Salesforce Cloud: REWE, Zalando, Ströer Digital and ContiTech are convinced by data privacy "Made in Germany".


Cloud computing is now mainstream. But a few years ago, only mavericks were in the cloud. One of them was Salesforce. When the US company started out in 1999, software as a service (SaaS) was still called “rental programs”. Today, Salesforce has been named by Gartner as the clear market leader for customer relationship management (CRM) software with a 20% market share – not to mention its cloud solutions for customer service, marketing, communities and other applications.
Author: Roger Homrich
Illustration: Cindy Schmid
Prospective customers were fascinated by Salesforce’s cloud-based approach from the start. It eliminated the headache of installing, hosting and refining software. However, German companies, famously cautious about data protection, tended to keep cloud-based software at arm’s length. Deutsche Telekom and Salesforce have been targeting the Austrian, German and Swiss markets in particular as part of their strategic partnership since 2014. Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiary T-Systems provides the German data center that hosts the Salesforce platform, offering customers extremely high availability, short latencies and contracts governed by German law. Many Salesforce customers also rely on T-Systems’ consulting and integration services and benefit from its extensive cloud expertise, which partly comes from being one of the world’s largest cloud ERP hosting providers. These businesses frequently need help integrating new cloud software with existing ERP systems or other applications in their IT environment. Only then will they have seamless business processes. If they wish, T-Systems customers can even get everything they need as a single-source turnkey solution since T-Systems and Salesforce are the sole suppliers of Salesforce licenses in the German market. So what has the partnership done for customers? To find out, it helps to look at Ströer Digital, REWE digital, ContiTech and Zalando.

STRÖER DIGITAL – From Silos to Synergy

dmexco, the digital marketing and advertising expo in Cologne, hosted a special debut in 2016: Ströer unveiled a brand that incorporated all the products and technologies from its three digital subsidiaries Ströer Digital, InteractiveMedia and OMS. According to Christopher Kaiser, CEO of the Ströer Digital Group, this move marked the technological start of Ströer’s “one platform” philosophy, which the multi-channel media company had underpinned by developing new cross-platform products. One platform: What Ströer Digital preaches to the outside world through its single brand, it also practices in its IT environment. Various acquisitions over the years had produced a motley collection of isolated CRM systems. Each business unit was trapped in its own data silo, making seamless customer relation- ship management impossible. “That’s why we decided to build a single CRM and sales system for all our business units from scratch,” said Benedict Marzahn, Senior Manager Corporate Development at Ströer Digital Group.
„We believe that quality includes meeting rigorous data protection standards when handling customer data.“
Julia Martin, Software Development REWE digital


Salesforce was the clear choice. InteractiveMedia, a digital marketing firm acquired by Ströer in 2015, had been using Salesforce for roughly ten years, “giving us a mature solution that required minimal customizing and integrated seamlessly with our ERP system through an interface,” explained Marzahn. Since then, Ströer Digital has nearly doubled the number of its Salesforce Sales Cloud users to 350. By the end of 2016, three-quarters of its planned users will have transitioned to the platform – with no limit on the number of users who can join them. But having a single, multi-unit CRM tool wasn’t the only reason why Benedict Marzahn preferred Salesforce. “We also gained a standardized contract structure, easier administration and solid data protection conditions. The strategic license partnership between T-Systems and Salesforce was helpful, too. It greatly simplifies the basic conditions that we have and want to uphold when handling personal customer data.”


There’s a little bit of ContiTech in everything: from agricultural, mining and printing machines to railroad and aerospace equipment all the way to automobiles. Between its nine business units, which generated around EUR 5.4 billion in revenue in 2015, ContiTech has customers seemingly everywhere – and that poses a huge sales management challenge. In the past, the Conveyor Belt Group (CBG) business unit of ContiTech had addressed this challenge with SAP Cloud for Customer (SAP C4C). “Then, in early 2015, we acquired Veyance Technologies in the US,” said Gerold Bierbrauer, ContiTech’s CIO. “Veyance had been managing its sales activities with Salesforce for several years.”
„We always know where the customer data is stored since we have a German contract partner in T-Systems.“
Gerold Bierbrauer, CIO ContiTech


However, neither the functional departments nor the IT team wanted to juggle two different CRM systems. So the organization’s users and IT support staff sat down together and took a good, hard look at both solutions. “When we started, we really didn’t know which one we would end up with. So we carefully weighed the pros, cons and costs of each system,” explained Bierbrauer. They finally chose Salesforce, implementing it first in CBG before recently starting to roll it out to all the other ContiTech business units. “Salesforce is a better overall fit for our organization’s strategic plans. Its high quality adds a lot of value for us and for our customers. And that’s our number one priority.” T-Systems had a capable team in charge of the migration since the platform – which previously ran in the US – would have to be hosted at a German data center. “We wanted to migrate the system instance from the US to Germany at an unprecedented scale and speed. It was certainly not business as usual,” explained the ContiTech CIO. The project wrapped up in time and on budget in August 2016. Salesforce is now being used by around 650 ContiTech employees in 15 countries worldwide. The other eight business units will be transitioned to the platform starting in 2017. From that point on, employees in Mexico, the United States, South Africa, China and other nations will access the Salesforce software in the cloud. “We always know where our customer data is stored. We’ve found a reliable partner in T-Systems,” said Bierbrauer.


