Rolling Out AI + Cloud at a Fortune 500 Company. $30MM / Year Contract
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This is not a program about winning a consulting study. It is not about advice alone. Make no mistake, those are challenging goals but relatively easier than what we did in this program. This is an engineering challenge about figuring out (the technical, operating, and business strategy) and rolling out (engineering implementation) one of the most important and complex technologies. Abhishek* is a mid-level sales executive at a major technology company. Despite its hefty balance sheet, enormous R&D budget, and incredibly talented engineers, the company has been out-maneuvered by fierce and determined competitors. Now, they are facing foreign competition. They lost the smartphone war. They are losing the cloud war. They are losing the big data war. They are not even seen as competitive in AI, despite having an early lead. Morale is low. There are significant turf wars and silos. Within this turmoil, Abhi was in the sights of several senior executives who did not think highly of him, undermined him, and locked him out of potential career-defining opportunities. One of the most difficult parts of this program was working around those challenges.
To seamlessly integrate their hardware and software, the tech company had designed a chip that fell so far short of expectations it was disparagingly christened “dud-nanometer” by the senior sales executives. Designing chips turned out to be harder than they had thought. When we admitted Abhi, he had a simple goal: help him accelerate his career by guiding him to land cloud computing contracts. As you will find in the program, when we first started, we did not even know about the AI issues and microchip debacle. Abhi did not see them as something he should think about. They were, in his words, “outside his purview and he does not get involved in those areas.” Yet, as we progressed, we found and developed an opportunity at a Fortune 500 company to merge the AI, cloud, and chip assets to roll out a $30 million per annum engineering system to solve a problem that the client did not even realize they had.
This was a challenging program because we were attempting to drive significant improvements through a single person: Abhi – a mid-level executive who, by his own admission, suffered from a lack of confidence and the inability to motivate, and lead teams through his still developing speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills. Therefore, we deliberately chose a strategy that required Abhi to learn as few new skills as possible. Most people trying to reboot their careers focus on the tactical skills to acquire, without first defining a broad strategy. They try to learn too many new things, which takes too long to master. They assume more skills lead to success. Innovating an Industrial Giant also had very clear principles and a strategy upfront of how we would operate. Strategy always determines tactics/skills. Getting Abhi to learn how to sell large complex engineering solutions, manage the teams, break down the silos, manage engineering teams, etc., is certainly possible over time, but we wanted faster results. In this program, you will see the strategies we followed that minimized overwhelming Abhi.
Abhishek was promoted twice during this multi-year program, and he now leads the team taking this new engineering system to clients. This is one of the most exciting programs and one of the most significant results we ever achieved with a client. It was exciting because it was different. We are often asked by senior clients, usually partners, to help them sell smaller consulting engagements generating between $1MM to $3MM in fees. In this program, we go inside a tech giant and help them not just plan but actually roll out the engineering system for one of the most critical developments in technology. It’s important to remember we were doing all of this just before LLMs became widely known through the launch of ChatGPT. At the time, we did not know if it would work as it did. Yet, it did, and we are proud of this achievement. In this program, you will see Kris and Michael use their deep strategy skills to solve engineering challenges and build a business model, business, and organization around the technical assets. That is the important lesson of this program. The skills we teach have a greater impact when applied within a company and beyond only performing analyses to provide recommendations. Advisors advise. Builders build.
Editor’s Note: What we teach is unique. It is valuable. It cannot be found anywhere else. The knowledge, skills, strategies, and technical understanding required to repeat these successes in your own careers would take the average professional years, if not decades, to acquire and that’s assuming you find the right opportunities. We compress all of that learning into these mega programs: (1) Getting Andrew Promoted to Equity Partner Within 3Yrs, from Senior Manager, (2) Corporate Strategy & Transformation of a Major Industrial Company, (3) Merger and IPO of a National Tech. Champion, (4) Turnaround at a Major Financial Institutions Group, (5) EB1A Green Card – An Alien of Extraordinary Ability, (6) Rolling Out AI + Cloud at a Fortune 500 Company. $30MM / Year Contract and (7) Innovating an Industrial Giant: $42 million single project fee. They are developed over many years and given detailed explanations, they each often exceed 250 episodes/program. We are proud to make these available to our clients. As always the programs have two objectives: (1) Show you what we did to radically accelerate the clients’ career, and (2) what we did to create significant value within the company by solving a critical, and often strategic, problem.
