Every once in a great while two great channel ecosystems come together in a way that holds the promise of creating a raft of new opportunities that many would have otherwise overlooked.
One example of such a promising arrangement is the broad-ranging alliance between Cisco and Salesforce. As part of the deal, Cisco collaboration and internet of things (IoT) technologies will be integrated with a variety of Salesforce cloud services.
The alliance spans everything from natively integrating the Cisco Spark and WebEx into Sales Cloud and Service Cloud via the Salesforce Lightning Framework for building and integrating applications to enabling the Cisco Jasper platform for deploying IoT applications to share data with Salesforce cloud applications.
Also on tap is a jointly developed customer service platform that will combine communications and contact center technologies developed by both companies.
While opportunities stemming from this alliance should be abundant for the channel, the most intriguing are perhaps the IoT projects. Cisco is in an especially good position to use its networking dominance to collect data from thousands, perhaps millions, of endpoints.
Meanwhile, Salesforce has a host of back-end cloud applications capable of turning all that data into actionable intelligence, including a recently unveiled artificial intelligence platform, explained Ryan Aytay, executive vice president of strategic alliances and product management at Salesforce.
From a solution provider perspective, one of the best things about IoT is that these applications encompass a broad ranging of technologies spanning everything from endpoints to cloud services. However, customers can also be easily intimidated by the sheer breadth and scope of an IoT project.
Working together, Cisco and Salesforce are clearly trying to find ways to make IoT projects more economically feasible by reducing some of the complexity. That may lower the overall cost of an IoT project some. (The alternative might be not having the customer launch the project in the first place because the total cost of an IoT project was beyond their budget reach.)
Overall, the alliance between Cisco and Salesforce is not one most channel partners would have expected. However, upon further review, it is one of those cases in which the whole could quite easily wind up being worth a lot more than the sum of the parts.
Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications, including InfoWorld, CRN and eWEEK. He currently blogs daily for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, Channel Insider and Baseline.