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3 Ways to Integrate Cisco CCW with Salesforce

 For ICT Value Added Resellers (VARs), lack of integration between Salesforce, a leader in customer relationship management (CRM), and Cisco Commerce Workspace (CCW), a robust platform for managing Cisco product orders, is a significant challenge. 

When these two platforms cannot talk to each other, the quoting and renewals process is fraught with errors when copy-pasting data from Excel sheets. Any inaccuracies in the final quote will cause delays, customer frustration, and possibly lost contracts. However, when these platforms do work together, they create a powerful ecosystem that optimizes quoting processes, improves data accuracy, and enhances customer relationships.

Why Integrate Salesforce with Cisco CCW?

Integrating Salesforce with Cisco CCW offers many advantages for ICT VARs, making them more efficient and responsive. Here’s why these businesses should consider this integration:

Streamlined Quoting Processes: Integration allows for seamless management of the sales cycle within a single interface, reducing the need to toggle between systems, which can reduce efficiency and increase the risk of errors.

Improved Data Accuracy: With real-time data sharing between Cisco CCW and Salesforce, ICT VARs can ensure that all customer data, pricing, and product availability are always up-to-date and accurate. This reduces errors associated with manual data entry and helps sales representatives provide more accurate quotes, renewals, and overall service to their customers.

Enhanced CRM: A unified system provides a comprehensive view of customer interactions and history, which enhances the ability to manage relationships effectively. This unified view can enable better forecasting, personalized customer service, and more targeted marketing efforts.

Increased Productivity: Automating the transfer of information between Salesforce and Cisco CCW can significantly cut down on administrative tasks for sales teams. This allows sales personnel to focus more on selling and less on administrative duties, potentially increasing sales productivity and effectiveness.

Customization and Scalability: Salesforce’s extensive customization capabilities can be leveraged to tailor the integration to meet specific business needs. This flexibility ensures that as the VAR grows, the integrated system can scale accordingly without significant overhauls.

Advanced Analytics and Reporting: The integration provides rich data that can be used for in-depth analytics and reporting. ICT VARs can gain valuable insights into sales trends, performance metrics, and customer behavior, which can guide strategic decisions and foster growth.

By integrating Salesforce with Cisco CCW, ICT VARs can introduce necessary automation, improve profitability, and reduce time to quote.

But what is the best way to integrate the data?

3 Methods for Integrating Salesforce with Cisco CCW

1.    Swivel chair integration

Swivel chair integration involves the manual entry or updating of data using a cut/paste method from two systems—Cisco CCW and Salesforce—without direct connectivity between the two. This method gets its name from the physical action of an individual rotating between two desks, as if in a swivel chair, to manage data in both systems. This approach is often seen as a low-cost, initial step towards integration because it doesn’t require immediate investment in automation technologies. However, it involves significant manual effort — downloading Exel files and multiple copy/paste actions — which can lead to errors and inefficiencies.

Excel spreadsheets may seem cost-effective initially, but the hidden costs and limitations associated with relying on them for quote creation and renewals can be detrimental to long-term business success. Errors can lead to financial losses either through underpricing, which impacts the bottom line, or overpricing, which may drive away potential clients. Additionally, the considerable amount of time spent on data entry and managing quotes diverts resources from more productive, revenue-generating activities. Delays in quote processing can frustrate customers and potentially result in lost contracts to competitors. Also, storing quote data across multiple spreadsheets limits effective analysis and optimization, missing out on opportunities for business improvement and revenue growth.

Although swivel chair integration might be practical for very small businesses or those with infrequent need for cross-system data manipulation, it typically proves unsustainable as a business scales. As such, while initially perceived as cost-effective, the hidden costs associated with manual processing can accumulate, making this approach less viable for businesses looking to grow and streamline their operations efficiently.

2. Homegrown API Integration

Homegrown API integration involves developing a custom API to connect Salesforce with Cisco CCW, allowing for a tailored integration that aligns with a VAR’s specific needs and workflows. This approach grants businesses direct control over how data is processed and shared between the two platforms. By building their own API, companies can ensure that the integration accommodates unique business rules, data handling procedures, and user interfaces, which can greatly enhance user adoption and overall system efficiency.

However, while the customization potential of a homegrown API is a significant advantage, it comes with its own set of challenges. The initial development of a custom API requires a considerable investment in terms of time, expertise, and financial resources. Specialist developers skilled in both Salesforce and Cisco CCW’s APIs are necessary to create and implement a robust solution.

In addition, once the API is developed, ICT VARs must figure out what to do with all the raw data they are importing. It is not simple to make multitudes of records useful, such as for creating catalog items, developing price books, or understanding the MSDR model.

It requires ongoing maintenance to ensure it continues to function correctly as updates and changes to the Salesforce and Cisco CCW platforms occur. This maintenance can be costly and complex, particularly if the integration needs to scale with the VAR or adapt to new business processes. As an example, CCW-R quotes are long; Any attempt to use Salesforce will fail due to timeout errors.

3.    ISV Solution

Opting for a Salesforce ISV solution to integrate Salesforce with Cisco CCW is ideal for ICT VARss looking for reliability without the complexity of developing their own integration systems. ISV solutions are purpose-built to work seamlessly with specific platforms, ensuring compatibility and smooth data flow between Salesforce and Cisco CCW.

ISV solutions are designed to handle complex pricing formats specific to Cisco CCW and CCW-R, automating the integration process. This automation provides up-to-date pricing information directly from Cisco and eliminates the need for manual data entry, significantly reducing the risk of human errors and enhancing overall data accuracy.

The advantage of using an ISV solution lies in its turnkey nature, which allows ICT VARs to integrate with minimal setup time and without the need for extensive customization or in-house software development. These solutions come with pre-configured features and tools that fit well into existing quoting and renewal processes, providing a plug-and-play solution that is immediately beneficial. Additionally, ISV providers often offer ongoing support and updates, ensuring that the integration remains functional and efficient as both Salesforce and Cisco CCW evolve.

 

Choosing the Optimal Integration Strategy for Salesforce and Cisco CCW

Deciding on the best approach to integrating Salesforce with Cisco CCW is critical for ICT VARs aiming to enhance their operational efficiency and customer engagement. The choice between swivel chair integration, building a custom API, or opting for an ISV solution depends largely on your VAR’s specific needs, resources, and long-term strategy. By carefully considering these factors, ICT VARs can choose an integration approach that not only meets their current quoting and renewals requirements but also supports future growth and success in a competitive marketplace.

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