Portera drives business performance through technology and data

Due to their complex business operations, companies often find it difficult to respond to changes in the market. Baris Kavakli, consultant and managing director at Portera, developed an action plan, allowing these companies to make important strides within one to four weeks. “We orchestrate technology, strategy and data to be able to help our clients to leapfrog their competition.”

Baris Kavakli VAN PORTERA


Baris Kavakli often sees the same issue when talking to companies: they want to change but lack the skills and simply don’t know where to start. “We often see companies embracing the language of innovation. Phrases like ‘agile development’, ‘pivoting’ and ‘failing fast’ come thick and fast. Yet whilst these are key elements of innovation culture, few companies truly live by them.”

‘At Portera, we insist on doing things differently. We want to get to the point of success, or failure, as fast as possible’

Hierarchical top-down structure

“The stark reality is that many companies still have a hierarchical top-down structure, are slow to make decisions and rather than truly failing fast, they claim success at almost any cost. They like the idea of innovation, but it isn’t a core value.”

So what is going wrong? “It certainly isn’t their ambition, their energy or their ability. The people in these companies are typically highly successful, highly intelligent and driven. It is not a capability issue. It is a corporate culture issue.”

“What happens is a brainstorm session is organized, ideas are thrown into the mix and comes out a PowerPoint presentation. They start to ask for ideas, call another workshop or get further feedback from their colleagues. Somebody adds feedback, somebody adds another question, somebody puts other thoughts in there, somebody puts another slide and then it starts to become big. As the slide deck grows bigger, the scope of the project is growing bigger as well. This, before the decision maker has seen anything.”

Failure is not an option

“Before you know it, it’s a € 1 million project which has no proven business case behind it, little true data driven insight and at the same time, the hidden cost that is spent on preparing this slide deck is tens of thousands of euros. Weeks have gone past, thousands sunk in internal costs and a huge scope with a € 1 million investment PowerPoint presentation. On rare occasions these proposals get the green light, it’s therefore no wonder that everyone on the project team is hell-bent on making it a success. Failure is not an option. That is certainly what we see when we first get involved with many companies.”

Massimo Mercuri, Digital CoE Director, AkzoNobel, agrees. “What would have taken me weeks with my current technology partner, at a cost of over 100k euros, Portera did in 2 weeks for for a few thousand euros.”

Portera, a management and technology consultancy that delivers commercial advantage to its clients, uses a unique approach, Baris says. “At Portera, we insist on doing things differently. We want to get to the point of success, or failure, as fast as possible.  Sometimes that happens in a couple of days and sometimes a month or two.  We call it: Portera Hop, Portera Jump and Portera Leap. Portera Hop is a one-day workshop where our consultants and technologists work with different people within the organisation to validate an idea and identify a strategic direction.”

Proof of concept

“The Portera Jump takes two weeks. We start from the business issue, and then we deliver a proof of concept. Instead of a presentation to your boss, you take the proof concept to your boss, showing him the problem and the solution. The company can then use this deliverable as a proof of concept to move further in their investments. And if it doesn’t work, they can throw it away.”

‘We orchestrate technology, strategy and data to be able to help our clients to leapfrog their competition’

The third approach is Portera Leap which is quite an extensive process and takes four to six weeks. “From the business issue, we come to a Minimum Viable Product, MVP. The MVP is a streamlined product which our clients can use. It can be an internal or external product that they can use to test and understand if it’s working.”

Baris gives a concrete example of a business issue. “Let’s say that it’s a business issue about consumer loyalty, they want to retain their consumers or cross sell products. We analyse their data to understand what is currently happening within their market, we look not only at their own data but also at data from the competition to understand the market dynamics.”

Fail fast

“Our MVP will deliver a new or improved strategy that people can test, trial and demo directly with their colleagues or customers. In this way, the team members very quickly get feedback and insight into whether the innovation is likely to be viable, or not. All this happens before any significant investment is deployed or time incurred. And from here, it’s possible to be agile, pivot or truly fail fast.”

Portera’s approach is not limited to certain industries but at the moment they’re mainly active in FMCG, healthcare and telecommunications. “These are three industries we are really involved in and we are known in as well. But we have some clients in banking and automotive, too.”

If there’s anything that characterizes Portera, it is agility, according to Baris. “You need to be flexible. You need to have different expertise and you need to make fast progress.  Progress isn’t a linear journey. And it’s not about running as fast as you can. Actually, it’s about being agile as you proceed. The key thing is to have the right team in place to enable fast and purposeful progress, so that decision making can happen earlier in the innovation cycle, like in lean start-ups. It’s not about changing the overall company culture, it’s about enabling innovation within the organisation’s culture.

Same language

“We choose our strategists and consultants in Portera amongst M-shaped professionals. I-shaped professionals are experts in one field, T-shaped professionals are experts in one field but they have a general knowledge in a domain. M-shaped people have wider knowledge in both business and technology areas. They speak the same language as the business owners but have broad and deep knowledge in multiple technological areas.”

Ending the conversation, Baris says that all the team within Portera loves to be challenged in various business areas – “without challenges, there is never progress”.

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Portera helpt om de concurrentie voor te blijven

Complexe bedrijfsvoering maakt het voor ondernemingen ingewikkeld om in te spelen op veranderingen in de markt. Baris Kavakli, consultant en managing director van Portera, heeft een plan van aanpak ontwikkeld waarmee binnen 1 tot 4 weken enorme vooruitgang kan worden geboekt. “We zetten technologie, strategie en data in om onze klanten te helpen de concurrentie een stapje voor te zijn.”


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