IBM's Bluewolf Buy All About Salesforce Transformation

IBM's acquisition of Salesforce consulting partner Bluewolf ties cloud services with design, mobility and cognitive to digitally transform businesses.

IBM's planned acquisition of consulting partner Bluewolf Group is all about enabling digital transformation in the ecosystem.

IBM last week announced plans to acquire Bluewolf, which has been a Salesforce consulting partner for more than a decade. This will bring together Bluewolf’s knowledge of the Salesforce world including cloud services and consulting with IBM's own cloud services experience and strategic consulting chops, along with Big Blue's capabilities in experience design, enterprise mobility, analytics and cognitive solutions.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, upon completion of the transaction, Bluewolf will join the existing IBM Interactive Experience (iX) practice of IBM Global Business Services with IBM.

"From our perspective, we've been a Salesforce consulting shop for 15 years and we consider ourselves a pure play," Eric Berridge the CEO of Bluewolf, told eWEEK. "We are very familiar with their entire ecosystem, their products, their customers, the different business processes that their technology supports and we've just seen Salesforce explode over the course of that time into small companies, large companies, and medium sized companies across all industries and all geographies."

Berridge said it "became apparent" to Bluewolf that for it to continue to dominate in the space the company needed to scale and need a partnership or a marriage with a company with a lot more breadth than it had.

"And when we first started talking to IBM and more specifically IBM iX, it became apparent to us that there was a yin and a yang from a skill set perspective and also a belief that both of our companies had in place."

Bluewolf is one of Salesforce's top partners with 12 global offices and more than 500 employees in the United States, Europe and Australia, IBM said. Bluewolf is often recognized by market analysts as a leader in the Salesforce implementation ecosystem, including in The IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Implementation Ecosystem 2015 Vendor Assessment. Bluewolf has delivered more than 9,500 successful Salesforce projects for clients including Stanley Black & Decker, Sapa Building Systems and Vodafone Hutchinson Australia, IBM said.

"We're combining the deep expertise in Salesforce that Eric and his team are bringing with the broad, global reach that IBM has," said Paul Pappas, Global Leader for the IBM's Interactive Experience practice, in an interview. "And within the IBM iX team, where we're bringing all this together, we are linking this and creating synergy with our design capabilities and out broader strategy capabilities including our analytics and our mobile capabilities. And now the thought of all the Bluewolf clients having access to that range of capabilities inclusive of Watson and cognitive computing is part of that. All of our existing IBM clients have access to some of the deepest expertise in the world around the Salesforce platform. So the combining of those two is going to create a combination that none of our clients is going to individually have had access to before."

Together, Bluewolf and IBM will extend IBM's analytics, experience design and industry consulting expertise with Bluewolf's Salesforce familiarity. In fact, Berridge said in 2001, Bluewolf became Salesforce's first consulting services partner. Today, according to estimates, the Salesforce professional services industry, is projected at $111 billion.

"Bluewolf is a strategic acquisition that will notably expand and enhance IBM's ability to serve customers who leverage Salesforce solutions," said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT. "That's an important and growing customer constituency, but the deal also sets IBM apart from competitors—especially Oracle —that seem intent on derailing Salesforce with their own solutions. Bluewolf has a number of strengths that should make it an excellent fit for IBM, including deep expertise in Salesforce-related strategic services, and solution design, build and deployment. The company also offers cloud-related consulting, and solutions targeted at insurance and public sector organizations. Overall, the deal should benefit both IBM and Bluewolf customers, and help expand the Salesforce ecosystem."