For years, companies have used manual processes and spreadsheets to develop pricing for their products and services, with no real methodology or strategy. And it still happens as I am writing this post!
However, today’s landscape has changed. With PROS Step, companies can now upload their data into a secure cloud application on the Microsoft Azure platform. With its data science and segmentation, pricing managers and sales execs can become the heroes that help their companies identify in a matter of minutes where they have the greatest opportunities to sell their products, and at the prices that are most likely to win.
As I wanted to know more about this great new technology powered by cloud computing, I sat down with Oscar Moreno, Senior Vice President Products of PROS. I asked Oscar about this new game-changer SaaS solution and here is the outcome of the conversation.
CF: Tell us about PROS.
OM: PROS is a big data software company. We develop big data applications using data science, with predictive and prescriptive analytics, that help sales teams identify the best opportunities for meeting their sales quotas and enabling their companies to outperform in the markets they serve. One of the biggest worries of today’s CEO is the ability to grow their businesses, according to the 16th annual global CEO survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s where PROS comes into play. Our solutions help sales teams sell more confidently by identifying precisely where they have the best opportunities to win, with the right products and prices that help their companies outperform.
Our six-year relationship with Microsoft is strong. We’ve successfully worked together with numerous customers, including Navistar, McKesson, Novozymes and 3663, a UK food service provider, to jointly sell our products and services. The collaboration has reaped benefits for our company, Microsoft and our respective customers. We’re also proud to say that Microsoft just this spring named PROS its 2013 Partner of the Year for Application Development, which is one of our proudest accolades.
CF: So you’ve just introduced Step. Where does this new cloud-based solution fit in your product portfolio?
OM: Step is a next-generation solution, with characteristics that offer immediate benefits to companies of all sizes. Our big data applications have been developed for large enterprises, with scientific analytics, rebate management, and sales and deal optimization. In the last 18 months, we’ve begun to see interest from mid-market companies, which is why Step is important. In B2B selling, there’s big price variability across all organizations, not just large enterprises. As a cloud-based solution, built on the Microsoft Azure platform, it’s easy for organizations to download their data in just minutes and automatically apply the power of data science. Sales teams sell more confidently, and know where to tailor pricing and selling strategies for each customer’s buying preferences.
CF: Step is a new market for PROS. Tell us about how you developed this new product.
OM: Innovation is our lifeblood at PROS, and Step was actually developed by one of our innovation cells. An innovation cell is a team of up to five individuals. Teams and individuals apply to participate, and work in a collocated and dedicated environment for six weeks. At the end of the six-week period, they present a valid business case, along with working software. In the case of Step, we decided to continue to fund this initiative with subsequent six-week iterations. That’s how Step was born. It helps pricing managers and sales teams in the mid-market identify opportunities and close business against the backdrop of today’s competitive sales landscape. Companies can apply the power of its data science, machine learning and interactive segmentation to improve sales effectiveness. We believe it’s going to make a real difference for B2B companies.
CF: You chose Microsoft Azure as the platform for this solution. Tell us why.
OM: We’ve had a strong relationship with Microsoft, particularly on SQL Server. We were looking for a cloud platform for Step that could scale with both the product and our customers. In our move from AWS, Microsoft offered exceptional technical support as part of our global partnership. Step was built using Java and open-source technologies such as MongoDB. It runs on Windows Azure Cloud Services and also uses several PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) services, such as Windows Azure Storage Queues and SendGrid.
A Microsoft consultant spent a week with us, which made it really easy to overcome technical challenges and also learn about the power of the platform. It was an easy, seamless process. The dedicated support made a difference for our team, and Microsoft Azure offered the best combination of capabilities for our Step customers.
CF: What are your customers and prospects saying about Step?
OM: The reception from customers and prospects has been very encouraging, with a good level of interest. Thus far we’ve heard that they appreciate the simplicity of creating optimized price lists in a matter of minutes in an exercise that formerly took days or even months. With Step, they’ve also uncovered opportunities and insights that weren’t apparent when using manual processes. Customers and prospects have told us that they like that Step is a cloud-based solution, so they aren’t required to work with their IT departments for funds or resources. We’re pleased with our progress thus far.
CF: How would you suggest customers engage with PROS on Step?
OM: We’ve created two videos on our website that show how easy it is to use Step. From the site, customers can test Step for 30 days. By uploading their data on the Azure cloud, they’re able to see value from the data science and segmentation in minutes. We expect that as more companies know they’re able to take advantage of our data science and segmentation, and see the actual results, we’ll see increased adoption.
Conducted and written by Cecile Ferreboeuf, Senior Business Strategist, Developer Platform Evangelist