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Fireside Chat with Sophie Ranson | Growth + Profitability Summit 2023

Thrudur Starradottir< Thrudur Starradottir November 20, 2023

In this Fireside Chat from Vendavo’s Growth + Profitability Summit 2023 in Stockholm, Thrudur Starradottir, Customer Success Manager at Vendavo, talks with Sophie Ranson, Director of Digital Transformation at Avnet Silica, about her advice for tearing down silos within organizations, the importance of trusting the transformation journey, and how phased implementation can help to minimize disruptions.

Thrudur Starradottir: Hi, so I am Thrudur Starradottir, Customer Success Manager here at Vendavo, and I am here with:

Sophie Ranson: So, my name is Sophie Ranson. I’m responsible for Digital Transformation at Avnet, so I work at Avnet. 

Starradottir: Great. Thank you so much for being here with me today. So, we are now in Stockholm at the Vendavo Growth + Profitability Summit, and you were just now a panelist on “Pricing Without Walls.” What advice do you have for companies that are dealing with silos in their organization? 

Ranson: Oh, the first thing that comes to mind is to be patient. It’s a long journey to try to break down the silos in a company. at Avnet silos are kind of a necessary evil, right? We need to be specialized. We need to be really precise in what we are doing. So, it takes time. It’s a journey to manage and find the right compromise between silos and being a lean organization. So, be patient, map it out, have a strategy, and then implement in waves. 

Starradottir: Right.

Ranson: That would be my advice. 

Starradottir: Absolutely. 

Ranson: So, get the big picture laid out and then go ahead and implement first phase, pilot, reiterate, and move on. 

Starradottir: Exactly. So you said that you have specialized silos, of course, as well. So, do you feel like you’re able to make the most of that? Can you take some specialties out of the silos also into the pricing strategy and such? Like get the best of everything, if you will, and try to get everyone on board. Is that something you can do? 

Ranson: Yeah, that’s something we’re aiming at doing. So again, that’s a journey. So, we need a lot of communication internal, selling, explanation, repeating [things like] what is it that we’re trying to achieve, what’s in it for you guys, and how is it going to help us be more successful collectively? 

Starradottir: Yeah. 

Ranson: So that really a communication task that you need to drive and explain why is it that we are doing this and what is the benefit you are going to get out of this. So that’s really the way forward.

Starradottir: But it’s challenging. 

Ranson: It is challenging. 

Starradottir: So, how do you go about achieving pricing alignment across the organization with Avner? 

Ranson: Oh, that’s a very good question. “Are we achieving pricing alignment?” is the first question. I think, when we speak about handing out a price to our customers, what we ensure is we are capturing the different business strategies, that we are mirroring these strategies into our digital pricing, and that then, with digital pricing, we are automating the way we give pricing to our customers so that that would be a meaningful price and an instant pricing. 

Starradottir: Like all about speed. 

Ranson: Exactly. All about speed because we are in a very transactional business with lots of volumes. So, of course, we need to be very fast. 

Starradottir: Exactly, okay. That sounds like a good approach. I mean, you’re taking it from somewhere, putting it into a system, and then making sure that that then gets kind of spread across. Reaching an alignment. 

Ranson: Exactly, and we are lucky enough to share the same ERP platform across our business units. So that helps a lot, giving access to that price to all of our sales teams. So that’s a benefit. 

Starradottir: That must be of great value.

Ranson: Yeah. 

Starradottir: So, what is Avnet’s biggest pricing challenge this year, and how are you working toward solving that? 

Ranson: So, the biggest pricing challenges we’ve been facing in the past couple of years were price swings. So, basically, the market has been very tensed for us in the past two years, and price increases have been happening regularly, and the challenge has been to reflect or roll out these price increases towards customers in a swift manner. So that was the main challenge we had to overcome, so it’s really about adapting our digital price to the prices of the market. That’s been a very, very big challenge. With digital, it’s a lot easier now that it was in the past when we had to handle it fully manually.

Starradottir: Yeah, because I was, again, I’m going to say it’s all relating to speed. It feels like it’s how quick are you to kind of turn it around and make the change? 

Ranson: Exactly, exactly. But that, that is a big challenge being reactive to the business trends and being in line with the market is one of our key concerns or challenges. 

Starradottir: I understand. So, what trends do you see impacting both pricing or selling strategies in the near future? 

Ranson: From a process standpoint, I would say automation. So, there is a lot of it that is going to be in our world, at least a lot more automated than it is today. From a business standpoint, we are in a cyclical business. So, in any case, it’s ups and downs. We are at the end of an upturn at the moment, so we are going to slide slowly into a downturn situation and be waiting up for the next phase. So that’s where we are. 

Starradottir: All right. Okay. So, it’s a continuous change, always? 

Ranson: Always. It’s a moving target. It is never a flat and constant situation, so we need to live with the ups and downs and adapt continuously. 

Starradottir: All with the speed, you know. 

Ranson: Always the speed. 

Starradottir: Exactly. 

Ranson: I mean, customers are expecting more and more speed and velocity, right? So, they want something. We live in a society of instant. Nobody is willing to wait anymore for anything, and pricing doesn’t escape that trend. 

Starradottir: Exactly. So, you can tell that it’s been a change, because I feel like it’s coming from the behavior of us as regular consumers and people. And then going into the B2B, the business to business, you’re expecting the same. You’re like, “Oh, I can buy this so instantly when I’m buying it for myself. I need to have that same speed.” 

Ranson: Exactly. And we, we felt that change in the market, right? It’s really been obvious that customers were waiting for more from us, right. More velocity and accuracy as well. So we need to be very precise and very fast. So that’s the 21st century challenge. 

Starradottir: Yes, of course. Well, thank you so much, Sophie, for being here with me. 

Ranson: Thank you.