Q&A With Eric Solem | ‘Technology is a journey without a destination’
Name: Eric Solem
Role: Head of Business Applications & Commerical
Time at PTI: January 2019 to present
Eric Solem | Commercial Director and Head of Business Applications at PTI Consulting
A seasoned entrepreneur and business leader with 20 years’ experience working in technology integrating systems, creating innovation and leading people and products for continuous improvement in operations, quality and performance. Eric had worked throughout Europe and combines insightful business relationship skills with unique concepts and clear execution.
We sat down with Eric Solem and discussed how his previous experience is now helping him deliver value for the PTI client base.
What’s your role at PTI and your typical engagement with clients?
I look after two areas. Primarily I lead the drive around helping clients select the optimal applications and business systems. My background is working on CRM and ticketing projects and I help clients fully understand what’s going on across the marketplace for applications that help improve efficiency in operations. We meet with many vendors to understand their solutions, but as one of PTI core values is to remain vendor agnostic, we don’t represent anyone, nor are resellers of any specific technology. We make ourselves aware of best in class solutions in the market so that we can deliver those considerations to our clients.
The second part is around leading the commercial engagement with new clients. I’ll look to attend industry conferences to meet new people and network to help increase the PTI profile and bring in new business.
What can a club typically expect from us to help them to utilise their technology budget and show a quick return on across their initial investment?
Consultancy is a such a wide-ranging topic and what we’ve done at PTI is to productise our ability to bring value to customers with knowledge products. We have a diverse set of products that we’ve developed which help focus on different areas that we see clubs and venues needing help with. All of us at PTI have worked for major sports and entertainment organisations and we understand the unique challenges with technology for rights holders and venues.
We often start with a small project or a light engagement to build trust within the organisation, this typically serves to illustrate one of the key PTI USP’s which is speed of delivery.
After an initial meeting with a prospect we look to create a discovery workshop, which enables us to sit down and talk to the CFO, COO or the CEO. Typically, we tend to hear “I know we need help in this area, but I just don’t know what kind of help we need” or “I have this specific problem that I need to fix, can you help us?”. We often see the same types of problems which are always around misalignment of how technology works in an organisation. It’s not about IT, that’s a part of it, it’s about how technology serves the business as a whole and the execution of a holistic strategy to provide growth. We have a philosophy about how technology should be viewed as a pyramid structure with data sitting on top of applications and then the infrastructure and backhaul to serve those pieces. When in balance things work but often the pyramid is diamonded shaped and therefore miss-alignment and confusion happen.
If the issue is the data at the top of the pyramid, we can look at how data monetisation needs to work across the organization and help extract value out of their data. If the issue is around applications, we will assess whether you need a new App, CRM, etc…and then provide a view on whether the infrastructure needs upgrading to support this. The next layer down in the pyramid is the infrastructure, and PTI have a team of great people who are focused on helping clients with classic IT systems around technology connectivity and cloud services.
What typically happens is that the conversation widens into more of a strategic conversation, so the problem with the application leads to the problem with connectivity. To meet your strategy requires you to look at your approach and compare it to the pyramid model and find out where things are miss-aligned. Clubs tend to have more of a diamond shape to their approach, with too many applications, but not enough infrastructure and not enough connectivity to make them provide the data that is desired. We work with people over time to turn that back into a pyramid in order to achieve a more holistic view of how everything works together. Ultimately the technology strategy is led by the business objectives and decisions are made and measured by commercial growth and operational efficiency.
One of the benefits our clients have told us about engaging with PTI is our ability to help pull together the different departments within the club, to view a holistic picture and help the team build a complete roadmap across technology influenced projects.
One of the exciting things about what we are doing at PTI is working with such a wide range of clients. Sport is funny and functions different that other businesses. You have your season which is all about getting through the next match, game, on-sale period Etc. then you move to your offseason and projects tend get bunched into these really busy periods. Certain projects need to get done during the season to help ensure you keep selling tickets and making sure your hospitality is working as it should. You need to make sure the backend is working and the venue is constantly being managed and keeping the lights on, so during the season it’s sometimes hard to take enough time to stop and think strategically.
As we engage with our clients we try to help them look at a more holistic picture. What is the strategy for the next three years, five years, etc. Does your venue need updating? Are you looking at creating a new venue or stand? How does that fit into all aspects of the business? How do you stay updated with the fan engagement challenges that exist?
One of the things that we do with clients is we set up technology governance committees and we purposely don’t name this IT because we want the Heads of Departments to feel involved. So, whether that’s Catering, Commercial, Ticketing or Finance, all of their projects involve technology, so this committee will help steer those projects to a successful solution. We have helped clubs via the governance committee with RFP’s for applications, hardware roll outs, upgrades to business systems, anything that touches all parts of the business is discussed during these meetings. We know that everyone in the business needs an understanding of how the club is moving forward and get away from siloed thinking.
What is the approach to technology that clubs can adopt today so they can prepare for a bright future?
The one I focus on is my view that ‘Technology is a journey with no destination’. So, some of the questions we ask are around looking at the short–term focus on fixing things today, versus how do you ensure you also look ahead with the decisions and investments that you’re making. We know everyone needs to attract new fans and enhance fan experience and meet ever more demanding fan expectations how does technology assist in that?
Sometimes there’s a lack of understanding as to what technology should achieve and where does it sit against the must, should and could parameters? What Must we do what Should we do and what Could we do….those are interesting conversations that we have with people every day. Future proofing really isn’t achievable, it’s about being future ready.
If you would like to chat about how PTI can help your organisation you can email Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org