This year has been a bit of a whirlwind – and not the fun kind. Words such as downturn, inflation, layoffs, and recession have plagued our channels, and Salesforce wasn’t spared.
In January, Salesforce announced that they would layoff approximately 10% of their workforce of 70,000+ employees, as well as closing some offices (which was in addition to roughly 1,000 employees let go in November 2022). They cited overhiring during the pandemic as the reason for this.
But there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. Salesforce will be hiring 3,300 employees across sales and engineering, specifically for coverage for Data Cloud. From both media sources and anecdotal evidence (conversations we’ve had) a proportion of this will be re-hires of previously let-go employees.
Salesforce Layoff Bounce Back
There are a number of factors at play that are causing Salesforce to reverse their mass layoff.
1. Strong Fiscal Performance
Salesforce announced much stronger than expected Q4 results from 2023, when shares skyrocketed 16.4% in after-hours trading.
Salesforce’s quarterly revenue grew 14% YoY (up 17% in constant currency) and increased their share buyback program to $20 billion, up from $10 billion previously. This confidence from the stock market has grown since.
2. Data Cloud
Data Cloud is Salesforce’s CDP (customer data platform) offering that extends data unification, identity resolution, and activation right across the “Customer 360” (i.e. Salesforce’s product portfolio). It’s the foundation that all Salesforce products operate on – in other words, it gets data flowing between the various ‘clouds’, more rapidly than has ever been possible.
Data Cloud has been the fastest-growing, organically-grown product Salesforce has ever brought to market, and it’s a significant competitive advantage for Salesforce.
The positive outlook is also coming to us in the form of artificial intelligence. With the insane adoption of generative AI apps, and many industry thought leaders such as Bill Gates and Marc Benioff predicting that this new wave of technology will be unlike anything we have ever seen, could we be experiencing a new industrial revolution?
No surprises that the key pieces of news from Dreamforce ‘23 (Salesforce’s flagship conference) are centered on AI and Data Cloud coming together – named the Einstein 1 platform. This includes Einstein Copilot, the built-in side panel of the user interface we’ve all become used to, and the Einstein Copilot Studio delivering tools for Salesforce Admins and other professionals building on the platform to roll-out generative AI for their organization in a low-code way (Prompt Builder, Skills Builder, and Model Builder).
The Einstein Trust Layer, which places guardrails around your organization’s use of generative AI (such as controlling data privacy and reducing toxicity), is providing some peace of mind that people have been seeking. While designed intentionally, Salesforce will still need people to sell the Einstein 1 Platform dream to customers and prospects that remain skeptical.
What Does This Mean for the Ecosystem?
1. Data Cloud and AI Upskilling
In line with their hiring spree for Data Cloud and AI coverage in sales and engineering functions, Salesforce have released two certifications that mirror their predicted demand for these two products.
2. New Partner Services Offerings
Once again, Data Cloud and AI announcements will also benefit Salesforce consultancies – the services arm of the Salesforce partner ecosystem. With freemium versions of Data Cloud (up to 10,000 unified profiles) and Tableau (x2 Creator licenses), organizations will be seeking support to get up and running with these technologies.
It’s highly likely that this demand will filter down to the consulting space, spurring on another hiring spree.
3. C-Suite Interest in AI
The C-suite in organizations across the globe have been talking about how they are going to incorporate AI. This, paired with more accessibility and use cases for AI on the Salesforce platform (e.g. Einstein Copilot), will put Salesforce professionals working at customer companies in a prime position for career advancement.
4. Salesforce AI Roadmap and Parallel Skills
With bolstered engineering teams, Salesforce will show no slowing down with their AI roadmap. Other advancements will pave the way for parallel skills such as Model Builder (and understanding large language models), and data lakes (such as Snowflake). A new set of Salesforce specializations will be on offer to the Salesforce community.
With Salesforce set to hire 3,300 employees across sales and engineering, specifically for coverage for Data Cloud, there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.
This demand is likely to filter down through the rest of the ecosystem (for the reasons discussed above), spurring on demand for consulting services, and placing Salesforce professionals in a unique position with a new set of specializations to advance their careers.