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April 20, 2017updated 24 Apr 2017 9:56am

Bluewolf CEO on cloud’s people problem & bringing the IBM tech stack to Salesforce

The combination of Salesforce's Einstein and IBM's Watson could create some powerful tools for users.

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At the end of March in 2016 IBM announced its plans to acquire Salesforce specialist Bluewolf.

The deal marked the culmination of a period where acquisitions around the Salesforce ecosystem had become commonplace and gave IBM a valuable connection to one of the largest cloud companies in the market.

Speaking to CBR, Eric Berridge, CEO, Bluewolf said that as part of IBM it now has “access to incredible scale and reach that they have across all sorts of clients of different shapes and sizes, as well as access to the IBM tech stack – it’s quite a differentiator.”

Bluewolf

Eric Berridge, CEO & Co-founder, Bluewolf

Combining the two worlds of IBM and Salesforce brings the two AI/cognitive technologies of Watson and Einstein closer together. This is something that may play a significant role in influencing technology down the line coming out of both companies and is already starting to take shape with the global strategic partnership between Big Blue and Salesforce announced in March this year.

Initially the two companies have put together Watson and Einstein, and the integration of Watson APIs into salesforce will bring predictive insights from unstructured data into the CRM platform.

While these are advancements that will add more capabilities for customers, it’s also something that Bluewolf has to educate its customers as to how they use the technology.

Speaking about the impact the relationship with IBM has on the everyday business, Berridge said: “I think its two fold, more than any tech I’ve ever been a part of, I’ve been in the space 30 years, Salesforce as a platform tends to be one where customers are on a journey with it, it’s very rarely used as point in time solution, more used as a way to evolve and innovate a way to go to market.

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“Because of that, the conversations with clients, given IBM support and ownership , allows for a much broader conversation.

“As a services firm we are agnostic to tech, however, with exception to Salesforce, but when we can tap into tools that IBM brings to the table, even with relationships IBM has, it gives a much broader conversation and allows to deliver true business outcomes.”

Being part of a much large business is obviously having an impact on the kinds of conversations that Bluewolf is having with its customers, but that’s just one piece of the ever changing puzzle that it has to deal with.

Read more: Elementary AI my dear Watson…and Einstein: IBM, Salesforce strike landmark Artificial Intelligence deal

As Salesforce continues to add new capabilities, often now influenced by Einstein, the consultancy firm has to react. Asked how that is influencing how customers adopt and use Salesforce, Berridge said: “Historically what Salesforce has done is introduce tech in bitesize chunks. Salesforce released Chatter it had a social media skin on top of the platform, they didn’t try and boil ocean with it, with Einstein seeing the same approach.”

Over the past couple of years Salesforce has made a large number of acquisitions, which Berridge agrees has made its work increasingly complicated, but that its duty remains the same – to make sure customers have a simple path.

Asked if Salesforce ran the risk of becoming overly complex, the CEO said: “On the one hand a part of you wants Salesforce to stay very simple but the truth of matter is what they’ve done is really made the cloud mainstream.

“The reality is that salesforce has to serve differently but if they stay focused on customer experience and how they serve a customer, then their product will always have a huge attraction to it, customers always want to deal with best of breed.”

On the topic of adopting Salesforce there’s still barriers that exist, although it would seem that it’s more of an issue of people than the technology.

Berridge said that there’s a danger of clients underestimating the effort involved to make sure that businesses adopt cloud technology in full force: “The tech is great, we’ve proven we can get it up and running. But organisations have to remember the change management involved and the ongoing investment in innovation is important.

Read more: Why IBM bought Salesforce consultancy Bluewolf

“Those that get into end user shoes and have appreciation for what their jobs are and build methodology around that have a much better success rate.”

Bluewolf has only been a part of the IBM for just under a year, with the acquisition closing in May 2016, but already the company is playing an important role in helping to make IBM technology available to the Salesforce ecosystem.

Moves like this will no doubt improve the lives of Salesforce and IBM customers by giving them greater access to large portfolios of technology and could in the long run prove to be IBM’s saviour.

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