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Navigating eCommerce Strategy During Times of Disruption in APAC

“2020 will be an increasingly complex, uncertain, and fast-moving year, with executives facing tough choices regarding how to successfully steer their business through the upcoming challenges”. - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Executive Briefing, Global Data, March 19, 2020

Pricing is by far the quickest way to influence a company’s top line, yet few in APAC have embraced data-driven pricing as part of their digital transformation journey. The recent pandemic has changed the way we buy, sell, and engage with customers overnight, leaving APAC organizations racing to transform their strategies and practices. The impact of COVID-19 has also cast a strong light on areas where businesses have underinvested – specifically, in emerging technologies.

Join PROS for our launch of Outperform in APAC where you’ll hear from PROS and industry leaders in the Pricing and Selling technology arena as they provide insights, advice, and expertise on how local organizations are:

  • Navigating new challenges with a renewed focus on digital transformation and dynamic pricing
  • Adapting to the ‘new normal’ and beginning the road to recovery
  • Remaining relevant and operating with agility with tech-driven price optimization
  • Building resilience and quickly leveraging new opportunities

About the Speakers

In May 2020, Les Rechan joined PROS as Chief Operating Officer. He leads the go-to-market, customer experience, and engagement functions to further scale and grow these operations globally. Prior to his appointment to COO, Rechan served on the PROS board of directors from 2015 to 2020 as a member of the Compensation and Leadership Development Committee and the Nominating and Governance Committee. Prior to PROS, Rechan served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Solace Systems, a smart data movement solutions company, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. He has also served as President, CEO, and a director of Halogen Software, a cloud-based talent management software provider, which was acquired by SABA. Rechan previously served as General Manager, IBM Business Analytics Division, and has also served as Chief Operating Officer of Cognos. Moreover, he has held global executive leadership roles with Oracle, Siebel Systems, Cadence Design Systems, and Onyx Software. Rechan currently serves on the advisory board of Cognitive Scale, a privately held augmented intelligence cloud platform company, MicroStrategy, a leading provider of enterprise analytics and mobility software and services, and JASCI software, a privately held supply chain acceleration cloud solutions company. Rechan earned his M.A. in Management from Northwestern University, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a B.A. in organizational behavior from Brown University.

As the leader of the go-to-market strategy for PROS ANZ, David Bray expertly guides businesses into a successful digital transformation with high-level dynamic pricing, e-commerce platforms, and best-of-breed cloud-based solutions. Powered by AI and machine learning, these systems enable companies to price, configure, and sell their products and services with unprecedented speed, precision, and consistency in an omnichannel environment.

Haley Glasgow is a technical and business-oriented IT leader with over ten years of experience in delivery and sales across many industries and markets. She is passionate about helping companies accelerate their digital transformation in areas around pricing and selling to power their eCommerce, direct, and indirect sales channels.

Read Full Transcript:

David Bray: Good morning and welcome to the PROS Outperform for APAC Virtual Conference, for 2020. We're really excited to be able to present this for the first time, because we're taking advantage of a virtual conference, rather than attendees having to physically go to a physical conference in the US. so we're now presenting our conference theme that we've hand selected in terms of agenda items in our own local time zone. I'm pleased today to be joined by our CIO, Les Rechan, and Hailey Glasgow, Senior Strategic Consultant for APAC. Les, potentially, first, could you introduce yourself and talk about your background and experience with PROS?...

Les Rechan: Thanks, David and Hailey, and thanks to all of our customers here in the Asia-Pac region. As David mentioned, my name's Les Rechan, and I'm the Chief Operating Officer of PROS. I like to refer to it as the chief Outperform officer, and I've been working with PROS for over five years.
I was on the board of directors as we went through our cloud first transformation. And one of the things about the past five years is we've made some decisions to grow our presence in Asia Pacific. And Asia Pacific is near and dear to my heart in that my wife for 25 years, was born in Coffs Harbor, right, lived right near the Big Banana and our five children, we actually had five kids in three years, two sets of twins in there, were born in Asia Pacific as well, in Singapore.

