This is a guest post by Outi Tuohimetsä, Director of Services at Cloudia.
Autonomous technologies might be the new business enabler, but there’s still no such thing as an autonomous company. Companies are made up of people.
Our digital procurement and contract services are automated but they’re being used by people. It’s people who deliver the benefits; and people who have to overcome the challenges of digitalization and doing things differently. That’s why we put so much effort into user experience in the design phase and into personalising our relationships when it comes to sales and customer service.
Knowing your customers isn’t just a buzz phrase for us. It’s actually a core differentiator. If you think about it, any digital service can be copied in today’s world, so where does future competitive advantage come from? It comes from the business of people to people – who we are and how we work as people.
Taking it personally
Our solutions are simple and hosted in the cloud, so virtually anyone with a device and an Internet connection can operate them. That means, at a sales pitch or customer visit, my team and I might find ourselves at the table with anyone from any background. Even though most people are Finnish speakers, depending on their organisational role, it’s often as if they have their own separate languages and all the jargon to go with it. Lawyers speak the language of risk management; accountants talk budgets and monetary savings; middle managers speak benefits and advantages; and programme specialists want technical talk about how things work. The bottom line is that to be successful, we need to be fluent in all of these.
Then when it comes to providing services, these people also have widely disparate needs. Our private and public sector clients come from different business areas across Europe, with more than 210 000 people using our services. In the city of Helsinki alone, there are tens of thousands of contracts in circulation. These can be anything from large-scale development projects, or healthcare and education contracts, all the way to the smallest procurement orders for office paperclips and coffee, even a contract to buy a Christmas tree.
Cartwheels in the hallway
Automated procurement and contract services can bring extraordinary gains for organisations and the people delivering them. We recently tailored a digital procurement assessment tool for one public sector client and the results were astounding. The person in charge managed to cut 14 days off the existing manual process. You could see these results purely from an empirical point of view – measuring the economic efficiency gains and the ability to maximise time for other tasks. But what about the human factor in the equation? Our clients are people who want to do their jobs well. Our client was doing the mental equivalent of cartwheels in the hallway! Becoming liberated from tedious, repetitive paper work and data input was a breath of fresh air for this person, who reported a new feeling of freedom combined with a sense of optimism linked to better productivity.
Our goal is to keep talking to our customers. And as the largest market place in Europe, we have a wide customer feedback loop. We’re also getting better at hearing from them about what they want and why. Earlier this year, some of our customers asked for data analytics services, something Cloudia doesn’t have in-house. We quickly set out in search of the right partner.
Finding Sievo – small but with a big heart
We checked out Sievo online and liked what we saw. They are small but with a big customer line-up and strong references. Their website KPIs and content demonstrated a good track record. We could also check the box on sense of humour and office spirit from their real-time demographics, including 85K cups of coffee consumed already in 2018. On top of that, we are both agile, non-hierarchical organisations, which can be characterised by quick decision-making. So after only two weeks of speed dating, we were already drawing up our marriage contract.
Some say that emotion and business don’t mix but all businesses are made up of people and feelings are part of the human experience. The Sievo partnership is working well for us. They’re filling our client needs with high-quality services. But it’s more than that. We like spending time with those Sievo guys – I’m even here writing a guest blog for their site. It’s a good reminder that business is more than just making buck, it’s about being with people – our clients and partners.
About the Guest Writer
Outi Tuohimetsä has served as a Director, Services at Cloudia since October 2013.
Outi has a long and diverse background in IT industry. Previously, she has worked as a Director, Services at CGI Finland in 2007 - 2013, being responsible for the management and development of financial and reporting services for public sector customers. Prior to IT industry, she has made a remarkable career in telecommunications with various mobile phone operators between 1995 and 2007. She has been responsible for the operational management and development of order- delivery and invoicing processes.
Outi's extensive experience and a holistic view of the client account architecture, as well as the customer-focused approach to business has contributed to the successes throughout her career.
For more information, see https://cloudia.com