Partners are ‘extremely important’ for Salesforce’s business in ASEAN, which is why they have invested heavily on their reseller strategy in the region to enhance delivery capabilities and domain expertise.
Latika Minocha, vice president, Alliances, Partners and Channels at Salesforce ASEAN shared with Channel Asia that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted ASEAN to be the ‘fastest growing region’ in 2023, with overall growth expected to be about 4.7 per cent.
Singapore is a big growth contributor for businesses due to its 'digitally competitive' nature, and Thailand – a massive reseller market for the vendor – as a critical target market for the vendor’s business with its huge growth potential.
Other countries in ASEAN like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam are also “predominantly resell markets” for selling licenses and delivering services.
“Our resell business has been growing pretty much double every year,” she said. “For the past year, we have doubled our resell business and doubled the number of resellers that we have in the market.”
This is why the vendor has focused their efforts on enhancing their partner ecosystem and its resell strategy to get “maximum reach” to new and old customers as the region pushes for digital transformation.
“When we look at large multi-cloud digital transformations, the people who can really piece this together is our consulting partners,” said Minocha.
“They are able to look across the organisation, offer industry-specific consulting and solutions, [and] piece together different cloud services, cloud marketing, Tableau, MuleSoft, Slack and offer end-to-end solutions to our customers.”
‘Big opportunities for partners’
And things may soon get easier for partners as the vendor consolidates their solutions and services under its One Partner Program.
“Bringing all these different solutions together is a big opportunity for our partners who can now tap on multi-cloud offerings, not just from a sales, services, or marketing point of view, but also across [our vendor-partners],” she said.
Since the program’s launch at its partner kick-off in Singapore, Minocha claimed that many partners are looking to become core Salesforce partners, when they previously only had Tableau or MuleSoft solutions in their portfolio.
As for Slack, Minocha considers it a “change agent for our customers” as it can offer organisations a “seamless communication hub” for its varied software and cloud solutions.
In addition, the vendor has rolled out a data cloud offering that aims to offer “a single view of the customer” where partners can consolidate customer information and then tap on AI like predictive analytics to personalise customer experience.
Then there’s AppExchange, which is based on independent software vendor (ISV) applications that partners build on top of their solutions.
“We have 11 million app installs globally and about 91 per cent of global Salesforce customers rely on AppExchange,” shared Minocha.
“What’s more, 70 per cent of all our customer implementations are done through partners. From an implementation standpoint, the statistic is even higher when it comes to ASEAN as about 80 per cent of our business is implemented with partners.”
Invested on upskilling
While customer demand in ASEAN continues to look promising for Salesforce, talent challenges remain top of mind for the business, be it internally or for partners.
“What I have seen with partners in ASEAN – and it’s not just restricted to Salesforce partners – is getting talent,” she said. “There is a scarcity of talent in the market and the demand for talent is high.
“Companies are going through digital transformation, and with this scarcity of talent there’s always the catch up that most companies need to do to skill up the ecosystem to drive more talent in the ecosystem – that’s why we are upskilling the ecosystem to meet customer demand.”
That said, Minocha has managed to rapidly grow their partner team in the past two years by hiring specific roles in partner sales, account management, strategy and marketing.
On the partner side of things, she shared that despite growing over 24 per cent year-on-year for certifications in the Asia Pacific – making the latest number of certified consultants in the region about 11,000 – Salesforce remains committed at “increasing the number of consultants in ASEAN”.
To do that, there’s the standard gamut of training initiatives and ‘certification days’ where organisations pool consultants together and get certified on the same day.
Then there’s also Talent Alliance, where the vendor focuses on reskilling and cross-skilling individuals before offering them jobs within the ecosystem, including at customer or partner organisations.
Through all these efforts, Salesforce hopes to help tackle the ongoing talent challenge in the region, thereby enabling deep domain expertise in hopes of enhancing their ability to meet the growing market demand.
“It’s a great time and place for CRM in our market and for digital transformation,” said Minocha. “With the ASEAN markets, partners become extremely important to us – we can only really grow through partners.
“Hence we are upskilling our partner ecosystem and our internal teams so that we can actually go and deliver on the demands that the customers have around digital transformation.”