Katrina Klier, CMO of PROS speaks with Accenture, Microsoft, and EY about how they are leveraging technology to create certainty during uncertainty. Learn about Accenture's reputation for blending technology and good business practices, Microsoft's values around harmonizing data and providing the best information at the best time to get to the best outcome, and EY's ability to leverage customer experience and pricing strategies to help clients outperform the competition.
About the Speakers
As a Global B2B Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Digital Officer, Katrina Klier has extensive experience leading digital transformation, brand optimization initiatives, and new product launches at five Fortune 500 companies, including two of the world’s most recognized technology players and a top-10 global professional services firm. During her time in leadership roles at Accenture, Microsoft, and HP, Klier leveraged client data/analytics, including customer segmentation, hyper-targeted personalization, and other quantitative and qualitative data to transform the sales and marketing strategy, monitor end-to-end customer journeys, and deliver an exceptional digital customer experience. She is known for her ability to create go-to-market strategies, including MP&A, loyalty, brand building, demand generation, and competitor analysis, as well as public relations and internal / executive communications campaigns. Additionally, she has built the marketing strategy to lead an early-stage start-up to successful exit.
Kim Mathisen is a digital-native technology executive with 15-years’ experience leading disruptive business and product organizations at Amazon.com and Microsoft. Kim’s deep experience building and scaling businesses and products includes more than 13 years of retail/CPG expertise, over a decade's worth of e-commerce, P&L, and technology expertise and more than 2 years of expertise building highly-disruptive augmented reality software applications for the enterprise. At Amazon, Kim led a $3.5B business in the retail division. In this CEO-like position, she was responsible for customer-experience, financial performance (P&L), innovation and strategic planning along with daily execution of supply-chain operations, marketing and merchandising, business development and vendor relationships. As Chief Customer Officer in Industry Solutions at Microsoft, Kim is responsible for growing global revenue by building a robust ISV and SI ecosystem supporting Microsoft’s industry clouds. Leveraging Microsoft’s modern software suite, world-class AI, ML and data capabilities, Kim grows revenue by implementing a customer-focused approach to driving digital transformation with Microsoft’s enterprise customers vis-a-vis top global ISVs and SIs. Having held leadership roles in both the US and EU, Kim has built a reputation for innovative and scalable strategic thinking, operational excellence, working with the highest level of integrity, and a deep and passionate commitment to both B2C and B2B/enterprise customers.
Patric Kirchner, Managing Director at Accenture, is a seasoned expert for Commercial Excellence with focus on Monetization Strategies, innovative Pricing and Sales digitization. Bernard leads EY’s Pricing practice and focuses on enabling clients to grow their businesses through effective implementation of pricing and commercial strategy. He has over 20 years of professional experience across pricing strategy, process, org design, analytics, and technology implementation. Bernard has assisted clients across industries in executing pricing transformations that combine customer insights, client capabilities and ambition, and effective change management, while focusing on tangible value capture.
Katrina Klier: Hello, I'm Katrina Klier, Chief Marketing Officer at PROS, and I'm happy to have you join me today for some fireside chats with some of our key sponsors. We're joined today by Accenture, Microsoft and EY. First up, I'd like to welcome Accenture to Outperform. Patric Kirchner is here with us from Accenture. Patrick, welcome to Outperform. Thank you for joining us today....
Patric Kirchner: Hi, Katrina, it's a pleasure being here, thanks.
Katrina Klier: Wonderful. Well, you know, I mean, Accenture has an amazing reputation for being able to blend technology and good business practice together, particularly business strategy and artificial intelligence and good business processes. All those things that can make a pricing transformation successful. And you heard in Andres’ keynote just before this about how we're really leaning into how we can help customers create certainty in this very, very uncertain world. And I know that's a key principle for Accenture as well. Can you tell us a little bit about how you combine all these amazing elements of Accenture to help bring certainty to your clients?
Patric Kirchner: Yes, sure. Thank you very much. Yeah, Katrina. You know, then you said it actually quite well already, right? So I think we are unique at Accenture in combining really those requirements to implement an end to end solution, right? So we really have the capability to formulate the business challenges to derive the respective strategies. And at the end then to implement it. So we have the technology knowledge. We do have also the process and the strategic expertise. So I think we can really help our clients by being a one stop shop, if you want so.
