O2 deploys cloud based sales platform to run natively in Force.com

O2 has integrated CloudSense’s Order Management stack into O2 Business’ Salesforce.com platform in a bid to increase efficiency and bolster its customer relationship capabilities.

The sales and service cloud-based platform has been deployed within O2’s Joined-Up Business operations, which is a division that aims to help companies connect their IT, staff and customers through communications products.

Ricky Mortimer, e-enablement programme manager at O2 Business, spoke to Computerworld UK and explained why it decided to opt for a public cloud offering over an on-premise deployment.

“Given the business challenge we have around managing this increasing portfolio of products [through O2 Joined-Up Business], whilst trying to drive down costs, cloud allows us to implement without large up front CAPEX costs and gives us a quick time to market,” said Mortimer.

O2 has integrated CloudSense’s Order Management stack into its Salesforce.com platform, which includes applications such as CS ClickApprove, CS Configurator and CS Orchestrator. These enable O2 to manage its products, quote customers, carry out electronic approval for contracts and enable end-to-end fulfilment in the cloud.

“We were using Salesforce at the time for lead-to-opportunity management – so pure sales pipeline stuff. We looked at how we could take that lead-to-opportunity and extend it all the way through to lead-to-cash,” said Mortimer.

“The target was to do that in a way that would leverage the Force.com environment and run everything natively inside that platform.”

Mortimer said that moving from lead-to-opportunity to lead-to-cash would enable O2 to develop a fully cloud-based CRM platform.

He said: “Our strategy is to get a full CRM system in place, 100 percent in the cloud, integrated into O2’s systems via our service orientated architecture.”

By running applications natively inside the Force.com platform, O2 was able to use Salesforce’s other cloud services, such as Chatter, mobile and native security features.

O2 selected CloudSense over one other shortlisted company, an American-based firm called ChikPea, due to its “track record and proven experience of delivery”.

Prior to this deployment O2 had been using a combination of manual processes and Microsoft Office products, but over the past 12 months has managed to get 800 users on the new sales and service platform. It plans to increase this to 3,500 users over the next 18 months.

Although Mortimer couldn’t provide specifics about efficiency or cost targets, he did say that O2 Business will “grow and diversify its portfolio of products without increasing its operating costs”.

He also stated that although the thought of cloud made many within the business “go pale in the face”, the platform is running to service levels beyond what Mortimer was able to agree with Salesforce’s commercial team.

“There were a number of concerns around cloud, not just the security element. This is business-critical activity and uptime is essential – this was clearly a big leap of faith,” said Mortimer.

He added: “I tried to demand high service levels from Salesforce, but wasn’t able to agree targets with the commercial team.

“However, we are actually operating to levels much higher than what I attempted to agree – we are operating at beyond 99.9 percent uptime.

“We have been using it for the best part of a year now and we haven’t had an outage yet, which isn’t what you expect from new platforms and new technology. Typically what you would be looking at is hundreds of minutes of downtime and how you would reduce that.”

O2 also recently announced that it has signed a five-year managed services deal with China-based services provider Huawei. It will be transferring 118 staff to work for Huawei’s managed services business, where under the agreement, Huawei will be charged with planning, implementing and managing Telefonica’s core transmission, mobile access and network in the UK.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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