Back to the Future – Dusting Off the Old Playbook for Salesforce in Healthcare


This article was co-authored by Jim Goldfinger, Chief Customer Officer, Customertimes.

Often, the most interesting developments in the market occur under the radar. One emerging trend – or perhaps, more accurately, “proto trend” – is Salesforce’s foray into the Healthcare provider industry. It’s reminiscent of the early days of Salesforce when it made its way into core industries like Manufacturing, Consumer Goods and Life Sciences.

If you’re a Healthcare provider, this may be the time to think strategically about where your Salesforce landscape may be headed.

When Salesforce initially came onto the scene, its business development and growth strategy targeted adoption by small companies that didn’t have the infrastructure, people or technology to implement legacy customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. By building in the cloud and making it easy to configure without IT experts, Salesforce made it easy for small companies to implement a fully functional CRM solution.

But who doesn’t want easy-to-use, easy-to-implement, highly configurable solutions that don’t require heavy IT expertise? Salesforce soon caught the attention of business users in large corporations who were working with IT organizations that, at the time, were reluctant and concerned about enterprise solutions in the cloud. As a result, Salesforce “infiltrated” large enterprises by implementing small pilot projects in single departments, in many cases staying under the radar of IT and senior management. Early successes led to additional departments or additional use cases. For example, a business unit might start with a Salesforce software like Sales Cloud and then add Service Cloud, Pardot, and eventually Community Cloud.

This allowed those companies to test the waters with minimal investment in an emerging enterprise solution, which they had not been able to do with traditional enterprise solutions like ERP.

Fast forward 15 years. Salesforce has become the recognized leader in the enterprise CRM market and, through partners, has become the standard enterprise platform for a number of solutions beyond CRM, including industry-specific and leading analytics tools.

Healthcare providers were not a significant part of the Salesforce ramp-up story. But today that is changing.

Increasingly, we are seeing large Healthcare providers inching toward the CRM model. As a way to accelerate how they respond to the needs of their physicians, patients and employees, some are starting with a minimal investment in Salesforce and other cloud solutions. This is driven in no small part by the need for greater agility in the time of a pandemic, coupled with the growing expectation for transparency through easily accessible portals and mobile solutions. Additionally, cloud solutions such as Salesforce could ultimately provide a competitive alternative to incumbent healthcare technology providers who have, until now, dominated the market and, in many cases, been a source of frustration.

In the case of Healthcare organizations interested in Salesforce, the most practical path might be to start with Service Cloud or Health Cloud in one group and then add additional capabilities such as Service Cloud Voice for extended internal use and productivity, followed by Community Cloud to extend to their patient and physician constituencies.  

Keep in mind that once you are “hooked” on Salesforce, you may find yourself on a path of escalating year-over-year costs. The key for buyers is to proactively think through how to protect their future entitlements and costs by locking in the right entitlements and options now. Investing in the time and expertise to do so now will likely be cost-effective for the future.

ISG helps Healthcare providers navigate software negotiations, renewals and licensing. Contact us to find out how we can help.


About the author

Bill Huber

Bill Huber

Signature traits: Big picture systems thinker and sourcing expert.  Transformation and cost optimization-focused.  Pragmatic and experienced.

Bill works with the world’s leading companies to identify, implement, and accelerate improved capabilities and better ways of working, and to align and optimize the network of strategic suppliers and partners.  These efforts have driven hundreds of millions in savings for his clients. 

Recent projects include helping major manufacturers and healthcare companies to implement broad cost optimization strategies, assisting utilities and medical device companies with their SAP strategies, assisting a leading fashion brand with its IT transformation, eCommerce, and SAP implementation, and working with a global cruise line on negotiation of its reservation and loyalty platform. Prior projects include:

  • Leading several global ITO and BPO projects for the leading cereal and snack food company
  • Infrastructure outsourcing for a leading regional US Bank
  • Implementation of an IT capabilities facility for a low-cost carrier

Prior to his current position, Bill lead ISG’s software advisory practice, lead ISG’s healthcare vertical, co-led ISG’s BPO practice and was a director in ISG’s strategy practice.