The implementation team provided Hubspan with the information it
needed to ensure that transactions would be formatted correctly,
Trommer says. Part of this involved training Hubspan people in how
Office Depot does business. "We wanted to make sure they understood our
selling approach" and sales cycle, he says.
Other than that preparatory work there were no big challenges to the implementation, Trommer says. The companies tested the service prior to launching it live in April 2008. Since that time, Office Depot has seen a "significant" increase in incremental revenue through high-end, business-to-business transactions, as well as an increase in market share.
Trommer would not quantify the revenue or market share gains, but says the technology has given the company a huge boost at a time when business has been slow for many retailers. "In these tough economic times [it's] really helped us gain market share with very little investment," he says.
One of the biggest advantages of the service is its easy scalability, Trommer says. Partly for that reason, Office Depot might expand its use of the service to include transactions with some of its vendors.
Trommer's team, which works with the sales department to figure out ways that technology can enable salespeople at Office Depot to sell products to customers and prospective customers online, collaborated with managers in sales to select the Hubspan offering. Having input from people on the business side, and in particular the sales department, was important because they would be the ones using the technology, Trommer says.
"We needed a consensus and buy-in from them," Trommer says. "We wanted to make sure we were providing them with something that would give them a competitive edge."
Ken Vollmer, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., says the SaaS integration approach offers several key advantages. These include rapid implementation, low technical requirements and shared expenses across multiple clients.
"We believe the SaaS-based integration market will continue to grow due to the flexibility this option provides," Vollmer says.