Black Diamond

Q&A with Black Diamond CEO, Randy Werder

What does Black Diamond do? 

Black Diamond brings direct insight and visibility to the performance of an organization. We are the largest global advisor of OneStream Software, the world’s leader in Enterprise Performance Management. How advanced a company’s finance and operations reporting capabilities are directly links to overall performance. This is where we focus.

Many articles have been written about the value of “cloud financials” but it comes down to two basic principles. First, we skip all of the layers of inefficiency and bring technology directly to the finance and business unit leaders to let them self serve the information they need. Second, we dramatically increase the financial and operational competency of everyone in the organization.

What’s your vision for changing the way finance is done in today’s digital world? What is Black Diamond’s broader mission?

We are working with many clients on what comes next after digital, and our broader mission is to provide practical examples of next generation analytics and performance signaling. Even after 30 years of technology and innovation investment in finance and accounting there continues to be a large gap in the way processes are actually done. We are “pre-internet” in the way these processes will be executed in the future and everything will change drastically. Today access to information, trends and basic analysis is difficult, but AI and Machine Learning is changing this and leading the way in how we operate. We see a vision in the very near future where almost every core process in finance and accounting will be digital and automated. Where we will be creating applications (similar to the iphone) for purpose built analysis and scenario modeling.

There are a lot of vendors in the Cloud Financial Close and Cloud Financial Planning & Analysis categories, but you’ve gone all in on OneStream. Why?

The origin story of OneStream helps explain our rationale to be 100% committed to this particular company and platform. The founders of OneStream were the original creators of Hyperion Software, which at one point owned 80% of the CPM market. Hyperion transitioned to Oracle through acquisition and basically died a slow death, very little innovation or new capability was introduced. The leaders of OneStream, and all of us who had worked with the technology, knew that Hyperion had been a good start but there was so much more possibility.

OneStream set out to do something that had never been done, bring all of the disparate technologies and capabilities into a single solution and data model including financial reporting, budgeting, analytics, tax, account recs and much more. OneStream was created 100% in the cloud and is now the standard platform for innovation in finance and operational reporting – similar to how Salesforce is seen for customer success..

You are OneStream’s fastest growing global partner and won the 2022 Partner Innovation Award. What makes you such a great partner?

Several of the leaders of Black Diamond have come from the top consulting firms in the industry, and while we all learned a lot, none of them were that great to work for. When Black Diamond was founded we tried very hard to create an environment we would want to work in and be proud of. Our people have a passion for OneStream and for solving client problems, and we try very hard to support this in every way possible. We provide full transparency to all of our employees in our performance, challenges and successes and work to almost do the opposite of everyone else in our industry. We have something special at Black Diamond and we strive to protect it. And most importantly we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Black Diamond works with some of the biggest companies in the world. Why do so many Fortune 500 companies choose a relatively new service provider as their partner for digital finance transformation?

The leaders and team at Black Diamond have been pioneers in the CPM industry and most of us have 15+ years of consulting and corporate experiences leading transformation and innovation. While the firm is relatively new, our experience isn’t. Customers get that and appreciate our focus on the platform they’ve chosen. We founded Black Diamond to be 100% dedicated to OneStream and this focus has allowed us to build an incredible track record of success. We learn something new about OneStream everyday, and our willingness to share our knowledge openly with the OneStream community has also brought us a lot of awareness and recognition for our skills.

You and your Chairman, Carl Yost, started Black Diamond a few months before the pandemic hit. How did that experience shape you and the company?

The resolve we had for Black Diamond and OneStream was unrelenting and we never wavered in our belief that we were building something important. If anything the pandemic gave us more courage to keep moving forward. We doubled down and hired a lot of people at the height of the pandemic, and continued to hire all throughout the shutdown. This growth in a difficult time proved to be foundational in our story and we are grateful to every client and employee who trusted us.

Black Diamond was named by Silicon Review as one of the 50 fastest growing companies in 2022. What do you think is the secret to this kind of growth and how do you sustain it?

We created Black Diamond to be the destination of choice for anyone who wanted to make their career in OneStream. We learn from each other every day and the collaboration that has come through a remote work environment has really helped. In order to sustain the growth, our people must continue to deliver challenging projects to great customers. OneStream was built on 100% customer success and we all live this every day. Our future success is tied directly to the enjoyment we get out of helping each customer on their OneStream journey.

Black Diamond is a tech-enabled services company at its core, and invests quite a bit in products and accelerators that extend the OneStream platform. Why is this such a focus for you and so needed in this space?

The power of OneStream is the power of the platform. There are endless possibilities for value from point specific solutions from ITFM, Strategic Finance or People Planning, to enterprise solutions in Healthcare or Financial Services. The Black Diamond OneStream framework is recognized as one of the most innovative solutions in the market and we have a strong foundation on which to build future products and solutions.

Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you in this journey?