Katrina Klier: Wonderful and I think that's helpful, you know, choosing the right partner, especially as you're trying to figure out how to harness the power of AI is really important. Andres mentions also a bit about turning what many people think of as the black box of AI, which is kind of scary and you don't know what's in it and how it works, and turning it into a clear box that you can understand that you can use across your business that you can easily connect with other parts of your business. I feel like at Accenture, you all are kind of unique in how you've leveraged that concept yourself with clients, particularly around pricing transformation with AI. Perhaps you can tell us a little more about that.
Patric Kirchner: Sure Yes. And you are perfectly right. And as you correctly spotted, it's I am focused with an Accenture on pricing and sales, and I think it's fair to say that my passion is really pricing. And maybe I'll give you some example. It's really from our pricing world. So to say, where we help by using AI to create certainty, and I would like to share with you three examples. So, so one example, which I believe is a very good one which shows how we can create certainty on the employee side, is that we have developed for an insurance and AI based solution who offers for internal sales, then specific insurance configurations, right? And also it attach the best or most likely price for this configuration. So you can imagine it's not easy if you have a huge portfolio and to configure the right or to configure the right insurance for your customer and then finding the right price. So this is something which has multi dimensions to influence, so AI can really help here and guiding the sales team and the salespeople on the phone. And also it will learn from the history, right? So if you constantly feed the system with what went wrong and what went good, which basically means if you want a deal or not. So the system can automatically learn and perform better for the next client call? Probably. Right? Another example would be that dynamic pricing for gas stations, for example. It's also a great example, I believe, because here again, it's very complex and you know that gas stations, they usually change their price multiple times a day. So it's a lot of influencing factors which you would have to consider. And obviously having AI hear an automated software which is automating this these processes is very, very helpful. So what we are doing here is really preparing and sending the price suggestions for those gas stations. And last but not least, my third example would be, I think we have made quite good move towards AI based price optimization for spare parts, right? And again, here it's something where software then is applied, where we develop AI based pricing models in order to optimize spare parts prices. And as you can imagine, it's not that you have 20 or 200 spare parts. Typically you have more than 100 or 200,000 spare parts, right? So it's a quite complex environment, and it's not easy to keep confidence here and be certain which which is the right price, right? And this is again where I strongly believe that our solutions can help and create this certainty.
Katrina Klier: I agree. You know, that's one of the things PROS really values about the partnership we have with Accenture is working together to find that winning price, right? Which is what every sales rep wants. At the end of the day, it's good for the business, it's good for the customer. But the multitude of data and fluidity of the data, I think, is really the challenge right of all of that information, all at once, all of the time. And you just can't do it fast enough without AI. Do you agree?
Patric Kirchner: Yes, yes, absolutely. Totally agree with that. And as the experience has shown, when we brought together on some of our projects, right? I think it's to be fair, it's not just buying a software, plugging it in. So this will not automatically solve all your problems. And it's also not a big bang, right? So that you come in tomorrow and you just apply some, some AI based pricing software. It's I really believe that the work that we do together, right? And so that we are kind of developing together the strategies that we're developing together and identifying what's needed, which data is actually required. I mean, every business has its own challenges, so you would always need different data. You would always need different data sources. Sometimes it's internal data. Sometimes it's external data. It also depends a little bit on the, let's say, yeah, the professionalism of the solution that you would like to have at the end. But this is something where I believe like someone like PROS as a solution provider and us as being the advisor when it comes to this strategy and also to the required infrastructure. I think here we can really well work together and we do really well work together to make this a success for our customers and to make this kind of maybe I would say, seamless experience, right? So I think this is really great.
Katrina Klier: Wonderful I think that strategy piece is really key as well. Like you said, you know, when you look across the many clients that Accenture has helped along these transformations, what are a couple of the things when people are embarking on a transformation around pricing to improve their margins, to leverage AI? What are a couple of those strategic questions or things that they should consider when they're starting on this journey?