So Asia-Pac is very important to me from a family perspective, but even more so from a PROS perspective. I'm really proud of the team we have in Asia-Pac. I think we've got a great team of folks that, I'll talk about some of their capabilities a bit later, but we're so excited to do outperform for you here in your time zone, with your best practices sharing amongst yourselves here.

But I do also want to communicate the fact that we operate as one local team. Behind our team here in Australia, we've got 1300 professionals in PROS that are committed to your success. We've got over 30% of our overall revenues devoted to R&D. So we're investing in our platform. We're investing in our partnerships and I couldn't be happier to be here with you today.

David Bray: Thanks Les. Hailey, it's great to have you join us. Could you do a quick introduction of yourself and your experience in our market?

Haley Glasgow: Yes. Thank you. And I'm very happy to be here and I consider Australia, New Zealand, very near and dear to my heart. It was almost three and a half years ago that I came here from the US as employee number two. So it's been amazing to see the growth and very excited that we are having our first outperform conference that all of our customers can enjoy.

I've been with PROS almost nine years now. I spent about five years on the delivery side, working across a lot of different markets and industries over in North America. Very excited to come over here and really help support the sales team. And it's been an amazing learning curve to understand the Asia Pacific market. It's all so different, but very excited to talk about that a little bit later.

David Bray: Great. I'm really interested Hailey, because you've had so much exposure and experience with that, with our local customers and PROSpects in the discussions in your role. I know recently, we did a survey, a global survey with Hanover Research, but for the first time we included some local APAC information. And I'm really interested in some of the things that you saw from that survey as to where companies in [inaudible 00:04:02] in APAC are sitting, compared to the Northern hemisphere, in terms of the response center approach to what happened recently with COVID and how its impacted businesses and the way they operate and engage with their customers.

Haley Glasgow: Yeah, definitely. And just so everybody's aware, Hanover conducted a study and it was of 210 global purchasing professionals. And Australia and New Zealand made up 17% of that study. And this was comprised of business unit leaders, sales managers, procurement, and operation managers. So we really got the whole spectrum and it was really focused on buying and selling and how that's changed with COVID.

And really what we found in looking at Australia, New Zealand and comparing it to the Northern hemisphere is that Australia, New Zealand does have a little less maturity in terms of the e-commerce buying and selling. So whether you're in procurement or if you're a vendor in the Australia, New Zealand market, this shift to digital purchasing, the majority weren't really prepared for it. And so they've really had to react quickly.

And just to give you some numbers behind that, in Australia, New Zealand, there's been a jump from 11% to 19% of buyers that prefer to go through a digital self-serve channel. And if we take a step back and compare that to the Northern hemisphere, the Northern hemisphere has jumped from 32% to 45%. So again, that just goes to show the maturity and where we'll be potentially in a couple of years, where we could almost be to where half of buyers expect to be able to go through that self-serve digital channels. So now is really a crucial time, in terms of making that shift to digital.

And another key point to that is that 58% of buyers are shifting their share of wallet, which is quite a lot, almost 60%. and 52% say that the reason they're shifting is competitive pricing, where if we look at Northern hemisphere, only 38% are shifting due to competitive pricing. So, that really just goes to show how competitive the Australia, New Zealand market is.

And one other point I'll mention is we recently had a webinar where there was 100 pricing professionals on there, and we gave them a survey because we really just wanted to understand where their pricing capability was at, in terms of powering digital channels. And 51% of them said that the pricing was being managed in Excel, and was disconnected from the sales process. Which, if we go back and we think about why customers are shifting their wallet share, because competitive pricing, and if all of the pricing is being managed in Excel, your company is just not going to be able to react quickly enough to those competitive price movements.

And that was just talking about Excel, powering the sales process. That wasn't even taking into consideration Excel power and your e-commerce process. So it just goes to show how crucial it is right now to really put pricing at the forefront of powering the omni-channel experience in the digital world.

David Bray: Wow. That's really interesting to hear that in our market that we were already essentially lagging in terms of adoption around e-commerce, from both a buying and selling perspective. And these organizations because of COVID in essence, had to quickly go and change the way they were doing business, because they were unable to continue to do the old face-to-face sales rep based type selling and engaging with customers.