This was an easy decision for Black Diamond. Many of the other investment partners didn’t see the full potential of OneStream and cloud services. The line between service provider and software company is really blurring with the cloud revolution, and Tercera was fully committed to technology and services that would create the most value for customers and employees. The more time we spent with them the more we liked and respected them. One story that solidified our view of Tercera is when our operations manager commented on how much she liked working with them, and how respectful they were to her and everyone else on our team. Let’s just say Tercera is unique in the way the treat and respect everyone and that was very important to us.


Q&A with Orium CEO, Jason Cottrell

What does Orium do?

Orium is a consultancy and systems integrator specializing in composable commerce, customer data, and retail platform engineering. We have over a decade of experience in digital programs— building deep capabilities in composable commerce and MACH architectures- while also perfecting the data-driven skill set needed to design and implement highly personalized customer experience.

The notion of digital commerce is evolving, from website-only, add-to-cart shopping to something more immersive, dynamic, and personalized. Subscription models and purchase-through-anywhere experiences are on the rise and the technology that can best power these new commerce models is also coming into primetime. Today’s brands need modular commerce solutions that can be fit together, adapted, and flexed to fit their specific needs. As the leading composable commerce consultancy we’re at the forefront of this change.

Tell us a little about Orium’s origin story

Orium was founded in 2009, with a small group of passionate people excited to create really great digital experiences. Our strong emphasis on user experience paired with expertise in open source CMS and commerce products emerging at the time quickly earned us an enviable roster.

We’re now roughly 200 team members strong and our business has evolved quite a bit through the years, but at every stage we’ve remained a diverse group of passionate people excited to work on the next generation of digital experiences.

How did you evolve from your original focus on custom digital experiences to composable commerce?

Having worked on more than 100 commerce commissions for many of the world’s most influential brands, we recognized a pattern in those who were succeeding with innovation and scale. The name “composable commerce” had not been applied yet, but the concept of headless and API-first commerce suites was beginning to catch on. And after more than a decade of working with globally recognized brands on complex digital transformation programs, we started to see a market shift towards that pattern: the emergence of truly game-changing tools purpose-built to work together. A composable framework.

We’ve always worked with headless platforms—the flexibility they offer made them the superior option for our clients and the experiences we wanted to create for them—but these new solutions could be mixed-and-matched like never before to create something that was not only flexible, but also endlessly extensible and as customizable as you wanted.

We recognized that to become the premier consultancy for composable commerce, it had to be our entire focus. Working with these modern architectures is quite different from more traditional vendors like Oracle, SAP, Adobe, Salesforce, or even Shopify. We had dabbled for years, but to truly master this we needed to go all-in. We made the decision to commit entirely to composable commerce in late 2019 and haven’t looked back.

Why do you believe composable is the future of commerce? What are some of the benefits of this approach over traditional, monolithic platforms?

For most of the history of commerce, retailers were operating exclusively in-person. Then the dotcom boom hit, and retailers had both the in-person and online experiences to manage, but even the most progressive retailers were still only dealing with two kinds of purchasing experiences. Over the past decade, however, the entire landscape of commerce has changed, and any brand with any degree of complexity is being challenged to keep pace with market demand. We truly believe composable commerce best supports the new models for commerce that define retail today.

Composable commerce gives brands a level of flexibility and adaptability—ultimately, a level of control—that traditional monolithic platforms don’t offer. To meet the growing demand for shop anywhere, through any channel, at any time experiences, brands need to be able to meet their customers where they are. And they need to be able to do it without months or years of development time, with the vendors and solutions that actually make sense for them— not the ones they’re locked into because of their pre-existing platform and its constraints.

To support the complexity of “multi”— multiple channels, brands, languages, geographies, currencies, business models and more—composable is really the only viable option. New models require new tooling.

What cloud did for computing, composable is doing for commerce. It’s a natural evolution that has happened in many markets (look at Twilio for communications, or Stripe for payments). The shift to composable is the shift from Saas to Paas.

Orium was one of the first integrators in the MACH (microservice, API-first, cloud-native, headless) Alliance. What role do you think an organization like this plays?

Make no mistake: composable commerce is a paradigm shift. It’s completely refiguring the existing models into something new, something greater than before. For that kind of shift to occur takes not just one or two vendors, but an entire ecosystem built around the new paradigm. Once that’s in place, you can drive down the costs, reduce the risks, and speed time to market for brands ready to make the change. The MACH Alliance plays an essential role in encouraging this ecosystem, and we recognized that very early on.

As soon as the MACH Alliance was announced we knew we wanted to be a member. We’ve been building headless solutions since our founding. We like to say we adopted the ethos of MACH before the “MACH” nomenclature even existed, so we were keen to align ourselves with an organizing body that matched our way of thinking and could advance the space.

One of your customers, Harry Rosen, won the 2022 MACH Award for Best Retail Project. What can they do now with a best-of-breed composable architecture that they couldn’t do before?

