Raj Mamodia is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Brillio responsible for the company’s vision and strategy globally. Raj has a wealth of experience in corporate strategy, sales, go-to-market planning, operations, client engagement, and financial management. At Brillio, Raj spearheads the company’s next growth wave setting the direction for a rapid and sustainable journey to become a recognized and reputed global digital transformation and consulting company. Brillio leverages emerging technologies, including analytics, security, cloud, mobile, and machine learning to address their customers’ challenges.
Lessons Learned From Interviewing Raj Mamodia
I recently had the opportunity to interview Raj and learn more about how Brillio improves its customers’ experiences by leveraging emerging technologies, including analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud, machine learning, mobile, and cybersecurity. Raj believes that the more every member of Brillio’s team shares its customers’ goals and understands each customers’ needs and sense of urgency, the better the chance Brillio has to excel in each engagement. He’s passionate about being so integrated with customers and their definition of success that it’s hard to tell the difference between customers and Brillio team members in the same room. My conversation with Raj was energetic, inspirational and provided a candid glimpse into how he leads Brillio daily. Here’s my interview with Raj:
Louis: Good morning Raj, can you please tell me about where Brillio is today, and where you’re going in the future, and why is this such an exciting time at Dreamforce coming up for you and the company?
Raj: Brillio has established itself as one of the leading providers in technology-led business transformation, particularly around the four superpowers of technology. Those are AI, the internet of things (IoT), mobile, and cloud. What we have done over the last five years is build exceptional situational fluency to help our customers improve adoption of this technology and increase competitiveness. As I look at the future, the disruption that these industries and our customers have faced is only going to escalate.
I see that what we do and how it is relevant to our customers is accelerating as we go forward. We want to focus on helping our customers thrive and offer differentiated businesses using technology.
Louis: Companies partner with you to redefine themselves and to reinvigorate themselves, often looking to open a new chapter in their overall growth.
Raj: We are at the forefront of not only improving current performance but also helping companies come up with completely new business models in IT. Or helping them identify entirely new segments, or sort of think about their existence and their purpose differently as well. It’s been quite rewarding for Brillio to be that relevant of a partner to so many enterprise companies.
Louis: You’ve made quite a few acquisitions of analytics companies that are prescient, along with an M&A strategy of building a strong base of intelligence and insight. Going into Dreamforce with the focus around AI machine learning that’s continuing to evolve in the Salesforce ecosystem, what are your goals this week at Dreamforce along the dimensions of AI analytics and machine learning?
Raj: Brillio has evolved along with the Salesforce ecosystem over the years. And I think in sales, marketing, customer service, community cloud, and the multiple, different capabilities that Salesforce offers has benefited our customers on multiple levels.
I believe, and we have seen this in many different instances, the value that our customers are going to be able to derive from the investment they’ve made in the Salesforce ecosystem is going to come from two broad areas. The first one is going to be the integration of tools that haven’t been put in place. You can’t think about selling to a customer if you don’t know whether marketing is reaching a given customer or the issues that a customer is dealing with in existing scenarios.
And so, therefore, I think that is, in my view, a big opportunity. That also highlights the fact that the amount of data that our customers have, and the decisions we can help them make as we integrate silos will be very crucial in terms of us not only understanding customers but serving them better. For me, this entire issue can’t be solved in the traditional data approaches right now. Think about many of these issues. I believe sales and marketing, and customer service-type functions now need real-time machine learning, call it AI that will be able to drive the insight for the folks who are in the business of growing revenue and serving customers. Brillio has been engaged in that area over the last few years. What we see is, as this integration matures and comes to life in more scenarios, our ability to make a real impact in using AI is very, very high.
At Dreamforce this year, we’ll be showcasing how we can help accelerate a client’s cloud journey, as well as how companies can really monetize and drive business transformation using AI. We will also be presenting and discussing our solutions around CPQ, Mulesoft, Service, and PDO
Louis: What kind of metrics, or how do they define the success of the customer experience in this new era of being able to integrate all these different systems on the front office and then bring greater insights to it? What does success look like to them? How do they know that they’ve succeeded at that?
Raj: There are very point-driven problems that our customers worry about, as well as secular issues. Point problems could be a customer retention issue or a sales growth issue in a particular segment, or just a target segment issue overall. When you think about the point problems, defining and achieving success is relatively easy because you are able to control the variables that drive the success or failure of that particular point. You can put technology in, but you also have to make certain business processes change.
