Capriza: What does a modern enterprise mean to you?
Rich Pirrotta: A modern enterprise is one that is fundamentally customer centric – where the culture is focused on understanding how value originates for the customer. To be modern and customer-centric requires having access to the right data at the right time, and enabling decisions that help align resources to address the customers’ challenges.
C: How does Finance become modern?
RP: It’s the shift for finance to become a forward-looking function. Finance has traditionally been focused on the month-end close, which is looking at actions that have already occurred. Every company has a 3 to 10 day month-end close where all the information for the prior month is synthesized to generate reports that are credible and accurate. For Logicalis, it’s about understanding how real-time data in addition to static data can be useful to business leaders. We work to do that with our internal stakeholders in a more predictive manner with metrics such as professional services utilization, contribution margin, payroll variance, and OpEx ratios.
C: What are the challenges is making this happen?
RP: There is a wealth of data but it is in a format that is not easily consumed. We need to help business leaders connect the dots and see the data with a decision making lens. With Capriza, we can take desktop applications that most employees can’t easily access and create real time data and reports that people will look at and take action on. The best outcome is when the technology systems can deliver updated information in real time and the finance team becomes business partners rather than just data gatherers.
C: What advice would you give another C-level executive transforming or modernizing an enterprise?
RP: Make sure that the changes you seek will be sponsored, and are sponsored by leaders with the authority and influence to stay with the change. A change management approach is key. As the Ford transformational change path stated, ‘culture will eat strategy for breakfast’ and it’s why companies fail in large scale transformational change. At Logicalis, our executive leadership team aspires to spend half of our time on transformational activities, so the sponsorship is in place. We have to get our teams better at going before they are ready. In our sector with the pace of change accelerating, no one has the luxury of waiting until they feel ready for change. Time is short – once you have a good plan for success – get the change journey started.
C: As you pave the way for innovation in your enterprise, what famous trailblazer, living or dead, would you want to meet?
RP: I respect what Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company was able to do during a time of significant and overdue transformational change at Ford. He took his knowledge of building incredibly complex machinery at Boeing and knew how to apply similar principles to the automotive sector without being an industry insider. Under his leadership, Ford was the only major US automotive OEM to avoid the financial path that knocked back GM and Chrysler. It took guts, knowledge, and vision, and I would love to hear the inside story on how he sponsored and implemented the transformation.