We were delighted when Harry Rosen won Best Retail, but I must admit we weren’t overly surprised, because it is a perfect example of everything a composable commerce framework can enable. The Harry Rosen brand is built on an exceptional customer experience, and for the majority of their 65+ year history, that experience revolved around in-person interactions between their advisors and customers. Rejigging that model to suit modern needs without losing the highly personal experiences they were known for was a significant undertaking and didn’t come without risks, but current President & COO Ian Rosen knew iterative changes weren’t going to be enough to meet the high bar of their in-person experiences.

We started working with them on their digital transformation in 2018, moving them from their existing SAP Hybris monolith architecture to a composable architecture of custom selected solutions vendors. Our focus was on ensuring the Harry Rosen team had the flexibility needed to adapt to an ever-changing retail landscape and working diligently and steadily on their roadmap targets.

And then the pandemic hit.

Overnight they had to close down their stores nationwide and pivot to digital. Fortunately, because we’d already spent a year laying the groundwork for quick pivoting, we were able to adjust the plan on the fly and make sure their immediate needs were being met.

Working with Harry Rosen for 4 years now, it’s hard to identify all the ways this change has impacted their operations. Since the initial launch of their revised web experience, they’ve been able to add: Buy Online Pick-up In Store (BOPIS) and Shop By Store functionalities; a vastly improved search experience; new Shop the Look and Wedding experiences; and a robust My Account experience that integrates with loyalty, purchase history, and personalized offers and advisory services among others.

They’ve also been able to experiment with new technologies without overhauling or risking the whole system, trialing different service offers for their clientele to continue to improve on the experience. Deployments used to occur every six weeks, now they’re weekly. They even launched an entirely separate outlet offer—Final Cut—in just 8 weeks. With a catalog of their size, that’s an almost unheard-of turnaround time.

You are one of commercetools’ top partners in North America. Why did you choose to partner with commercetools and how are you different from other partners in their ecosystem?

Partnering with commercetools, an organization as purpose-driven and aligned to the MACH approach as we are, has been an incredible opportunity. commercetools pioneered headless in 2013 and has been at the forefront of everything that’s happening in the composable commerce and MACH space since. We have played an integral role in some of their biggest customers (including our award-winning work with Harry Rosen), and we offer them a partner that is as laser focused as they are.

This space isn’t just something we do, it’s all we do. We’re one of the largest non-GSIs, with 200+ people across North America, LATAM, and Europe. Our Composable.comTM Accelerators facilitate a shift to composable commerce, and our deep knowledge and expertise of their platform has also led to the creation of a custom-built Omniretail AcceleratorTM for commercetools. These solutions enable faster time-to-value for clients— a huge advantage in the fast-paced retail space.

Many services companies claim to have productized accelerators but it’s vaporware or just a few small bits of code. Your Accelerator is the real deal, used by 80% of your customers and partners like commercetools and Elastic Path. Why did you invest here?

We believe composable commerce is the only way for complex brands to scale and innovate for the future, but we know it can be a daunting undertaking to make the switch. We wanted to ensure there was a way for retailers to take advantage of the architecture without getting lost in the weeds, so to speak.

Piece by piece is a great option, and we’re firm advocates of an incremental or staged-in approach, but for many brands that’s still too overwhelming to contemplate. By building our Accelerator with over 35 integrations, we were able to give businesses the accelerated time-to-value necessary for them to make the leap. They can rely on proven patterns and leverage our pre-integrations to get their solution to market faster, without losing any of the flexibility of a composable build. And because it’s being used by so many customers, we’re able to continuously evolve it based on real use cases and needs. Best of all, everything remains modular, so they can swap out and customize where it makes the most sense for their business, instead of trying to optimize every aspect all at once.

 What is Orium’s vision and how do you live those words?

Our vision is to become pioneers in adaptive experiences. We want to make it easy for businesses to assemble the perfect customer experience in real-time. We do that from the bottom up and from the top down, by providing the right composable technical architectures to accelerate the shift to an API-first approach, and combining them with the right data models and strategy to understand human behavior, predicting the right experiences for optimization and innovation.

Why did you decide to become a certified B Corp, and why do you think that’s important for services companies?

The simplest answer for why we became a B Corp is that I wanted to be able to scale the business without losing its soul. When we found the B Corp Program a decade ago, it fit the bill. It was an immediate fit with our beliefs that we can do good through our daily operations, that business can be a force for good.

We were among the first in Canada to be certified. Being a B Corp has been one of the most consistent things to set us apart in recruitment through the years, and candidates frequently cite it as one of the reasons they were interested in joining our team. Professional services are, inherently, people-driven businesses. Probably the most profound impact of being a B Corp has been for our team. Our roughly 200 team members know that our word means something, that when we make a commitment we stand by it.

It also means there’s an automatic level-setting that happens internally, something that’s important for any organization, but especially for a professional services org that has team members working across a variety of clients and programs. Our B Corp commitment helps ensure that we all know what we stand for, and it helps align us in how we’ll work toward our goals together.

Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you in this journey?

Tercera is one of the few investment firms—maybe the only one—who truly gets it.

We operate in a unique space: extremely forward-thinking, innovative, and tech focused, and also deeply rooted, at its core, to people. It’s the nature of professional services in the modern era. But that blend is a hard one for a lot of firms to wrap their thinking around.

When we had a chance to review our models for growth, we quickly discovered how aligned we were. It became clear that not only were we finishing each other’s sentences, but also that their experience meant they’d challenge and coach us in the right ways.

Tercera understands through experience that a services business in the right ecosystem, embracing the third wave of cloud computing, can do incredible things. They can be scalable, profitable and impactful.


Q&A with Valiantys Founder, Lucas Dussurget

What does Valiantys do?

Valiantys is the leading global consultancy in the Atlassian ecosystem. The company has helped more than 5,000 customers worldwide accelerate business transformation by digitizing processes and modernizing teamwork, using the best Agile methods and tools on the market. Valiantys has partnered with Atlassian for more than 15 years, and is a specialist in Agile transformation, IT service management modernization, cloud migration and managed services. The company operates in North America, Western Europe and India.

Can you bring that to life with a few customer stories?

Our clients are mainly blue-chip firms like Bosch, Honeywell, Airbus and the Bank of England. Recently we led a transformation program at a leading manufacturing firm where we trained and coached hundreds of teams on Scaled Agile practices, while also transitioning their work management processes to Atlassian. We’ve also helped a capital markets leader cut their spending on IT service management solutions by 60% by moving to Atlassian and streamlining their processes.

What is Valiantys’ origin story? Why Atlassian?

Valiantys started in France in 2006 with one core idea in mind – focus. We wanted to be the opposite of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, and our belief was that by being laser-focused on a specific domain, we could become a global leader recognized for excellence in our field.

The field that we started with was test management and test automation consulting. We looked for partnerships with the leading software vendors of the times – companies like IBM, HP and Borland, but they weren’t a great fit. As a young startup, we weren’t really designed to work with these behemoths. When we came across Atlassian and Jira, which at the time was mainly known as a bug tracking system, it was love at first sight.

We loved the product: the fact that it’s a universal workflow management platform which you can use for any process and any team, and with a really quick time to value. We loved being able to delight customers. We also loved Atlassian’s partnership model. There was no competition from Atlassian on services, lots of freedom to innovate, and a real co-selling approach. Finally, we loved the company’s culture and values, and trusted the founders and their vision.

So we thought: we’ve found it. Our area of focus. And we decided to dump everything else and go all-in on Atlassian. And for 15 years we’ve kept Atlassian at the core of what we do.

What’s the Valiantys mission and how do you live those words?

Our mission: “We accelerate enterprise ambitions using technology that unites teams.”

Technology is what propels change in modern businesses. But when you unpack all the key drivers, you’ll find that the blueprint for a successful business is designed by its people. It takes a team of professionals to drive an enterprise’s ambitions, but how can they do this without the right tools? This is where Valiantys steps in to lead the way. We are ‘work futurists’ who evolve the ways of working, using Atlassian solutions to unite teams.

How do we live this ourselves? First of all we eat our own dogfood: we use Atlassian solutions (Jira, Confluence, Trello) every day and in every team of the company, from managing onboarding of new employees in HR to tracking payment approvals in finance. In our delivery teams, we also use the Agile practices we preach, with our own SAFe-based delivery model. We also have a culture of distributed and connected teams. While we have offices around the globe, most of our team members work remotely and can work together effectively no matter where they are in the world.

We are ‘work futurists’ who evolve the ways of working, using Atlassian solutions to unite teams.

Valiantys has been named by Atlassian as a Partner of the Year seven times. What do you think makes your partnership so strong?

We are honored to have received the Atlassian Partner of the Year award seven times, including most recently in the Enterprise Services category. Valiantys has been a dedicated Atlassian partner since its founding in 2006. We have grown up together, experienced the waves of business change together, and transformed the concept of ‘teamwork’ together.

As we grew together, we made sure that we would remain fully aligned with Atlassian’s strategy and culture. We regularly have sessions discussing how we can add more value to Atlassian’s business, how we can help them further their ambitions and how we can make ourselves easier to do business with. As the CEO, I spend a quarter of my time just developing the Atlassian relationship, and this cascades down to all the members of the team. It’s like strategic account planning on steroids, and we see it as crucial to our success.

But our partnership also goes into the product: Valiantys built Atlassian-specific apps to extend the capabilities of Jira and Confluence and in 2013, Atlassian acquired our leading product to create the first version of Jira Service Management.

Not only is our Valiantys DNA part of Atlassian’s core product suite, we helped found the Atlassian Partner Council that year, of which we are still an active member. Atlassian is more than a partner to us; they are an extension of our Valiantys team.