Abhishek has been a follower, reader, listener, coaching client, and continuous subscriber to StrategyTraining.com/FIRMSconsulting.com for well over ten years. Like many of our clients, he worked with us throughout his career because of the clear value we bring to him. When he applied to this program, we felt he could be a strong participant. He is one of the original clients in our case interview coaching program (he was not part of The Consulting Offer) and went on to work at a major strategy firm, complete his MBA, and thereafter became a product manager at a prominent technology firm. In his late thirties, he moved to another technology firm in a pseudo-sales and product role. The move was primarily to take care of his aging mother. He wanted to be in a city with a large Indian ex-pat community, so she was not alone when he and his wife had to work their often late hours.
Before working with us in this program, Abhishek had modeled his sales approach and sales team on the way the best consulting firms sold work. He wanted his team to be the sharp tip of the spear. He would engage potential clients by conducting mini-studies to demonstrate the business case, for that client, to use his firm’s big data and cloud applications and infrastructure. Therefore, they were very business case-driven. When he failed to convince a client, he often assumed that the business case could have been done better or that he lacked sales and persuasion skills. Consulting firms use business cases because it is the best way they know how to sell advisory work. Yet, it is not the only way to sell, nor is it the best way. “Best” is dependent on the industry and type of work being done. In other words, one has to use powerful consulting skills in the right way, for the right problem, and at the right time.
Abhishek and his team’s primary goal was to sell the tech company’s cloud services and infrastructure. Even when clients pay for the business cases and studies, failing to accomplish this goal meant Abhishek and his team were failing. This created tension when they celebrated their business case sales but failed to convert them into engineering programs. As he struggled at his task, he became despondent and started to seek out other roles to move his career forward. He began helping an SVP with a product. He began working with engineering teams to integrate some of the infrastructure at existing clients. When he was offered a chance to move back to the product side, Abhi reached out to Michael & Kris to discuss if this was the best decision to make for his career. Should he change careers?
Working with FIRMSconsulting to Roll Out A US$30 Million Per Year Tech AI. & Engineering Deal
This program outlines all the steps, actions, strategies, and critical meetings to create a new sales model and new sales team and land that very first contract under the new model, and this is a big difference, roll out the engineering system. The size of this tech deal is not what is important, even though it is very large. This was a pilot. The approach that we developed can be scaled by the company to land much larger deals.
We introduced nine** significant changes to the way the tech company operated:
- First, we moved them away from selling based primarily on business cases. The business case is developed as support rather than being the primary tool. In fact, it comes after the sale. This required a new mindset and approach to sales. Next, we closed the mini-consulting firm/sales team Abhishek had built. Initially, many, including Abhishek, saw this as a sign of failure and the first act of giving up. He strongly resisted this advice. Since we were using a different model to sell, we needed a different type of employee working in different ways. We did not need salespeople. We called this sales approach “Co-Created Sales℠” because the sales process is continuous with the client, and many parts of the process are happening all at once. And because it is continuous, there is no sales-specific meeting or meetings that lead to the sale. There is no major proposal and build-up to the proposal. The sale simply grows into existence. This program breaks down the process and explains why it worked. This sales approach is different from CSRP and is ideal for capital-intensive businesses where the investments are significant and the risks/unknowns are high. It is also different from the approach we used in Innovating an Industrial Giant: $42 million single project fee.
