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Building Next Generation Digital Experiences with the Composable PROS Platform

From digital quotes to self-service purchasing to two-way sales collaboration, B2B buying experiences are evolving faster than ever. Legacy sales software is hindered by monolithic architectures and rigid user experiences. Watch this session to learn how businesses are innovating and leveraging the modular architecture of the PROS Platform to create next generation experiences to win, retain, and grow their customers. Watch this session to hear real world examples from our partners BGSF and EY on how they see composable platforms and change management impacting the market.

Full Transcript

Please note that this transcript was generated by AI and may contain errors. We apologize for any inaccuracies.

Lyndsey Valin: Good afternoon everyone. We're gonna do something a little different in this session. We are not gonna talk about AI. But we are gonna talk about some of the things that Heather talked about in terms of that new customer experience, how you can implement solutions to adapt to that customer experience, composability those things. So we're not totally going off script here, but a little bit different. So I'm Lyndsey Valin. I am the SVP of Professional Services at PROS, and I have an awesome panel here of some of our partners. So I'll let the folks introduce themselves from Ernst & Young and BGSF....

Kunal Kothari: Thanks Lyndsey. My name is Kunal Kothari. Nice to see you all. I'm a partner at EY based out of our Houston office, and I've been doing front office transformation work for the last 18 plus years, and I've been working very closely with PROS for the last six years out of that. So looking forward to this session, everybody.

Eric Peters: Hello everyone. My name is Eric Peters. I'm president for the professional services division of BGSF. We are a global workforce solutions firm and consulting operation. We're a company that exists today due to 13 acquisitions around the globe. We've been partnering with PROS for a number of years to an acquisition we did out of Texas, and really looking forward to speaking with everyone today.

Brian Goonan: Brian Goonan, I run our sales and pricing transformation practice at EY based out of Chicago and have been working with large sales forces, which includes CRM, CPQ and all the other acronyms probably over the last 20 years.

Hitesh Talati: Hitesh Talati, SVP at BGSF very similar experience I've been working on digital transformation and business transformation for the last 20 plus years.

Lyndsey Valin: All right, so let's get into it. So, I'm gonna start with you Kunal. It wasn't too long ago that all software implementations looked the same. They were long, they were waterfall, they were hard, right? So what do you think has changed in recent times, what are businesses really looking for when they think about implementing software solutions these days?

Kunal Kothari: Sure. Absolutely Lyndsey. So, can you guys hear me? So that's actually a very good question because gone are the days wherein clients are looking forward to having five to six to seven months of discovery in design phase, followed by seven to eight months of implementation phase. And then they get to see the value of something that they've implemented 18 months down the line. Nobody has the appetite for that anymore. Clients are today looking for rapid approach to delivery. Agile, fail now fail fast if we have to. So that is the general trend that we see in the market. And this approach has numerous benefits, right? And we are implementing this already with some of the clients. I was giving you an example of a client where we implemented a CRM's case management solution, and we created a prototype for one of... They had eight business units in total where we had to implement this.

Kunal Kothari: We took one of their simpler business units. We implemented that solution literally in 10 weeks. And we used that prototype, that pilot release as a basis for the design to further iterate on top of it and roll it out to other business units, right? And that was phenomenally successful, right? We have a go-live coming up in June, we already had two releases, the third release coming up. And people are... We are currently later in the UAT phase with them and things are working, knock on wood pretty well. The other advantage is when you do things in iterative fashion, it really motivates your team members as well, right? When people are working on the same things over for so many months, their energy level keeps on going down. But if you're seeing progress on a continuous basis, progress drives motivation and that's what we see in the market as well. Progress over perfection is what we preach. And it's worked very well for the team that implements it as well as for the clients as well.

Lyndsey Valin: Progress of our perfection is one of my mantras. I love that. Yes.

Kunal Kothari: Exactly.

