Business Transformation Made Simple
Project Manager:Vivek Valmiki
In recent years, the lines between technology and business have overlapped to a point where the latter cannot survive without embedding the former into its entire structure; a notion that international business transformation giant, Pipol has run with to great effect.
Initially opening its doors in 2001, its global growth over the years in supplying ERP solutions and consultancy services put Pipol on the map of some of the world’s leading sector exponents. A realisation in 2014 that IT was no longer a supplied product - but a business-critical commodity - has in turn transformed the Company itself from an IT specialist, to a business transformation behemoth.
“Around 2014, we came to the conclusion that the world had changed a lot and there was a need for us to rethink our whole value and business proposition,” Chief Executive Officer, Poul Kjaer recalls. “ERP had become more and more of a commodity with more functionality added to each solution and fewer modifications required to each product.
“We clearly sensed that our customers were becoming more advanced in how they required services from companies like us. In the past it was an IT-focused request along the lines of ‘can you do it, how much will it cost and how long will it take?’ Today though, clients are much more interested in the suites between IT and business.”
The questions now revolve around how Pipol can help each client’s business to run more, smartly - from an IT perspective - or competitively; while streamlining each customer’s business process simultaneously.
With an abundance of IT skills and experience across a host of Microsoft Dynamics suites, ERP, CRM and BI technology, this was a significant yet natural step for the Group to take in becoming more of an advisor than a supplier to its readied portfolio of international clients.
“We identified this new trend and realised we had the niche and background to sell wider and broader into our client base,” Kjaer continues. “With accounts with the likes of General Electric or ThyssenKrupp, we realised it would be a pity to only have one product on the shelf so to speak. We therefore looked to ensure that we could offer more to our clients via our service range, and through a change in direction in order to become a digital transformation provider, rather than just an ERP supplier.
“Ironically, we had always been actively involved in business transformation through our offering; we had just never articulated it like that. But in changing a company’s ERP system you are essentially taking the heart out of the company and putting in a new one, so in providing the largest business transformation you can undertake, it only made good sense to define ourselves as a business transformation business.”
A trusted advisor
Present day Pipol continues to leverage the 2014 epiphany through the engagement of three core pillars; designed both for the betterment of the Company itself, and to the advantage of its ever-increasing client list.
“Adopting business transformation as our tagline and our focus allowed us also to step much more broadly into our clients’ operations in addressing their business equations, not just their IT,” Kjaer explains in regards to the first pillar. “We changed our own position from a supplier to trusted advisor by not just accepting a customer request but by questioning it, and being critical if needed, while understanding their reasons behind it. ‘What’s their vision, what do they want to achieve?’”
“Do they have a realistic timeframe, budget and return on investment plan? This all requires flexibility and bespoke collaboration and we look to come up with a qualified critical walkthrough of what customers are looking for; to help us understand their needs, to make sure we can deliver more suitable applications, and to position us as a longstanding, trusted advisor for them.”
Pillar two facilitates enhanced trouble shooting as part of this ongoing client collaboration, with Pipol effectively acting as a transition management service too. The realisation that in 64 percent of cases where an ERP system has failed, it is down to the adoption of its IT rather than the IT itself, that has led to the Company taking on that assessment responsibility and in ensuring that each solution is being embraced appropriately.
“The last one is to do with sustainability and a series of workshops we perform each year with our clients,” Kjaer adds. “In a world that is constantly changing and with new functionalities and business practices coming along all the time, there is a need to frequently address how you run your business. To this end, we engage on a quarterly basis with clients to go through how the current solutions are being used and whether there is a need for improvement.
“Again this helps to realise our aim of creating long-term, collaborative and personable relationships with our clients.”
Fulfilling local requirements
Compounding such turnkey, all-encompassing operations is a Group that can boast more than 5,000 employees around the world, catering for every required niche across sectors, geographies and IT skill-sets.
Subsequently a core advantage and a key market differentiator for Pipol, this ability to source, qualify, manage and distribute the best available artisans appropriate to where their skills would be best placed has come virtue of the Company’s longevity in the market and footprint around the world.
“For us, enablement has been the key word, rather than simply how many employees we have.” Kjaer emphasises. “Sourcing , knowledge, knowhow, qualification and localisation all help to ensure that we meet the different needs and regulations before providing a solution in India, Brazil, China, Spain or anywhere around the world.
“These aspects of localisation are things we know very well from having practiced for so many years, and we employ people to continue fulfilling these local or sector-specific requirements.”
A more concerted presence in the US will enforce Pipol’s international strategy even further moving forward as it looks to match the already extensive presence it enjoys in Europe; ERP’s other parent region.
In the sweet spot
And in each new region, its loyal followers come with the business. Joining the likes of General Electric and ThyssenKrupp, multinational heavyweights including Sony, Linde Gas, Kempinsky Hotels and Rentokil have all enjoyed the Pipol experience on a continuous basis as they look to keep on top of not just IT transformation; but business transformation as a whole.
“When it comes to different sectors or different regions, there are no jurisdictions from a technological adoption perspective,” Kjaer states. “We realised this back when we started in 2001 when presenting this value proposition to international customers made good sense; and 16 years later the same committed partnership model still makes sense and continues to work well.
“Today we have partners in 65 countries - several having seats on our board and are shareholders in Pipol - and together we have achieved more than 600 international implementations.”
This differentiating vertical of being a truly global entity is what eliminates risk from the business; always safe in the knowledge that - despite various economic challenges or sector fluctuations - the diversity across its client base, its geographical footprint, and its industry saturation will always offer enough flexibility and sustainability to keep moving onwards and upwards.
“The fact that we have been able to focus on what we do best and to tell the world what we’re good at for more than 15 years is testament to how fruitful of a story the Pipol one is,” Kjaer concludes. “We work in the sweet spot - the very centre between IT and business - and because of this overlap between the two; we only expect the business to expand further over the next five years.
“We will have an even better proposition moving forward because, as a Company, we are always on the beat - and to some extent, ahead of the market - so while we foresee the market changing even more, we remain on the right track and very optimistic about the future.”