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Home >Companies >People >Salesforce plans to expand employee presence in India: Arundhati Bhattacharya

American cloud-based software company Salesforce.com Inc. has a sharp focus on India, especially in the small and medium business (SMB) market. It has been aggressively hiring in the country, with 40% of the Indian workforce added in the last one year alone. In an interview, Arundhati Bhattacharya, chief executive officer and chairperson, Salesforce India, spoke about the growth strategy for India, its focus on SMBs, and plans for workforce expansion. Edited excerpts:

Give us a sense of your India business and the need for the new leadership you just hired.

The appointment of Sanket Atal as managing director (MD) for sites and Arun Prameshwaran as MD for sales and distribution is a testament to the success we are seeing in India. Over the last year, we have increased our headcount significantly to more than 4,000 employees across Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. We also onboarded a significant number of new customers in the region, reinforcing the appetite for businesses to go digital and move to the cloud. In Q4FY21, the Asia-Pacific region reported a 25% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth, making it one of the fastest growing markets for Salesforce. Some of our key customers in India are CEAT, SpiceJet, Red Bus, KFC, Puma, Sodexo, Franklin Templeton, Pidilite, L&T Realty, and DMI Finance.

What’s the broad strategy to grow in India?

India is a strategic market and one of the fastest growth markets for Salesforce. As we step into the new financial year (Salesforce’s fiscal ends on 31 January), we will continue to strengthen our vision of working together as one India. Our priority is to lead with relevance, integrity, and trust, guiding our customers through their digital transformation journeys. We want to ensure companies can truly take advantage of the digital imperative that every company is facing. Led by growth, we will focus on delivering customer-centric digital transformation, industry-specific solutions, innovation on the platform, and SMBs. As covid-19 has accelerated the digital skills gap, with the power of Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform. we will empower both learners at every stage of their career journey and companies looking to reskill their employees with the platform, expertise, and guidance to skill up for the future. As we grow, we will continue to invest in expanding our employee presence in the region making India a leading global talent and innovation hub for the company.

As SMB is a key focus area for Salesforce, how do you plan to tap into this segment?

Use of technology by SMBs has continued to increase over the years. Based on findings from our recent SMB Trends Report 2020, in India, more than half of respondents (56%) said they use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, a 24% increase from 2019. We have seen immense growth from the SMB segment in India y-o-y and the majority of our customers in India are from the SMB segment. SMBs are quick with decision-making and are looking for easy, simple, and smart solutions that address their problems. Salesforce Essentials, the company’s CRM for SMBs, is the easiest way to get started on Salesforce. It will be important for small businesses to buy technology based not only on what they need right now but also on what they will need in the future.

What are your hiring plans for this year and what are the employee growth metrics?

Globally, we have 50,000 employees and in India we are 4,000 employees strong across Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi. India is the largest workforce for Salesforce outside of the US. A majority of our workforce is located in Hyderabad at our Centre of Excellence. We have added 40% of our workforce in India over the last one year. We continue to hire aggressively for the region across levels for various roles at the Centre of Excellence and for our sales and distribution across the country.

Which verticals are the fastest adopters of Salesforce technologies?

Our industries strategy has been very focused over the years. Today, we have 12 industry clouds including financial services, healthcare and life sciences, public sector, communications, manufacturing, energy and utilities, consumer goods, media, education, and non-profit. Within those clouds, we are also increasing capabilities in specific verticals such as insurance and healthcare payers. Industry clouds offer customers the fastest time-to-value because they have industry-best practices and business process built into the product. In India, we are seeing accelerated adoption across the financial services, edtech, and manufacturing sectors. I would like to call out that Salesforce is also built on innovation and agility and the vaccine cloud is a great example of that. Government agencies around the world are using the vaccine cloud to manage the deployment of vaccines in a fair and equitable way. Work.com is another great example built last year to help companies manage the return to work in a safe and organized manner.

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