Customer Story

Salesforce: Driving business and positive change through collaboration

Salesforce collaboration

Salesforce maintains its leadership role in business, philanthropy, and workplace satisfaction in part by leveraging G Suite for real-time collaboration among dispersed teams and partners.

Google Cloud Results

Saving millions of dollars annually in backup costs

• Helps produce long-form content in as little as 24 hours versus weeks, despite need for approval from many stakeholders

• Enables real-time collaboration with strategic partners to enhance business outcome

• Reduces hundreds of file versions to one, streamlining long-range planning

Salesforce was the first commercially successful business software company built especially for cloud computing. Nearly 20 years after its debut, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software company “dominates the market,” as Bloomberg puts it, with 19.6 percent market share in 2017, according to International Data Corporation. And Salesforce continues to see strong growth—the company grew 25 percent in fiscal year 2018 and expects to reach more than $20 billion in revenue by FY22.


Along with its status as a SaaS industry pioneer, the San Francisco-based company and its CEO Marc Benioff are leaders in corporate philanthropy. The influential Salesforce.org 1-1-1 philanthropic model “has inspired many in the tech community to give back and build charitable models of their own,” says VentureBeat. And Salesforce was recently named number 1 in Fortune’s 2018 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.


In the fast-changing, highly competitive industry that it helped establish, how does Salesforce maintain its position as a business, philanthropic, and workplace leader? In part, the company’s success is a result of streamlined collaboration, both internally and externally, supported by real-time, easy communication between teams and partners.


As the company grew and expanded its network of offices and partners, it found that its on-premises email system and communication and collaboration tools couldn’t keep pace. “Our legacy software became problematic,” says Tetsu Suzuki, Senior Director of Program Management at Salesforce. For example, the limited storage capacity of individual email inboxes meant that people couldn’t keep many messages before they exceeded capacity. And people often shared critical documents as attachments, leading to multiple file versions, which could lead to errors and significant delays in document review and approval—not to mention it was an unproductive use of time spent on version control.

“The integration between Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Google Drive, and other G Suite apps was another big selling point. As a total, real-time collaboration platform, G Suite is impressive.” - Andy White, Senior Director, Infrastructure Engineering, Salesforce

Initially, Salesforce migrated some users to Google Docs for its real-time document collaboration. Widespread acceptance of Docs led the company to adopt Gmail and Google Calendar followed by the full G Suite. Today, Salesforce’s more than 30,000 employees use G Suite apps for email, video and team chat, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and more.


“Compared to what we were using, the infrastructure capacity of G Suite alone is far superior. People’s email storage capacity used to max out at 250MB, for example. With G Suite, it’s unlimited. That’s huge,” says Tetsu. “And Gmail has built-in intelligence features like Smart Reply, so people spend less time in their inboxes and more time creating value for our customers.”


“The integration between Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Google Drive, and other G Suite apps was another big selling point,” adds Andy White, Senior Director, Infrastructure Engineering. “As a total, real-time collaboration platform, G Suite is impressive.”

Accelerating the pace of collaboration

“With all the stakeholders who need to review and comment, getting marketing materials out the door used to take weeks. With Docs, we can create, approve, and deliver assets in as little as 24 hours.” - Leandro Perez, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Salesforce

The ease of real-time collaboration enables Salesforce teams to work faster and more effectively. “The speed of business has changed, so the pace of collaboration had to change, too,” says Leandro Perez, Senior Director of Product Marketing. In one example, Leandro cites the amount of time it previously took to finalize marketing materials using Salesforce’s legacy email and productivity software, due to the back-and-forth nature of sharing drafts via email. “With up to several dozen stakeholders in legal, product marketing, and other departments who need to review and comment, getting marketing materials out the door used to take weeks. With Docs, we can create, approve, and deliver assets in as little as 24 hours.”

Collaborating globally in real time

Salesforce is headquartered in San Francisco, but has employees and offices around the world, including in the Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and Asia Pacific.


To overcome geographical boundaries, Salesforce teams are heavy users of Google Hangouts and Hangouts Meet. (the enterprise version of Hangouts). “About three years ago, we had maybe 200 Hangouts happening each day,” says Nick Amido, Director of Infrastructure Engineering. “That’s exploded to more than 15,000 a day now.”

