Canadian RV company uses cloud SaaS service for internal social network

Whether you’re riding a Ski-Doo or a Sea- Doo, at least part of the fun is being able to move fast, but it’s only recently that Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) has been able to bring the same sense of speed and enjoyment to the transfer of knowledge between its master technicians and its dealers.

BRP, which is based in Valcourt, Que., was among the customers on hand Thursday at a Salesforce.com conference in Toronto which showed how the provider of hosted customer relationship management (CRM) software is expanding its portfolio to handle other parts of the business. But while Salesforce’s big announcement involved plans to open two new data centres in Canada, BRP is an example of how its products and services are having a local impact right now.

Réal Deslauriers, BRP’s vice-president of information systems, said the firm is using Salesforce.com Communities, an online platform that’s sort of like an internal social network designed to help organizations share information with channel partners or customer service departments, among other areas. BRP works with a network of dealers to sell its products, but when they need specialized help they need to reach out to master technicians based in areas like Chicago. That can be challenging given BRP’s globally distributed dealer base, but Communities has allowed master technicians to connect at almost any time with dealers as far as Australia, he said.

“We went from zero online (help) tickets to more than 60 percent (of the total). Everybody wanted that,” he told CanadianCIO. “It’s been the starting point of working differently with our dealerships.”

Besides getting live answers from master technicians, Deslauriers said Salesforce.com’s Communities product has been a place to store easily retrievable “knowledge articles” on a host of service and repair issues so that dealers can handle problems on their own.

BRP has since changed the way it measures the performance of dealerships by taking into account how much they contribute to and use Communities, Deslauriers added.

Salesforce.com is hoping to increase the appeal of products like Communities with its recently-launched Salesforce1 mobile app, which the company’s senior vice-president of platform Mike Rosenbaum described as an effort to help customers run an entire business from their smartphone. Salesforce1 uses Informatica and Mulesoft to connect to back-end data systems such as SAP and supports most major mobile OSes including iOS, Android and BB10.

“The opportunity for all of us in this room is to rethink how we approach enterprise technology to have a customer at the center,” Rosenbaum told the keynote audience on Thursday. “It’s about creating engaging experiences through technology to connect to customers, employees, partners, applications and products and communities.”

Deslauriers said he likes what he’s heard about Salesforce1’s mobile app so far.

“We’re definitely more than thinking about it,” he said. “Right now the form factor is the desktop and tablet in the dealership.”

The new Canadian Salesforce.com data centres, meanwhile, don’t necessarily have a big impact on global firms like BRP yet.

“As a Canadian, I can only be proud and feel good that Salesforce is making a substantial investment here in Canada, but so far (working on the Salesforce.com cloud) has not been a problem,” he said. “Where is my data? I’m not going to say I don’t care, but the uptime is there, the performance is there.” If BRP were to start hosting its HR data through Salesforce.com apps, it might be a different story, he said.

 

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