's Complexity Brings CIOs, Partners Together

As's SaaS offerings become more sophisticated, configuration and deployment gets more complex. In response, enterprises are increasingly turning to partners for implementation help.

By John Moore
Wed, November 14, 2012

CIO — When Republic Services sought to retool the systems supporting its national account team, the environmental services company selected as part of the overhaul—and soon after making that decision, Republic Services hired Bluewolf, a New York-based consulting firm and partner, for some deployment help.

Bill Halnon, CIO of Republic Services, says his company wanted to work with an experienced hand in the space. "After selecting the tool, we looked at how we [were] going to implement this," Halnon says. "Even though it is a cloud application, it required some customization and configuration to fit our needs. Just like we would go out and look for an SAP partner, we took the same route with"

Republic Services tapped Bluewolf for a range of services, from requirements definitions all the way through implementation and testing, according to Halnon. The company also uses Bluewolf Beyond, a service that Halnon says helps Republic Services maintain its solution while it works to build up the expertise to support the SaaS app in-house.

"BlueWolf understands the package inside and out, which we did not," Halnon says. "We didn't have any experience in it."

Republic Services exemplifies an ongoing pattern in the market: the massive involvement of consulting and implementation partners. While some Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings are do-it-yourself (DIY) jobs requiring little assistance, the self-service model doesn't necessarily hold true for more sophisticated cloud offerings such as

Complexity of Creates Climate for Partnering

Several factors make a project more of an undertaking. For one, offers numerous configuration options, and some rollouts may call for custom software development. Those software tweaks apply to a broadening array of software products— now encompasses not only sales force automation and customer relationship management (CRM) but also customer service, social media monitoring, collaboration and human resources performance management. Then there's the issue of integrating into an organization's other enterprise applications.

The choices and complexities of a deployment compel many enterprises to call in a specialist. "In our enterprise accounts, the bulk of the implementations are done by partners," says Ross Piper, senior vice president for enterprise strategy and alliances at

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The company's pool of implementation allies is growing. The channel ecosystem, which consists of more than 3,900 consulting partners, is growing at a 42 percent clip, according to Piper, while the number of people certified as consultants is growing at a 144 percent pace.

Piper cited the expanding scale and breadth of implementations as driving the need for partners; projects increasingly involve multiple products and platforms, he says. In addition, a small army of ISVs contribute to the constellation of software available to customers. Piper says some 1,700 apps are available through the company's AppExchange.

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