IBM Acquires Bluewolf, Strengthens Ties with Salesforce.com

IBM today announced plans to acquire Bluewolf, a provider of consulting and implementation services to Salesforce.com users. The transaction is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2016, subject to regulatory evaluation. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.  
 
As part of the agreement, Bluewolf will join IBM's Interactive Experience (iX) practice, a hybrid consultancy and digital agency. IBM iX is dedicated to helping clients "transform customer and employee experiences," says Matt Candy, the division's vice president, partner, and European leader. The division runs 30 design studios worldwide and assists companies in developing and maintaining suitable technologies (e.g. mobile applications). 
 
Leveraging the strengths of Bluewolf, Candy says, enables IBM to extend its reach to Salesforce.com customers and beyond. "Bluewolf has a fifteen-year heritage in working with Salesforce, and they're doing some incredible things with the platform," Candy says. At the same time, Salesforce.com is constantly improving its technology and undergoing massive growth, he notes. "[Bringing] together Bluewolf's skills, capabilities, people, and assets with the broader iX capability offers us both huge opportunities," Candy says.
 
The investment doesn't come as a total shocker; IBM has been busy building out its iX practice. The announcement follows IBM's acquisition of Resource/Ammirati, a digital marketing and creative agency, in late January. In February, the company also announced intentions to buy Aperto, a German creative and design agency, and in early March it finalized the acquisition of the German digital agency ecx.io. "We're already seeing some amazing synergies coming from them," Candy says. 
 
As for Bluewolf, CEO Eric Berridge notes that the acquisition will give the firm greater global scale, access to a more diverse set of resources, and stronger ties with Salesforce.com. "Salesforce has 230,000 customers globally, and the combination of Bluewolf and IBM gets to a large piece of that and makes us relevant to organizations of all shapes and sizes."
 
"The clients we work with are committed to Salesforce and their platform, and to transformation on that platform," Berridge adds. "Our strategy is all about aligning with [our customers'] desires, and our strategy together with IBM is about helping them to identify the actual business outcomes they are trying to achieve" while configuring technical solutions that foster those outcomes. "What we now get as part of IBM is access to a variety of technologies, approaches, and history that we hadn't had access to before."
 
For instance, the guidance of IBM will position the company to "bring deeper, more verticalized solutions to the marketplace," Berridge says. Bluewolf already offers technologies customized to the insurance industry and the public sector, and it is looking to develop and roll out solutions for additional markets "in the coming months and years."

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