Salesforce World Tour Offers Hard-Won Lessons From Complex Australian Digital Transformations


Leaders transforming complex organisations with Salesforce came together at Salesforce’s World Tour Sydney 2024 to share key learnings for IT and other transformation stakeholders on how to manage complex, customer-focused digital transformations.

The projects included a complete tech stack redesign and transformation at HBF, where since 2018 the health services organisation has been moving towards being 90% in the cloud through AWS by mid-2024, as well as replacing its core system with Civica.

Advice ranged from having a clear vision from the beginning to adopting a clear strategy and architecture to support scaling into the future. These leaders also recommend picking transformation partners well, expecting to pivot and focusing on the end customer.

1. Create a strong vision and project alignment from the beginning

Improving the service and experience it could provide clients was the ultimate vision guiding and uniting the team at State Trustees Victoria in its ongoing service transformation with Salesforce, according to Brett Comer, chief financial officer and general manager.

With a responsibility to support vulnerable clients across the state of Victoria with their financial and legal needs, including people with a disability, Comer said, “It was very clear at the highest level we were doing this for our clients, not to make our job easier.”

SEE: Top IT trends IT professionals need to be prepared for throughout 2024.

Success was supported throughout by a collective vision and alignment from the outset. Comer said this included achieving buy-in on who the project was for, why it was being done and how to do it, as well as the importance of Salesforce and what that would enable.

Comer added that the vision was supported by ensuring success was measured, supporting teams through change management and ensuring the weight of the project was shared by both teams and partners, as well as seeing real-world outcomes like client payments being met.

2. Detail a clear strategy, and build architecture foundations that can support scale

Crystal Warner, Salesforce capability lead with the Department of Education in South Australia, said the success of the Department’s Salesforce-powered overhaul of the services it provided students and schools with additional needs came down to having a strategy.

Since joining 2.5 years ago, Warner said she had made the strategy into a “bible” to ensure the project stayed on track.

“Whenever there was talk of a new feature, it would always come back to how well does this align with what we want to achieve,” Warner said.

Getting the architecture right was also critical for ensuring the Department of Education could scale into the future, she said. Using Salesforce Education Cloud, Warner said it was able to capitalise on out-of-the-box functionality and then make it their own, improving time to delivery and value.

3. Pick technology partners and system integrators well to boost business buy-in and customer results

Billy Martin, general manager of transformation delivery at HBF, said the business was careful about choosing vendors and system integration partners as part of its critical, holistic digital transformation, with key partners eventually including PwC, Salesforce and AWS.

Putting together a consortium, which included 55 people across its partners, Martin said HBF moved in the direction of designing a tech stack that was less tech-focused. This ensured business representatives could understand it better and customers were prioritised.

4. Focus on end-user experiences to maximise adoption rates

National Australia Bank has grown the footprint of its unified CRM, powered by Salesforce, from 40% to 73% of the institution’s bankers in over 12 months. Rolling out the platform across its personal and business banking divisions, its corporate and institutional banks will be next.

Charlotte Cadness, NAB’s Executive Digital, Data & Analytics, said the bank had achieved a 90% adoption rate among users by creating a “wonderful experience,” informed by working with them to create a “Minimum Loveable Product,” not just a Minimum Viable Product.

SEE: The big IT challenges Australia needs to address to seize the AI moment.

Gerrod Bland, head of digital at NAB, said this focus on user experience sometimes resulted in the team iterating over designs 15 or more times in an effort to create intuitive experiences for platform users.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression,” Bland said.

5. Expect to pivot as project and business needs change

HBF’s digital transformation involved a significant pivot mid-project. Having divided the project into three horizons, the last of which was the replacement of its core system, a decision was made to change core providers mid-project and combine the last two project phases into one.

Billy Martin said this larger implementation proposition was mitigated by taking a “dark launch” approach. By deploying into a production environment early and testing, HBF has been able to remedy any issues ahead of deployment rather than see them arise during hypercare.

6. Encourage employees to love data through AI

Around for 100 years, Australian energy company Endeavour Energy has been pivoting towards being a more customer focused business, due to changes in the dynamics of the energy market. With data set to play a critical role, Melissa Irwin, chief data, people and sustainability officer, said AI could be the crucial hook required to build a data culture.

Irwin said that, with employees having a stake in using AI and benefitting from the insights it is likely to provide, they are more likely to be engaged in ensuring that the data that they are gathering and utilising in the company’s systems is clean and leads to good model outputs.

Having utilised AI for a while prior to the explosion of Large Language Models, Endeavour Energy is now actively encouraging the use of AI among employees in the form of CoPilot and its own version of ChatGPT, so employees can be partners in the future of AI in the business.

7. Never forget the customers the transformation is meant to serve

Warner’s project at the Department of Education SA impacts 30,000 users across the state’s schools, including students with special needs. She said a focus on the outcomes users needed and wanted — as well as defending that when it came to design — was critical.

The project is now enabling multiple stakeholders to access student information across two types of records from one place securely, and will expand to nine to 12 record types in 12 months. Warner said its success was shown when users themselves request more from the platform.


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