Innovation, Co-Creation, and Design Thinking: How Salesforce's Ignite Team Accelerates Enterprise Digital Transformation

by Sara L. Beckman

From its inception, Salesforce, the cloud computing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) company, took a radically different approach to selling enterprise software than competitors such as Oracle and SAP. Rather than sell large software packages that often required years of work to customize and integrate, Salesforce sold licenses for more easily customized access to cloud-based solutions. In the late 2000s, Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, put forth an agenda to penetrate further into the large-scale enterprise market. This required some rethinking of the sales process the company was using. Thus, Ignite, a customer-focused, design-led organization that executes a pre-sales process with large customers, was born. The case follows the early evolution of the Ignite organization, outlining the challenges associated with convincing both the internal sales organization and Salesforce customers of the potential opportunities design-led innovation might make available to them.

Learning Objectives

Design thinking has been a popular topic in both the academic and popular press in recent years. Much of the focus, however, has been on its use by innovation teams in organizations that aim to create new products, services, or customer experiences. This case describes an alternative way of leveraging design thinking, or customer-focused design-in the sales process at a software company. The case allows students to explore the following questions: 1. What are the core elements of design thinking (which is also referred to in the case as design-led innovation and customer-focused design)? 2. How can design be leveraged in a sales process, and in particular in selling enterprise software? 3. What does it take to operationalize design?


Pub Date: Sep 30, 2018

Discipline: Sales

Subjects: Business model innovation, Design thinking, Innovation focused strategy, Innovation, Sales, Design, Sales strategy, Customer relationship management

Product #: B5928-PDF-ENG

Industry: Technology, Software publishing, Business consulting services

Geography: United States

Length: 20 page(s)

Berkeley Haas Case Series
Berkeley Haas Case Series The Berkeley Haas Case Series is a collection of business case studies written by faculty members at the Haas School of Business. Cases are conceived, developed, written, and published throughout the year, on subjects ranging from entrepreneurship and strategy to finance and marketing. Each case includes a teaching note for use in the classroom.


Berkeley Haas Case Series

A new collection of business case studies from Berkeley Haas

The aim of the Berkeley Haas Case Series is to incite business innovation by clarifying disruptive trends and questioning the status quo.

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