This blog covers an interview with Glenn Roberts, Soltius New Zealand http://www.soltius.co.nz/, conducted by Pat Saporito, Global Center of Excellence for BI and Global BI Strategy Program Director. About 2 years ago SAP conducted an enablement session on the BI Strategy Assessment Program in Melbourne, Australia for sales, pre-sales and consulting colleagues. Soltius also participated as the only partner. This interview discusses Glenn’s experience with the program since his training.
Glenn, I’m delighted you could join us today to share your experience with the program. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Soltius.
Sure, I’m the Pre-sales Analytics Architect at Soltius. We’re an SAP Gold Partner with offices based in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand. I have been working in BI / Analytics for over 15 years.
In the workshop I stressed conducting a workshop as soon as possible after the training to retain and apply the tool effectively. You conducted a workshop quite soon after the training. In fact, you have conducted several of them. Could you share your experience on a few of these both from the perspective of the customer as well as from the partner side?
Yes, I went into the training workshop with a customer in mind to conduct an assessment for. That first customer can be defined as either a marketing firm or a supply chain company; they have seasonal produce which is grown in New Zealand but sold and distributed internationally in Asia, Europe and the US. They faced challenges with having a global supply chain and also with seasonality. I stressed with the customer how their BI IT Strategy needed to be aligned with their corporate strategy – as I’ve done in for every customer.
I was able to engage business users in both Sales and Marketing, including some very senior execs. The highlight for me was that the CIO was surprised at the willingness of the business execs to participate and some of the access we were granted to these busy individuals. It was relatively easy because they were passionate about delivering data and analysis to their team members. The assessment recognized this and helped them understand how to realize the value of their data. This is true for every company I’ve conducted the assessment for, regardless of industry.
We conducted the assessment over a 4 – 6 week period. We made recommendations to the BI Leadership and CIO, who then presented them to the management committee. From our perspective as a partner, we better understood their business processes, their culture and their future business direction through the assessment process. But at the end of the day they needed to own and commit to take action. They agreed with the recommendations but hit a bump due to some organizational restructuring and staff changes; now they’re back on track again and beginning to move ahead. This highlights one of the key recommendations which is having a business executive own the sponsorship and be the champion. We had a sponsor but lost him; we have a new one and hopefully can move ahead.
Can you talk about another customer?
Last year we conducted an assessment for a private health insurance firm in New Zealand. They are a not-for-profit and, ironically, their target customer base is healthcare professionals themselves – doctors and nurses, etc. They provider private health insurance to complement our public health system allowing members to get specialist services faster than through the normal process. They are growing rapidly and were looking to develop a BI Roadmap.
The sponsor was the CEO who previously headed up Nursing New Zealand, a trade and professional association. He recognized the need for information to truly drive better healthcare outcomes for their members who themselves are well educated and savvy consumers of healthcare. They had a very small BI team. We gained access to their HR, Sales, Marketing, IT and Finance teams. They took our findings and developed a 3-5 year BI Roadmap and are continually reviewing it and tweaking it thereby using it to evaluate their maturity evolution. I view this as our most successful workshop to date.
Have either of these companies taken up the concept of a BICC as part of their strategy to operationalize it?
The first company recognized this but due to restructuring was unable to take that up. However, through the process, one of the executives who participated has moved on to one of the business process areas; so we expect that he will become an advocate for, and maybe even a virtual member of, the BICC.
The health insurers have taken up the BICC concept but they’re small and will take a less formal approach than the first company.
[Watch for an upcoming podcast to hear Glenn talk about BICCs – their value of and different forms a BICC can take.]
So in closing, would you recommend that other partners become certified and adopt the BI Strategy program?
Yes, I’d encourage every partner to do so. It enables great value in engaging with your customer. Peter Drucker says culture eats strategy. The BI Strategy assessment allows you to truly understand their culture. I’ve personally enjoyed the process immensely. The face-to-face engagement enables you to really understand their passion and their vision.
I’m doing a 3rd assessment now with a rapidly growing FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) firm. They’ve increased their revenue tenfold in just over 5 years. They’re doing the assessment as a way to develop their digital strategy and manage change and their digital transformation. Last week I met with their operations team which has deep knowledge of the business processes. I can talk to the CEO or CFO and get a high level understanding of the business, but I really learned a lot about the business through interviewing this team and am now better able to recommend solutions. We allotted 90 minutes and had to cut them off at 2 hours! That’s customer engagement!!!
Connect with Glenn on LinkedIn