For American cloud-based software company Salesforce.com, India has always been a priority market with a sharp focus on the small and medium business (SMB) segment. As more and more companies are now born in the cloud and are scaling at a rapid pace, Salesforce plans to capture this growing market. Arundhati Bhattacharya, chief executive officer and chairperson, Salesforce India, talks about the opportunity in the India market, the SMB focus, and emerging technologies, in an interview with Ayushman Baruah. Excerpts:
What are your expansion plans for India in the next 12 months or so?
India has always been a priority market for Salesforce and the talent is a key asset for us.
We continue to invest in the region, with a headcount of over 7,500 employees across Mumbai, Gurugram, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. The majority of our team is in Hyderabad, tapping into the region’s large community of vibrant technology talent. We continue to hire in India for several roles critical to our business in the region, making us the second-largest talent hub for Salesforce after the US.
So, what is the biggest opportunity right now for Salesforce in the India market?
For India, cloud computing has the potential to transform the domestic economy technologically and make it more resilient and inclusive. A Nasscom report indicates that cloud has the potential to account for about 8% of the country’s GDP by 2026, growing 4x over the next five years. Similarly, cloud has the potential to create 14 million jobs in 2026, growing 3x over the next five years. Without accelerated cloud adoption, end user industries carry the risk of becoming irrelevant and may fall behind in innovation, growth and competitiveness. The opportunity is immense and we have barely touched the surface.
As SMB is a key focus area for Salesforce, how do you plan to tap into this segment?
Salesforce’s sales, service, and marketing automation capabilities are already making it easier for companies of every size to do more with less. The opportunity and agility of the SMB sector in India is encouraging. More and more companies are now born in the cloud and are scaling at a rapid pace. This became evident when India surpassed the UK in 2021 to be the third largest country in terms of tech unicorns (80+). Globally, we recently launched Salesforce Easy, a journey that starts with a new simplified offering for sales, service, and marketing to help customers drive fast ROI and cut costs. SMB businesses need to be more resilient, flexible, and ready to adapt. Research shows that in the past three years, companies that adopted technology across their organisation are now growing 5x faster than those who didn’t.
Which verticals are adopting Salesforce technologies faster than the others?
Salesforce has been selling to industries for over 15 years and has been on the industries cloud journey for the last five of those. In every industry’s case, we have built industry-specific data models alongwith analytical and artificial intelligence (AI) elements. And what is also unique is we go even deeper at the segment level with tailored solutions for each sub-vertical. So, if we are talking about financial services, we have an offering for insurance, which is different from our offering for wealth management, which is different from our offering for corporate and investment banking. Even within the same industries, there are different needs. We understand this and we build towards it. Today, we have 12 industry clouds. In India, financial services sector, manufacturing, retail, and education are adopting Salesforce technologies faster than the others.
What are some of the emerging technologies Salesforce is focusing on from India?
Cloud’s potential is boundless, and it forms a crucial foundation for successful digital transformation. Cloud underpins several emerging technologies like AI/machine learning, IoT (internet of things), RPA (robotic process automation), AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality), etc. which rely on cloud computing to maximise their benefit. Cloud adoption will be mission critical for India to realise Digital India mission and emerge as a $1 trillion economy.
For Salesforce, a significant portion of several of our products and services are developed and built from India.