I think that is one way of looking at in terms of, “Hey I need to drive, let’s say sales, for this particular product. It’s not in line with my broader strategy.” We can measure that. I think we are also involved in delivering the broad range long-term impact. An example would be a customer not actively competing in a large potential market segment today. As our customers come up with new products and new services, they need our help devising new strategies from a technology perspective to achieve the market- and customer-driven goals they have. Our customers are very interested in the long-term impact of emerging technologies and learning how they can build new markets as a portfolio. I also believe you don’t achieve this quickly — in one quarter or two quarters. It takes a couple of years. This is how we help our customers, by combining our long term view of the future with our deep understanding of emerging technologies.
Louis: Speaking of a long-term perspective, strategies like lead to cash, quote to cash, combined with new digitally driven, omnichannel oriented selling strategies certainly is going to get a lot of press at Dreamforce. When you look at lead to cash, and quote to cash, and a CPQ, what are you seeing from your customers about CPQ internationally? Or, is it just contained within the US? Could you speak to the dynamic of CPQ as it relates to quote to cash and lead to cash? That being a long lifecycle. Admittedly that’s a long-term strategy to basically redefine a business. What’s your take on that?
Raj: First of all, our focus at this point in time is largely in the U.S., and some markets in Europe — particularly in the UK. When it comes to CPQ, it’s a hot area for multiple reasons. It is the next level of maturity that people want to get to. And how you embed differentiation, how you embed maturity, how you’ve interacted with your target segments, how you integrate sales, and how you make it easier, simpler and faster are all key.
So, I think when we look at this, we actually have developed a fairly mature situation fluency template. You always want to start with design thinking, of course, to reflect the journeys you know. And take that approach to define what outcomes we are solving for. Right now, there is a tremendous amount of demand for this. In Canada, we’re seeing strong interest. It took me by surprise that a growth platform, you have something that actually is hyper-growth.
Louis: Is MuleSoft a revenue force multiplier on the front office right now? And would you venture to define how big of a force multiplier it is in terms of revenue growth?
Raj: Mulesoft is huge, actually. Consider the role of a traditional bank in the context of digital banking. For example, API application on product ideation is the only way they actually can now cater to new markets and new services at a rapid pace. Without MuleSoft, it does not happen. When you’re using your existing properties and investments, you are exposing them yet also need to keep them secure.
Another example is a 3PL logistics company trying to interact with not one or two, but thousands of suppliers and transporters — and how to interact with them at lightning speed. You can help the company and partner with them to go from zero to $5 billion in revenue in six years. You can’t do that without being a software company or without actually using API.
Louis: When you look at the overall context of integration on the front office, with the technologies that you’ve called the four superpowers, the cloud, mobile, AI, and IoT, how do you delineate when to use which technology with which customer, and how do you interpret their customer pains and challenges into the most appropriate technology to use?
Raj: That’s a great question, again. We don’t want to start with technology and say, “Yes, this is what we should do.” We always start with the business problem where it impacts us all, never make it about technology first. Brillio has deep capabilities in technology consulting, so we actually take an approach of, “what problem are we trying to solve?” Then we assess that problem. From there, we think about the art of what is possible.
For example, we work with one of the largest automotive companies in the U.S. They came to Brillio and said, “We want to deploy these experiential technologies in our dealerships.” A natural first reaction would be, “Okay, let’s develop your dealer management system. Let’s develop video screens that can be used in your dealership as a sales guide.” But that’s not what you really want to solve for. If you really want to change the experience for customers as they walk into the dealership, you want to equip not only your customers with more information, but also think about how easy it is to access. Think about your sales force and how you want to enable them. Is self-service an option? How can we help improve their interactions with customers, etc.
Thinking about these issues and asking these questions allows you to prioritize them. From there, you might say, “I thought I needed to start with a great app, but I actually need to think more about investing in a machine learning-based understanding of my customers.”
We always start with the issues that we need to solve. That guides our decisions on what technologies we need to use.
Often times, some combination of the four superpowers comes into play. Cloud is everywhere; everything you do has to be rendered on mobile; Data is the underpinning of everything; and IoT, still in its early adoption phase, has become a matter of instrumentation. So, some industries may need more instrumentation than others.
