Miner CIO Mirza Chughtai on cloud computing, Salesforce, integration

Miner, which services facilities across the U.S., has bet on Salesforce Field Service and the cloud as a way to expand.

Miner Corp., which services facilities and repairs mission critical equipment, is making a big bet on the cloud as well as Salesforce.

The company, which is nearing the 50-year-old mark, has a network of 300 in-house and 40,000 partner technicians and is expanding nationally.

Privately-held Miner recently acquired ESS Group and House of Doors to gain more market coverage. Miner has 22 markets and partners in others to gain nationwide coverage in the U.S.

Miner CIO Mirza Chughtai joined the company more than a year ago to transform the business and become more nimble. That bet largely revolved around cloud computing.

We caught up with Chughtai to talk shop.

You've bet big on Salesforce. Why one vendor? Chughtai said that Miner wanted its applications facing customers. He added that Miner is using Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and now Field Services with the Lightning interface and Wave Analytics. "We are also looking forward to the IoT Cloud," said Chughtai. The primary reason for going with Salesforce was development time. "Time to market was critical and the key differentiator was the ability to roll out fast," said Chughtai, who has implemented Oracle, Microsoft and SAP in previous stints at Tri-Ed Distribution and Arrow Electronics. Miner started working on deploying the Field Services Cloud in October and is now going live. Other platforms in the running at Miner would take anywhere from 12 to 24 months to implement.

Was there a volume discount? Chughtai said the Salesforce partnership wasn't about pricing, but connecting Miner's platforms and time to market. Of course, I couldn't help but think about lock-in after years of covering enterprise software and talking to dozens of CIOs yapping about one throat to choke. For Chughtai, the lock-in concerns were overcome with the ability to deploy and bring new customer experiences to market. "The entire organization is on one unified customer facing solution and it doesn't matter what the role is," said Chughtai, who also noted that the ability to deploy mobile apps for technicians was a big win. "We wanted everyone focused on the customer."

Miner has acquired a bevy of companies as it expands. How does the cloud help integration? Chughtai said that going cloud helps acquisition integration. Miner can absorb companies, integrate quickly and start cross-selling. "With the cloud we have a plug and play M&A playbook," said Chughtai. Here's what Miner does in a nutshell:

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What about other infrastructure? Chughtai said the company has a few legacy systems such as Microsoft Dynamics and Servicemax and plans to keep them in place if they are specialized apps. The front end and platform will be Salesforce. Most of Miner's applications use Amazon Web Services as the infrastructure base.

The importance of analytics. Since Miner is deploying its own technicians as well as a network of partners, the company needs to track work orders, service level agreements, estimated time of arrival, rates and evaluations. "Analytics allows us to dispatch the right technician and vendor," said Chughtai, who reckons that Miner can decrease the time from initial service call to invoice by more than 65 percent.