Patric Kirchner: Yeah, I think again, unfortunately depends on the business on the client itself. But I believe one of the key decisions to make for a company as strategic decisions in the very first step is how do I want to steer my prices in the future, right? So what are the influential influencing factors that I would like to use to differentiate my prices so there could be companies saying, OK, we would like to use based on some, some customer characteristics, right? So so what is the customer size? What is the customer history, what is customer loyalty and others might be totally looking into, OK, we need to fill our capacity and we may have to make sure that these things are running. And I think what we always do at the very beginning is sit together with our clients and defining and identifying, hey, what is it that you actually want to see and how you would like to steer because this clearly depends on your strategy. And before we even can develop and configure a tool or a solution for you. So I think a company really needs to have this very clear understanding of what it wants and how it wants it. And I think this is then the starting point to go along and to start with AI or automatic pricing.
Katrina Klier: Right, yeah, I think that's very important, you know, technology can help you do anything you want to do, but you have to know what you want to do, right, so that's an essential part of the entire process. And can you talk a little bit more about the inclusion of people? And we talked a little bit about empowering reps with a winning price, which is wonderful at the end of the day. But, you know, like you said, very well, technology unto itself doesn't necessarily solve what you want to solve. You need the people around it to. Can you talk a little bit more about how people fit into the change process here and the overall business success?
Patric Kirchner: I really believe that a good pricing system can help the people here and making better pricing decisions. But again, those people need to be taken on that journey, so you have to educate them. You maybe start somewhere in your company with a pilot project. And first of all, you need to find out how ready is your company to apply these things as well, right? So there are multiple dimensions to consider. So it comes to processes. It comes to data. It also comes to some technology. And you need to understand in the first step, OK, what needs to be done to implement all of this? And this is how you create the uncertainty also within your company that you take this as a journey, but that you start that journey and that you take people on board step by step.
Katrina Klier: Right. Well, Patric, I want to thank you again for joining us today from Accenture here at Outperform. It's been delightful to speak with you today, thank you for all of your wisdom and ideas that you've shared with our audience.
Patric Kirchner: Thank you very much, Katrina, both a great pleasure and maybe one final sentence, embrace AI and go for it with confidence, I would say.
Katrina Klier: I think that's a good call to arms. Let's do it. Thank you, Patrick.
Katrina Klier: So joining me now is Kim Mathisen from Microsoft. Kim, welcome to Outperform.
Kim Mathisen: Thank you, Katrina.
Katrina Klier: Awesome well, let's dive in. We just heard an exciting keynote from Andres about creating certainty in an uncertain world. And I know at Microsoft, you all really pride yourselves on building amazing technology that helps your customers do just that. So I thought you could maybe tell us a little bit about how Microsoft approaches creating certainty for its customers in the world as it is today.
Kim Mathisen: Yeah, absolutely. You know, this last year, I think has challenged everyone in ways that they didn't know were possible, and it's so inspiring to see customers and partners around the world adapting to those challenges in new and different ways. And I think one thing we can all agree on is that digital foundation, a strong digital foundation, is really the basis of what's enabling customers to be agile in the world that we're living in today and to be able to continue to grow and meet customer needs over time. And so that's what Microsoft is focused on.
Katrina Klier: You want to talk a little bit about some words to the wise, if you will, that you've seen from a lot of your customers that are making that transition to cloud, leaning into being proactive, leveraging their data. You know, if you have a few words from the wise, you know, things that can help a few of us avoid stubbing our toe as we go down this process.
Kim Mathisen: So I think one great example just, you know, coincidentally, PROS and Dynamics 365 combine to create a selling teams central point of management for all quoting and sales agreement needs. So something very important for many, many of our joint customers. And there's nothing more important than being in sales and feeling like you're one step ahead of your customer to close that deal or to help them meet their needs. And these tools together are empowering businesses to accelerate, quoting speed from weeks to minutes, streamlining approvals and increasing deal size effectively at the end of the day, which is obviously important to all of us. So that's just one example where we're able to combine data and work with our partners. At the same time to help extend the capabilities that Microsoft has and bring even more tooling and solutioning to our customers together by leveraging the power of data in ways that's more proactive. So making suggestions to your sales folks, as opposed to having to need them to know exactly what to do next, we can suggest next best action, excuse me, actions. We can help them understand what that customer might need before the customer even knows what they may need, which is really where the magic happens. You know, insights is really the future of how companies and partners are going to harness all of this data because, as you know, data is just data if you're not doing anything with it.