What do you do better than anyone else when it comes to customer relationships?

We are 100% dedicated to Atlassian. That makes things very clear about what our role is and isn’t. When companies engage with Valiantys, they know that they are getting access to the largest and most experienced team of Atlassian specialists in the world. This is what our customers recognize and admire most about us. It’s why we are trusted by more than 65 of the global Fortune 500.

The way we approach client relationships is also meaningful and is guided by our values: talk straight; never stand still; be mindful of what matters; make every interaction remarkable; and share and take part.

Talking straight is particularly important to me. Our customers expect that we stand by our commitments, that we stand by the solution we recommend, and that we help them meeting their ambitions — our goals are their goals.

A lot of leaders in fast-growth businesses struggle with focus, but it’s been a big key to Valiantys’ success. How do you decide when to say no, and when do you know you’re ready to take on something new?

I read somewhere that in business strategy, the hardest thing is not deciding what to do, but what not to do. As a leadership team, we regularly review our business strategy and part of this iterative process involves engaging with dozens of people within the company to hear their views. When we update our strategy, we explicitly describe all the things we’re not going to do. We know that to be successful we need to differentiate, and we can only differentiate through focus.

Atlassian solutions are used in all industries from finance to government, in all company sizes from small businesses to the Fortune 100, and in all teams from software development to marketing. Valiantys itself operates in several countries across North America and Western Europe, plus India. In this context, it’s easy to spread ourselves too thin — so we choose to be hyper-focused on one technology: Atlassian.

To sharpen our focus, we also made the choice to spin-off our former Atlassian app business, so we are 100% focused on consulting services. It’s incredibly hard to be both a successful product company and a successful IT consulting firm. They’re different DNAs, and when you look at global leaders in each of these fields, they are all focused on either services or software. Not trying to do both.

What advice would you give to other services leaders who are looking to scale a truly global business?

Before scaling globally, make sure your culture is ready for it. In our case, we had to learn to transition from being a French company to a being a global organization where dozens of nationalities co-exist happily without a dominant one.

Second, local autonomy is important. The biggest hinderance to international growth is having a head office which controls everything and stifles local innovation. We lead by example here. While we do have an official headquarters, the senior leadership team operates as a virtual team spread across all the countries we operate in, as do central functions like HR, marketing and finance. We give a lot of autonomy to local leadership.

Third, having a strong remote work culture helps too, and leadership needs to be an example here. I work 90% of the time from home, in part to avoid creating a feeling that everything happens in one location or office, and that the others are just satellites.

Finally, you have to look at your key differentiators. Will they apply in other countries? How can being in multiple countries help you differentiate even more?

Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you in this journey?

We chose to partner with Tercera because of the team’s first-hand experience scaling professional services organizations in high-growth cloud ecosystems such as Salesforce, as well as their very strong network in the Americas – a strategic market for us. We’re especially excited about tapping into their network of advisors, and fantastic connections in the cloud professional services world. It’s so great to be partnering with people who’ve already ‘been there and done it’ and can guide us on our journey to scale.


The Story: A Q&A with Founder Manvir Sandhu

What is Zennify’s founding story?

It all started in 2012. Co-founders Nathan Mueller, Jesse Barker, and I were working at Hewlett Packard, implementing and managing Salesforce for 100,000+ users, when UNICEF invited us to solve a major infectious disease challenge in Haiti. Vaccine quality was compromised due to refrigerator temperature volatility. Bootstrapped and pressed for time, we designed and developed a cloud-based Salesforce IOT solution to track and manage temperature data, and, within months, the entire country had a potential solution to protect the vaccine supply. Post go-live, our solution was published in a leading global medical journal as the WHO and UNICEF’s gold standard for developing nations and it got us on-stage at Dreamforce.

From our first days as Salesforce consultants, we carried a deep conviction that people could solve any major challenge with the right technology. Our experience in Haiti was the first time we truly put those beliefs about innovation to the test—and it worked. That was the moment Zennify began.

Zennify embodies a lifelong dream of building a visionary technology firm that cares about solutions because it cares about people. We built a diverse team that seeks the unique, the unorthodox, and the unusual to keep a fresh perspective that drives meaningful innovation. We have created a place where people love their job because they see and feel the impact of their exceptional solutions every day; a place where they feel valued for who they are just as much as the work they do.

What’s your company’s vision and how do you live those words?

We are problem solvers and relationship builders that strive to create solutions, opportunities and sustained success for our people, customers, community and future generations. Our vision is to be the most trusted, impactful and inspirational advisor in the consulting ecosystem.

We do this in a few ways. First, by leading with our values, which revolve around integrity, authenticity, equality and passion. When you cultivate a team that believes in these principles, you get a company filled with good people who care about solving complex problems. Who respect others and the communities around us.

This shows up in our work with customers, and the kinds of programs and investments we make. For example, ZennLab is all about fostering innovation and passion in our employees. Our ZennEarth and ZennforGood initiatives inspire us to keep giving back.

