Get to know Pentaho’s CMO

January 5, 2012

In November 2011 Pentaho welcomed Rosanne Saccone to the team as Chief Marketing Officer. We caught up with Rosanne in her office in San Francisco to get to know her a little better, her background, top priorities and predictions for 2012. Welcome Rosanne!


5 Questions for Pentaho’s new CEO

October 25, 2011

On October 1st, Pentaho welcomed a new CEO and board member to our team, Quentin Gallivan. We caught up with Quentin in his new office at the Pentaho headquarters in San Francisco to get to know him a little better, his background and plans for Pentaho. Welcome Quentin!


Q&A with Pentaho Customer Success Manager Jonathan Seper

July 14, 2011

Q&A is a series on the Business Intelligence from the Swamp Blog that interviews key members of the Pentaho team to learn more about their focus at Pentaho and outlook on the Business Intelligence industry.

Our Q&A today is with Jonathan Seper, a Customer Success Manager at Pentaho. When he’s not on the phone making sure Pentaho customers are happy and on-track with their deployment, you can find the Vancouver native fly fishing in and around Central Florida! To learn more about Jonathan’s role at Pentaho and view on Business Intelligence we asked him five questions:

1.    What is your role at Pentaho?   
I am a Customer Success Manager. A successful Business Intelligence deployment requires not only a full product, but also investment of your people’s time and effort. Our team is comprised of seasoned Pentaho veterans to help our customers get the most out of Pentaho software and extensive services.

2.    Why was it important for Pentaho to introduce the Customer Success team? 
As a commercial open source subscription model, we rely on superior support to ensure our customers renew each year, i.e. we must make sure our customers are wildly successful with their Pentaho projects. BI’s inherent complexity and support/mentoring/environmental/integration requirements create the need for significant time with customers to help them figure it all out.  Not to mention every customer’s use case and environment is unique. Pentaho’s growth was increasing the load on the regular sales team, reducing their ability to spend extensive time with customers. This team is all about ensuring customer satisfaction and success.

3.    How do you ensure that Pentaho customers are successful?  
For each customer it is important to understand their internal resources available, requirements, timelines and appropriate phases to help guide them through a successful implementation. Pentaho customers also need to understand Pentaho software, which parts of it they need and our unique services to enable their team. Examples of ways that I work with customers:

  • Refresher webinars, on navigating Pentaho software and resources including:  Service Levels, the Support Portal, Knowledge Base, Engineering Sandbox, and JIRA Site where customers can request and vote for enhancements/fixes.
  • Visioning exercises – so customers can see what is possible with the tools and expand on their successes.  We have some very interesting demo examples built out, that I can share.  We are always interested in new use cases and applications that our customers come up with.
  • Review training paths and consulting options.  There are remote consulting sessions bundled into some of our packages, so I can help find appropriate topics and scope/schedule those.
  • Any other questions or concerns… if I do not know the answer I will find out! Having been with Pentaho for over five years, I understand how customers succeed with us.

4.    What is the typical lifecycle with customers who work with the Customer Success team? 
So much depends on how much work the customer did presale. For example, some customers take training first and almost have their BI Build in production; others are very new to the tool and are starting from the beginning.  While the role of Pentaho is to make a customer’s team Pentaho experts, sometimes we give them a jumpstart via consulting.  A huge milestone is when business users are actually making business decisions based on the software.  Sometime there can be substantial time/effort to get to this important milestone, other times very fast.  Successful customers usually continuously iterate (see Agile BI), and continue to build and expand their success with Pentaho.

 5.    Being the first sales rep at Pentaho, what memories stand out over the past five years?
There are a few things that stand out:

  • Exponential growth and interest in Pentaho every year!
  • The excitement of organizations as they see that Pentaho can provide real time access to data for their business users, allowing them to figure out what is working, or not, in time to do something about it, (without overburdening IT with special one-off data requests).
  • Our stable and experienced management team – and their great parties.
  • Seeing alligators on the drive home to work (I live in downtown Orlando and am originally from Vancouver, Canada).

