Conversations with our CEO – Fall ’18


Karin Tracy (KT): My name is Karin Tracy, I’m the VP of Marketing here at Fíonta and I am excited to sit down for the second time now with Mark Patterson, Fíonta’s CEO for this episode. Thanks for chatting with me Mark.

Mark Patterson (MP): Great to be here Karin.

(KT): You have been here now since April. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you’ve been doing? I know it’s been a busy several months, but let me know what you’ve been up to.

(MP): It’s truly been a whirlwind. Mostly I’ve been spending time with our team and our customers, learning really more about the great work that we do and the organizations that we’re helping. It’s really refreshing to hear about the meaningful causes that we’re helping to advance, and I don’t think there’s a single organization that we work with that isn’t doing something that benefits people in need or society in general.

I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time with the team on company strategy and really exploring ideas for how we can expand what we do and have an even greater impact on non-profits and associations. That’s really, to be honest with you, the fun part of the job. With the growing adoption and breadth of Salesforce, there are so many opportunities to pursue that. Really the challenge I think is staying focused on those things that we can be great at.

For example, we’ve got some really unique skills around artificial intelligence. We’re thinking through how to best align that core competence with what Salesforce is doing with Einstein so we can deliver a truly valuable and differentiated service.

(KT): That’s great. Does it seem like it’s been a pretty busy four-plus months?

(MP): It’s been very busy four-plus months. But a very enjoyable four-plus months.

(KT): Good. That’s good to know. So, our viewers may remember from the last time that you come from the product side, working specifically on a product that was focused on associations. Now you’re over here on the flip side on the consulting side. Do you want to talk a little bit about the differences between the two?

(MP): Sure. It’s true, I worked for over nine years, prior to joining Fíonta, for a membership management software company. We focused on really large and complex associations that had pretty specialized needs. Consequently, we had a large consulting practice of around a hundred people that worked with our customers to configure the software and continually adapt it.

The answer to the question…the consulting business is very familiar to me. The methodology and best practices that we used to deliver projects, how we manage scope, schedule, budget and probably most importantly, how we acted as trusted advisors and recommend specific approaches based on our customers’ desired business outcomes. They’re all very familiar to what I’ve been doing for nearly a decade.

What I’m really excited about though is seeing more and more associations adopt Salesforce as their platform for managing their members. There are good Salesforce-based product options out there, and many associations have chosen to build their system on core Salesforce. It’s a highly scalable and expandable platform, and it goes well beyond what I think most of the legacy association management software vendors currently offer. It’s a pretty exciting time for associations.

(KT): Yeah, that’s great. Your timing entering the Salesforce world was impeccable as they launched this really exciting product, or series of products, called Nonprofit Cloud. I know that one of the very first things you did for me in marketing was to write a great blog called Five Things to Know about the Nonprofit Cloud. How have your thoughts about the package evolved? Have you noticed how it’s been benefiting our clients?

(MP): I love the fact that Salesforce is packaging and pricing this specifically for nonprofits. Prior to the launch of Nonprofit Cloud, you really had to piece together sometimes, the solution, and work with different parts of Salesforce to bring it together. That was really daunting, particularly for our smaller clients to help navigate everything. This should really simplify things for them and for us to help them.

As I wrote in the blog, I actually believe that the launch of Nonprofit Cloud elevates the status of nonprofits to a different level. Within Salesforce, which I think is important, across the “dot org” partner community, and then with the customers themselves. I think it’s a big deal because Nonprofit Cloud will bring Salesforce a lot of new exposure and ultimately, I believe, the adoption of Salesforce within nonprofits is going to accelerate.

It’s good for nonprofits, it’s good for partners like us that are helping them, and of course, it’s great for Salesforce.

(KT): Sure. How about associations interested in using the functionality that would be with the Nonprofit Cloud?

(MP): Here’s the thing, I think that all associations can benefit from Salesforce, which at its core is a great CRM. That is the lifeblood of any association that’s managing supporters, be they donors, volunteers, members, program beneficiaries, anything. The appeal of Nonprofit Cloud is that the packaging of different technologies like Marketing Cloud and Einstein are actually broadly applicable to all types of organizations, and the nonprofit success pack is obviously valuable for associations that raise funds and manage donors, which many do, I don’t know if everybody knows that.

And then you add in Community Cloud as a member portal, and really I think associations can get everything they need, plus the ability to add a lot of additional functionality made available on the app exchange. My view on it is it’s really a one-stop shop for associations and Nonprofit Cloud has some things that can really help.

(KT): Sure. Great. Switching focus over the web practice. You are in the D.C. office, our director of web services is in the D.C. office, so you got some web folk around you too. I know that you’re working on a lot of pretty exciting projects. Does one stand out for you that you’d like to tell me a bit about?

(MP): The one that stands out that we completed recently is called the Historic Hudson Valley. It’s a really nice looking WordPress site that we did, recently developed, and it’s a must-visit website if you’re heading for New York state and you want to see some really great sites. I’ll certainly be using it before my next trip to New York.

(KT): Great. It has a lot of focus on Fall and Halloween activities too, so this is a good time of year for people to be looking at that website.

(MP): It’s really a striking website when you go into it. It’s really beautiful.

(KT): Yes, a beautiful part of the country, too. Speaking of Fall, we have a busy conference season ahead. What does your fall schedule look like?

(MP): It all starts with Dreamforce in a few weeks. Of course, that’s in the last week of September, and it’s my first one, so I’m very eagerly anticipating going to that and actually being a presenter. And then in October, we’ll be Fonteva’s FUNcon, again that’ll be a first for me, so looking forward to that. Then ASAE Technology in December here in the D.C. area. I’ve been to that for many years and that’s really a great technology conference. And then I’ll be in New York in mid-December for Salesforce’s World Tour. I’ve got quite a bit going on here in the next two, three months.

(KT): Busy busy. You mentioned that you’re presenting at Dreamforce. Do you want to just give a quick preview of what your presentation’s about?

(MP): Sure. I am co-presenting with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) about a board portal that we built for them. The idea is they can use this board portal rather than producing materials that have to get shipped out to all the board members and printed and all that sort of thing. This will automate the collaboration between board members and the collection of all the materials, and it’s all highly secure and it makes great use of Salesforce communities. It’s really going to be really fun to talk about.

(KT): Super. And when I push this video out I’ll make sure that everyone has a link to the presentation at Dreamforce, the Historic Hudson Valley website, and anything else we’ve mentioned.

So I think that about it does it for this episode. Thank you for sitting down with me, and I expect to see you right back here in three months!

(MP): Great. Thank you, Karin, it was good talking to you.

(KT): Thank you. Bye.