April 26, 2018
Article written by Tyler Philpot, Delivery Manager, Bluewolf, an IBM Company
I have to admit -- I’ve rolled my eyes a few times after saying the words “Global Strategic Partner” when describing Bluewolf and IBM's position in the Salesforce ecosystem. I just couldn’t relate to it and it seemed too pretentious. Over the past few weeks, I lived the term Global Strategic Partner and I have a new-found appreciation for what it means and am no longer rolling my eyes.
A long-time client of IBM gave us an opportunity to come in and demonstrate our Salesforce expertise. They are currently in the final stages of an implementation with another partner and suspected something was amiss with the solution. As such, they invited us to perform a Health Check on their Salesforce org, an assessment that prioritizes and details strategic initiatives and to bring clarity and objective metrics to their suspicions. This project, to me, was quintessential to what it means to be a Salesforce Global Strategic Partner as we defied and define each term:
- The client is a large, multinational corporation headquartered in Spain, with a heavy presence in Europe and Latin America. While IBM’s Spanish team initiated the engagement, because Salesforce adoption in the US is more mature, it was obvious that our Bluewolf Beyond™ team was best suited to perform the technical Health Check assessment. I witnessed first hand a global team collaborating together to deliver a stellar customer experience. “Global” meant getting up in the middle of the night a couple of times for functional system overviews; global meant flying out to Spain for 1.5 weeks for a series of workshops and our Health Check report-out; global meant shaking off the rust and speaking a foreign language again; global meant adjusting to cultural norms so that we present our content in a disruptive, yet tactful way.
- IBM has been working on this account for many years on non-Salesforce related projects, which means the team has accrued extensive corporate and industry knowledge. When we came in and centered our first couple of workshops around business outcomes, it was obvious that the client was not accustomed to speaking so openly about their business and preferred to focus on IT. We pushed some cultural norms and went outside the client’s comfort zone by establishing a business context within which we would prioritize projects. “Strategic” meant knowing their business. asking why, and connecting technology projects to business goals. Strategic meant asking about the vision of the future.
- Partnership can mean different things to people depending on the context. For me, in this context, it means knowing Salesforce and its products as well as we do. It was clear from the start that we were analyzing the health of a system that was designed and implemented by another System Integrator that was not familiar with the Salesforce’s features, limitations, and licensing implications. The System Integrator had built a custom application to dynamically control product price and availability based on geography with only arbitrary references to the Opportunity object, which meant the client was paying for Sales Cloud licenses without using any Sales Cloud functionality. We were able to show how the client could potentially reduce their annual licensing costs by 33% even before we got to the Health Check read-out. “Partner” meant knowing the technology better than anyone else.
I’m extremely grateful for this experience for opening my eyes to what it feels like to be Salesforce’s first Global Strategic Partner. It’s a type of proud, that isn’t purchased with sponsorships, it’s earned and lived each day.