Salesforce Influencer Spotlight: Fabrice Cathala

Salesforce community is powered by the diverse talent coming from completely different backgrounds. In the previous editions of Salesforce Influencer Spotlight, we have talked with Eric Dreshfield, the main organizer of Midwest Dreamin’ conference, and with Ben McCarthy, the founder of Salesforce Ben.

We are happy to present you our next guest, a Salesforce MVP, who represents the strong IT backbone of the community – Fabrice Cathala. He is a seasoned IT professional with 24 years working in various areas of computing. Fabrice’s background is in enterprise IT infrastructures, managing data centers’ operations. He has been implementing various flavors of CRM since 2002, doing his first Salesforce rollout in 2005 for Symantec, 3,000 seats worldwide.

In the following interview, Fabrice shares insights from his 10+ years of Salesforce experience and advises his favorite blogs to follow, so you could expand your knowledge of the platform and the community.


How did you become interested in Salesforce?

Fabrice Cathala: I used to run data centers’ operations. I was fulfilling my taste for technology but the job was missing a purpose: Why? Why do you keep servers up and running 24/7? Moving to the CRM industry in 2002 gave me the best of both worlds: the technology plus the glowing smiles on happy users’ faces (that’s the “why”). Note that my experience with data centers’ operations helped me to be an early adopter of cloud computing ten years later…
In 2005, I was part of a team benchmarking a new kind of application delivered “on-demand” rather than installed on a server. It was Salesforce and it changed my life.

Fabrice Cathala

Can you tell us about your first job related to Salesforce? How did you end up getting it and how did it influence your future career?

Fabrice Cathala: I was a project manager in charge of Salesforce’s adoption at Symantec for our emerging territories and as part of a global Sales Cloud roll-out. I rapidly felt that Salesforce was different from the other vendors I was used to dealing with.

It had a soul! In fact, in 2006 I ended up being part of the team who founded the first user group in Europe. It wasn’t structured as it is today but it was showing one of Salesforce’s difference: the mix between business and human values. It was the early days in Europe, there was only just one cloud (the Sales Cloud) but still, people were excited and keen to help each other.

Can you please share with our readers what are your favorite Salesforce tips/tricks that help you be more efficient?

Fabrice Cathala: Salesforce’s revolution is based on its resilience (“trust”), powerful declarative features and a steady pace of three new releases a year. As it happens, it also ships with programmatic capabilities.
Leave heavy programmatic work to ISVs, a customer or an SI should always stick to low-code deliveries as this is the best way to avoid technical debt and stay compatible with the future releases.

What are the three Salesforce apps that you use the most?

Fabrice Cathala: I love Quip and use it more and more. I like the fact that documents always look neat and tidy thanks to the limited use of text styling and that you can add components and even integrations including Salesforce data!
I’m also using dataloader.io quite a lot in particular to load parent/child data.
And of course, as a consultant, I need to track my time and expenses somewhere and, at Appirio, we’re doing it in FinancialForce.

What is the one Salesforce feature that you never use and the one you can’t live without?

Fabrice Cathala: I’m not using Campaigns as this is something more for our marketing team. I do implement it for my customers though. As for the feature I couldn’t live without, it’s got to be Reports & Dashboards. Not only am I making intense use of it on the Appirio org but this is an area which has always been key to every single implementation I’ve ever made. It was the original selling point of Salesforce Automation and I think it’s still the cornerstone of CRM projects.

What advice would you give to individuals considering a career related to Salesforce environment?

Fabrice Cathala: Jump in. Now!
Considering Salesforce’s ambitious objectives, the demand will remain for years to come. It’s a great ecosystem to be in, with good money, cool technology and very respectable human values!

You spend quite some time reading Salesforce blogs. Would you share some of your personal favorite ones that have had the most influence on your growth? Why do you like each of them in particular?

Fabrice Cathala: Hmmm… I’m going to lose some friends here… There are so many great blogs out there, sorry for the ones I’m missing:

Final question – If you could ask Marc Benioff just one question, what would it be?

Fabrice Cathala: After social, mobile and AI, what is the next real-life innovation that could influence the platform’s roadmap?

Inspire Planner is a user-friendly project management app for Salesforce