Vera Loftis, managing director UK at Bluewolf, talks us through her Salesforce partnership, CRM, and paediatric neurosurgery
Tell us about your company and your areas of expertise?
Bluewolf is a global cloud consultancy that helps enterprises navigate the ever-changing CRM technology landscape. We are trusted advisors that rapidly transform businesses and enable them to reach their visions and goals now, while ensuring that the money they invest achieves ROI.
I started at Bluewolf eight years ago as a Business Analyst in the States. I then moved into a project management role and led my own delivery team, driving ongoing innovation management on the West Coast, before moving into my current role — managing the UK region for Bluewolf.
What’s the favourite IT project that you’ve ever worked on?
My favourite project is also my most difficult project. In one of my earlier project management endeavours, I worked with a leading independent energy company. The company needed to replace an entire ERP system and build a quoting engine, specific to the utilities industry, from scratch. Bluewolf contributed the Salesforce cloud component, but we also needed to ensure that the new technology worked seamlessly together with existing on-premise systems, aspects in which we had no management control over. The project was both incredibly complicated and rewarding, once we overcame complexity for them.
What technologies were you involved with 10 years ago?
Prior to Bluewolf I was in a marketing, so Bluewolf was quite a big change for me. Seeing our company leverage cutting-edge cloud technologies (and at the time my knowledge and experience of CRM was limited) was immediately impactful. It really opened my eyes to what cloud could do across all types of business; this helped me decide that business transformation was where I wanted to take my career.
What do you expect to be using in 10 years’ time?
We need to think about building applications now for the future. If we take a look at where the mobile enterprise space was two years ago, it’s incredible how far we’ve come. It is clear that the abandonment of the desktop, the rise of the mobile worker, and the evolution of wearables is still very much a consumer market at present. But, as wearables and other connected devices become part and parcel of consumer day-to-day life, we are likely to find them seeping further into the workplace. As companies generate more insightful customer data through mobile, the B2B market needs to also evaluate how this is applicable to their business. Every enterprise cloud initiative needs to be visualised in a mobile perspective.
What do you think is the greatest challenge for an IT company or department today?
Keeping up with technology. Solutions are abundant now — you only have to look at the innovation that companies like Salesforce are producing for organisations, as well as the huge start-up community in the UK, to realise that technology creation is occuring across a wide spectrum. But because innovation is happening so rapidly, IT departments are constantly playing a game of catch up.
It’s important for enterprises to refrain from chasing every new technology that is available. Don’t try and tackle everything all at once, figure out what business outcomes you’re trying to achieve first, and then map out the technology that best supports and accelerates those results.
To cloud or not to cloud?
We stand by cloud, as we have for the past 15 years, as the most agile, cost effective, and success-oriented technology for today’s changing digital business. Cloud has become an obvious answer to enterprise challenges; its flexible and scalable nature drives collaboration, differentiation, and company growth must faster. It allows businesses to adopt, iterate, and drop technologies very quickly in response to rapidly changing business needs. On-premise applications sometimes require years to implement; depending on function, many who insist on going on-premise all the way will find applications outdated before they are rolled out.
Who is your tech hero and who is your tech villain?
Elon Musk. He is one of the greatest inventors of our age and embodies the belief that technology can be used for the advancement of the human race, and not solely for profit. His entrepreneurial spirit does not cloud his overall vision, which is evident in decisions like allowing Tesla’s patents to be used by anyone to encourage the development of electric cars.
Villains are leaders who don’t think of impact beyond just the local and global economy. Commitment to corporate social responsibility underlines the importance of helping to implement lasting and effective change for people and the community.
What’s your favourite device ever made and what do you use the most?
My entire life lives on my phone – I am so dependent on it. For example, I recently went on holiday and did not take a laptop. I was able to do everything I needed to from my phone. There’s no device out there that rivals that experience of functionality and accessibility to anything I need.
We work closely with Salesforce, so it is easy to get intimate access to the inter-workings of their organisation. Over the years I have always admired their ability to scale to great heights, while maintaining a focus on culture. With its commitment to its employees and to philanthropic efforts, Salesforce has been able to acquire new talent at a rapid pace and still maintain its identity as an entrepreneurial and collaborative working environment.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a paediatric neurosurgeon. I asked my parents for encyclopaedias on paediatric medicine and used to read them at night when they thought I was asleep!