Integration as a Service at Office DepotBy Bob Violino | Posted 2009-09-29 Print
Software services help Office Depot help customers it couldn't always satisfy previously.
Office Depot Inc. is looking for ways to increase revenue and boost market share in this slowly recovering economy. For the Boca Raton, Fla., retailer of office supplies and services, keys to achieving those goals include retaining its most valued customers and creating an edge over its competitors.
To that end, the retailer is using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) integration platform from Hubspan Inc., Seattle, to handle transactions with its business customers.
Prior to using the application, Office Depot’s sales department was hampered by the fact that it couldn’t support all of the transaction preferences desired by many of the thousands of business customers the retailer works with on a daily basis, says Glenn Trommer, director of e-commerce and implementation services at the company. “In some instances we were not able to satisfy portions of the orders from our customers,” Trommer says.
The reason for this was a lack of integration between systems used by Office Depot and those used by many of its customers. This proved to be a competitive disadvantage, because other online office suppliers were able to support these types of transaction preferences, and therefore fulfill orders.
Officials at the company considered building an integration application in-house, but that would have been too costly and complex, Trommer says. They evaluated software-as-a-service integration offerings from multiple vendors, focusing only on SaaS solutions because they made the most economic sense.
The Hubspan Integration-as-a-Service offering came closest to meeting Office Depot’s needs, from a cost, performance and customer service and support standpoint. Furthermore, the vendor was knowledgeable about the online retail business. In addition, Office Depot was impressed with Hubspan’s list of clients, which includes Boeing, Barnes & Noble and Dell.
The service is centered around a secure, multi-tenant technology platform that supports business transactions regardless of differences in applications, technologies or protocols.
In addition to conventional batch or file-based business-to-business integration, the service provides what the vendor calls “Straight-Through Integration” for better and more sophisticated connections with customers. Different documents and tasks can be unified into a single set of request-response transactions across firewalls and multiple IT systems, according to Hubspan.
“Hubspan helped us take specific customized transaction sets and format them into something Office Depot can accept from a purchase order standpoint to fulfill orders,” Trommer says. “That gave us a competitive advantage we didn’t have before.”
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