Katrina Klier: I know we really value our partnership with Microsoft because we have so many of those shared values right around harmonizing data, providing the best information at the best time to get to the best outcome and not just today, but every day and tomorrow, and into the future. So it's an exciting journey. I think it's really interesting what all of this can do for customers going forward as the world continues to change.
Kim Mathisen: That is true. And you know, for Microsoft, one of the really exciting things that we are doing right now is our Microsoft Industry Clouds. So for example, you may have heard of the Microsoft Cloud for health care or the Microsoft Cloud for financial services, and we're really taking the power of Microsoft across all of our different capabilities, Azure, business applications, teams, and office, and bringing together the most relevant and impactful tooling for someone in each of those industries. So trying to even simplify it further, taking what is the Microsoft Cloud, all of the products and really helping our customers understand here is the tools that are specific to your industry that can help you drive incremental productivity, decrease your customer or increase rather customer satisfaction and increase your time to value.
Katrina Klier: Time to value is something we put a lot of value on ourselves and we also view that as an ongoing state, as I know Microsoft does too. PROS and Microsoft are very aligned in that regard of continuing to deliver value over time. I think that's a big secret sauce to going from reactive to proactive. Kim Mathisen, thank you so very much for joining us at Outperform. We wish you all the best in the year ahead and we look forward to speaking to you again soon.
Kim Mathisen: Likewise, same to you, Katrina and the PROS team, and thanks again for the opportunity to be here.
Katrina Klier: And now we're joined by Bernard Kang from EY. He's their global pricing leader, and we're thrilled to have you join us, Bernard at Outperform. How are you today?
Bernard Kang: I'm doing very well. Katrina, how are you?
Katrina Klier: I'm great, thanks. Excited about all the things that we have coming up at our event throughout the next couple of days. Well, as you've just heard from Andres, we're spending a lot of time learning about how to create certainty in an uncertain world. And as we all know, that's never been more true than in the last year and a half right with everything that's gone on. Now EY and especially in your practice area is really all about leveraging customer experience and pricing strategies to help your clients create that certainty. Can you tell us a little bit about your thoughts on that and how EY approaches creating certainty for its clients?
Bernard Kang: Yes, absolutely, Katrina. So first of all, let me thank you for inviting me to speak with your audience here today. Our relationship with PROS is so important to our EY, EYs pricing practice, and it's been, I think, a great source of value creation, both for our clients and for EY as well. Certainty is one of the hardest words in the English language, I think, especially when you think about everything that's happened in the past two years, who could have imagined? I actually live out here in Los Angeles, and when I look out into the Pacific, I see this long line of ships trying to get into the port of long beach, who could have ever imagined all the disruptions we face. There's the input side of it and then the output side of it. So what do I mean by inputs? You know, they are all the things, all the different elements that a company does to run its business. And these are things like, what is the process? Is there a standard process? Is there a clarity in roles and responsibilities? And what kind of tools do you have in place to help your employees execute pricing processes? For many companies, these things don't really exist, and so certainty right from the beginning is very hard to achieve. And so if that's going to be the case, both the employee experience and the customer experience is going to suffer. As a result, there's going to be a lot of inconsistency there. So if that's the case on the input side, then on the output side as well, there's going to be an increasing amount of uncertainty. So a large part of our effort as consultants is to control what we can control. A lot of our effort is applied to addressing the input side of that equation, which typically requires transformation around the people, process, and technology aspects of what companies are doing, so that our clients, people can spend their time addressing more strategic needs or unforeseen outcomes, addressing variability as opposed to trying to remediate things or issues that maybe should have already been addressed in the past. So I absolutely agree with Andres’ point that making it easier for your employees to do a better job is a great principle for reducing uncertainty both for employees and for your customers.
Katrina Klier: Yeah, I know. I think creating that foundation, as you mentioned, is sometimes the first step and and occasionally the hardest too, I think, but so important. How do you see some of your clients that have done that successfully? You know, what's the first few things they really think about to get started?