Lyndsey Valin: Awesome. So Hitesh kind of building on that. I think we all up here are a proponent of this model of being Agile, of being rapid, but I can say that there are still some customers that are a little bit leery and maybe conservative or a little bit unsure of how that's gonna work. So how do you go about convincing some of those customers that this really is the right strategy to drive success?

Hitesh Talati: No, No, I agree with everything Kunal said. And to your point, what we have seen is just having this customer centric focus, right? Keeping the customers first. We in BGSF have the mantra that let's wow the customers first. And what we have seen is just being together with them, taking them through the phase over there, helping them implement solutions, design thinking that art of possible, right. In many scenarios we have seen the clients don't know what they want. So this kind of helps them push towards the direction. And a similar example we had two weeks ago a client came to us, they wanted to be in a board meeting trying to get some ideas and concepts, but they didn't really know what they wanted. They spent an hour with us and we were able to do some design thinking and a concept for them which they took to the board, and they were able to seal the deal with us. So a similar concept to your point. We also think gives flexibility and risk management is also much simpler in this scenario. We look for quick wins, but we also encourage quick failures, right? With quick failures, you learn more things. So that's the process we follow.

Lyndsey Valin: Yeah, I totally agree. And so we kind of talked about this implementation method that's a land and expand strategy. And I think that kind of then let's expand on that from composability in the solution side as well. So Brian what are some of the examples that you're seeing of some more innovative ways that merging these Agile approaches and also system composability that's really out there today?

Brian Goonan: Sure. So a couple of things. One, I want to build on Hitesh's comment. I think one of the things that we're discovering also in the market kind of goes with the iterative approach, is making sure we do lots of frequent demos, right? 'Cause people wanna see the tool, they wanna see the tool in action, they want to know what else you can do with it, right? So I've done most of my consulting career on PowerPoints, right? PowerPoints and process flows was my life. And to actually see those translated into demos is something that clients are really looking for, 'cause then they can kind of see, feel it, and they're like oh, okay, I see where you're going. Even if it is a little smoke and mirrors behind the scenes, we can get 'em on board. But the other thing that we've done and we have actually a demo in the innovation center, is we said, okay, what else can this tool do that our clients are really looking for?

Brian Goonan: So we have a dynamic deal scorecard, right? So if you think about a sales team, right? They're putting together a deal for a lot of our B2B customers. That means it's multiple SKUs that are interrelated with each other, maybe products and services and solutions for the long term, right? So they're trying to get a deal together. And while you can look at each SKU and figure out some profitability of each one, when you put it all together, sometimes it's hard to say, is this deal in total a good deal for our customers, for our company? So we have a scorecard that kinda looks through all that, gives you a score, very simple scorecard to look, and then you have the levers that you can pull. Am I discounting too much? Am I discounting not enough? Do I think it's gonna sell? Do I raise some prices on certain SKUs but keep the other ones lower? So it's these add-ons that really kind of empower the salespeople to make better decisions on your behalf. And I think the more we can think about how we take platforms like PROS platform and start to embed some of those solutions within, 'cause we don't want them to go off to another solution, go back to Excel spreadsheets. If everything is there that they need to close the deal, then we're doing our job right.

Lyndsey Valin: Exactly. It's that extensibility concept, right? That's amazing. And so Eric, I want you to talk a bit more about that concept of composability and extensibility and what trends... You guys are really more into the integration space, right? And so what are the trends that you're seeing when it comes to customer selecting technologies? And again, how to leverage APIs and really bring that extensibility to life what are you guys doing in that space?

Eric Peters: Yeah, thanks we do play in the integration space. We are certified partners with Workday, Oracle, ServiceNow. And so Hitesh and I live in those ecosystems everyday. It was funny, I was listening to Dr. Wu's presentation and he put profit up on the screen. And what we've seen, the biggest transformation is when you're looking at pricing, you're looking at margins. It's not just growing revenue any longer, it's about truly measuring profitability. And there's so many components, as Brian just mentioned, that go into how you drive profitability. And what it comes down to is customization and not looking at things in a cookie cutter approach. And so obviously Agile gives us the ability to do that. We had a very, very unique opportunity. We're very fortunate to work with PROS and build a connector tool between the PROS platform and SAP.