Your background isn’t in financial services, but it’s the industry in which Zennify is most well known. This isn’t usually the case. How did you decide to specialize in financial services, and why are you so passionate about helping companies in this space?

Part of it is being in the right place at the right time, and part of it is where our passions lie. Because of our heritage, Zennify started out in the Health and Life Sciences (HLS) space and we still have a number of customers there. However, when Salesforce began to verticalize more heavily in 2015, we worked with them on a very high profile competitive displacement in financial services. When Salesforce was coming to market with Financial Service Cloud, they invited us in as a strategic partner based on that work, and it’s been a closer relationship ever since.

Our focus in this space also comes down to wanting to work on complex problems. The pandemic accelerated the need for financial institutions to transform quickly. When physical branches and interactions became inaccessible and customers increasingly began to interact with their financial services partners digitally, we were there. Financial institutions require IT/digital modernization to sustain and progress, and Zennify’s expertise as a trusted advisor and cloud technology expert can support these requirements.

Zennify has been a trusted partner for Salesforce since its earliest days, but nCino is becoming a bigger piece of your portfolio. What’s driving this demand?

As a trusted advisor to banks, it is critical that we can advise on solutions that enable not just a superior customer experience, but also enable operational efficiencies and employee experience. nCino is built on the Salesforce platform and is a natural extension into middle and back office operations, a space many of our customers need to digitally transform to stay competitive. They come to us looking for a skilled partner to tie together systems and provide strategic guidance on how to use these across functions to get results.

Your employee-driven innovation lab, ZennLab, contributes a lot of intellectual property to support your customer work. Why has this initiative been so successful, and what are you working on now in the Lab?

ZennLab is a spot on representation of our company culture. Our solution engineers, technical architects, developers, and more are incredibly passionate about the work they deliver. The idea of ZennLab bubbled up from within our organization as an opportunity to create even more of the solutions we love to create (some of it even being done on personal time) because of this passion. ZennLab is a place for our teams to assemble packaged solutions for common business problems. We aim to get our clients results fast, and these tools are critical.

ZennLab is currently working on several MuleSoft integrations with common core systems used by banks and credit unions. It’s amazing to see these solutions save months of manual work hours by automating complex processes!

Zennify walks the walk when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. Your leadership team is incredibly diverse, with women holding 60%+ of director level roles. What do you think is the key to your success when others have found this so hard? 

I think it’s quickly evident to talent that we’re different from other consultancies out there when it comes to diversity and equity. We’ve been fortunate to have some amazing female leaders with us since day 1—some that have grown from consultants to C-level executives. This real world display of upward mobility and commitment to growing talent is partly why, I think, diverse talent wants to work at Zennify. We have invested in partnerships with grassroots and established programs to bring in talent that breaks employment cycles in communities. We have some incredible individuals with us that come from Merit America, Grow with Google and other programs, and it’s truly a blessing to be able to provide opportunities to such amazing people. There’s never any question that we treat any groups with anything less than equality.

You were recently named a 2021 Most Admired CEO by Sacramento Business Journal, and spend a lot of time coaching entrepreneurs in your hometown. Why is that so important to you?

When we started Zennify, tapping into the local community was a huge help for me. I believe in sharing what I can with budding local entrepreneurs. The resources in Sacramento are immense with a huge talent pool, diversity of backgrounds and ideas, community groups that support idea development and more. Also, we were fortunate in that local partners such as the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and Merit America who have connected Zennify to the amazing talent in the region.

Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you on this journey?

Tercera values so many of the things we’ve built our company around: diversity and inclusion, being mission-driven, enabling a remote workforce, leading with an industry-specific lens to solving clients’ business challenges, and more. I think Chris Barbin and the Tercera team’s successful track record of building one of the first Salesforce consultancies for the enterprise, and its success in the cloud consulting space is a huge advantage to Zennify as we continue to scale. Their partners can offer insights and connections that will make us better.


The Story: A Q&A with CEO and founder Erik Duffield

What prompted you to start Hakkoda?

Hakkoda is the culmination of a 25 year career in data, analytics and professional services. Starting a company has always been in the back of my mind, but two trends in particular catalyzed the decision to start Hakkoda:

  1. Businesses are now migrating vast amounts of data to the cloud in an effort to make it faster, more accessible and more governed — but it’s not always pretty. They need help.
  2. Talent is reprioritizing what’s important post-pandemic, searching for forward-thinking organizations that are rooted in purpose, with a strong community and development opportunities.

This is an incredible opportunity to build a company from the ground up that gives customers what they need in this new digital world, and gives employees the opportunity to do amazing things and work in an environment where they feel motivated and valued. Plus, it’s always fun to do cool new shit.

What’s your company’s mission and why is the team so passionate about it?

Our mission is to ignite the power of data and embolden the changemakers to create a better world.  This mission drives what we do and why we do it.