- Second, we developed the “Forward Engineering Deployment Model℠” (FEDM) for the client. Most companies cannot understand the uses and potential of AI since it is a new technology. Therefore, trying to serve the AI needs of companies often leads to little progress when those needs are vague at best. The same problem occurred with the microchip they had designed. FEDM solved both problems.
- Third, data services firms tend to look for companies with large data needs, like banks, media companies, telcos, etc. By changing the way they sold, we found a new category of companies that were being ignored but could become significant clients. This program is about landing the first tech deal with that type of company that was being ignored and rolling out the technology. We also found a critical gap in the skills of the tech company’s engineering teams. That gap forced the company to only engage potential clients where the gap was not an obstacle. Closing the skills gap was another critical step to open up a new class of clients.
- Fourth, these so-called “ignored” companies often have a big but fairly low-tech barrier to using AI, cloud, and data services. We showed Abhishek and his team how to build a service to remove this barrier. The company, therefore, created another revenue stream but also made it harder for competing tech firms to steal the client.
- Fifth, most saw the “dud nano-meter” debacle as an irredeemable failure, including the media. When we first began working with Abhi, we also assumed it was a failure. However, as we reviewed the source material, understood the definition of failure, reframed what had happened, and through the FEDM, we were able to salvage the microchip. In fact, the chip became a central part of the engineering solution.
- Sixth, other technology companies have tried to serve the categories of companies mentioned in the third point above. Almost all had failed with one very high-profile failure having occurred in the last few years. We avoided third-party analyses and media reports on what had happened, as helpful as they were, and went to the source to understand the challenges we would face. This proved to be a pivotal step.
- Seventh, we developed the Management-Mental-Model℠ (MMM) and Engineering-Mental-Model℠ (EMM) to help both the tech company and their client identify a problem they did not even realize they had. This was a very effective way of analyzing problems and finding the right solutions.
- Eight, the tech firm saw AI + Cloud + Chip as an engineering challenge. They saw their biggest obstacle as being one of embedding the infrastructure into the client and trying to ramp up to operate at scale. One of the critical steps was understanding that the client’s CFO and CEO did not see it this way, even though they were not able to articulate why they did not see it as an engineering challenge. And this changed how we approached everything. By getting them to understand the true challenge, we were able to justify the economics of the deal. At the end of the day it was not an engineering nor a management challenge.
- Ninth, we deployed the Combined-Asset-Model℠ (CAM) where we searched for problems at clients that could ideally only be served by using as many of the assets of the technology company as possible.
**Co-Created Sales℠, Forward Engineering Deployment Model℠, Management-Mental-Model℠, Engineering-Mental-Model℠, and the Combined-Asset-Model℠ are proprietary techniques developed by FIRMSconsulting. They can be licensed for use.
- Michael led the mentoring, while both Michael and Kris worked on the strategy used to mentor Abhishek and the strategy he would use to reboot his career.
- At the end of each part of the program, we will have some tips/guides/questions you can use to implement the most important parts of the program.
- We will focus on the principles. So, if you are not a consultant, not in tech or not in data and AI, you will find the material beneficial.
- We often do not need to show all the slides we develop in this video/audio program. However, any slides we create for this program will be loaded into The Strategy Control Room, Advanced Level.
Ten Pivotal Moments in the Program That Ultimately Lead to Rolling Out A $30 Million Per Year Tech AI & Engineering System
#1 Stopped selling to clients.
#2 Understanding the clients’ issues at a granular, almost daily operating level.
#3 Understanding the limitations of business cases.
#4 Using a new way to build trust.
#5 Understanding why rivals were avoiding some types of clients.
#6 Finding a critical use for a product that everyone had written off as a dud.
#7 Building a business and business model around the dud.
#8 Seeing the engineering/data solution in an RFP for an unrelated consulting study.
#9 Merging consulting, AI, cloud, hardware engineering, software engineering, and data skills to create something the client had not even considered.
#10 Truly understanding the amount of labor costs to have.
*Due to client confidentiality, as always, we have altered some of the details.