Eric Peters: And this was directly taking feedback from the customer that they didn't feel they were getting the full optimization of what they were looking for. And they were trying to measure various components of profitability through that process. And so, like you said, Brian, we said, okay, let's actually do the demonstration. We're gonna take this off of a PowerPoint. We're gonna go into the sandbox and we're gonna show the customer how this tool will talk to its data, pull its data, and what the end result will be. It's an incredible tool. We're really happy with it. And I'll tell you, there's a webinar that we're gonna be doing with PROS on June 27th. If you want to see a live demonstration of what this... Brian's talking about and what I'm talking about comes to life that's gonna be a great characterization.

Eric Peters: The role of the CFO has just changed tremendously. And I just wanna highlight that for a second because we're interacting with the CFOs a lot and you're seeing more and more organizations actually have the CFO manage the IT department, certainly the IT spend and the projects. And so to Hitesh's point, when we're working with these people and partnering with them and doing these demonstrations, doing a proof of concept and the customization piece, Lyndsey comes out where the customer feels like my IT spend is through the roof. And coming out of the pandemic measuring cost more so of what would it cost to build a product or serve a product, the role of the CFO has changed so much. And so we're trying to help listen, engage profitability and we think that these connector tools are another way. And then how you're using AI intertwined into those tools to talk to your data and tell your data what... Let your data tell back to you what you may be missing at first glance.

Lyndsey Valin: It's all about, again, that extensibility, putting the pieces in place to continue to grow on the solution that you have. So I think those are awesome capabilities. So let's pivot a little bit. Kunal, Heather talked a little bit about everyone wanting the B2C experience, right? We all want the Amazon experience and we can see the data saying that most B2B buyers now want that B2C experience as well. And so how do you see these more modern composable technologies, these implementation processes that we talked about really help to provide that desired experience that B2B customers want to provide to their customers, but also want when they're implementing software?

Kunal Kothari: Sure. Absolutely. I think we have seen that theme. Earlier this morning, Jennifer Dudley from HP, she also spoke about the same theme where 75% of their B2B transactions were from self service channels. And then we saw Heather also giving the same kind of an output from the research that she has made. And we are seeing that in the market as well. Like B2B customers have started to expect B2C level services, right? Like we've always been spoiled by Amazon from the self service mode. How many on this room have actually ordered something from Amazon and have had to call anybody or email anybody so that the order arrives on your doorstep probably nobody, right? Zero. And Costco has spoiled us from returns standpoint, right? Like we can return anything at any time at Costco, right? So we get spoiled by this B2C kind of experiences.

Kunal Kothari: And I'll share a real life story where we are working with this industrial products company. We did a voice of the customer analysis of their distributors. They had different customer types, distributors, plumbers, contractors, their end users. I'm going to particularly focus on this customer type distributors, right? Because it is results that we received from that VOC survey was very, very contradictory. So where there were two indexes that we actually measured, one was the customer satisfaction index of this customer group, and the other one was the ease of doing business index, right? So they rated this customer, this industrial products company a 4.2 out of five on the customer satisfaction index, and then the same distributors rated them at a 2.4 out of five on the ease of doing business index. So we were intrigued by that, right?

Kunal Kothari: So we were like, Hey, let's do a double click on this. So we went to the distributor and asked them that, Hey, why did you give this two so different contradicted results? Their response was, Hey listen, we have dedicated sales reps from this company. We have a phenomenal relationship with them. They give us phenomenal customer service. Our customers satisfaction is very high with them. Okay what about the ease of doing business? They're like every time we have to place an order, we have to email them or we have to call them. We know what we have to order, we know how much we have to order. Why can't we do this by ourselves? It takes us so much time to pick up the phone or send an email to just order something that we are used to ordering 500 times in a year.

