Get Started with Business Experimentation

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the purpose of business experimentation.
  • Explain the benefits of experimenting in business.

What Is Business Experimentation?

Welcome to your business experimentation module where you learn new ways to approach ideas and challenges and potentially transform your business.

At Salesforce, we view experimentation as the process by which we test an idea quickly and safely. To us, it is about reducing the cost and risk associated with new ideas, methods, or activities. The first step in any experiment is defining the hypothesis.

Let’s do a quick refresher of seventh-grade science class: The hypothesis is the basis of your experiment. The hypothesis, described in detail in the next section, provides the summary behind the experiment and ultimately outlines the theory that you are trying to prove or disprove. Without the hypothesis, you have no way of determining whether your experiment yields successful results. Once you have your hypothesis, you can start designing, conducting, and validating your experiment.

Why Should I Experiment?

It is important to understand why it’s important to experiment in business.

Simply put: Businesses are more successful when they experiment. Businesses that test their ideas in a formalized way tend to better understand the risks and opportunities, and can remediate or implement successful ideas at a faster rate. In this module, we walk you through some Salesforce and non-Salesforce business experiments. Before we dive in, let’s talk about some of the benefits to experimenting in business.

Reduce the risk of failure: If you experiment in small increments, you can test your ideas without causing substantial risk to your business. Once you have determined what works and what doesn't, you can act on your ideas in a way that benefits your business (sounds appealing doesn’t it?).

Create data-driven outcomes: Have you ever had an amazing idea but never acted on it? Maybe you didn’t know where to start. Experimentation is about creating short, simple scenarios so you can test and validate your hypothesis easily. Even better, it gives you data that helps you define what works and what doesn’t. 

Right ideas, right time: You can have hundreds of ideas, but which do you run with? Unfortunately, a promising business case does not guarantee success. Experimentation allows you to determine and validate which idea to pursue and prioritize the timeline. Validation is key.

Reduces cost and Impact: When you test your ideas before fully investing time and money in them, you tend to set yourself up for success. In other words, it’s more risky to throw money behind an idea that can fail. 

Experiment Failure

With an experiment, you either succeed—or not. But it’s important to know that you still can learn so much from a “failed” experiment. For instance, you’ve learned what does not work, which means you won’t be wasting time, money, and resources on an idea or plan that’s not going to benefit your business.

Leading companies that use business experimentation expect to disprove 80 percent of their hypothesis. It is important that, despite this high percentage, you create a culture where experimenting is seen as a successful business tactic. Otherwise, people won’t take the steps to test potentially valuable ideas.  

Resources

  • Why Experimentation is all about Embracing Failure ( Salesforce Blog)
  • The Surprising Power of Online Experiments ( HBR Article)
  • The Discipline of Business Experimentation ( HBR)
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