our commitment to enabling our Middle East channel partners, Salesforce offers a wide range of channel partner training initiatives:

Trailhead Learning is a self-paced online learning used for enablement and certification for our employees, customers, and partners. Trailhead Learning enables users to learn in-demand skills, earn resume-worthy credentials, and connect to mentorship and job opportunities.

Career Path Learning helps users to find their ideal career in the cloud, such as administrators, developers, solutions architects, business analysts, consultants, or careers in marketing, sales, or service. Salesforce can then guide the user on the recommended minimum certifications.

Trailhead Academy delivers in-person and virtual learning experiences around the world. Users can select their class and join Salesforce on the path to developing their Salesforce skill set.

Partner Learning Camp (PLC) is the primary learning destination for partners to expand capabilities to meet customer needs now and in the future, and gain the same skills and certification preparation as in-person class instruction, without the cost or disruption.

Highlight the efforts taken by Salesforce to enable its partners upskill their digital skills to help both existing and new customers embrace the emerging technologies?
We are constantly working with each of our partners to help develop Salesforce credentials. On the Salesforce Trailblazer online community, from FY2019 to FY2021, the number of UAE users has roughly doubled, and the number of their “badges” collected for demonstrating knowledge on topics has grown by about 6-fold.

We are encouraging our Middle East channel partner ecosystem to identify new candidates in the region, and to train and certify them, rather than pull in resources from other markets. Building up talent locally can support a healthier channel partner ecosystem, economic growth and job creation, and provide our channel partners with the ability to hire resources close to home.

One of the biggest success stories in training and certification is the Salesforce Talent Alliance. The Talent Alliance connects employers to Salesforce candidates and brings new talent into the ecosystem, emphasizing building a diverse workforce that reflects society around the globe.

How have Salesforce customers (in the MENA region) sustained the recent disruptions? Highlight the major challenges and solutions offered by Salesforce.
In the MENA region, we are seeing that every company needs a digital HQ to connect its employees, customers, and partners, and thrive in a work-from-anywhere world. Organizations that build their digital HQs on Salesforce and Slack so they can work better and grow faster.

Following the August launch of new Slack integrations across Sales, Service, Marketing, and Analytics (Tableau), Salesforce is supporting channel partners and customers by integrating across the majority of its products.

Salesforce has also launched Sustainability Cloud 2.0 to accelerate customers’ path to Net Zero, empowering organizations to track and reduce their carbon emissions and become a sustainable business. New Health Cloud 2.0 technology is also designed to empower businesses and governments to deliver better health and safety for their employees, customers, and communities.

Salesforce is a company that creates a difference for businesses of all sizes. How does Salesforce enable its channels partners to adapt to the dynamic requirements of the organizations?
One of the biggest factors in enabling the Middle East channel is supporting customer adoption of cloud-related technologies. Digital HQs, remote work, contactless customer engagement, and sustainability efforts are becoming more prevalent than ever.

As a result, IDC expects that Salesforce and its ecosystem of partners in the UAE will create 20,300 new jobs and USD 3.9 billion, and 94,600 jobs and USD 21.1 billion in the Middle East and Africa, in new business revenues by 2026, according to a new study from IDC.

The study also finds that Salesforce is driving immense growth for its partner ecosystem in the UAE, which will make USD 6.30 for every USD 1 Salesforce makes locally by 2026, and USD 6.29 for every USD 1 in the Middle East and Africa.

How is Salesforce supporting SMBs in their digital transformation journeys?
SMBs have faced numerous challenges during the pandemic, and many had to not only digitize, but also make sure their employees could communicate, collaborate, and drive sales safely.

In Salesforce’s recent “Small and Medium Business Trends” report, 71% of SMBs said that they survived the pandemic through digitization, and 66% said their businesses could not have survived the pandemic using technology from a decade ago. Salesforce has supported SMBs in the Middle East and worldwide through customer experience and remote work solutions.

Additional key findings from the SMB Trends report include:
● 72% of SMBs have increased their company’s online presence over the past year.
● 42% of growing SMBs have accelerated their technology investments over the past year
● 51% of growing SMBs have accelerated their investments in customer service technology over the past year. Currently, 65% use customer service software.
● 75% believe shifts they’ve made to business operations will benefit business long term
● 77% of growing SMBs say they have created scenario plans to prepare for future crises

What new pathbreaking announcements can we expect from Salesforce in the near future?
One exciting announcement is that Hyperforce is coming to the UAE. Delivered through our partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), any business will be able to deploy Salesforce apps and services in the region by leveraging the scale and agility of public cloud computing.

Hyperforce is a reimagination of our platform architecture built to securely and reliably deliver the Salesforce Customer 360 suite of solutions, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Industries, and more on major public clouds. A complete re-architecture of Salesforce, Hyperforce delivers a powerful and scalable platform to support the success of our global customer base.

Can you share a Middle East Customer success story of your channel partners?
AlMalki Group, a Saudi-based family-owned group, specializes in the luxury retail and distribution market with 105 international brands online and in boutiques.

AlMalki Group, working with channel partner Emakina, is using Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, MuleSoft, and CMS to drive omni-channel customer engagement, personalization and marketing automation, and AI-powered shopping experiences for partner brands. AlMalki can also curate and share content across languages.

Aramex, a leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions, working with channel partner Wipro (4C), will go live with Salesforce CRM, Customer 360, and Tableau software. The latest digital upgrade, Aramex’s largest in 2021, is set to fully transform and further enhance customer service levels by unifying and visualizing data from different channels, and in turn enriching customers experiences.

Umrahme (of Holidayme and Traveasy Group) –The online travel agent for millions of Umrah pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has worked with channel partner Smartt Digital Consulting to deploy Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Pardot, and Tableau solutions.

As a result, Umrahme has grown its market share from 25% to 80%. Today, Umrahme handles more than 7 million bookings per month by a team of 15 agents.