While Appirio will remain decidedly bipartisan for the foreseeable future, we got caught up in the energy and excitement of the Republican National Convention (RNC) this week in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
We were invited to St. Paul to work with RNC's IT team, managing IT systems supporting the convention and serving 4,000 delegates. However, our story starts back in February, when the team at Google tapped us to implement Google Apps for 500 convention staffers.
This was a thrilling assignment for Appirio. Even the "grand old party" recognized the value of using on-demand IT solutions, which we didn't necessarily expect, since their presidential candidate, John McCain, was on the record describing himself as a computer novice. But they saw that software-as-a-service (SaaS) would lower costs and dramatically increase their efficiency. Believe us, there are still plenty of big-company executives who aren't as open to this truth.
Here's where things get interesting. After getting started on the Google Apps rollout, RNC asked Appirio if we could build their delegate registration system. Their concept was a SQLServer database, along with a web server for data entry, reporting, administration, and dashboards. It took us all of 2 seconds to say "no way." We just don't do on-premise software anymore for these kinds of data-driven applications - it makes no sense.
Instead we pitched the idea of building the registration system on Salesforce.com's Force.com platform. It didn't take long to sell RNC on the obvious benefits.
In a few days, Appirio built a fully functional prototype. RNC loved it. RNC CIO Max Everett told us it was light years better than anything they had used in the past, eliminating the need to re-key information and consolidate data from multiple excel spreadsheets and various sources. (They actually used to distribute an 8-page questionnaire in a Word document to delegates.)
Better yet, Force.com gave every RNC staff member immediate access to powerful reporting and analytical capabilities on registered delegate data - the issues they cared about, the committees they wanted to volunteer for, their requests and suggestions.
The RNC was different this year. Staffers used their GOP-branded GMail accounts, shared Google Calendars for event coordination, and mined their delegate registration database in Salesforce.com. Pretty cool, huh? As far as Appirio could tell, things went pretty smoothly!