Do you have additional questions for Jonathan or the CSM team? Is there someone or a certain role at Pentaho you would like us to interview? Leave your questions and feedback in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.


Q&A with Pentaho Senior Sales Engineer, Wayne Johnson

May 12, 2011

Q&A is a series on the Business Intelligence from the Swamp Blog that interviews key members of the Pentaho team to learn more about their focus at Pentaho and outlook on the Business Intelligence industry.

Our Q&A today is with Wayne Johnson, Senior Sales Engineer at Pentaho. When he’s not on webcast or in meetings with potential customers, Wayne is SuperDad to five kids, an adjunct college professor and competes in triathlons. To learn more about Wayne’s role at Pentaho and view on Business Intelligence we asked him four questions:

1.  What brought you to Pentaho?
Back in 2009 I was made aware of Pentaho by competing against them in an opportunity where I represented a proprietary BI Vendor.  When Pentaho approached me to discuss the possibility of joining their team, I was very apprehensive due to their business model.  I just didn’t understand it.  Instead of writing it off, I decided to do my research and started reading a book called Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams.  This book not only changed my view on Pentaho but no pun intended, it opened my eyes to the benefits of Open Source (it was also a plus that Pentaho was mentioned in the book).  So I decided to take a risk and jump on board.

2.  What do you do for Pentaho?
Currently I am a Senior Sales Engineer who specializes in managing the Evaluation Experiences our evaluators have with our software.  Opposed to proprietary BI Vendors, companies are encouraged to try our software out to see if it is a fit for their organization.  Anyone with even a little experience in BI knows, however, that downloading, installing and building solutions with Enterprise Software would require some hand holding.  That is where I come in.  I make sure that those people that are evaluating our software have access to the resources and people they need to be able to accurately and efficiently evaluate Pentaho successfully.

3. How do you define a successful evaluation?
You would probably think my answer to this question is simply, one that ends in a subscription to Pentaho:-)  A more accurate answer is: A successful evaluation is one that has provided the evaluator with enough information to make an informed decision on whether they can meet their business needs with the use of Pentaho.  While the majority of our prospects come to the conclusions that Pentaho is the right solution to meet their business needs, some organizations do come to the conclusions that it is not.  I view both evaluations as successful because we have kept the customer in mind and solving their business needs as a priority, not just trying to make a sale, that is something I take great pride in.

4.  What characteristics do successful evaluations have in common?
There are definitely some common characteristics that I have seen in companies being able to successfully evaluate not just Pentaho, but any enterprise software package.  These are:

  •  Clearly Identified Business Needs – As I stated earlier, that a successful evaluation determines the ability to solve a specific business need, knowing that need is vital to gauging whether or not the software package will meet that need.
  • Having a Plan – If you were to take a trip driving from San Francisco to New York, you can either just get in your car, head east until you hit the coast then drive north along the coast until you hit New York.  This method would prove to be very time consuming and costly, especially considering gas prices these days.  Similarly, evaluating a software solution to meet your clearly identified business needs without a plan will be very time consuming and costly, especially with the limited amount of time and resources most companies are struggling with today.  Additionally, you run the huge risk of making the “wrong turn” on your evaluation route.  Having a plan ensures that you keep your eye on the objectives and have concrete milestones to check off during your evaluation.  It will also help you make your decision once you have arrived at your destination.
  • Executing the Plan – this may require a custom demonstration from the software provider, a test drive of the software using sample data, an evaluation of the software in your environment using your own data or engaging with Professional Services in order to prove out your plan.  Each company’s needs are different and may require a different execution of their plan.  The important part is to seek out is a software provider that provides ALL of those plan execution methods and does not limit you to their plan.  The problem is that most don’t allow you to download, install and test the software yourself.  For this reason I really enjoy working here at Pentaho, not only do we give you access to download and test the software for free for 30 days, but we also provide you with free evaluation support for those 30 days.

By following these three best practices around evaluating Pentaho or any other enterprise level software, you are guaranteeing that no matter what the decision is, you will have a successful evaluation.