And so in the interim, what I'm hearing, Hailey, is that you're saying a lot of people have made quick changes through just using Excel to be able to try to support this. I suppose, what I'm really interested in is, the volume of information, if you're trying to manage that in Excel, how can that work? So what are you seeing in terms of some customers and PROSpects that you're talking to, about what they're trying to do to change and how can we support them?

Haley Glasgow: Yeah, and I mean, it's definitely a journey. Some of the customer and PROSpects that we've been talking to, they may be a little bit more ahead of others. So, some of those that for example, have moved out of Excel and have started down the, actually having a pricing and insights platform, they've started down this, how do I now ensure that I don't have channel cannibalization happening in my e-commerce channel or my direct sales channel or partner sales channel for that matter? So there's so many different channels to manage.

And if you start to think about all the different channels you have to manage and all of the different products and customers, and just determine a price for each one of those, it can easily start getting into the billions, in terms of the number of price records you have to manage.

So the key is to really, first, definitely get out of Excel. But the second part, once you're out of Excel and setting the right omni-channel strategies, is ensuring that you start getting into AI digital selling, just because of the number of dimensions that your pricing team and sellers will have to keep track of, as well as making sure that you have a personalized offer and a personalized price delivered to your e-commerce and direct sales channel.

And really, AI is a huge requirement of that, just because with the constant shift in markets, cost, exchange rates, competitor price movements, demand fluctuations, you think about all of the things that a pricing team has to think about. You really don't want them having to sit there and manage all these individual price points. Let AI take care of that for you.

David Bray: That's really interesting. Les, from your perspective, you're talking to a lot of our customers and PROSpects elsewhere around the world. I'm really interested to see and hear what you've obtained from talking to these customers around what they'd been doing and how they've been adopting some of the things that Hailey was talking around, around artificial intelligence, to support what they've been trying to do in their markets?

Les Rechan: Yeah. I think the themes around the world are consistent, David. And that is that companies need to accelerate in this area. This is about surviving, striving and thriving. A lot of your revenue streams are up for grabs and leaning into this opportunity is really important. Leaning into the real time trusted customer experience and delivering that seamless, frictionless, personalized experience across the channels is mission critical. And that's enabled by real-time dynamic pricing, smart capabilities here.

I think it's consistent around the world. I think that this is a journey and depending on the business that you're in, in terms of how you want to deliver that capability, but to the extent that you can make your own teams more productive, higher quality to make that whole interaction that much better is absolutely critical here. This is about, I would say, the notion of optimizing every buying and selling experience, and that's really what PROS can work with you on.

And it's not just the technology. It's all about the people. It's about the process. It's about the strategy culture. It's about the integration of the data. So that's really what we want to work with you on is to make sure that we help you accelerate and outperform with these new capabilities.

David Bray: Les, I'm really interested also, how can PROS help our customers and PROSpects in this part of the world through our presence in APAC?

Les Rechan: Well, that's a great question. And what I'd say is, first of all, we have built up a full fledged capability of one PROS as a company here in Asia-Pac. We've got some 20 or so professionals of which 2/3 of them are in this notion of delivery and customer success. That's then backed by another 1300 professionals in PROS to work with them as one team.

Now, in terms of the years of experience here, we have over 330 years of experience in Asia-Pac, in the region. If you add me to that's another 40 years, so it goes to 370 years of experience. So I think we want to be able to work with you at every step of the journey. That includes visioning what you want to do with the Omni channel imperative. That includes thinking through your digital selling maturity evolution.

So we really want to work with you every step of the way. And I think we will bring examples from all over the world. So for example, we just had one in Europe with Saint-Gobain, Which is a construction material and glass manufacturing supplier. Pre-pandemic, they were doing 10% of their transactions online with smart CPQ. Since the pandemic, they've gone to 80%. and there's different examples that we can share with you of those experiences, so then you can do it right the first time, and then you can leap frog and accelerate and outperform.

David Bray: Wow. That's amazing, that shift in the buying pattern in Saint-Gobain. Hailey, I'm really interested in our part of the world, as organizations move to being able to adopt and embrace e-commerce in a more integrated fashion. You've talked about the challenges at the moment, where they're doing things through trying to manage through Excel and we're trying to look at moving things more in real time.

