Data, Privacy, and Salesforce’s Focus on Both with Patrick Stokes, EVP Platform Shared Services at Salesforce


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Patrick Stokes, the Executive Vice President of Platform Shared Services at Salesforce, first got into technology the same way many other leaders first get into technology: through video games. Games such as Quake and Doom have a special place in Patrick’s heart not only because of how fun they are, but also because they are open-source. The open-source aspect is what sparked Patrick’s interest in technology and has kept him rising through the industry.   Today Patrick is continuing to utilize his passion and drive his interest toward all of the innovative things he and his team are working on at Salesforce. He discusses that and more on this episode.

Best advice: “The more connected your customer data can be, the better privacy experience that ultimately you can give back.” 

Data prediction: There is going to be a world very soon where it becomes a norm, where you can go into an app and say, ‘Tell me exactly how and where my data is and how it’s being used.’”

Key Takeaways:

  • Salesforce has a focus on not only external innovation but also internal innovation
  • Privacy is on the minds of all tech leaders
  • Patrick’s Dreamforce product launches and how they are changing the data game

Patrick’s start in technology

The combination of Patrick’s father working at IBM for a few decades and Patrick’s love for video games were the main reasons Patrick found himself interested in tech. At 12 years old Patrick was playing Doom and Quake. These video games were special because they were among the first to be open-source, allowing Patrick and many other curious programmers to get first-hand experience building mods and expanding on the games.

Over time I just started to try to teach myself to code and taught myself how to put webpages together and got myself more and more exposed to the world by playing video games.”

Patrick’s current role

Patrick is the Executive Vice President of Platform Shared Services at Salesforce. The Platform Shared Services accounts for the underlying collection of tools that shape the Salesforce Platform, specifically, Salesforce’s Customer 360 group, their Einstein capabilities, and their lightning product. 

Patrick highlights that his team’s number one focus is on customer success, but the scope of his role also pinpoints internal success in tandem.

 “When you think about our clouds, our sales, our service, our marketing cloud, for example — we want to build A.I. capabilities that our customers can use. But we also want to build A.I. capabilities that our internal teams and our partners can use as well to really expand their own clouds and innovate within their own applications.”

The state of privacy

Privacy is a topic that has gained more and more traction in the past several years. The reason for this is quite apparent, but the current state of privacy may not be as clear. Patrick breaks it down to one word — disconnection. 

This disconnection stems from all of the current different types of identities that people have and how spread out these identities are. Whether it’s cookies, your device ID, subscriber information, etc., the list goes on and the main challenge for Patrick and Salesforce’s customers is figuring out how to connect all of these different types of identities together. 

A huge privacy problem that Patrick sees happening with other tech companies occurs when customer data is exported in plain text and put on a server that can easily be forgotten about. Patrick points out that this where data breaches happen all the time. To eliminate this problem, Patrick believes that integrating customer data at an ID level and API level phases out the need to pick data up and move it around. 

How do we resolve it together into something that looks more like a single source of truth about who your customer is? Once you have that, you can actually start to build the connected experiences across commerce and service that you really want to achieve.”     

The notion that you can build all of your customer touchpoints on one piece of technology is often referred to as a holy grail.

The more capability you have around understanding your customer’s identity across all of the apps, the more of an opportunity you have to actually lean into keeping that data private and to having a private relationship with that customer.

Dreamforce product launches

Patrick and his team recently launched a couple of new products that they are really excited about. First, they launched a new product called, “Customer 360 Data Manager.” This is where Patrick and his team are trying to connect all of the data across Salesforce’s internal systems and external systems to build an identity graph. “We’re looking across all of your different systems, figuring out where you have customer data and attempting to issue a single ID for your customer. And that enables all sorts of easier, more frictionless integrations between those systems without having to do bad practice,” Patrick adds. 

Another product they launched is called the “Cloud Information Model,” which is essentially an open-source data model that is trying to solve the alignment across all of the technologies Salesforce offers with their vendors and how they communicate.


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On this episode of IT Visionaries, Patrick Stokes, the EVP Platform Shared Services at Salesforce, discusses how he first became interested in technology, his current role, the current state of privacy, and new Salesforce product launches.

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