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theCUBE is the world’s leading live interview show covering enterprise tech, innovation and the people who imagine, create and implement the technologies that are changing our world. This year, they joined IFS in Boston for IFS World Conference 2019. Below is the transcription of an interview with IFS Senior Vice President Customer Success, Paul Helms and IFS Global Head of Consulting, Stefano Mattiello. Enjoy!



theCUBE: Welcome back to Boston, everyone. This is Dave Vellante with my cohost Paul Gillin. We are finishing the first day of the IFS Conference, the World Conference here at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston. Paul Helms is here as senior vice president of client success at IFS, something we’ve been talking about a lot, and Stefano Mattiello, who is the senior vice president and global head of consulting, also at IFS. Gentlemen, welcome to theCUBE.

PH: Thanks.

SM: Thank you very much.

theCUBE: All right, Paul, let me start with you. So, a kind of loaded question. How do you define customer success?

PH: It’s a question that I receive very often, and customer success, you can do whatever you want. The way IFS sees it, it’s not only me, but IFS sees it is how we take our participation in our clients business results beyond the start-up. Well, then, they buy software, they implement the software, march they get in, and then what? Therefore, customer success is really analyzing what is the quality of the relationship we have with our customers and how deep and how integrated we are in that relationship. Understand what success means to our clients because it is different for each client. And then, how do we support this with the quality of service to really build that success and extract the value that is in the solution for the benefit of our customers. So, it is this long-term relationship driven by business results, which is the success of the customer.

theCUBE: Then, historically in software, business success was defined as if we were live. You know, the service now bakes a cake, hey, success. This is not how you are defining success.

SM: No, I mean, it goes way beyond life live. In fact, I mean we are talking about success as if it really began even before the implementation begins, which is to capture what success means to that particular customer. In your business situation, what does success mean? Enter that, obviously, we want the client to live as quickly as possible, it is time to value, and that speaks with the ROI. But that’s just the beginning of the game, that’s not the end of the game. So, it’s about what we are doing after the live phase, what are the interventions that we are carrying out in aid, launch in fulfilling the promise we made from the beginning that says what success means, let’s make sure we keep that. But the most important thing is how we maximize that success. As market dynamics are changing, as there is more pressure on your business, your business is changing, right? So how do we evolve your business model because today’s success may have a particular shape and a particular color, but in nine months or 12 months it will change, it will transform into something else, so it has a different definition. So, it’s about that lifelong commitment, how do we continue to redefine success?

theCUBE: So, at what stage does this discussion of success begin?

SM: It’s very similar to what I said in the early stages of what we would call the presale cycle. So, when we start talking to a customer, do we really want to understand what the imperatives of your business are? Alright, let’s try to capture that. It is essential that we not only sell technology for the sake of technology, but that we are there to boost a business agenda. So it’s really as soon as we can do it, I think that’s where we can capture and maximize the delivery of that success. How does it really look? So, the sooner we do it, the better.

PH: Looping that back into what we see in our customers and the way they use the software and the way their business is changing in their environment, so to speak, and bring this back to the product, it’s fine. And how we shape the product roadmap using knowledge about how customers are succeeding in using our products. Therefore, we are not there yet, but that is the ultimate goal, that we will build better products based on the ideas of success of our customers, and then turn this into a mature cycle to really boost and maximize customer value during their cycle. of life. Therefore, it goes beyond the service, it really goes back to the product, how that adds value, how we deliver this and all the way back.

theCUBE: And I always argue, I mean, unless you are a non-profit organization or, you know, if you are a hospital, you want to save lives, but if you are a for-profit company, you want to increase revenue, you want to reduce costs, wants to leave money on the bottom line, he wants to wrest the face of its competitors and want to do something good for your community. I mean, you can take all these other factors, be it better customer satisfaction, better productivity, etc., and it usually comes down to those things. Is that fair?

SM: Yes, I mean, that’s more or less, you know, those are the imperatives of your business, yes, that’s how you think about success. But it is an iterative, correct process. So, what I said before is that it doesn’t start and stops there. I mean, things will change and the approach we want to take is not only to do it once, let’s keep revisiting this because once you’ve captured those objectives and you’re actually on top of those or you think you’re on top of those, then as we improve the product and the market dynamics change, you will have different priorities. So let’s keep revisiting. And the way we are looking at it, a project is no longer just the start and stop, a unique event, it is an iterative process.

theCUBE: Are you seeing the priorities change, or maybe you don’t have enough data to talk about this, but we saw that 160 CEO recently signed a petition or a proclamation, if you wish, that it’s not just about shareholders, there are multiple parts interested they have. Do you see that priorities with customers change over time?

