“The way customers are related to companies has changed” 

INTERVIEW AT LA RAZÓN:  IGNACIO BARAHONA, Founding Partner y Head of Customer 360 & Data Value (28/06/2020)

Trillions of data traverse the net every day. Data that would be irrelevant if someone did not analyse and shape them. This is a job for Innova-tsn, a leading company in the application of Analytics and the design of customised solutions. COVID burst out amid their American expansion, but, far from ruining it, they managed to continue growing. Ignacio Barahona, one of the three founding partners and Head of Customer 360 & Data Value tells us more.   

How has Innova-tsn lived through these past months?

Precisely one month ago, we turned sixteen. We started in 2004 with the idea of doing things in a certain way, perhaps with a somewhat different way of understanding the company, but with very clear ideas. 

We always had a positive evolution until the 2008 crisis. At that moment we decided to continue being faithful to our principles and that meant to get over that crisis banking on our team, keeping it intact because it is the Company’s main asset.

With the present health crisis, although it burst out at the beginning of our American expansion with the offices in Colombia and Mexico, we have done the same, but with a difference: since it has been a health crisis, the only priority has not been to keep our team intact, but we had another one, to put the health of our more than 280 employees and their families at the forefront, because, regardless of growth, people are the most important thing.

 

How is it achieved?

Before the state of alarm was declared, we were already considering the possibility of having to work from home. So we anticipated the technical tests necessary to make sure we could take it on while minimising the impact on our services’ quality. We had to ensure our employees had the adequate means to work, but also that the relationship with our customers was not affected.

 

And how was that relationship with our customers during lockdown?

We are very used to work remotely with some of them, with video calls and remote meetings. Take into account that we have offices in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Bogotá and Mexico City and that some areas of the Company are cross-cutting with employees working for the whole group, so we are used to remote work, to defend a proposal or present a solution from one side of the screen. But it is also true that closeness is important for certain services or projects.   

In our job, it is important to know the customer, understand their difficulties, anticipate their needs, collaborate with them in the search for the most appropriate solutions and many times, this is easier if you sit in the desk next to them. 


“Our knowledge and command of the latest trends techonologies make us a referenc and innovation leaders”.


How are you preparing the return to the office?

First, making sure all rules and recommendations given are fulfilled. We are working on a protocol for this “new normal” to make sure it is safe to go back. We are very excited about it, but we will not rush until we know it is completely safe. We will continue making progress towards this return but always on the safe side.

Let’s get to the substance: you are Head of Customer 360 and Data Value… For those outside the industry?

Yes, of course. At Innova-tsn, we started by designing and implementing business intelligent solutions and we have become a leading company in the application of Advanced Analytics and the design of personalised solutions adapted to our customers’ needs. For this purpose, we work very closely with our partners to build end-to-end solutions. Our strong command of the latest trends and our knowledge of their technologies make us a reference and innovation leaders.

At Innova-tsn we have four cross-cutting areas: Advance Analytics & Big Data, Solutions Architecture, Data Value and Customer 360. I am in charge of the latter two.

I see…

In the cross-cutting areas we combine functional and technical knowledge, we manage the employees’ qualifications with regard to certain practices, but especially, the main aim is business development: we manage the opportunities with regard to these practices and try to create new opportunities.  

In the Data Value area, we include the solutions that have to do with extracting all the value from data. From their quality and enrichment to their exploitation in a dashboard, with emphasis on data governance and democratisation, sometimes supported by virtualisation.

And as for the Customer 360 area, it includes solutions geared towards placing the customer at the core of all the companies’ decisions. It is clear the way customers are related to companies has changed.

Due to COVID19?

Exactly. It was already changing, but COVID has sped up this change. Digital channels are more valuable than before. Companies that are not well positioned digitally have to position and those that already were will have to make an effort in order to make the difference because all the others are coming. 

Personalisation in the relationship with the customer is more important than ever before. Capturing leads and converting them into customers will be harder. A new model of customer relationship management will be necessary and it has to be based on a data-driven strategy, be able to integrate all the company’s channels and systems, support customised recommendations in real time and, of course, be automated.  

How do you assess these 16 years and how do you see the future?

It is hard to summarise: we have gone through some difficult times, this is not the first crisis we face, but the assessment is very positive. Bear in mind that we are a teenager and, as such, we have grown so far, we have learned a lot, but we still have to grow. Actually, few months ago, we started our expansion to Colombia and Mexico, as we did some years ago in the UK. We have grown even during these months when we have not only banked on keeping our team, but we have increased it.

And, like the teenager we are, we keep our “childhood friends.” There are customers we work with since the beginning, almost half of the IBEX35 companies, among them, but we are getting new customers like a teenager making new friends at secondary school or university.

And I also see Innova-tsn’s future that way: hard times will come, but new opportunities will arise and we will try to make the most of them. With enthusiasm, very willing to continue growing and learning and doing things as we have done so far, but always improving, always innovating.

[This interview appeared in La Razón’s Sunday Supplement, June 28, 2020].