Bernard Kang: Yeah, I think. One of the most important things is just the commitment to do it, because it's actually rare for clients to not have tried this in the past. Many have tried and failed, had a little bit of success and kind of lived off that and kind of moved on. And I think a lot of the research suggests that the consistent investment over time and pricing has often been lacking. And so I think the commitment both there's two sides of that as well, the understanding of the value and we can all get all create value through pricing by delivering a project or in a single year. But the cumulative value over time requires a consistent investment in again, people. You should have a pricing team. And quite frankly, the technology, the software enables a sustainability, I think, in the transformation program as well. So these are things ultimately people have to commit, and I can say a bit more about that as well. But everything in this world just boils down to people at the end of the day.
Katrina Klier: Yeah, I think that's very true. Well, I love your points on commitment and consistency, right? You commit for the long haul, be consistent, and that's a good path to certainty. But your people are really important along the way, right? You know, when you think about your clients around the world and what do you think are some easy steps that people can take to get started if internally they're considering some of these things, to your point, maybe they've taken a few runs at it before or they're doing things in a really manual way and automating it will help, to your point, a little bit, but probably not get them all the way to certainty and value that they're trying to get to. What are some easy things that they should really start to think about and what are the discussions they should be having internally to go on this journey?
Bernard Kang: Well, I think most of your audience is pricing professionals know most of us probably paid for ourselves on a day to day basis through the magic of quick wins. People have to desire and engage the new way of doing things. And a lot of times when we think about change management, it's just one Chevron on the bottom of a Gantt chart, and it's really the most important Chevron page because you might, all of our experience tells us the technology is ultimately going to work. We're going to make the technology work, the process maps. They're all going to make sense. But ultimately, people are going to have to engage and ultimately they're going to either use the technology or they won't. And in order for them to really embrace the use of the technology and change the way they run their business and operate their day to day, we're going to need to involve them in the creation of that future state vision and defining the process and defining what the technology is going to do as well. And that's when the orchestra comes together, and you can really make the magic happen.
Katrina Klier: I agree. It really is that interplay of good strategy brought to life by people who are embraced the strategy and the technology who are bought in with some good process behind it. And then magic happens right to a degree at the end. But scalable and repeatable magic, which is what we're really after right quick wins can help you prove, but then you can scale much better when people are brought on board and your technology can pretty much take you anywhere you want to go. I think at this point, you know, when you think about companies that maybe have stumbled a little bit along these lines, I mean, knowing what to do is really important. And you talked about some wonderful best practices for people to get started. You know, sometimes those worst practices are helpful to know too like, what are the things that you should really stay away from or things that you should think about to really get right before you even consider going on this journey? Is there anything there that people should keep an eye out for to make sure that they don't inadvertently trip themselves up?
Bernard Kang: Well, I think that certainly the selection of the right partners, both software vendors and consultants is critical people who have had the proper experience across ideally multiple industries and have kind of been through the process many times before. But finding people that you really can work with. And there's, think that that's key to the success selecting the right partners who the right cultural fit that multi-year commitment. And again, I'll say it over and over again, making sure that your people are engaged and committed to the journey as well.
Katrina Klier: Yeah, I agree. Know we see a lot of our customers when they really view it as a partnership between the different vendors that they're working with because it is a long term relationship. And you know, you're going to work closely with these people, and it is important to make sure that there is invested in your success as you are as an individual business, right? That is one of the things we've always valued about working with EY is we have a very similar philosophy in that regard. So it's helpful, I think when we approach customers because we want is for them to be successful at the end of the day. And that's a wonderful thing. Anything else you'd like to share with us, Bernard?
Bernard Kang: Well, again, I think we've been in a great partnership with PROS and this has been, I think, a long term relationship for us. In the collaboration. There has been critical and I think again, the cultural match between EY and PROS has been really rewarding. So our ability to team up and serving clients has been really, really an effective and enjoyable experience. I wanted to thank you for that as well.
Katrina Klier: Oh, well, thank you. It's been our pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us today at Outperform, Bernard. We look forward to having many more conversations with you about using customer experience and pricing strategies to help our customers outperform. So thank you so much. We'll talk again soon.