More and more people are ordering their groceries online and having them delivered right to their front door. Customers generally care a lot about quality and reliability, but these criteria are especially important for groceries. After all, if people order fruit, vegetables, meat, frozen goods or dairy products online, they expect the food delivered to their door to be just as good as the merchandise sold at the brick-and-mortar store around the corner. Knowing this, REWE has made customer service for online shoppers a top priority, including providing a delivery service. REWE has grouped its digital activities under REWE digital since 2014 and is currently Germany’s market leader (IFH 2016).
Use Cases
The specialist for out-of-home advertising consolidated the CRM applications at all its business units into a single Salesforce platform.
After acquiring Veyance Technologies, ContiTech migrated its new subsidiary’s Salesforce platform to Germany.
The cloud platform provided by T-Systems and Salesforce gives Zalando 24/7 access to all process-related information on its merchandise flows.
Thanks to the Salesforce Service Cloud, the company can quickly accommodate customer requests for last-minute schedule changes in its nationwide delivery service.


Customer centricity is clearly essential for REWE’s digital business and “that’s why we need the best possible IT tools for that challenge,” said Robert Zores, Chief Technology Officer of REWE digital. The company is consistently focused on customers’ needs, improving every day and expanding at a swift pace. It needs software that can support rapid business growth. For customer service, the company chose Salesforce’s Service Cloud, which scales well and integrates readily with REWE digital’s IT architecture over API interfaces, according to Zores. “We need to be able to track all the information we have on each customer across communication channels,” explained Zores. Salesforce’s cloud solution shows the customer service representative all the inquiries on a single dashboard – regardless of whether the REWE delivery service was contacted by phone, e-mail, mobile app or social media. “If a customer requests a 2 pm delivery, but suddenly can’t make it home until 2:30 pm, we need to be able to receive and process the postponement request as quickly as possible. This is where Salesforce helps us.”


The new solution has only been up and running since August 2016, but it is already paying dividends: better internal processes and communications leave more time for representatives to advise and serve customers. REWE digital had looked into Salesforce once before, but then opted for another CRM system. “We believe that quality includes meeting rigorous data protection standards when handling customer data. That was one of the reasons we didn’t use Salesforce in the US cloud.” All that changed once Salesforce and T-Systems joined forces. T-Systems provides Salesforce solutions from a data center in Germany and offers Salesforce customers contracts governed by German law.


It’s an enviable problem. Online fashion retailer Zalando has 18 million active customers and 130 million website visits every month. That much success can slow down a fast online retailer. After the last annual report came out, stock market investors wondered whether a 10,000 employee company could remain nimble enough for the digital world. After all, e-commerce demands fast responses and intimate customer knowledge. And Zalando’s response? To put powerful digital tools at its employees’ fingertips and improve its customer service further. To accomplish that, it implemented Salesforce with help from Deutsche Telekom. The cloud platform, provided at a German data center, provides 24/7 access to all process-related information on customers and merchandise flows. Now, employees can view and contribute to processes at any time or place. They can instantly see what’s happening in their team and at the company. “We won’t be successful otherwise,” said Philipp Erler, CIO at Zalando.


The Deutsche Telekom Salesforce cloud makes Zalando even more agile. It not only streamlines workflows, but also improves productivity and internal collaboration because everyone is always using the same data. “How often do customers visit our webshop? How long do they stay? What do they buy?” Erler constantly asks these questions. Zalando’s customer service representatives craft a customized, personalized shopping experience based on information about each user’s purchases, returns, communications or surfing behavior. Customers also contact Zalando through a variety of channels: e-mail, social media or regular mail. “We look at everything they tell us and learn from it,” he explained. Employees need to have all the information ready in order to provide a seamless experience, close attention and personalized service. Salesforce Service Cloud combines all the channels and information, enabling a comprehensive, holistic service approach tailored to the customer’s unique needs. Data security was a big factor in Zalando’s decision to go with Deutsche Telekom and Salesforce. “Customer data is sensitive material – and our most precious asset. That’s why we care so much about having Deutsche Telekom on board,” said Erler.

Further Articles