To ignite the power of data means we have to make it move faster, make it more secure and accessible, higher quality, and infinitely more usable. That’s why we carry data all the way through to automated decisioning and rich data applications — to power the innovation our clients need. We believe the answers to the world’s greatest challenges exist in data. We help our clients with their biggest data challenges, volunteer our capabilities to help the organizations working to save our oceans.

Why are you so excited about the market opportunity with Snowflake?

I love the scale of Snowflake’s vision. The Data Cloud is poised to have an impact way beyond a cloud data warehouse. I believe the market will absorb its capabilities over time and they’ll need an innovative partner to support their journey.

Hakkoda is in a unique position to build a services firm in the post-pandemic world. How are you looking at things differently than how you’ve built teams in the past?

Talent is reprioritizing what they value, and they’re looking for different qualities from the organizations they work for and with.

The first, is having a meaningful purpose. One that is authentic and intrinsic to the company – not a bolt on. When you start with a clean sheet of paper you can wire this into the company’s DNA and recruit for it. The second is creating a feeling of community. This goes beyond creating colleagues, it’s about being mutually invested in each other and aligned in purpose. And last but not least is the investment in continuous learning. A commitment to this is required to attract and retain the top talent, but we’re also turning learning outside to help our customers to modernize and evolve.

You’ve built a large team and your Customer Innovation Center in Costa Rica. Tell us a little about that decision and why has it set you apart?

Three simple but important things.

Timezone: The timezone enables us to attract great talent that can work directly with our customers.

Talent: Strong technical talent combined with university and governmental organizations leaning in to shape talent with modern skills and investing in innovation.

Purpose: Given Costa Rica’s strong brand in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance, we are wiring in higher values. It’s not about finding the lowest labor costs. Instead are valuing inspired, passionate team members. This sends strong signals to local talent, US employees and customers.

One of Hakkoda’s co-founders is your Chief People and Wellness Officer. It’s rare for one of the first people in the company to be 100% dedicated to talent, culture and wellness. Why do you think that’s such a critical focus area for Hakkoda as it builds?

The value we bring to our customers is our team and our solutions, which coincidentally, are also developed by our team. We can’t provide this value if we can’t attract, retain and inspire top talent. I love that wellness is part of it in a very real way. We really do focus on the whole person. It’s better for our clients and a much better way to go through life.

Hakkoda’s Scalable Teams model is unique in the industry. Can you explain the model, and why it’s a great thing for both customers and your internal teams?

Scalable Teams is how we address our customer’s highest need. They need talent that is skilled in modern tools and architectures and able to work collaboratively. Talent that is enabled by our technology, operational processes and commercial models.

As the skills mix changes from migration to modernization, or from analytics to data science, we are able to adapt the team, retain the knowledge and co-innovate with our customers. As backlogs ebb and flow, clients can scale up and down the team to match their needs. It’s much more collaborative and flexible than legacy service models. Much more third wave.

Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you on this journey?

Tercera was an easy choice due to depth of experience, a big vision for this space and an alignment on what a next generation services organization should look like.




What prompted you to start Terazo?

In my previous role as the CIO of a large colocation hosting company, I was constantly looking for development resources for new work. We had a great internal team, but they had their hands full building things we were already committed to and we needed more resources to grow as a company. We partnered with various software development companies but found they were either very project oriented, or staff augmentation oriented. In both cases they weren’t invested with us on the outcomes of the programs we were working on. They also approached problems as either app-focused or language-focused, rather than platform-focused.

I wanted a different kind of partner, one that took a holistic platform approach because we had chosen APIs as a strategic element of our growth strategy. We wanted to join the “API economy” but we couldn’t find any software development companies that had a background in that, who could build something that was truly scalable and scale their own approach.

Taking what I learned from that, I wanted to start a company that would have been the vendor I was looking for, but couldn’t find. A software development company that would understand our business and be with us for our whole journey. A professional services firm to help clients build the platforms they needed with API-first technologies, and be with them on the next steps of the journey to run, maintain, and grow as the needs of the business evolved.

Why do you think being API-first is so important in today’s digital world?

It’s really about the speed of innovation. Things move fast in a digital world, and that pace is only going to increase. To compete, stay relevant and meet customers where they are, businesses need to take a builder-mindset.

With an API-first or programmatic approach, customers can evolve their business processes and introduce new capabilities faster. APIs allow businesses to expose the back-end of their operations and systems programmatically to customers and partners, which means they can build whatever they need. With APIs, systems can talk to other systems, automating data and transaction flows between companies. This frees up the people to focus on other things.

With web and mobile apps, and even SaaS, you are much more limited to the defined functionality of these apps. SaaS applications are still valuable to businesses. They take a lot of risk off the table for companies, but it’s a prescribed solution. Eventually companies hit a limit with the “out of the box” functionality of these software packages. They find themselves innovating in lockstep with competitors because they are working from the same playing field. Thankfully some SaaS applications also expose APIs which can help businesses include them within their overall enterprise platforms, beyond just what the SaaS UI offers, in an integrated way.

