Japan Post’s use of the Force.com on-demand applications platform from Salesforce.com is simultaneously one of the largest SaaS deployments in the world and one of the most innovative.
When Japan’s postal service was privatised in 2007, the newly formed company needed to integrate the systems of its three constituent divisions: Postal Savings; Postal Life Insurance and Postal Service. But the timescale for achieving that was perilously short.
“We only had three months to develop and implement a system that would allow us to consolidate paper-based customer data and feedback [taken] from our branch offices to be used for systems development,” recalls Akira Iwasaki, CIO of Japan Post.
“We decided to build the applications on Force.com as we felt it was the only platform that could accomplish the task in our short timescale,” he explains.
Using Salesforce.com’s Apex development language, Japan Post built an application running on the on-demand CRM provider’s infrastructure in just over two months. The SaaS basis of the application allowed the company to roll it out to its 24,000 branches with considerable ease. It now supports over 65,000 users.
According to Iwasaki’s estimates, the Force.com deployment has to date involved about one tenth of the cost of building, managing and supporting an equivalent proprietary system.
But the real proof of success is the speed with which his development team can implement changes to the system. “Our IT resources are limited, but change is constant. Therefore the key measure of success has been the development productivity, the flexibility and the ability to change things easily,” says Iwasaki.
“We plan on rolling out SaaS for all other areas of IT apart from our core systems and detailed analytics,” he adds.