Do you have additional questions for Wayne? Is there someone or a certain role at Pentaho you would like us to interview? Leave your questions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.


Q&A with Pentaho Director of Sales Engineering, Mike Tarallo

April 14, 2011

Q&A is a series on the Business Intelligence from the Swamp Blog that interviews key members of the Pentaho team to learn more about their focus at Pentaho and outlook on the Business Intelligence industry.

You may be familiar with our interviewee today from reading his blogs on BI from the Swamp or watching a demo on the Pentaho Evaluation Sandbox. If you are a customer, there is a very good chance you have met him virtually or in person. Michael Tarallo is the Director of Sales Engineering and our feature today on Q&A. To learn more about Mike and his role at Pentaho we asked him 5 questions.

1. What brought you to Pentaho?

It was spring of 2007 and after about 9+ years at Information Builders (IBI), a proprietary Business Intelligence company, I felt I achieved all that I could and decided to “find new cheese”.  Around the time I was promoted to Senior Sales Engineer at IBI, a recruiter approached me speaking in tongues of this “thing” called “Open Source Business Intelligence.” I remember thinking, “Sheesh, I am having a hard enough time selling this expensive proprietary stuff, how the heck am I going to sell Open Source since it’s already free?” However, after a thorough investigation, I decided to leave my comfortable position at IBI for a company that was new and exciting called Pentaho.

When I finally learned that Open Source is not about “free” software but more about community, collaboration and better software, I was immediately enlightened and couldn’t wait to get started. I distinctly remember the Sales Manager at IBI, attempting to put fear in my head, “Ya know Mike, the grass isn’t always greener.” Well, sir 4 Years later, not only is the grass greener, but it is thicker and fuller than ever.  Remember, comfort is the enemy of achievement – (Dr. Farrah Gray)

2. What do you do?

I am the Director of Sales Engineering, responsible for leading the Sales Engineers and pre-sales activities within the organization.  I started 4 years ago as the first Pentaho Sales Consultant (SC), responsible for Pre-Sales activities. There are technical and consulting related activities that occur during the sales cycle, before the actual sale hence Pre-Sales.  Pentaho was still fairly new at the time and either sales team members or Product Management performed many product demonstrations. As the company grew it became increasingly important to a build a group that would focus support on the sales team as its pre-sales activities increased. My initial goal was to introduce pre-sales processes, create collateral and demonstrations that focused on “solutions” for business problems, rather than demonstrate a bunch of “tools”.

As the Pentaho Sales and Pre-Sales teams grew worldwide, there was a huge demand on Sales Engineer (SE) resources. With the continued growth of the company and finally a larger team of SEs – I was promoted to Director of Sales Engineering in order to lead and proliferate those processes throughout our group.

3. Why are Sales Engineers a vital part of the success of a sales cycle?

Sales Engineers are the stage performers of the IT world: immensely capable, adaptable, confident, excellent communicators who are equally cool in front of large crowds and intimate groups. Sales Engineers work closely with Pentaho Account Managers to demonstrate the breadth and depth of Pentaho products as a complete solution.

Sales Engineering provides what I call the “Solution Vision” to the prospect who is evaluating our software. We present the “Art of the Possible” by demonstrating and discussing how Pentaho software fits in the context of their landscape. At all costs we try to stay away from generic demonstrations, but sometimes you have to play the game. And when we do play, we play hard. Let’s face it; there are a lot of software packages that can “do” the same thing. Sales Engineering provides that 2% factor by establishing a relationship with the prospect and making them feel comfortable that the Pentaho solution can meet their specific needs. Without Sales Engineering, a crucial piece of the sales process would be missing.

4. What makes a good Sales Engineer (SE)?

There are a number of facets that make a good SE, good. But, there are key factors that make a good SE, great. Some of these characteristics are learned over time, and some are just part of one’s personality and are difficult to master. Aside from technical expertise, one important quality of a great SE is, communication. Learning not only how to communicate with the prospect but also with the account rep and other members of the SE team.

