For a large and customer-focused organization like Hitachi Consulting, the sales pipeline is predictably complex, with constantly fluctuating contract values. Yet clear visibility into this pipeline is critical to success. Before closing a deal, Hitachi Consulting must ensure that resources are properly aligned and consultants with the right skills are in the right place at the right time.
But after undertaking a series of acquisitions, the consulting and digital solutions firm was wrestling with five different CRM systems—including both Oracle Sales Cloud and Salesforce instances—across operations in 25 countries.
“It was incredibly challenging,” says David Sheridan, Hitachi Consulting vice president. “Sometimes, we were not entirely sure if we were going to close $1 million or $100 million in new business.”
“We had to make subjective decisions, but that didn’t always add up to what was actually in the pipeline,” adds Hitachi Consulting’s CIO Chris Buri.
From Coin Toss to 97% Accuracy
In short, the company had to standardize on a single, global sales platform—and as soon as possible. It chose Oracle Sales Cloud, and since the implementation, the improvement has been remarkable.
Hitachi Consulting has achieved 97% accuracy in sales forecasting, even as annual revenues grew nearly tenfold (from $80 million to $740 million) in the wake of its aggressive acquisitions and growth strategy.
“That level of insight helps us win business,” explains Garth Carter, Hitachi Consulting vice president, “but it also means I can work with the COO to plan staffing and resources three to six months down the road.”
With that kind of visibility, Hitachi Consulting can plan and deploy its consultants more effectively. It can ensure the right resources are available to serve its customers. It can drive more profitable engagements. Also, executives can spot larger trends in the kinds of business they win and respond accordingly, from sales to operations.
A Holistic Approach
Forecast accuracy is a simple goal. But you can’t buy a single tool that spits out the right numbers. Hitachi Consulting had to take a holistic approach, encompassing everything from the user interface to seamless upgrades. So leaders from sales, operations, finance, and IT joined together to define requirements for a truly modern sales platform, which included:
- Consumer-grade UI. “You get tired of constantly harping on sales people about data hygiene,” says Carter. To encourage compliance, he wanted a UI that was both compelling and intuitive.
- Advanced mobile capabilities. Advanced mobile capabilities were also non-negotiable. “In our business, we can’t wait until salespeople get back to their desks or laptops to update their activities,” says Carter.
- Advanced (but user-friendly) analytics. To drive both sales and forecast accuracy, Carter wanted to slice and dice sales in all kinds of ways. But he didn’t want to lose red-hot opportunities waiting for IT to build a report.
- Cloud solution with minimal third-party add-ons. To ensure availability while minimizing the burden to his own team, cloud was the obvious choice for CIO Buri. But he also wanted a complete solution that didn’t require third-party add-ons that increase risk at every patch and upgrade.
- Price transparency. Buri didn’t want surprise overage fees. “I need to give a predictable number to the CFO, now and into the future,” says Buri.
- R&D for the digital future. Hitachi must evolve its business at a breakneck pace. After all, they help customers drive digital transformation. The entire team wanted a software partner that keeps pace by investing heavily in research and development.
Salesforce or Oracle Sales Cloud?
While Salesforce and Oracle were neck-and-neck in key respects, the Hitachi Consulting leadership believes Oracle really stood out for a number of reasons:
- Powerful self-service reporting and analytics
- IT simplicity
- Transparent pricing
- Commitment to R&D
As vice president of sales, Carter was won over by Oracle’s advanced analytics—but just as important, by the ease with which he could create his own custom reports.
“I used to depend on IT staff to create reports,” says Carter. “I would literally sketch something on paper, and the process would take two or three iterations. With Oracle, a 15-minute intro course was enough for me to learn how to build my own custom reports.”
Buri notes that Oracle may have been late to the cloud game, but years of investment have changed the equation. Every new Oracle release brings significant improvements, according to Buri, including a robust set of features and functionalities that do not require the cost and risk of integrating third-party solutions.
“At the end of the day, we are able to slice and dice sales information much more effectively with Oracle,” concludes Carter. “And that’s making us much smarter about what opportunities we should pursue.”
Learn more about Oracle Sales Cloud
Robert Landon is a New York-based writer.