Louis: It’s fascinating how your business model can take AI and machine learning, apply it to these customer experience problems that, in turn, translate into strong financial outcomes for your clients. And how do you take ownership of the financial outcomes of what you do for clients? Because we’ve talked about EBITDA before, but how do you go into an engagement. In a services business, it’s a challenge because you’ve got to be able to commit that you’re going to deliver results and meet or exceed those results, to have a strong client relationship. So how do you do that? How do you manage those expectations of what you’re going to deliver at a financial level for what you’re doing with the customer experience level?
Raj: That’s a very complex question, frankly. When customers buy solutions from us, sometimes we’re solving a phone solution, and sometimes we are solving a very profound issue for them.
Then there is also a mix of customers. Brillio works with over 25 of the Fortune 500 companies which is largely our focus, we hone in on a traditional upwards performance in terms of driving growth on the contribution margin issue. Combining our outcome, meaning how we get paid to the performance metrics is not always that easy because of factors that drive the performance of various divisions, apart from the work that we do. But in those cases what we do is we will have a smaller part of our fees, for example, attached to the success of that division.
In instances where you are an isolated division of a public company, or a private company, the degrees of freedom that we have in terms of how we engage is growth-centric, not cost-centric. In growth-centric models, we are helping our customers run their front office better with all the new products and services they want to take to markets. In those areas it has been slightly easier for us to couple our success with our customer’s achievements.
Everyone can talk about these four superpowers, but there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of how companies use it to drive real business transformation. Brillio has the market depth and breadth that help us engage with our customers and how we can bring market solutions to bear.
Louis: It sounds like your deployment models bring ownership to your implementation and planning teams at the same level of intensity that a customer will feel it internally. And that becomes indispensable when you go into a conference room for an engagement and you really can’t tell who’s a Brillio person and who’s a client person.
Raj: Absolutely. Customer centricity and their success is our top value, and we are really religious about it.
Louis: Of all the customers you’ve served, and I’m sure you’ve visited quite a few of them, which is the one that you’re most proud of?
Raj: Over the past five years, Brillio has engaged hundreds of companies. We have a lot to be proud of.
In terms of impact, complexity and the change that was required I’m pleased with our work with a leading networking company. This customer wanted to use its expertise in building fiber-based networks that serve a trillion-dollar underserved enterprise market. As a technology company, they needed to reimagine what the world actually would look like with their expertise combined with the four superpowers of technology. And I was very proud when Brillio helped them see that the company could now exist for a different purpose. It’s a boardroom conversation, frankly, that we were able to enable to help them imagine a different business model.
Now, I think the board said, “Look, what you have today combined with the advancement in technology actually can make you relevant for a very large market segment.” And then being able to lead them on this journey and making them successful has been phenomenally gratifying for Brillio. And something, in terms of not only the use of technologies, use of implementation journey, but how profound the impact can be and how we can partner with the customer.
I always use this as a benchmark to say, “Hey, what can we do? How relevant we should be for our customer.”
The second example is a media company. The technology, media and telecom (TMT) world has been converging. Media, has been trying to find ways to drive their consumption.
For example, his media company, as they enter into the real estate market, focused on agents. They needed to grow in the world where Trulia and Zillow were disrupting how consumers take in that information. Brillio partnered with this company and we, if they were spending $100.00 externally, we were consuming $80.00 Even today we do that. The point is, we were their core partner that helped the company to post 25-30% growth over the last four years by pivoting to more consumer centric model, and by just using a very product-centric approach using these four superpowers.
That’s a very profound impact when you’re saying that we are making them relevant.
The last example is one of the world’s leading logistics and supply chain company, which Brillio is the largest partner. What this company has done is they have taken IoT, big data and AI to a degree that not only they use to redefine how warehouses need to be designed, but how power is needs to be consumed, and how labor needs to be brought in and enabled.
You’re talking about 15,000 people at a 70% turnover overall. How do you make a change like that? How do you stop and take a company from a brick and mortar label to a software company during that type of transformation?
At Brillio, over the first five years, I’ve been proud and fortunate to be part of our customers’ journeys, and experience the profound impact of these four superpowers of technology.
I look forward to the next five years and beyond.