January 23, 2020 | Larry Goldman | Senior Director, Product Marketing
Bob Harland, Senior Vice President of Global Support Services at Spinnaker Support, is integral to the ongoing success of Spinnaker Support customers. In 2019, Bob’s diverse and talented team delivered a unique blend of services that resulted in high customer satisfaction and ensured retention rates that helped drive record business growth for Spinnaker Support. His team expanded by 41%, with new support and technology engineers added in all nine Spinnaker Support operations centers. In 2018, Bob was honored with the prestigious gold Customer Service Executive of the Year Stevie Award.
I recently stopped by Bob’s office for his perspective on the company and the market in 2020.
First, for those who may not know you, what’s your business background?
I’ve been in enterprise technology for 25 years, primarily involved with tier-one ERP package (Oracle, SAP, JDE, PeopleSoft) implementation and support. I’ve worked with a range of companies from small startups to global fortune 100 companies. I love building high-performing global practices that consistently exceed customer expectations.
Tell us about your role at Spinnaker Support.
I am currently responsible for all of Spinnaker Support’s service delivery, including maintenance and managed services for Oracle, JDE, and SAP. I am ultimately responsible for Spinnaker Support’s customer satisfaction, revenue retention, and the profitability of each of our practices. I am also responsible for Global Tax and Regulatory Compliance (GTRC) and Customer Success. I manage all our SAP and Oracle global delivery teams, including the GTRC and Customer Success teams.
Looking back, how have things changed at Spinnaker Support since you arrived?
When I started five years ago, third-party software support was a service area that attracted companies either in troubled sectors like manufacturing, semi-conductors, and oil and gas, or companies that had to find and execute expense reduction strategies. Today, third-party support is viewed as a viable service option that every company should consider for their IT strategy.
Now layer in Spinnaker Support’s ability to deliver industry-leading maintenance services, managed services, and consulting, and we are positioned very well to drive tremendous value for our customers in 2020 and beyond. We’re excited about our growing partnership with IBM and the large enterprises they’re bringing to the table.
What achievement makes you most proud?
I am most proud of the work we’ve completed related to building the Oracle services practice during my time at Spinnaker Support. Our Oracle practice has become the growth engine for the company. In addition, I am highly motivated to keep our JDE and SAP practices growing in a positive manner. I am also very excited about two new service areas that we will be launching and building in 2020.
Where is the support market going in 2020? What should enterprises expect to see?
I see three trends. First, according to Gartner, the marketplace is in flux. So, whether companies are using Oracle or SAP, I expect they still won’t be embracing the cloud products in 2020. This could be because the cloud products are not yet able to replace fully functioning, customized on-premise ERP solutions or because they’re simply not available yet. Companies I speak with are holding back, and CIOs are looking for proof points that a top-to-bottom cloud replacement is going to meet their needs.
Second, more companies paying the extremely expensive price of Oracle or SAP support are taking third-party support to heart. These companies are considering third-party support to see if this business strategy is for them in the near-term or mid-term. Executives tell me they are looking to “sit and stay,” either by moving to the latest application version or by staying on their existing release, foregoing the expensive upgrade and waiting to see what happens. I fully support either strategy. Incidentally, we do support companies with “lift and shift” projects, helping them during and after they move their infrastructure and platforms to the cloud.
Finally, I see enterprises moving towards service consolidation. More companies are coming to us requesting a mix of third-party support and managed services (application and technical). While there are hundreds of managed service companies out there with talent, none offer the full complement of services and teams that we have. When one of our customers hits an issue they can’t resolve, we can draw on our Level 2 or 3 managed services team or our Level 4 maintenance team – or both. No other managed services provider in the marketplace can deliver that expertise.
What advice would you give an organization that is considering third-party support?
Reach out to us and let us work through our process to see if third-party support is a fit for your Oracle or SAP footprint. We recognize that it’s not a fit for everyone. We don’t require much prework to propose a service, but you should know your license estate as well as pull a history of the support requests you’ve logged with the vendor. From there, we can help you with the strategy of how to approach third-party support for the scope of products you own.
So many people doubt that what we do it even possible. They’re surprised at how high our customer satisfaction is and what we can do for companies. Because they come with skepticism, I always recommend that they talk with our references. The “aha moment” comes in those conversations with customers who, day in and out for years, are getting the support they need for the savings we report as possible.