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Building a platform is just the beginning - and other observations on the world of Managed Services in 2020

03rd February 2020

Author Dougal Macdiarmid

We chat with Dougal Macdiarmid, Davanti’s Head of Managed Services, about his views on Managed Services in 2020.

With 2020 now upon us, what trends and key focus areas are you seeing in Managed Services, this year and beyond? And what do organisations need to be doing to act on these?

We’ll continue to see an increase in multi-cloud environments as Salesforce continues to expand its offering and the number of new technologies offering integrations to the platform. What we’re seeing from our clients as a result of this is a demand for integration stability and a partner than can support multiple clouds, provide flexibility and offer peace of mind and good advice.

In my view, one of the most important things here is for organisations to ensure they get the right balance of support across these environments.

Dougal MacdiarmidDougal Macdiarmid, Davanti’s Head of Managed Services

You’ve said that building a platform is just the beginning. Can you explain that statement? What comes after, and why does it matter?

At a time when customer and user experience are increasingly important, with digital transformation enabled through SaaS and cloud, digital adoption becomes a key measure of the effectiveness of that digital transformation.

Return on investment on licensing and programme delivery can only be measured when platforms are in production, so the ongoing usability, experience, security and roadmap delivery prove critical in ensuring forecast returns are delivered. And all of these things only come into play after the platform is live.

It’s not uncommon for organisations to go live with their new platforms and then apply a DIY approach. This is admirable and I certainly understand why this happens. However, without the right expertise, you can quickly find yourself down a rabbit hole that’s hard to find your way out of.

A lot of the complexity we’re seeing in digital transformation initiatives where organisations are moving from legacy systems to digital and cloud platforms is in the need to unwind the technical debt in the old platforms.

What we absolutely don’t want to do on the new platform in the cloud is create more technical debt. So, by creating an ongoing plan and using best practice to enable build and ongoing delivery, we can eliminate the need to unwind any ongoing technical debt. We try to use clicks rather than code in the Salesforce platform to prevent the accretion of technical debt, which means a system will be more supportable, stable and high-performing, and it will be more usable for customers as well.

But above all, the number one reason an ongoing focus on getting incremental value from your technology investment really matters is for the customer experience and user experience. If it’s easy and intuitive to use, and if this experience is always getting better for your customers and your people, then more people will use the technology, and the better and more valuable it will be.

In a world where continuous improvement is becoming (or has become) the norm, what’s the key to staying ahead? How does the Managed Services team help Davanti’s clients continuously stay ahead of the game?

The key to continuous improvement for my team is to never stop learning. It’s one of our core values, and it means that the team is constantly developing knowledge of Salesforce – usually in context of current client requirements – which gives us the ability to support the unique nature of every client environment and business context. And we bring this expertise to bear in every client engagement, helping organisations solve complex new problems that a client may have never encountered previously.

We’ve brought together into our team a diverse set of skills and experiences that includes deep technical and functional knowledge of multiple Salesforce clouds, and other technology as well. This breadth of expertise means there are very few problems that we can’t solve.

Alongside our commitment to learning, our intimate Salesforce relationship, and the fantastic level of access we get to Salesforce and their team as New Zealand’s only Platinum Salesforce partner, means we’re always applying best practice and current thinking from Salesforce.

These two factors combined enable a synergy between in-the-field, on-the-job experience and training from the platform provider to create the best outcome for clients. And it means our clients have the utmost confidence in our highly skilled people who give good advice that’s in tune with their business objectives.

What’s new and exciting in 2020 in the world of Managed Services?

Salesforce has recently announced a Managed Services partner programme and we’re really looking forward to bringing the benefits of this to our clients as soon as we can. This news is relatively hot off the press, so we’ll be able to share more information soon.

Closer to home, this month we’re are launching automated reporting for all clients, enabling them to get instant access to a dashboard with details on the enhancements and fixes we are delivering, using the same tools we talk about with our clients every day.

Wanting to create greater efficiency and improve our reporting processes and, ultimately, the service we offer to our customers, we went out to our clients and asked them what they wanted from their reporting. We then called on the skills of our Design and Experience team to go through the design process we employ with our own customers – interviewing clients, understanding what their experience was and what they wanted it to be. Then we created wireframes, took these back to our clients and then iterated with a number of them to make sure that we’d heard them correctly, replaying their ideas and their needs back to them. We’re really excited about the result and looking forward to the feedback!

We talk a lot about Davanti’s key focus being on helping our customers get closer to their customers, and automated reporting represents a real step-change for us, helping us get closer to our customers, delivering enhanced functionality in accordance with the experience our customers have told us they want.

Looking out to the year ahead, what will you and your team be focusing on to bring the greatest value to clients?

The key for us all at Davanti is to listen to our clients and design digital platforms and services with customers at the heart of everything.

My team’s focus is to make sure that what we’re building for our clients is consumable and enjoyable to use – and that this becomes even more consumable and enjoyable over time.

As I mentioned before, we’re looking to automate our Managed Services reporting so that we can spend as much time as possible engaged in high-value work for our clients. We’re focused on leveraging the platform and the many tools within it, so that we’re continuing to lift the bar in the services and the experience we deliver to our customers. Because, just as we’re focused on helping our clients achieve continuous improvements for their organisations and their customers, we’re also equally focused on achieving this same level of ongoing optimisation ourselves.

If you’d like to know more about our new automated reporting service or just to chat about what your Managed Services could look like in 2020, we’d love to talk. You can email me at dougal.macdiarmid@davanti.co.nz.

Dougal Macdiarmid

Dougal Macdiarmid is Davanti’s Head of Managed Services, passionate about providing digital platforms and services that put the customer at the heart of everything.