"I'm going to the gym more frequently," says John Dillon, president and chief executive officer of Hyperion Solutions Corporation. "Because if it can help Jesse 'The Body' Ventura get in office, just think what it could do for me!" A self-proclaimed "fitness nut," Dillon does not aspire to be a governor, but he is willing to see what develops if he works out more often.No one will have to wait, however, to see the results of the August 1998 merger of Hyperion Software and Arbor Software to form Hyperion Solutions Corporation.
In early 1998, Dillon, then chairman and CEO of Arbor Software, contacted Jim Perakis, the CEO of Hyperion Software, to discuss opportunities for the two companies to work together. "When I met with Jim, we talked about the marketplace and the evolving opportunities ahead of us. We shared our visions for the future. We found that these visions were remarkably similar for both companies, and that's what sparked interest in the merger," explains Dillon. "With both companies focusing on the analytic applications market Arbor from the technology standpoint and Hyperion from the packaged application viewpoint putting the two companies together made perfect sense," he continues. "Both approaches are needed because global organizations need packaged applications for some of their requirements, and they need to build their own applications for other requirements. Arbor wanted to build applications, and Hyperion needed more technology. The merger provides the best of both to meet the emerging analytic application marketplace," states Dillon.
A native of San Francisco, Dillon says, "I've always been fascinated by helping businesses become more efficient. I've seen a lot of waste in the information technology area where companies buy into a technology vision, but then sometimes the vendors fail to deliver. What I believe we're doing at Hyperion Solutions is providing that final piece that delivers the return on the investment (ROI). Companies have significant investments in databases, data warehouses and ERP systems and are creating monumental stacks of data. We come in and make sense of the data, add value to the data, and finally give the customer the payback on that prior investment. To me that's very compelling, and it gives me great satisfaction. For example, we have a customer who indicates that they have saved over $140 million in three years by implementing our technology," emphasizes Dillon. "That's the power of analytic applications."
"The goal of Hyperion Solutions is to offer a broad array of technology to meet the requirements for analytic applications and to offer our customers a portfolio of solutions including OLAP technology such as Hyperion Essbase OLAP Server and packaged analytic applications such as Hyperion Pillar and Hyperion Enterprise. We deliver those applications either by building them ourselves, or we use our partnering strategy to bring products and services to market. The idea is to leverage the investment that customers make in our technology across many different requirements. That's good for us in our strategic relationships with the customer but, more importantly, it's good for the customer. What companies are going to need is vendors that offer bigger pieces of solutions and that, to a certain extent, had something to do with why we wanted to merge. Combined, we now have much more strength to bring analytic applications and technology to the marketplace," states Dillon. Hyperion Solutions Corporation has established alliances with more than 300 technology, application and services vendors. "Our alliance partners extend the value of the Hyperion analytic platform with more than fifty best-in-class Hyperion Essbase-ready tools, packaged analytic applications and comprehensive consulting and educational services," he adds.
Clearly customer needs drive Hyperion's product focus, and the end result must meet Dillon's high standards. As he states, "We set the bar very high, and we have a lot of ambitious goals. Part of my job is to make sure that we execute, and I'm accountable for that. It's fascinating to be able to go to a customer and solve a business problem that has been intractable for years. I don't think the challenge would be there if the rewards weren't high for success or if the accountability wasn't there for less than success. It's a bit like playing a competitive sport, and as head of the company I field every play, every day, of every game."
Dillon enjoys those workplace challenges, but he also enjoys athletic challenges, possibly an attitude developed during his days at the Naval Academy where he went on to drive nuclear submarines. In fact, a team from Hyperion Solutions participated in the "Hood to Coast" relay race last summer. Dillon explains, "The course covers 195 miles from Mount Hood in central Oregon to the coast. It's a non-stop relay race with 12 runners, each running three legs. I was clearly the oldest individual on the team, and I feel I held up my end of the bargain. We ran the race in about 24 hours, and I ran about 17 miles in that time frame. It was a great group effort, and we're getting ready to do it again next year."
Another challenge for Dillon and Hyperion Solutions is to maintain good customer relationships. Dillon says, "It's a rare vendor who can be all things to the customer. I believe you should focus on something that you can do well, and then deliver the value to the customer. Too many vendors, I believe, don't deliver the ROI to the customer. What we do is use our partnering strategy and our relationships with third parties to augment areas of our product offering to give the customers the greatest degree of flexibility and choice. That makes a customer happy, and if a customer is happy, then you have a good relationship."
