Partners Pumped As Cisco, Salesforce Team Up On IoT, Unified Communications

Cisco Systems and Salesforce are combining their Internet of Things and unified communications technologies together in new joint offerings that partners say will help drive channel sales in the emerging IoT and transitioning UC markets.

"Salesforce is a significant player in the market and has tons of growth and has seen great adoption," said Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Calgary, Alberta-based Long View Systems, a Cisco Gold partner ranked No. 85 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list. "To bring Cisco collaboration and IoT technology into the conversation, it gives partners another spectrum to explore with our customers and how we can actually change how they operate."

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant will co-develop and co-market new joint offerings that combine its platforms in collaboration, IoT and contact center with Salesforce Sales Cloud, IoT Cloud and Service Cloud offerings.

[Related: 8 Internet Of Things And UC Technologies You’ll See In 10 Years]

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On the collaboration front, Cisco Spark and WebEx will be integrated into Salesforce's Cloud and Service Cloud. Combining these two technologies will allow customers to communicate in real time using chat, video and voice without leaving Salesforce or having to install a plug-in.

Cisco's Jasper IoT platform – gained from its $1.4 billion acquisition of Jasper Technologies earlier this year – will be integrated with Salesforce's IoT Cloud. Cisco said the joint offerings will empower organizations to quickly and cost-effectively leverage billions of IoT data points and provide businesses with a more comprehensive view of their IoT services.

"Cisco and Salesforce coming together to form a strategic alliance can eliminate the friction users experience today so they can become more productive," said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of the IoT and Applications Groups at Cisco, in a statement.

The alliance will also combine Cisco's Unified Contact Center Enterprise and Salesforce Service Cloud to help customers manage call centers more efficiently, according to a release.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins tweeted about the alliance Thursday, saying that Salesforce and Cisco are "two market leaders delivering great value for our customers."

Great partnership with - two market leaders delivering great value for our customers

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This year, MacDonald said IoT discussions with customers are transitioning ’from a whisper to a much more relevant conversation.’

"Customers are doing phase one of IoT projects today and are now looking at how to expand and enhance that," said MacDonald. "We certainly see IoT as a significant market opportunity to bring the value back to our customers so they can make better decisions, give their employees a better experience and drive profitability."

In June, Cisco also formed an IoT alliance with IBM, which combined IBM's Watson technology with Cisco’s edge analytics capabilities to allow deeper understanding of critical data at the network edge.

Partners say Cisco's "build, buy, partner" strategy seems to be moving faster than ever under Robbins' leadership

"I've seen a lot of change, but over the past couple of years the market speed has changed quite dramatically," said Chris Bottger, chief technology officer at IVCi, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider and Cisco partner. "So it's great to see Cisco -- who is a large organization -- be that nimble and aggressive to continue to take a leadership role either through innovation or partnerships."

The contact center integration is now available through the Salesforce AppExchange, while the IoT offerings will become available in the second half of 2017.

The collaboration integration will also be available in the second half of 2017, although customers will need licenses for Salesforce as well as Cisco Spark or WebEx.