PH: I think when the conversations are changing, so when we talked about 10 years ago, you probably talked about optimization, it was purely to get more for your money. So how do I deduct the cost? How do I become more efficient, more effective? The conversation is changing now, how can I be more sustainable? You still need to optimize. You still need to deliver better and operate better. But it’s not just for profit, it’s also about how I become more sustainable, how I leave an environment for the young people of my company, who still have a company by the time they reach our age. (Laughs)

theCUBE: Benny is often very frank about it. As you know, I’m just waiting for the day the CEO loses three or four quarters in a row and says, “Yes, but we are doing all this great technology for good.” But I agree. Especially with the millennials entering the workforce, they want to see that their companies are working well, they are giving back to the community and paying for it. Ask about the swimming lanes, you have 400 members. What are the swimming lanes between the services that are provided and your partners provide, and what is the overlay there?

SM: So this is the transition that we are at the moment, is that historically IFS was trying to be a whole for all customers, right, so we will do everything from A to Z. What we are doing now is Say, well, let’s focus on what we do best, which is our product. That is really what we do best. So what do we want to do? is that we want to try to help the ecosystem, we want to help our partners boost those efficiencies and implement it as quickly as possible and we have value for our customers. So, what we are doing is that we are now moving to a position where we say, Let us conduct a guarantee of value discussion with our clients, we safeguard the projects, so we are working on a symbiotic relationship with partners, we are not competing with them, right. Then we know what we do, we know what they do.

theCUBE: So you have some new services, IFS Select, IFS Success, IFS tools and methodologies. So, there is transfer of knowledge between you and your partners, isn’t it? How does it work? I mean, this requires investment, obviously it has to be more than a press release.

PH: Yes, yes We want our partners to know everything we know, and we are a software company, we are not a services company, and we do not want to compete in the services space. We want to use services to enable software and more software, because the faster we grow our software business, the better for us as a company because that is our core business. Then there is no competition with the partners. We want to share what we know. We put in tools and methodologies. We standardize knowledge. We share knowledge, we bring this to light. We put our partners in the same training that we put our own people, there is no small secret room where we give real things (laughs) to our own people. Therefore, we are very open with knowledge and experience and we share and help you to allow this. So we will work with a partner to tell him, okay, the first ones he does may not have confidence, so much so that we will be there in a more intense way, and as he advances and develops his confidence and develops his competence, we can take a step back And, therefore, we can still guarantee the quality of our customers while we climb through the ecosystem. This is, you know, sounds strange, but we really don’t want to do service business. We want to do the service business we have to do, not as much as we can do.

SM: And I mean, just picking up that is also that it’s not only about enabling, but we’re also actively sharing our tools and methodologies with our partners. So, whatever we use, we make it available to our partners. And that is fundamental, right? That is exactly what Paul says, is that we want the partners to do exactly what we are doing, with the same level of quality and the same standard.

PH: And we have a stated vision that says that the customer experience should not differ if they use IFS as their partner or if they use a service provider as a partner on their trip because it is about the experience around the product, not around the service, which should make a difference for them.

theCUBE: I think you have a dog food stand here. I call it dog food, I know it’s a bit pejorative, but you know, your champagne, drink your own champagne, but, you know, IFS runs IFS. It is a kind of great theme here. Right behind us. Then you have implemented, and this is what you are talking about, the tools and methodologies that you use for your own business. What have you seen in your own business? What type of commercial impact has IFS had on your business? (the guests laugh)

PH: So we implement ours, as you say, we drank our own champagne in six months. We came from an environment that was quite disparate, historically speaking. Many different systems in different locations and regions, and we incorporate and consolidate it into a global template. This was difficult. More difficult than we probably thought it would be. Not in terms of technology. As for technology, yes, technology is what technology is, but from the point of view of change management, and from the impact on the business, and on people’s daily operations, it was bigger than what you thought That is an apprenticeship, we have captured it in our lessons learned. We have made some changes and contributed some new tools and methodologies and knowledge that we will share with our partners. But if we now observe after we are live, the impact it has on our business is transformative. He is giving us ideas that we never had before. Given the efficiencies we never had before. Open new things that we consider as doing business and operating as a business that we had never had before. So, yes, was it hard? Yes, it was hard, but that’s not…

theCUBE: What were you transitioning from? 

PH: All sorts. (Laughs) 

SM: So we had a–

theCUBE: One of everything? 

SM: Yes, I mean we literally had a group of independent systems that had been modified, and I think this is another point, is that the historical approach of many ERP installations is to tell me what you want and I will develop is for you, right? And even–

theCUBE: Many snowflakes.

SM: Yes, exactly, and even if that means we ‘re really going to build a square wheel, which isn’t, you know, it’s not the best model, but that’s what you want, so we’ll give you that. While the approach we are taking now is, you know, we have enough capacity and standard functionality from all the years of experience we have, we go with the best, you know, the best approach in its class. It is more than enough of what you need and will give you the ability to turn it on and start it up and run it immediately, instead of customizing it and spending three years and trying to get that square wheel, which really isn’t what you really need.

theCUBE: That seems to be karma in the company, we’ve been hearing it all day about the value of not customizing.

SM: Right, exactly.