Kunal Kothari: Give us the power. We want the power to be able to do it by ourselves and not be dependent on somebody else. So these kind of trends, we actually are seeing that that's the market research. And I can attest it because we actually see it in reality, on the ground, right. And then to your point, tools like PROS come into play over here because PROS are the CPQ with the guided selling functionality. If you think about guided selling, that's e-commerce. I mean, you can put that engine behind an e-commerce self-service channel provided to your distributors and change that game. Have them move from a 2.4 to a 4.5.

Lyndsey Valin: That's right.

Kunal Kothari: On the ease of doing business index, right? So those are the kind of things that we are educating our clients to start adopting and start taking it up.

Lyndsey Valin: Yep. I love that. And that's a terrifying story though, right? Inverse numbers 4224.

Kunal Kothari: There's an opportunity in that story.

Kunal Kothari: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's good for us 'cause we can help on those things.

Lyndsey Valin: So let's take that a little bit deeper, and I'm gonna go back to you Brian. We have a lot of customers that still have legacy platforms and monolithic systems and moving to this new space of driving a better customer experience and needing to be more composable and extensible. What do you think some of the biggest challenges those customers face are? And what are some recommendations we have to help them think about how they can start that journey and modernize or get to these new kind of experiences?

Brian Goonan: Sure. Happy to talk about it. It's something that we work with our clients probably everyday, right? And the first thing foremost is change management, right? So we have a client right now, they love their Excel spreadsheets, so always use their Excel spreadsheets, gives 'em infinite amount of flexibility. And so then you're moving 'em to an enterprise system like PROS and all of a sudden it gets a little scary, right? 'Cause you have to kind of demystify what's actually happening there. And so having that experience and doing the change management of what you used to do, you'll still be able to do, but let's get to the core of why you're doing it, not how you're doing it. So doing that shift in kind of the mindset from the change management, I think is important.

Brian Goonan: Going back to what you talked about not only demos, but Agile, you find those early change agents, right? The people who will start to embrace the tool and start talking to their peers around, Hey, this will actually work, this will actually accelerate what we're doing, get us out of the minutia, the things that we're doing day to day that don't add value. And then we start focusing on the things that do add value. So I think change management really is number one. I think the other thing that's really important is making sure we're driving home the value of these tools. And it's almost a kind of... A lot of our clients go out, they'll buy these tools for whatever reason, right? They think... We do a great sales job. They're like we're bought in. And then I think they kind of forget, right?

Brian Goonan: When you get into the kind of the mio-dome of doing the implementation and the design, whether it's Agile, waterfall or otherwise, they kind of forget, why did we buy this? What are we really trying to drive? So reminding them of this is the value you're gonna get, and yeah, it may take some time to realize that value, but these are the things that ultimately kind of what's at the other end of this rainbow that we're taking on, right? What does that pot of gold look like? Reminding them of that journey and making sure that they're a part of that journey helps tremendously.

Lyndsey Valin: Yep. And I'm gonna answer my own question and build on something that Brian said, because we've actually been working together on a client. And we rallied together and for about six weeks we just really did this kind of strategy jumpstart to make sure, to your point, we're super aligned. The customer was super aligned on where they wanna go. And that goes back to what Heather said, you gotta have the strategy, right? Where do you wanna go? And what's the value when we get there? And then as we're now supercharged and ready to get into that implementation rapid, Agile methodology. And that upfront slight investment to just make sure the strategy was aligned, the value was very, very clearly understood. And now we're ready to go. We're gonna make it real for them really fast. And I think that's a great success story of our partnership and also for the customer.

Lyndsey Valin: And I think something else to really think about out there of how can you make sure you get off on the right foot and really drive that value. So, all right. I think I have one more question. I'm gonna go back to Hitesh and Eric. We've talked a little bit about change management. We've talked about this driving a better experience. And I think there is a tension between that because if you as a business wanna drive a better experience for your customer, there is still the internal change management of how do you get the people inside your organization to shift to that mindset. And so what advice do you have for companies that are kind of navigating that, right? How you change for your customers and how you change internally at the same time?

