April 12, 2018

The True Measure of Success

Melissa Treier

Swisher International Names Information Builders as its 2017 Technology Partner of the Year

I love hearing customers talk about their triumphs and victories, especially when they also give us candid insight into the hurdles they had to overcome along the way. Let’s face it: all technology implementations have their challenges, so I have learned to measure success not just by demonstrable ROI and business outcomes, but by how well an implementation team can adapt when difficulties arise.

Swisher International is a case in point. As the largest manufacturer and marketer of cigars in the world, the Jacksonville, Florida-based company not only has to please a discerning customer base, but must also operate in a highly regulated business environment. Seven years ago, in the wake of onerous tax policies, senior managers at Swisher found themselves at a crossroads: retool the company or go out of business. In an effort to systematically reduce costs and boost efficiency, they mandated changes to every department.

A big part of Swisher’s subsequent transformation involved retooling its IT environment. According to Eric Tewey, vice president of technology at Swisher, the IT staff was buried with requests for information, and it took an average of 30 days to respond to each request.

“We realized we had to get IT out of the business of delivering information, and help employees make knowledgeable business decisions on their own,” he said.

How do you remove IT from the equation and empower the user community to analyze and visualize information? Eric and his team did it by partnering with Information Builders and creating an enterprise-wide analytics environment that has helped the company improve its margins and return to profitability. For example, in the sales department, one InfoApp has saved the sales team about 50 hours per day, which Eric pointed out is like gaining six new sales reps. With an average sales revenue of $3 million per rep, they have realized a potential business value of $18 million per year – just by replacing one key report.

Each year, Swisher gives an award to the technology vendor that they believe “embodies the true measure of partnership” – and this year, we were thrilled to learn that they bestowed that honor on Information Builders. When I asked Eric what he looks for in a technology partner, he didn’t hesitate. “I look for vendors that become an extension of my delivery team,” he told me.

“Information Builders didn’t just provide technology, they helped us drive sales and reduce our operational costs.”

Eric admitted that there were hurdles to surmount along the way, but Information Builders stepped up to help at every opportunity – even when it didn’t directly involve our technology. “You guys could have easily said, ‘Oh, that’s not our problem, that’s yours,’” he said. “But you didn’t. And, to this day, whenever we have technical challenges, Information Builders is open and willing to listen. You help us attack our problems, and solve them and that has been a key factor in getting us to where we are today.”

We’re not the only one who deserves recognition today: we would like to congratulate Eric for being honored as a finalist in the Midmarket CIO Excellence Awards for his successful partnership with Information Builders as CIO of Swisher International.