Highlights 10/2: Concur hopes its cloud experience will rub off on SAP; Rackspace, AWS reported near cooperative deal

Comcast Business Brings Voice Mobility to SMBs (Multichannel News)

A Dreamforce takeaway
(Denis Pombriant / Enterprise Irregulars)

AWS, Rackspace Deal Is Imminent (CRN)

Concur hopes its cloud experience will rub off on SAP (FierceCIO)

Wayne's LiquidHub, seeking to deliver superior value, looks to more closely connect front and back ends

Tom Paine

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LiquidHub, the Wayne-based, self-described "digital transformation company providing customer engagement and technology solutions to global corporations", has rebranded and repositioned itself in the marketplace in response to what it sees as "the growing need for an effective and holistic, end-to-end digital customer experience across multiple industries".

A part of this change in emphasis reflect's LiquidHub's percieved need to provide customers with an integrated solution covering the back end of a system as well as the front end. LiquidHub currently concentrates more on the front end, where the end-user interface is and the transaction originates. The back end is typically where transaction fulfillment is initiated, and the detailed databases covering information about customers, transactions, inventory and accounts are maintained.

Over the past year, LiquidHub has initiated an acquisition strategy aimed at filling out its digital marketing consulting skills and adding more Salesforce expertise, as the company had indicated an intent to become more Salesforce-oriented largely because that's the direction it saw its customer base heading. LiquidHub snapped up three Salesforce partners this year - Redkite, Harvest Solutions and ClosedWon - as well as digital marketing agency Foundry9 in late 2014. While collectively significant, I don't believe a single one of these acquisitions was too huge for LiqiudHub to swallow.

LiquidHub projected revenues of more than $200 million in 2015, roughly doubled over the past 18 months, the Inquirer reported in March, and the company says it is still on track to meet those projections.

But the challenge in the systems integration space is not so much to amass revenue, which can always be acquired at a price. The key is to focus on segmented areas of practice, and develop combinations of domain expertise and tools that make projects more predictable (and profitable). And going further, to productize some of those things when it can be done.

LiquidHub’s rebranding comes at a time when integrated customer journey solutions are taking center stage, according to a recently commissioned Forrester Consulting study for LiquidHub titled ‘Executing Digital Transformation: How to Pick the Right Partner for Success'.

“Companies undergoing a digital transformation need an end-to-end partner to help create an engaging customer experience, build the right technological foundation to support it, and enable the integration into existing technologies and systems,” concluded the study. Its key findings were:

  • Changing customer expectations means continuous transformation for digital engagement.

  • Customer engagement demands end-to-end integration among channels and across the value chain.

  • Effectively building improved digital engagements requires a full service, end-to-end partner.

The complete Forrester study can be viewed here.

"Our proven experience in handling systems and application integration in the back-end coupled with our user experience and customer journey expertise allows us to offer innovative solutions to clients that facilitate strategy and seamless technology execution, and provide their end customers with a spectacular experience,” said, Jonathan Brassington, LiquidHub Co-founder and CEO, in announcing the brand re-launch.

LiquidHub provided a more detailed breakdown of targeted market segments than I'd seen before, including financial services, healthcare, life sciences, insurance, and commercial & retail industries.

Rob Kelley /
In answers to questions emailed by Philly Tech News to Partner & co-founder Rob Kelley while he was busy scouting Dreamforce, he indicated that while acquistions were always possible, the company favored organic growth.

Partnerships were a possibility, and Kelly described what LiquidHub looked for in partners: "We are always looking for go-to-market partners that help us deliver superior value to our clients. We value Salesforce as a partner because they are dedicated to our clients’ success, and we continuously evaluate partners who remain committed to delivering customer success, deeper integrations and productivity across our entire set of capabilities and service offerings".

Kelley also points to the benefits of having as much of the end-to-end development done inhouse by a single party. "Having a single partner for digital transformation services, for both application delivery and integration, enables more streamlined implementations by eliminating the logistical challenges of working with multiple partners. Today’s digital channels have to interface with data, information, and insights across the value chain, creating a complexity that a small number of partners can best address."

In June of this year, LiquidHub moved closer to a fully productized offering in one area by introducing Salesforce for Asset Managers – a Salesforce Fullforce Solution. I'm not entirely sure how this relates to Salesforce's pre-Dreamforce announcement of its Financial Services Cloud - a much broader, though not yet filled in concept.

As part of the rebranding, the company's redesigned logo features a new typeface with a unique design formed by two entwined infinity symbols representing user experience and technology solutions and "the endless possibilities that transform customer engagement".

Around the same time LiquidHub announced its rebranding, SAP's hybris unit, acquired in 2013, which has been more of a marketing automation platform, also revealed some repositioning that appears to place it going more head-to-head against Salesforce in the CRM market. SAP hybris, which coincidentally also uses Forrester extensively for market analysis, came to much the same conclusion as LiquidHub about the need to more closely integrate front end and back end systems.

While I am by no means an expert in the makeup of Salesforce's partner ecosystem nationwide, I do see a hole in it in providing the types of system integration capabilities LiquidHub offers. However, the acquisition appetite of the big consulting firms for Salesforce/Workday etc. consultants is very strong right now, and anything could happen over the next several months.