With a programmatic approach, there is no limit. With the right skills and strategy, a company can create new offerings and new ways to engage with customers and partners that are truly differentiating. APIs make this far easier. For example, it used to be that if you wanted to build even the simplest SMS service from scratch, it was a huge undertaking. Now it is trivial to get up and running on a platform like Twilio in minutes. The capabilities you get day-one with any of the cloud-first or API-first platforms like Twilio cover a lot of heavy lifting and groundwork, but that last mile is still up to you. And that’s where the real magic happens.

What’s your mission and why are you so passionate about it?

Our mission is really two-fold: To help our customers in a way that generates real business value for them, and to be a great place for people to work and grow their careers.

We’re a values-driven company, and one of our core values is “Level the Field”. There are a lot of companies out there that are not the Googles or Amazons of their industry. They don’t have thousands of developers. Our job is to infuse aspects of a tech company mindset so they can be more competitive because that is going to be important for the long term. Not just for survival, but to give them the ability to thrive in the new world we’re in where these capabilities are a necessity.

The other side of it is creating opportunities for our team to learn and grow. I really want people to look back on their time here and say, “I learned a different way to look at business and to grow personally and professionally during my time at Terazo.”

Terazo has won a number of Top Places to Work awards. What do you think makes the company and team so special?

Going back to our values-based approach, I think it’s not just how we do what we do, but who we work with and the type of project we do. One of the things we talk about a lot is the value of “Seek Meaningful Work” , which means we have to go find interesting work and work that really moves the needle.

Great developers, great data analysts and great engagement leads all want to help people at their core — that’s why they got into technology. Technology is a means to an end, so we’re constantly trying to find ways to connect them with engagements where their talents can change outcomes. Ultimately that’s what gets people excited about working here.

It has a virtuous cycle effect too, because our clients see the outcomes we’ve achieved, and they ask for more. I look at a lot of development shops that have a much more transactional project-minded approach to things and when a project is done, it’s done. Ultimately that becomes a bit of a grind, both for the clients and for the employees. That’s a negative cycle we work to avoid.

What three words would you use to describe Terazo’s culture?

If I had to pick three words they would be confidence, humility, and fearless.

With the track record we have and the results we’ve piled up, our team has earned a level of confidence that is deserved. Our team really knows their stuff. They have both a philosophy and a method of execution that they know gets results. But I think we’re also very humble for the skill sets and capabilities we have. We pride ourselves on being approachable, team-oriented and extremely easy to work with. Clients leading big transformational projects want to work with a humble but confident team.

Lastly, fearless. This isn’t cookie cutter work. Every client is different, every implementation is different. This requires us to be OK trying new things, pushing the envelope, even going out on a limb a little bit. I think our clients want that. Competitive edges are not gained by playing it safe.

You’ve been building and leading services organizations for 20 years. What do you think is the secret to building talented, highly motivated teams?

First, you must care about people and see people as the solution, not technology. And then you must find people that feel the same way. I’d say that’s one thing that’s really a hallmark of Terazo. People here really do care about others and they come to work, finding a way to put that care into action.

From a “technical work” standpoint, some people want to stay behind the scenes creating a product, and not talking to customers. I think we’re very different. Being a services business gives our team opportunities to talk directly to customers and clients and understand things that allow us to grow our capabilities at a higher rate. We want to build a culture that attracts and rewards that kind of thinking. We’ve built a recruiting process that brings people in and gives them insights into how we think. That’s enabled us to build a pretty powerful team of intellectually curious people who are eager to find the solution to any client challenge.

Why did you decide to partner with Tercera?

It was pretty straightforward because Tercera was clearly looking at what’s coming in the same way we did. They were one of the very first people to not ask us “What product are you creating?” They valued services business for what they were, not for what they were doing in the interim before creating some product.

The Tercera team also saw the promise of how disruptive what’s coming is going to be, where the value is created, and what needs to be done to create that value. The partners had personal experience working with Salesforce, which was probably the very first, cloud-first, programmatic platform. They had incredible experiences from their work at Appirio before they formed Tercera, which ultimately gave them insights into what that would look like going forward with other platforms like Twilio. So, I think from an investor standpoint, their hands-on, first-hand experience growing a company in a similar space was very compelling to us.

On our own, we’d have to grow organically to meet a need we think is greater than we can fill today otherwise. So honestly, it’s the right meeting of somebody who believes in the same ecosystem and capabilities we believe in, and sees the immediate need for us to scale up to meet that need. We see a wave coming that, if we’re not a much larger company, we’re not going to be able to handle. We see larger client opportunities with deeper and more complex needs than ever before. We’re going to have to “level up” Terazo to take advantage of that opportunity, and Tercera came along at the right time and was clearly the right strategic partner to work with to help us grow.