PH: And the product itself and our solutions are very rich and we go a step further and say, well, actually, how can we get our customers to adopt faster depending on the industry they are in because we have to accept it that way? Doing a certain thing in one industry is not exactly the same as your best practice in another industry, for very good reasons. So there is a differentiation on how processes live in different industries. So, Stefano and his team have been very busy building what we call accelerators, and how we combine those industry best practices. In two things, one is a quick start. So, you know, here you just have to use it and run with it and you will be working very quickly. So that is our knowledge and experience that we share and we also make it available through our partners. And secondly, it will allow us to keep that updated as a kind of reference architecture for your industry, as it progresses, it could, you know, go in a direction with its implementation, we say this is the industry’s best practice, and how it gains value between the gap by adopting the gap between what is the best standard practice and what it has in its solution. Therefore, boost that value during the life cycle as part of the commitment to success.

theCUBE: So, you are senior executives of a global company, they talk to many customers, so I wonder if I could get your opinion on the macro from the point of view of spending. I mean, we see in the United States, we are in the tenth year of a boom cycle. The IPO market here is something like that, the window is closed, I think at least for now, and the gratifying growth of Wall Street, they don’t care if you make a profit. You know, things like cash flow, EBITDA, (laughs) don’t seem to matter. And that has been happening now for most of a decade. When you look at Europe, it seems to be softening, It is a kind of overbank, financial services, and no, you are exposed to financial services, certainly not in a big way. But what are you seeing all over the globe only in terms of spending on technology and what does it mean for your business? I mean, you are a winner of actions, you are participating, so you should be somewhat isolated from any kind of flattening or softening, even though the softening is not precipitated. But I wonder if you could give us your anecdotal opinion about what is happening in the market.

PH: So, I think, two things we see happen. We see many newer customers that come with us. So you also saw him this morning at the presentation, more than 50% of our revenue comes from new net clients for IFS. This is incredible. There is no other similar company that can say that. We are surpassing the market by more than three times the average. But that’s one part of the story, the installation base is the other part of the story. So, the installation base, what we see there is that they are spending on the digital transformation, on advancing their game. Technology is altering many industries and it is allowing many disruptors to enter markets that previously, and industries that were previously closed to them. In financial services you see a lot, but also in the other industries, We see these young and future disruptors coming. So, we see many people and companies that invest in digital transformation, opening new channels, opening new markets that were not there before, but now with technology, and the technology that is available, is there. At the same time, they need to create space in an investment, you know, nobody has unlimited resources. So they are looking to optimize what they have to be able to release some cash and capital to invest in some of these disruptive things. Therefore, it is really an exciting time to be part of the industry and a really exciting time to be part of a challenging and challenging company like IFS that really comes out and focuses on its industries, focuses on its technology stack where it matters. . We are not trying to be everything to all men all the time. We really look for what we know to be good and I think the numbers show for themselves that that is …

theCUBE: Half of the transactions are a new adoption of IFS, right? That’s huge. Capital license revenue.

PH: That’s from our license revenue.

theCUBE: Ok, yes. I mean, unless there is a large proportion leaving your installation base, which does not seem to be happening, that if people are simply spending money with you, it is a story of growth.

SM: It’s very, I mean, my opinion is that it’s all about choice. Customers want to choose. They want an alternative, right? And what I think we are doing well, at least, what I like to think we are doing well, is that we focus on business results. That’s what it’s really about. We are speaking their language, their agenda, and we are giving them an alternative.

PH: And we are not forcing them to go to the cloud. We give them the option of entering the cloud if they wish, but they can also remain on the premises. We do not force them to go to the subscription model. The option is there, but you can also choose the complete perpetual. Therefore, it really is about giving them options, talking with the client’s business results and participating in a truly customer-centric and intimate way throughout their trip. And it is working.

theCUBE: So, given the success you are having, specifically in Europe, how do you feel about your ability to export that success to North America?

SM: Well, we’re already doing it, I mean it’s happening, and we’re seeing global growth, right? Yes, I mean, in certain regions it is accentuated and bigger, but it definitely exists, it is a global phenomenon, we are seeing it. And I think a lot of that is also returning to our focus. And I think you made the point to this, we are not trying to be all things to all people. Where we focus, that’s where we really stand out. So, the type of answer to your question is less about geography, it’s more about the industry, is that what you want to focus on, regardless of where you are? That is the approach we are taking.

PH: And also the capabilities we are bringing to the field. So there is management, it has been a very healthy growth area for us. You saw this morning, again, we just announced the acquisition of Astea that will further improve our capabilities in this place, they are really a leader in what they are doing. So that level of focus makes us win in our industry and our market.

theCUBE: I mean, that seems like a good acquisition. That begins to leverage a relatively small company, but it picked it up from what I can say at a fairly low price, but the impact on its business is significant. So that’s good, congratulations. Very well, gentlemen, I know that probably the important dinners of the clients and visiting Boston, we keep away from so thank you very much for coming to the CUBE. It was great having you, we really appreciate it.

SM: thanks.

PH: Thank you very much for having us.

theCUBE: Very well, thanks for watching. Paul, it’s great to work with you, and that’s it. As always, Dave. From IFS World in Boston, and this is theCUBE. Go to for all the news. Go to to see all these videos. And see you next time.

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