When the divestiture was announced by IBM, I wrote an Open Letter to HCL to share that anxiety and emotions that were gripping us all. I was hoping for an open channel of communication between customers, partners and HCL in the only channel that was open to us, the Internet. HCL responded and although the company was limited by what they could say at the time, there was an earnest outreach to customers and partners alike. It was very well done. And finally, the day is here when HCL Commerce is officially Open for Business.

In a press conference style event, Gary Schoch, AVP Global Commerce Leader for HCL Technologies, shared his thoughts on why he joined HCL to head up the Commerce division and entertained questions from the Business Partners regarding the new mission for HCL Commerce. It’s been a month or so since the transaction took place. On the forefront of everyone’s mind – what does the future hold for the more than 100 companies on the HCL Commerce platform currently, and the Business Partners who serve them. What will HCL do for customers who are faced with the migration? Will HCL be able to extend the support for V7? Will HCL compete with partners on services as well? These are really good Q&As and here’s my best shot at recapping some interesting ones.

Gary began with excitement speaking about his, and the company’s passion, for Commerce and the opportunity to drive significant value and revenue for their clients. And for the past month, they have been meeting clients one on one with the goal of fully understanding the challenges they face with the current platform, what they need to increase the value of their investments, and how to create a pathway forward. The approach is to understand each customer’s journey and solving the pain points by working together with partners. There is massive opportunity for all of us if we focus on the customers’ business.

The business partners on the call, were each given the opportunity to ask a question. Here is a summary of the questions and synopsis of the answers (paraphrased, not quoted):

Mike Rabbior, Perficient – Customers are planning their budgets for next year. They are wondering what they need to anticipate with regard to budget in terms of things to come.

Gary – We are looking at each company on a case by case basis because different size companies have different needs. We’re working with V7, V8 and V9 companies to learn how HCL can help them and what that looks like going forward into next year and beyond. We’re doing a business level assessment at no charge to understand what they need. We can even open the innovation lab back up and get deeper into designs – we have that flexibility and capability now. We’re going after quality and not quantity – driving revenue for our clients is the driving force.

Teresa Zobrist, Zobrist Software Group – I love to hear the talk about innovation, because it’s been dark for a while. We need to be creative and quick to market like a start-up mentality. How can business partners collaborate with HCL and work together to bring solutions to clients?

Gary – I view partners as no different than clients. What innovation are you trying to create? Let’s co-develop and bring that to light. For example, the HCL Offering Management team has been working on PoC (Proof of concept) with customers around Drupal as the Stockholm replacement. What are the merchandising insights and what can we construct that will be next generation? Perhaps hyper-personalization, data as a currency, building a better alliance partnership and speeding up work with partners. We can invest in partners and the best part is that we are very nimble and open to change.

HCL will invest in our clients, client by client, and we have developed a client scorecard based on relationship, business initiative as well as disruption factors. This level of attention is unprecedented and gaining a lot of favorable reviews from our customers. We are looking at our clients that are on V7 and asking ourselves how can we help them get to V9.

Jon Panella, Publicis Sapient – The divestiture has created an inflection point and an opportunity for companies to start looking around at other platforms. What is the HCL Commerce differentiation?

Gary – By showing up with the technical resources, really understanding what these clients want and need, by explaining the opportunities and the benefits now available, we found that most clients are staying on the platform and we have committed to bringing value in order to get them to V9.

For example, we sit together with V7 clients and try to figure out how to get them from point A to point B. There may be 4-5 things that we can do to change to get them going. It’s a challenge but we are working thru it. By the way, HCL Services can also be partner services and more importantly, HCL Services are not compensated by sofware sales.

Scott Sullivan, Publicis Sapient – What have those meetings with your clients looked like? Can you share any reactions from them?

Gary – Most meetings have been about a 1/2 day long. We’ve met with all size companies. The most common reaction has been surprise and delight that HCL actually understands the pain points that they have been in. They have also been grateful to have someone really listen and care enough to take the time. A point-of-contact person who understands the business has been assigned to each client, so they aren’t left hanging. A few customers have gone down a re-platform path for a couple of years and I will not stop them. It would be a disservice. But overall, our client meetings have been great. The general reaction around the world on HCL Commerce has been very positive.

We could sense the excitement in the air about the new opportunity laying before everyone in the HCL Commerce community. Now it’s up to us together: HCL, the business partners and the clients to make a pathway forward for driving the next generation user experience in both the B2C and B2B worlds.

Thanks Gary and HCL for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

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