Every person, whether prospect or rep, is different. The key is being able to listen to what is being said and also what is not being said. This is important so the appropriate persuasive questions can be asked and proper expectations can be set.

Once communication skills are honed a SE should be able to translate the product’s technical software capabilities into the suitable business value to the prospect. There is nothing worse than demonstrating software to a company who has no idea why you just showed it to them.

I feel that an SE also needs to establish themselves as a leader in his/her domain. If your technical strength lies in some sort of application development you may want to focus your talents in the OEM group – where it is more about embedding and integrating the software into the prospect’s applications.  If you are able to articulate the business value better or provide subject matter expertise you can specialize in creating vertical demonstrations and collateral relevant to the sectors you are working with.

Finally….energy, lots of energy, enough said. :-)

5. What does the “Pre” in Pre-Sales stand for?

Doing a demonstration without knowing anything is called a “show up and throw up.” Hoping you know what a prospect wants is not good enough. It is critical to know their exact needs and how to best demonstrate our capabilities. I prefer to think of the “Pre” to stand for: P-prepare, R-respond, E-execute. Those actions will make for shorter sales cycles, proper customer expectations and increased sales.

Want to see what Mike is up to now?

Do you have additional questions for Mike? Is there someone or a certain role at Pentaho you would like us to interview? Leave your questions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.


Q&A with Pentaho Trainer Lynn Yarbrough

March 14, 2011

Q&A is a series on the Business Intelligence from the Swamp Blog that interviews key members of the Pentaho team to learn more about their focus at Pentaho and outlook on the Business Intelligence industry.

If you have attended a Pentaho training class, most likely you have had a chance to meet the knowledgeable and entertaining Lynn Yarbrough. To get to know Lynn and our training classes better we asked Lynn 5 questions.

1.  What brought you to Pentaho and what do you do?

I am a trainer at Pentaho. After almost 20 years in the BI and Data Integration industry working at companies like Information Builders and Hyperion, I wanted to work at a smaller Business Intelligence company and I found a job posting for a training position at Pentaho on Monster.

2.  How many classes have you taught and do you have a favorite that stands out?

I have been with Pentaho almost 4 years and probably taught 40 classes last year alone.  My favorite class is the Pentaho BI Suite BootCamp.  I especially love the morning of Day 3, because that when we complete the creation of an OLAP cube and can view the data of Pentaho Analyzer in the Pentaho User console.  It is very rewarding to see the result of all of the work and often this is when students have an ‘aha’ moment, and say ‘this is why we need Pentaho, to give our users this power.’

3.  What elements do you think are necessary to make a successful training class?

Knowledge of the product, knowledge of the industry (in my case Business Intelligence) and a sense of humor.  We in training have also made many of the classes very ‘hands on’ which help students learn and retain the product. One of the problems we face in the classroom is that we are teaching students who have a variety of skill levels to make the class beneficial to all we have added  “optional” labs for the more advanced students.

4. Can you tell us more about the Agile BI for Business Analyst class and how it contrasts to the ‘early days’ of training

We began talking about and shaping the Agile BI class over 2 years ago, but it didn’t really take-off.  The product didn’t have the “ease of use” it has today. Now, Pentaho Agile BI has matured to the level where the class is engaging and quite fun to teach since is so easy to create a data model and analyze the data.

5.  As we kick off 2011, what are you most excited about regarding training for the upcoming year?

2011 will add many new key features to the product which will not only impact customers, but will make training easier, as the product improves in “ease of use” it also get easier and more fun to teach.  We also plan to add new training classes suggested by our customers such as ‘Pentaho for the End User’ giving hands-on training for our front end tools and ‘Pentaho On-Demand’ for customers interested to gain more experience with our cloud solution. Things are never boring at Pentaho.

Do you have additional questions for Lynn? Is there someone or a certain role at Pentaho you would like us to interview? Leave your questions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.


