Q&A with Pentaho Customer Success Manager Jonathan Seper

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.

One Response to Q&A with Pentaho Customer Success Manager Jonathan Seper

  1. I’m doing some research on the emerging profession of customer success management in the SaaS/Cloud sector, and would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you about your perception and plans for your team.  Here are some links to articles that will introduce what I’m doing with the Initiative:

    The Customer Success Management Initiative

    Customer Success Management: Position or Profession?

    Cloud Profitability and the Burden of Customer Success

    You may also join us in The Customer Success Management Forum on LinkedIn.  



    Mikael Blaisdell
    Mikael Blaisdell & Associates, Inc.

    The Customer Success Management Initiative
    The SaaS & Support Project 
    SCCORES: The SaaS/Cloud Customer Retention Study


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