Eric Berridge, CEO and co-founder of Bluewolf, a fifteen year old business which was the first consultancy partner signed to Salesforce says its acquisition by IBM for a reported but unconfirmed $200m stands apart from others in the space.
Speaking to CBR he said: "I think one of the things about this announcement that makes it different from previous transactions is that the strategy [going forward] is to be relevant across the entire space, not just top tier, and to bring innovation to all the market."
Asked if Bluewolf would continue to produce its State of Salesforce report, an annual no holds barred exploration of the challenges and opportunities of deploying Salesforce based on real customer data, Mr Berridge confirmed that it would and said it had helped bring Bluewolf to IBM’s attention,
"We feel like that was one of the attractions as it showed our deep knowledge of the marketplace and objectivity that we bring to evaluating Salesforce," he said.
For existing Bluewolf customers Mr Berridge said Bluewolf had shared some details (he was speaking on the day of the acquisition) and that becoming part of IBM would only deepen the relationships with customers and help them in their ongoing journey.
He said: "One of the things we spend time and effort on is our approach, to not only deploy clouds, but to do it in such a way where we show the customer how do innovate, in a rapid fashion in environments where resources are coming and going almost in real time."
"Everything we do is enabled by Salesforce technology, all the data gets captured on Salesforce. We’ve automated a lot of Salesforce work and this allows us to bring it to the customer. There is knowledge in the heads of the consultants but we are totally process driven."
What has IBM bought?
Matthew Candy, leads IBM iX in Europe, the division into which Bluewolf will be integrated.
He said: "The Bluewolf team built an amazing organisation with deep expertise in Salesforce and we will combine it with what we have in strategic consulting, mobile and IOT. Eric has spent 15 years working directly with Salesforce across the globe, grew his business to 500 people by basing his approach not on the technology but on business outcomes. We are two organisations that think in the very same way."
"The thing that guides us in iX is understanding that experience is the new norm. Whether that’s in B2B or B2C customer experience. It’s the thing that drives competitive differentiation in the market."
"iX has grown to over 10,000 consultants in strategy, customer, sales, marketing, design, and other disciplines. It operates 30 design studios around the world where designers and creatives are co-creating digital experiences."
"We’ve been doing a lot of Salesforce implementations in London around the connected enterprise in insurance and in the public sector. For one major UK company we’ve been helping them build a sales funnel built on Salesforce and Adobe through ideation, design, innovation and delivery so we already have a lot experience in Salesforce and reputation in the market."
"I think as we’ve got to know each other better, we saw that how we see the market and how we see the opportunity were aligned. Look at world of professional services and the traditional jurisdictions of the agency world and consultancy world. The next generation of business services combines agency and consultancy and helps companies transform. Systems integration and building technology at scale is the mission that Bluewolf and iX are focused on."
Asked if IBM was ‘packing the bench’ with Saleforce expertise Mr Candy said the deal was about "creating amazing opportunities and absolutely not about capacity but about a shared set of beliefs and objectives to help service customers in transforming their business."
Mr Berridge, a former Oracle staffer (like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff) told CBR: "In the services world, when you’re a group of like-minded people, it is a different model. We’ve built a group of people to achieve great things built on customer outcomes. And what we found in IBM iX, is that we share similar values, shared skills, background, are customer centric, focused on customer experience and with a successful culture and organisation."
Bluewolf customers include Stanley Black & Decker, Midwest Operating Engineers Union, Rolls Royce, and Australia Post.
In a blog posted on IBM on the day of the acquisition Mr Berridge and Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM iX co-wrote:
"The demand for the "next best experience" is constantly evolving, which compels the most successful companies to adopt a state of constant innovation. Across all industries, creating an exceptional customer experience is today’s most competitive battleground. To meet this client demand, extending our strategy and cloud platform capabilities, IBM iX and Bluewolf plan to come together establishing a powerful Salesforce practice that leverages the deep expertise of both companies.
We’re thrilled to bring together our talented teams to support more clients as they look to evolve the experiences they provide to their customers and employees. Together, Bluewolf and IBM iX will design and build innovative, consumer-grade experiences for Salesforce clients of all sizes.
Bluewolf’s technology-driven method combines their years of experience with cloud solutions that continually connect clients with their customers and drive rapid results. IBM brings additional scale, skills, and expertise to Bluewolf’s leading practice that will allow our business to rapidly grow alongside the expanding capabilities and global reach of Salesforce.
Businesses are constantly searching for new ways to connect more deeply with customers by building innovative, personalized experiences. We understand that great experience design attracts customers and creates differentiated value.
For example, Bluewolf worked with Rolls-Royce to create a new mobile experience for its customers that was both simple and engaging, allowing customers to access the information that they needed, 24 hours a day. The sleek, sophisticated experience was designed to match a brand that is known for luxury.
IBM iX and Bluewolf have a shared goal of delivering transformative experiences that drive results for our clients. Now, we will do it together!"
Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, Salesforce, said: "I’m so proud of Eric, who built Bluewolf from a startup into a leader in Salesforce services,". "The powerful combination of our strategic partners, IBM and Bluewolf, will help clients transform and demonstrate the growing client demand for our Customer Success Platform."
In a statement on the acquisition IBM said: "Upon close of the transaction, as part of IBM iX, Bluewolf will continue to develop solutions around Salesforce industry implementations, with a strong foundation based on Bluewolf’s library of industry-specific assets, accelerators and mutual expertise in the financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, higher education, public sector and new media industries, among others.
The planned acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016.