Yes, we are kicking off 2020 with a Bee Gees reference! It’s a relevant reference because in today’s podcast we talk to Clarissa from Hoppinger about the organisations use of OKRs and how they keep their business aligned when managing multiple projects and multiple clients.
Lawrence: Hey, Good Morning everybody and welcome back to Giant Talk, the world’s first OKR podcast. Hope you’re well? This week I’m delighted to be joined by Clarissa from Hoppinger based in Rotterdam. Clarissa, thanks for joining us.
Clarissa: Thank you for having me and I’m very happy to be part of the podcast.
Lawrence: Fantastic, so really excited to have you on board because you guys have had a really interesting approach at Hoppinger to OKRs and agile and waterfall techniques and all those different things, but we’ll get on to those a little bit later. Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself Clarissa.
Clarissa: Yes sure, I’m Brazilian but I’ve lived in the Netherlands for 7 years now, and for two years I’ve been working at Hoppinger with operations also bit of strategy and design. My background is in engineering, so I’m a telecoms engineer but I always worked with applying technology to business – so it’s my cup of tea.
Lawrence: Interesting, so you you’ve moved out of engineering into an operations frame of mind now?
Clarissa: Yes – I did
Lawrence: Ok, so where you working in telecom engineering in Brazil or was that also in the Netherlands?
Clarissa: No, actually since the start I was working in banking with wealth management and fund investments, but I do miss technology when I was working in banking. Then I moved to start-ups and setting up other companies all related to technology applied to business. Since 2011 I have been working with internet applications.
Lawrence: Ok, and how does that differ from your previous role, what are the big things that you’ve noticed?
Clarissa: Oh, I think that the main difference is the contact with the customer. The fact that you have an interface. With banking there is a system of trust around banks and financial markets. But when we go to into internet applications your interface becomes your product, and that means that you’re taking into account the feelings and emotions of your client when they are visiting your website. It doesn’t matter how strong your engine is or how good it can perform if the client doesn’t perceive that performance in the interface. So it is very tricky to reach operational excellence in web applications, because you need a balance between design and engineering and even though something you really believe in the technology is right, it cannot perform because you just don’t have enough users for your product. So, you have to be always looking for that balance and that wasn’t the case in finance.
Lawrence: That’s really interesting, that’s something I’ve never thought about to be honest.
Clarissa: It was also new for me at the beginning, but now I’m quite used to it and it’s exciting.
Lawrence: Yeah, sure. I mean that is a whole new challenge. Wow! So, you work for Hoppinger, and what is it that they do?
Clarissa: Well, we work with digital transformation. So, we are our client’s digital transformation partner. That means that we are one of the vendors guys look for when they are going through their digital journey. Digital transformation is a process that companies undergo when they realise, they have too much offline process and they want to go more online, either for scaling their business or for being closer to their customers. There are many reasons why companies choose to digitise, and when they do so they have to look for several partners because digitisation is not only building a website or software or getting a new back-end solution, it’s also the change in the business model, because you start talking to different clients and different generations of clients and it is really difficult for one vendor to provide all these services, so usually a company has to build a network of suppliers that will help in different parts of the journey.
Lawrence: I see, and is that what you guys do then? You provide that network?
Clarissa: No, we are one of the suppliers for the interaction between our client and their client. So, if you think in a very simplified way about a digital presence you are talking about three layers, you are talking about what we call a back-end layer, and that’s like the hardcore systems that you use such as CRM systems or product management systems. You have the central engine and you have the front-end landscape and that’s the interface with your client, and the central engine is basically making the connections between your product database, your customer database and the profile of your clients coming to your digital interface. We do mostly the middle to the front-end, so we don’t go into the software and systems that companies use within their organisations. We stay in the interface with their customers and we go a bit into the middle because for us it is very important to make a proper connection between the interface and the back-end systems. So, that’s what we do. We usually work with other partners; we don’t work alone.
Lawrence: Sure, so what’s the biggest challenge then in the digital transformation process that you find most clients have.
Clarissa: Most clients want to provide their own clients with a customised experience and a very personalised experience, that’s the entire appeal of going digital, right? That you can have the data of your visitors on the spot and you can adapt your customer experience. On the other hand, the back-end systems are pretty much out of the shelf, so it’s not that you can just go to IBM or to Microsoft or Oracle and tell them that you want a very customised software for your company. You can even do that, but you have to be very big to do so, because most of these systems work in a certain way. It is proven already that it is better to take a standard approach. So, it is a bit of a contradiction that you have a very standard system in your back-end managing your product or CRM to use that data in a very customised way to give your customer the best experience for his or her needs. So, for us because we work in the interface side. that ends up being the most difficult part because we have to really find new ways of connecting what we do with these other systems and give the clients that feeling that they are getting something for themselves – a very tailored solution.
Lawrence: Ok, great, how long has Hoppinger been going as a business?
Clarissa: Hoppinger is 17 years old, so we have been in the market for 17 years. We started as a website development company in the early days when websites didn’t even have a CMS system behind it. We saw the whole process of having WordPress and other solutions to the point we are at now, we don’t need a CMS because we can access data online, because we have better data processing solutions nowadays. So, we migrated from building websites to really creating digital experiences in this 17 years. We are 85 people now and every two years we grow. I think in the past 10 years, every two or three years we have doubled.
Lawrence: Wow, ok! So, a lot of growth then, that’s really interesting.
Clarissa: Yes, it shows also the trend in the industry.
Lawrence: Absolutely! So, what’s your role within the organisation then Clarissa.
Clarissa: I’m Chief of Operations. I joined Hoppinger to spin off another company. The partners had a business idea…..
An interesting first 10 minutes from this week’s Giant Talk – the world’s first okr podcast. Listen to the rest of the conversation here and subscribe for weekly episodes from some of our most admired and revered business leaders.