Teradata has undergone a transformation of its own, with a new focus on solving business problems
A lot of the talk at Teradata Universe 2017 this week has been about how the company has transformed itself into becoming a more open, customer-centric and business outcome-focused organisation.
Following a period of “stagnation”, CEO Victor Lund claims the company has ‘got its swagger back’ after a series of cultural and operational changes over the last 12 months that have re-vitalised the data services firm.
The transformation started nearly a year ago when Lund first came on as CEO. He noted that Teradata had “lost track” of the fact that the focus needs to be on delivering what the customers want, in the way that they want it.
So, everything the company does now is geared towards solving business problems and delivering business outcomes. Essentially, this involves asking businesses what questions they want answered and then deploying tools and services in line with that, rather than simply shoving technology down their throats.
“Teradata, many years ago, was totally business focused,” explained Peter Mikkelsen, EVP of Teradata’s international business. “We probably lost our way a little bit in becoming too IT focused in the 90s and the 2000s and I think we’re coming back to our roots by being more business focused.
“Nowadays, with big data being on the agenda of every single leadership team, the projects are in the business. This is hard stuff to deal with for our customers and we need to help them get business value, not just provide the best technology.”
Lund emphasised this point, saying: “I would say the big change in technology has been that people are talking about outcomes and business answers as opposed to bits and bytes and how much data we have. People are really more interested in what they can do with technology as opposed to the technology itself.
“There are a lot of nuts and bolts that have to happen and it’s important for us to help our customers understand that.”
A big part of this new strategy will involve consulting, all based around helping customers define the right solutions for their specific goals and deliver the outcomes they expect.
Lund wants the company to take a hands-on approach in this regard and work closely with customers throughout their journeys: “We don’t want to be someone who walks in, does a consulting engagement, hands them something, says ‘here make it work’ and then leaves.”
In Teradata language, these efforts will come in the form of Rapid Analytic Consulting Engagements (RACE), which involve going into businesses and experimenting with data to help drive, you guessed it, business outcomes.
The big question of course is has this new strategy had a positive effect?
When it comes to the employees, the question appears to be yes. “On the people side, we had a couple of years that were not bad but not great by Teradata standards,” Lund said, “and I think we’ve managed to re-energise our folks and get them excited. Or as I like to say to them, put the swagger back in their step.”
Mikkelsen agreed, saying that: “There is a lot more engagement from our own folks because they can see this actually works with customers.”
As for the future, Teradata isn’t ready to rest on its laurels. The company will continue to embrace technologies such as cloud and Hadoop like it never has before, is doubling down its machine learning efforts and has set itself the goal of becoming a “trusted adviser and partner” to its customers.
“The world’s changing forever and it’s changing at lightening speed,” Lund said. “It’s incumbent on us to make sure we have enough of the smart people around to think about not just today’s trends but tomorrow’s trends.”