Starting one pilot at a time
Getting started on cognitive business initiatives can seem just as daunting as trying to figure out how to capitalize on any other massive technology shift. But early adopters say it doesn’t have to be overwhelming
and it doesn’t have to be directed by a long-term strategy. Every company’s journey is unique—varying by company size, data strategy, products and services used. Cognitive adoption can be organic and evolve
as companies experiment and start seeing benefits from their initial efforts.
While cognitive projects can have a transformational goal—looking across the enterprise and across broad business needs—many companies take a more focused, tactical approach.
Pon Holdings is a Dutch transportation conglomerate with 70 subsidiaries specializing in commercial and consumer automotive equipment. Pon takes a centralized approach to business intelligence, serving all its
companies through an incubator that vets and provides the latest capabilities to any of its companies that need it. While the company had access to a lot of data, it wanted to better understand its market
share and ensure that all potential sales opportunities were being targeted.
Even with advanced analytics already in place, Pon selected its division that includes Caterpillar equipment as a prime candidate to roll out a cognitive solution to improve lead generation. By mining unstructured
web data for product pricing, equipment purchase records and market trends, Pon was able to gather solid lead prospects and also fine-tune pricing to optimize revenue. Based on the success of the first cognitive
application, Pon is now rolling out additional marketing use cases across its other companies.
The cognitive solution used by Pon was implemented by Jibes Software. Paul Van Der Hulst, Founder & Director at Jibes, stresses that while companies frequently start with a single cognitive product for a particular
use case, the cognitive project still needs to be integrated with company-wide data, processes, and systems to be effective. According to Hulst, even a pilot for a specific business need like lead generation
has to be connected to the organization’s nervous system to be fully functional and to yield optimal results. In this case, it may connect to customer relationship management systems, marketing dashboards,
procurement and supply chain management processes. Integrating pilots and starter engagements also makes the next cognitive application or phase more seamless.
“A lot of companies are over analyzing what they should be doing. And that means that they want to exclude all risk. It doesn’t work that way. Better to start small with a good idea and from there scale out
and scale up. There is no universal template for success, but focus and persistence are a proven formula,” said Hulst.
In additional to impacting the bottom line with leads and revenue, driving customer acquisition through cognitive insights has also changed the strategic conversation at Pon Holdings because of the visibility
and intelligence that marketing and sales teams now have about their prospects and customers. Hulst explained, “There’s a better and fact-based strategic dialogue about customers. It’s more event driven
and we are able to make better informed decisions. It’s really a 180 degrees reversed sales approach, focused on monitoring the market and acting on classified events rather than taking a historical view
or assumptions and extrapolation.”
A lot of companies are over analyzing what they should be doing. And that means that they want to exclude all risk. It doesn’t work that way. Better to start small with a good idea and from there scale out and scale up.
- Paul Van Der Hulst, Founder & Director, Jibes