One of the challenges that I see is PROS has, in the past, had great success working with their customers, using artificial intelligence, around providing pricing guidance for negotiated selling discussions and buying discussions. How is PROS working on translating that to be able to support a unique dynamic price on a website in real time for a particular customer?

Haley Glasgow: This is where it's a really exciting time be at PROS. I mean, when I started, it was mostly around the negotiation and the sales channel, but as we've moved into this e-commerce world, and Les had mentioned, investing 30% of [inaudible 00:15:03] into research and development. This is an area that we're really investing. And our science team is doing some amazing things, as far as AI, being able to help drive e-commerce recommendations, from what price to show or what product to show. This is really crucial.

So no matter if it is the direct sales channel and coming up with a customer's willingness to pay for a product and empowering the rep to have a negotiation, to an e-commerce channel, to a customer logging in and being able to go find a product that's right for them, as well as the right price. And have they purchased that product before? If not, where's the demand at, in the market?

How much inventory do you have left? And being able to really maximize the margin and revenue that you're surfacing up in that price for that product, or if they've already have a contract in place what's the right price to surface up the right contract price, rather than a price that they're not used to seeing. So there's a lot of exciting stuff coming out with e-commerce and where PROS is going in terms of pricing and really powering a full customer experience.

David Bray: Les, I'm really interested, on the back of that. From a corporate perspective, I know you're in discussions with some of our strategic alliance partners, around how do we work with them in supporting this shift and change around e-commerce. Could you go a little bit more detail on what we're doing there from a corporate strategic perspective?

Les Rechan: Yeah, I think that's a great question. And I think what we're trying to do here is we want to plug into all of the ecosystems, the CRM ecosystem, the ERP ecosystem, and the commerce ecosystem. So we're working very closely with commerce providers, such as Adobe Magento with connectors in that case, that we're announcing here at outperform.

We're looking to work with SAP on the ERP side, and then the [hyber 00:20:09] side of commerce, Salesforce and the CRM space along with their cloud craze on the commerce side. And of course, Microsoft is such a strategic partner, both on the cloud platform, as well as integrating with dynamics. So I think here, what we're trying to do is plug in this amazing engine of opti-channel optimization capability to these ecosystems, so that you can transform the customer experience.

So we've got the platform plugging into these partner ecosystems, and then also working with other partners, whether it be global systems integrators or local integrators, to deliver the implementation capabilities. So I think overall, the summary here would be PROS is delivering the intelligence. We're delivering the implementation capabilities for you.

We're integrating with the ecosystems you've got. We're doing that with massive investment, over 30% of our revenue stream committed the R&D and then also an intimate partnership with you, that's personalized to you and fits like a glove. That's what's so important about this, focusing on your business outcomes and driving your revenue streams to the next level here.

David Bray: Thanks, Les. I think we've covered a day, some of the ways the PROS can help our customers and PROSpects in the APAC region to start to navigate your e-commerce strategy in these disruptive times. I'm really excited for the rest of the day, we have a number of sessions that would shed yield to be able to help in this theme and provide further content to be able to support what you may be thinking about as you start to take that journey.

We have people such as Forrester and ROTC, who'll be able to provide independent analyst's perspective on what they're seeing in the market around pricing and how customers also around the world are taking trends. We also have, I'm really excited to say, some local customers that are going to be participating in panel sessions through the industry sessions, with Wink, a company based in Sydney, in office supplies. And also Fontera, one of our largest customers in the milk ingredients business, covering sessions in the manufacturing industry this afternoon.

The great thing also is while we've selected a selection of sessions today for the APAC time stream, what we'll also do is, tomorrow, you have the capability of being able to access over 50 sessions on demand. And there's a lot more to be able to choose from for you to be able to view in your own time, the content that we, our customers and partners have provided around [inaudible 00:19:53] accelerate and navigate what you're doing in e-commerce in these challenging times. And now I'd like to introduce Andres Reiner, the PROS CEO, to conduct our introductory keynote presentation to start the rest of the conference. Thank you for attending. And we look forward to working with you in the future.