A vision, an understanding of the marketplace and the ability to deliver is making Hyperion Solutions the best in its field. Dillon has always been fascinated by helping businesses become more efficient. "What is exciting to me is that there are so many different analytic applications that we can either build and deliver to the marketplace or to which our technology can be applied," comments Dillon. "Each one of them is fascinating in and of itself. It's like solving a puzzle, and we have the technology to do it. And when you put all the pieces together and see the full picture, it's a very rewarding experience."
Dillon feels that many companies today spend a disproportionate amount of their capital on information technology approaching 50 percent in some cases. "Corporations around the world have to be looking at their expenditure and questioning their return on investment. What we're trying to do is to make sure that our standalone products are best of breed. A great example is the recently announced Hyperion Integration Server, a suite of graphical tools and scalable data integration services that dramatically reduce the time and costs involved in creating, deploying and managing analytic applications. But, at the same time, in areas where we don't sell a product, rather than sell something that's mediocre, we will partner with a best-of-breed vendor and make sure that the integration is there so the customer doesn't have to do it." Dillon feels that this approach is more practical with savings in time, frustration and money again with the customers' best interests at heart. "It's an interesting note that if you look at the technology that we deliver whether it's Hyperion Essbase for OLAP Server or whether it's packaged applications such as Hyperion Enterprise for Management Reporting and Consolidation or Hyperion Pillar for budgeting, forecasting and planning our typical new customer is up and running in production with their first application in 6-8 weeks. So the return on investment is quite quick. We're able to deliver the ROI, bringing the investment full circle back to the IT organization so the customer gets rapid payback," says Dillon.
It's easy to tell that Dillon is sincere and excited to challenge himself to continue to do the best for Hyperion Solutions' customers. With over 2,000 employees in 26 countries, Hyperion Solutions products are driving business performance for more than 4,400 large customers.
Why do these customers choose Hyperion products? When posed that question Dillon wasted no time in responding with confidence. "I think that in addition to having great technology and great applications, we're an easy company to do business with. We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and working with our partners. We like to be part of the solution, and we don't spend much time worrying about competitors. Instead, we focus on how we can cooperate with partners and other vendors and help solve problems for the customers, and the customers appreciate that. It's interesting that 40- 50 percent of our business comes from our current customers. The fact that our customers are buying more of our technology and more of our products speaks well for us and indicates that they like the technology and recognize the value they are getting for their money."
As satisfying as this is, the competitive spirit fuels Dillon to do even better. "Probably the biggest challenge we have today is our stated intention to deliver analytic applications in a number of different functional areas. To date our technology serves customers well in finance, marketing, sales, operations and manufacturing. Over the next 12 months our goal is to deliver strong packaged analytic applications in areas such as sales and marketing," states Dillon.
How has the merger of Arbor Software and Hyperion Software impacted Dillon and the goals he has set? He quickly responds, "I am very, very excited because when you put two companies together, it's really the people. I've been really delighted at the quality of Hyperion Solutions' employees and their willingness to build an exciting new company." Not sure just what to expect, hoping for the best and then actually seeing it come to fruition, brings a smile of satisfaction to his face, knowing that the customers and the future of the company are in good hands. The company's service and support organization is globally coordinated but regionally focused to meet the specific needs of customers around the world. Over one-third of Hyperion's staff is dedicated to customer support and service. Dillon's company is fully committed to maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction through its technical support, consulting and training services. Customer satisfaction is clearly the overriding priority. The bar has been set high by Dillon, but as he says, "I like a challenge."
As to what areas of technology will have the greatest impact on the industry over the next few years, Hyperion's president and CEO answers without hesitation, "It's the Internet for two reasons: It eliminates or reduces a barrier to deployment, which is establishing a network. A second reason is that the browser becomes the vehicle for delivering the information." He feels that the network and the browser minimize a large part of the effort and reduce expense in training, maintenance and system administration. An organization's investment in technology can be leveraged across thousands of users. "Since delivering information to decision makers is our ultimate goal, we're particularly excited about this trend."
The satisfaction Dillon derives from his position is obvious. "What analytic applications do is take the data and add value deriving new information. That's where the gold mine is the real value. We turn the data into some actionable information that can be used to make business decisions. And that's the whole reason for creating the data in the first place so you can do something with it. That's what we're all about, and it's really exciting," Dillon concludes enthusiastically.
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