Corporate Communications team members work with Salesforce presenters on messaging and content and then build the presentations for the company’s many global events. “For our World Tour, we have to prep presenters in Paris, London, Sydney, and other cities,” says Leandro. “We need to interact with many people at once and see their reactions, with everyone simultaneously seeing the same deck in Slides. We couldn’t do any of this without Hangouts Meet.”


The integration between G Suite apps helps team members more effectively collaborate with colleagues and business partners. Salesforce considers external partners essential to its success. When working with a partner on a Slides presentation, Salesforce teams can talk about it with them during a Hangouts screen share. They might also have a Doc that summarizes all the talking points. “G Suite absolutely breaks down any barriers between us and a partner we’re working with. It makes us all feel like one team, which is ideal for getting the best outcome,” says Leandro.

Knowing you have the latest deck

Given the importance of content in strategy, sales, training, and other presentations, it’s essential to trust that the information contained in every deck is final, or is at least the most current version.


“When I open a Slides deck to present to a customer, I trust that I have the latest content. Being confident about the information we’re sharing helps us build even stronger relationships with our customers,” says Nick Amido.

Going from hundreds of files to one

Salesforce uses Sheets to facilitate collaboration around long-range planning (LRP), variance explanations, and other financial matters. The LRP process used to be extremely complicated, with top-line business projections, headcount estimates, and other data input on different spreadsheets by managers in Salesforce regions around the world.


Before Sheets, every time someone made a change to a LRP spreadsheet, he or she created a new version, so there would end up being a long trail. Within a few months, there might be hundreds of versions, which was understandably frustrating and challenging for managers. And though the Finance team kept the files in a shared network folder, only one person could edit a file at a time in the legacy on-premises spreadsheet application.


“With Sheets, there’s only one version of a spreadsheet, which greatly reduces complexity and speeds up collaboration,” explains Srini Namineni, Vice President, Finance & Strategy. “Each spreadsheet has an unlimited history, so we can see who changed what, which helps with accountability. And Sheets gives regions a greater sense of autonomy. They don’t have to call someone on my team and ask them to change some numbers. They can do it themselves, and the change is instant for everyone.”


The ability to add comments to a Sheets spreadsheet is another important benefit. If the financial data from a particular region is off by a certain percentage, the reason can be explained in a comment within the spreadsheet for all reviewers to see. “Asking questions and offering explanations within a Google Sheet takes so much friction out of the process,” Srini says.

Identifying underused resources

Salesforce has two pilot programs that leverage Google Calendar and G Suite administration tools to optimize meeting room usage. “With the Room Insights dashboard, we’ve identified hundreds of under-utilized resources, and we’re in the process of figuring out why those rooms aren’t being used,” says Jason Uhlrich, Senior System Administrator, Collaboration Team. “Getting access to this data and being able to take action on it could have a huge impact for our organization.”


Jason adds, “The Room Recycler feature took 5 minutes to implement, and it’s consistently freeing up 200 to 300 hours of conference rooms each day. It was the best 5 minutes I’ve ever spent.”

Reducing backup and training costs

G Suite Business and Enterprise plans offer unlimited storage for users, and like other G Suite plans, provide 99.9% availability. In addition, the Google Backup and Sync desktop client automatically syncs designated hard drive folders with Drive for continuous cloud backup. “The unlimited storage in G Suite, along with its high availability and automatic backups, allow us to stop paying additional dollars every year for a separate cloud backup service,” says Andy. “That’s a substantial annual cost savings.”

Listening to pain points

“A lot of what we do is about making Salesforce a power for good in the world. With G Suite, we can collaborate and communicate with all of our stakeholders—both in real time and in a highly secure environment—to create meaningful impact at scale.” - Jo-ann Olsovsky, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Salesforce

The security center for G Suite lets organizations more tightly control content access, receive security recommendations, and forensically investigate incidents. For example, administrators can gain visibility into which employees have been targeted with phishing emails in order to block malware attacks—a growing concern for organizations small and large.


“The security center is further proof that Google listens to its customers’ requirements and pain points,” says Jo-ann Olsovsky, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Salesforce.

Sending a clear message

As Salesforce strives to deliver customer success and promote positive change through its Salesforce.org and other philanthropic efforts, G Suite helps the company excel in its various missions. “A lot of what we do is about making Salesforce a power for good in the world,” says Jo-ann. “With G Suite, we can collaborate and communicate with all of our stakeholders—both in real time and in a highly secure environment—to create meaningful impact at scale.”