CDW and Salesforce Bring the Social Enterprise to SMBs

CDW has teamed with business cloud-services giant Salesforce. And not only does the partnership mean a bunch of new offerings in CDW’s already-expansive business computing services slate, it simplifies IT manageability for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are part of CDW IT services ecosystem.

CDW now offers, Salesforce’s social app development platform. With an emphasis on built-in social features, collaboration and mobile access, lets businesses build cloud-based apps that support their business processes and connect their workforces.

Also on offer:  Salesforce Chatter. A business-flavored Facebook of sorts, Chatter is an enterprise social network that connects colleagues, partners and customers. Features include profile pages, file sharing, messaging, business-process workflow approval and Microsoft SharePoint integration.

For new small business customers, not only does it mean buying Saleforce services through CDW, it also means that they have access to business IT capabilities that belie their modest stature.

Small Business, Big IT Ambitions

Shae Hart, director of partner and product management at CDW, has noticed during his many discussions with small business technologists that they have a fundamentally different approach to computing than do companies with big corporate IT departments. While some small businesses have big IT requirements of their own — bordering on enterprise-grade in some cases — their IT buying strategies don’t often fit the big IT mold.

Early on, the typical small business generally realizes its “core competencies as a company, and IT is not one of them,” says Hart. He also notes that unlike big businesses, whose IT managers and buyers engage with a variety of computing product and services providers, small businesses are generally “willing to do that with only a select number of vendors.”

That’s why adding the leading business cloud-software provider to CDW’s growing roster of cloud services bodes well not only for the company, but also for SMBs that are eager to experience the business-boosting benefits of Salesforce’s cloud-based social enterprise platform, says Hart. As a bonus, they can also potentially see some big savings.

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Cloud Keeps Costs Low

In CDW’s own 2011 Cloud Computing Tracking Poll, a whopping 84 percent of current cloud users reported cutting application costs by transitioning to the cloud.  How much did they save? A healthy 21 percent, on average.

Now, says CDW, SMB customers can add social enterprise capabilities to their workflows and save on IT costs while contracting with a single, “trusted advisor” that handles their on-premises, cloud and hybrid-cloud IT requirements, according to Hart.

And CDW has a lot of customers that may take the company up on the offer, according to Ron Huddleston, senior vice president of ISV and Channel at Salesforce.

“With this agreement, more than 250,000 CDW customers across business, government, education and healthcare have a path to transform themselves into social enterprises, using Salesforce services to put customers at the heart of their business,” said Huddleston in a company release.

CDW is up to the challenge, says Hart, from both a technical and support perspective.

“We see a lot of companies in the small business space that want the same functionality” that enterprise software vendors offer, informs Hart. As such, SMBs can expect the “same access as an enterprise customer,” he assures.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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