Hitesh Talati: Well, that's a great question, and I love the slide that Heather had. Whether it is just an interaction between the CX and the EX, right? It's a culture that needs to be ingrained in everything we do. And I take it back to the human piece of AI we are trying to basically do what humans do. So vision... The strategic vision that comes from the top and from our leadership there. The mindset, right? Of collaborating with the clients and our employees together and just embracing that culture of continuous improvement and working up together. I know change management is something Eric is big about. We just got back from Latin America last week. And just the amount of excitement and the hunger over there is just amazing, right? And we talk about Latin America, but such a diverse place. On one side you have Argentina with an inflation rate of around 280% and ELA, and then you have Columbia on the side. And I think PROS as a software is something that really is something what they're looking for. Composable on that. But Eric, I'll let you talk more about the change management piece of it.

Eric Peters: Yeah. And Brian said it well, if I had to pick one area in doing this for over 25 years where I saw IT initiatives fail, it was lack of change management internally. And you can bring in outside help. I mean, we're a workforce solutions firm. We certainly endorse that, but you need internal champions. And what we see, and it kind of comes full circle to the first question that you asked Kunal earlier, what we've seen, what's changed, right? And it comes down to really two things. Number one we hear people talk about burnout throughout IT departments, during IT transformations, IT system implementations, upgrades, etcetera. We see the best companies meet that challenge doing the reverse. They use it as a retention tool. So they pick certain individuals that are gonna lead by example and are gonna be the champions.

Eric Peters: And they highlight those folks and they let those folks... They give them the mic and let them step up and say, this is what it's done for the organization. This is where we see the future. And I'm telling you, I'm part of this go-live team and I've already seen it work. The second thing that we see is a big mistake is, you can't always leave those same champions in that seat all the way through the initiative. You have to keep evaluating, again, to an Agile methodology of... Hitesh is very good at this part of the project, at this part of the technology, at this part of the initiative. He does that. He raises his hand, the billboard goes up on the highway and lights, and then we swap him out. And then Brian takes on this part of the initiative. And too many times we just get so embedded in whatever it is that we're trying to implement and change that we forget that this has to be an evolving process. And so that's something I would challenge everyone to look at your own initiatives that you're tackling right now. Who do you have as your internal champions? And when's the last time you possibly switched some of those people out or added to the team or subtracted to the team to just reduce the monotony of what these projects and initiatives used to be.

Lyndsey Valin: And I think we talked about empowering those people as this is kinda a legacy for you and really own that going forward, as you said, to the part of retention.

Hitesh Talati: So Lyndsey, one more thing. And I talked about Latin America and the excitement that is going on there. Now we do have a session Luis Sanchez sitting over there. He's going to do a round table specific to Latin America and the global development center that we have over there. So do take that opportunity tomorrow afternoon during lunch.

Lyndsey Valin: Oh, thank you.

Kunal Kothari: Yeah. The topic of change management is so near and dear to my heart. I want to actually also chime in over here as well. Messaging is extremely important when it comes to adoption and trying to penetrate change inside the organization, right? So think about this scenario, right? And we have learned this the hard way. If you tell people from the sales group, your pricing group, your service group, that, hey, we are changing these processes, we are implementing this tool, and this is going to make you more productive and extremely efficient, guess what is the first thing that will run in their mind? Do you think I'm not productive and efficient right now? But if you were to change that message to say that, Hey, salesperson, we are going to make these process changes and implement this tool so that you can hit your targets faster so that you get more commission on your sales, so that you can go to the golf course more often and build your client relationships, that is what they actually would want to hear. That is what is going to get them the buy-in. Like get us the buy-in from these user groups, right? So messaging is very, very key in how we are portraying the changes that we are planning to implement and make them the change champions and the change agents going forward.

Lyndsey Valin: I love that. It's such a subtle but powerful shift. Of how you message it to somebody, right? We all hear about the with WIFIMs, but that's a very powerful message.

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