As senior vice president for Salesforce National Security, Bill Pessin helps move the needle on how agencies and organizations performing national security functions realize the value of commercial cloud high-performance/productivity platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service capabilities.
Cloud providers have long struggled to offer true platforms and applications to this market segment where significant business and technology compliance and security requirements make delivering a true “commercial” cloud experience extremely challenging. Leveraging Salesforce’s recent launch of Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new public-cloud architecture, Pessin is looking to usher in a new era of more innovative and cost- and time-effective capabilities than the traditional custom development applications and systems predominately still employed.
“Within this highly restricted community, there’s a strong desire for the capabilities that Salesforce brings to the table,” he said.
To make those capabilities available, Salesforce pursued a strategy known as “air-gapping” — a means of disconnecting its cloud services from the internet.
“Air-gapping Salesforce Hyperforce allows us to run our platform on our customer’s certified cloud substrate, and to deliver it in a manner that helps our customers achieve their security and compliance needs,” Pessin said.
He noted Salesforce is working hard to deliver on a key objective: providing seamless operations and constant innovation in highly secure environments.
Even in an air-gapped environment, “the customer experience must be as great as it is for our commercial and other government customers,” he said. “While challenging, our focus on customer success keeps us centered on this key objective.”
Pessin foresees strong interest across the community.
“Agencies performing national security functions are not unlike other federal agencies,” he said. “They need the ability to workflow data to perform critical tasks and make informed and effective decisions quickly and efficiently.
Salesforce helps customers do just this exceptionally well, he said. The constant stream of innovative capabilities, including artificial intelligence and machine learning Salesforce seamlessly flows to its customers, excites its national security customers.
These government agencies are also eager to leverage low-code and no-code development capabilities to deliver new, modern applications.
“It’s well documented that government is grappling with legacy applications, and they are looking for the ability to rapidly deploy new, modern applications,” Pessin said.
In addition to supporting government organizations directly, Salesforce also is deeply engaged with other GovCons who support those users.
“The national security market and the intelligence community are a very large market, and we are committed to delivering our capability to all of our customers who are serving it,” Pessin said.
“We are a major provider to government contractors, who in turn also have significant compliance requirements that they need to adhere to,” he added. By developing a compliant platform for the national security sector, Salesforce, in turn, helps those GovCons who rely on its products to meet their own compliance objectives and customer-driven requirements.
GovCons turn to Salesforce to support a range of key functions, including the bid and proposal functions inherent in all GovCons.
“It’s about speed. It’s about being able to get more proposals out the door faster” Pessin said. Compliant workflows and analytics help to make that happen smoothly and efficiently, especially over the long capture cycles that typically define the GovCon sales experience.
“We directly enable the GovCon bid and capture process: the ability to track and pursue major bids, to organize the complex web of relationships, to manage the tasks, schedules, and to organize the work to get proposals out the door and win the contract,” Pessin said.
Maintaining continuity when the capture process extends over several years is a challenge. Capture team members’ transition and key information is typically managed in siloed applications like email, spreadsheets or in documents or presentations. GovCons need to put the customer and the opportunity itself at the center of their work to ensure a complete and persistent 360-degree view.
“The challenge in these long-term capture efforts is that people transition out, and when they do, their knowledge and insights are left hanging in their inbox,” Pessin said. “That’s where Salesforce’s Customer 360 is tremendously helpful. It gives the ability to flex the team, to bring the right people in and out throughout the course of that long capture cycle.”
For GovCons, robust workflow tools likewise make it possible to sustain the long-term relationships that are the bedrock of any federal marketing efforts.
“It’s about understanding your relationship with the members of that particular agency that you want to transact with, as well as understanding the community members, the other contractors or subcontractors that you want to engage with,” Pessin said. “Salesforce helps to map all that out, to track it and to manage it.”
As Pessin noted, Salesforce “drinks its own champagne,” as it leverages for its national-security customers the same high-level compliance and security protocols it provides in support of other GovCons.
A 30-year veteran of the GovCon space, Pessin joined Salesforce 7 years ago with an eye toward jumpstarting the company’s defense, aerospace and intelligence business.
He said he has a personal stake in bringing to life the Salesforce vision for the national security market.
“I come from a military family, and am an Army veteran,” he said. “My life’s work has been spent serving the government either directly or as a contractor. I enjoy helping our government customers achieve success with their mission. It’s an honor and a privilege to support them.”