Q&A with Mari Jansdotter, Director of Embedded Sales

October 26, 2010

Q&A is a new series on the Business Intelligence from the Swamp Blog that interviews key members of the Pentaho team to learn more about their focus at Pentaho and outlook on the BI and DI industry. For our first post, we interviewed Mari Jansdotter, Director of Embedded Sales at Pentaho. Mari has been at Pentaho for almost two years and comes to us from SugarCRM. She is based in our San Francisco office and in her free time can can be found chasing around her two adorable kids.

1. How have you seen the OEM landscape change at Pentaho over the past year?

It is a whole new playing field!  We have seen really positive trends, the most notable being a high increase in inbound interest.  Larger organizations, who earlier might only have considered traditional, proprietary vendors for their enterprise-wide projects, are coming to Pentaho to improve upon their already mature product offerings.  Our open standards-based architecture allows them to easily integrate Pentaho into existing products.  Similarly, start-up and mid-market companies are choosing to build new products on Pentaho’s platform because our end-to-end functionality can scale with them as their product and customer needs evolve.  The inbound interest is really coming from all corners of the market.  The real shift is the fact that these companies are now looking at Pentaho not because of price, but because they are making a strategic decision to choose the right BI technology solution for their product and for their customers.

2. Is there a specific vertical or type of company that you see particularly rapid OEM adoption in?

There are certainly a handful of verticals that continually show interest in embedding Pentaho, such as telco, finance, retail, insurance, and healthcare, but to be completely honest we don’t have a vertical-focused market.  When I first started here, I was ready to work with purely ISVs, but I am constantly surprised by various types and sizes of companies developing their own software.  We have worked with everything from small media monitoring organizations to one of the largest POS companies in the world.

3. What are some of the reasons that you have seen companies choose Pentaho’s OEM Program over the competition?

I would say there are three main reasons that companies choose to partner with Pentaho. Number one is certainly product breadth, as the only truly integrated end-to-end open source BI suite.  Second would be ease of deployment, because what matters most to companies looking to OEM a product is how fast they can get their product to market and start seeing ROI.  Third is the modular way that our product has been built, from the ground up, has proven much faster and easier to deploy than any others on the market.

4. What, if any, benefits do you feel Pentaho’s open source model lends to OEM partners?

One of the huge benefits of the open source model is innovation.  Pentaho is adding new and exciting features faster than anyone else by taking advantage of our large worldwide community. I think our OEM partners also take comfort in the fact that they are able to go out and see what is under the covers of our product and architecture.  The open source nature of each module in the suite also means full transparency regarding where our product is today and where it is headed.  Our OEM partners are always dialed in to our product roadmap.  They know what is to come and when, so that they can plan ahead for their own products.

5. What benefits do OEM Partners receive from the Enterprise Edition, that are not found in the Community Edition?

Choosing the right product takes on a whole new dimension when you are going to be putting it into a product of your own.  The ability to simply pick up the phone and call our product experts directly, should anything go wrong, has saved our Enterprise Edition OEM partners countless amounts of time and money.  The Enterprise Edition is stable, certified and licensed software, based on the open source code but put  through rigorous in-house QA and testing.  Not only that, but for the majority of companies that will be embedding Pentaho as a visual front-end, the Enterprise Edition offers additional functionality that includes more user-friendly GUIs, which really adds to their product.

6. As we move into the last quarter of 2010, where would you like to see the future direction of Pentaho’s OEM program headed for 2011?

Something that will be very important to me in the immediate future is building a stronger internal community with our Enterprise Edition OEM partners.  I think there is a lot of value to be gained from encouraging partner to partner dialogue.  A first step in this direction has been the introduction of the OEM-focused Architect’s Bootcamp course, which has proven to be a great learning and networking opportunity.  We recently had a very successful summit for our EMEA Partners in Lisbon on September 23-24, and are planning another Global Partner Summit here in San Francisco on January 19-20.  In addition, we’ve held a series of OEM Power Lunches in New York, San Mateo and Houston tomorrow. It is my hope that initiatives like these will allow us to provide the best possible experience for our growing network of OEM partners around the world.
Do you have additional questions for Mari? Is there someone or a certain role at Pentaho you would like us to interview? Leave your questions in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

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