The Resource Network brings together people and organizations in creative
ways to achieve improved individual and group results. The services provided by
The Resource Network help organizations develop world-class business initiatives
through innovative information sharing and delivery mechanisms. The company
works with organizations and their internal and external customers to maximize
value through simplified access and sharing of information—bringing together the
capabilities of distinct individual organizations in order to realize mutual advantage.
A sampling of clients using The Resource Network products and services
include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in the commercial sector, the U.S. Trade
and Development Agency in the government sector, and the Special Olympics
International nonprofit in what The Resource Network terms the “third sector”
including associations, non-governmental organizations, nonprofit, not-for-profit and
various types of communities.
“We facilitate connections and interactions between companies,
government, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits,” explains Rick Rodgers, co-founder
and managing director of The Resource Network. “We’re focused on trying to
achieve outcomes that benefit everyone involved—from the corporations and
their consumers to communities and their citizens.”
More Than the Sum of Parts
The genesis of The Resource Network lay in the government sector.
State governors concerned with a proliferation of organizations to which
states were providing resources proposed a “Hall of States” in Washington
D.C. to co-locate offices in order to achieve economy and focus. Rodgers was
tasked with devising and implementing a solution.
“The idea was to use technology and data connectivity for bringing
people and resources together,” he says. “Today we’ve moved from the states
to the world, bringing very disparate resources together in a way that the
combined result is catalytic and something more than just the sum of the parts.”
The Resource Network system was conceived as a creative use of
best-of-breed data resources. At the core of the system was a FileMaker
relational database application used for communications and events
management that contains more than 40,000 chronological events such as
meetings and public events.
Standard Microsoft products would also be employed, such as the
Office suite of products, Outlook for email and calendar functionality, and
SQL Server to house a repository of information on every country in the
world—500 global sales regions, 4,155 country sub-units and thousands of
cities and communities.
In addition, the system would incorporate Salesforce.com SaaS
offerings including a customer relationship management (CRM) application
used in managing contacts, accounts, and opportunities.
The key to the unique value that The Resource Network hoped to
provide, however, lay not in the parts but in the whole.
“Our aim was to develop in FileMaker what we call ‘synergy point’
applications,” Rodgers said. “These would connect information from all of
these sources, including synchronization with Outlook email and pushing
information to the Outlook calendar.”
Data connectivity would be the critical element of this synergy.
It also presented the greatest challenge to making the system a reality.
Bringing the Pieces Together
Connecting data to the Salesforce.com service cloud on the front-end
posed a challenge. It was unclear what solution, if any, could pull data from
a Web service and transform it into data that could then communicate with
ODBC-compliant applications such as FileMaker.
“We met with Salesforce.com in an attempt to figure out a solution,
and Progress DataDirect OpenAccess for ODBC for Salesforce data source came
up,” Rodgers recalls. “I’d had past experience with Progress® DataDirect®
while developing sales information systems some years ago and was aware
of the company’s excellent track record and ability to connect disparate data driven
The DataDirect OpenAccess for ODBC for Salesforce datasource
enables any ODBC-compliant application to access data sources at
Salesforce.com in real time using SQL as the language. It is built using the
same technology many software vendors use to implement custom ODBC,
JDBC, OLE DB, and ADO.NET connectivity to their application data.
The Resource Network partnered with a technology consulting
firm—Corporate Network Services (CNS)—to work with Progress DataDirect,
Salesforce.com, and FileMaker in getting all the pieces working together.
“We had to exercise a great deal of creativity,” recalls Wayman Ka,
Director of Application Development at CNS. “The DataDirect support team worked
with me so closely I was on a first-name basis with many of their members.”
Rodgers also emphasizes this aspect of the company’s growth
since he’d worked with it in the past.
“The people behind the technology are a very important factor,” he says,
“and the support team at DataDirect has grown right along with their technology.”
Connecting the World
With 11,200 companies, 12,300 contacts from 205 countries, and
800 opportunities in Salesforce.com, The Resource Network can today use
its FileMaker point applications to grid that information with geocentric
information contained in its SQL Server repository as well as with the
information, communication, and events management capabilities within
FileMaker itself, to provide clients with a rich multidimensional perspective.
“ODBC data connectivity is what allows our system to achieve its
synergistic dynamics, and DataDirect OpenAccess for ODBC for Salesforce
Data Source provided us with the ODBC link from Salesforce.com into
our FileMaker repository that put the final piece into place to make it all
work together,” Rodgers says in summation. “DataDirect is an excellent
resource for connectivity. We definitely plan to continue relying on them for
anything from a technical standpoint that can help The Resource Network in
connecting the world.”