David Briskman – Electro Rent
Leading a digital transformation and ERP implementation—and doing so at a global company known for providing high-tech electronic testing equipment—is a tall order. Even more so during a global pandemic.
So, in February 2019, when David Briskman was hired by Electro Rent to be the new CIO and complete its ERP implementation, he quickly updated ER’s digital framework, drawing on 30 years of experience. Turns out, he launched the digital project with no time to spare.
A year later, after planning to move from London to Los Angeles, Briskman was forced to change his plans and relocate to Nashua, New Hampshire, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. And while most of his work is now done remotely, he says there is plenty to keep him busy and the company productive and on track.
“I was literally moving when our offices started closing,” Briskman says. “We were already in the middle of taking our business online, but the pandemic accelerated our timetable in more ways than one.”
ER goes all digital
Founded in 1965, ER employs around 650 industry experts (engineers, product specialists and technicians) tasked with providing testing and measurement equipment for rent, lease or purchase across a wide range of industries: aerospace and defense, telecommunications, semiconductor, electrical power and more. Think microwave spectrum analyzers, oscilloscopes, wireless communications equipment and high-tech tools.
“We have a huge inventory of equipment (over $1.1 billion in OEC) and we’re able to deploy it worldwide quickly,” Briskman says. “Some of that equipment takes months to acquire, calibrate and certify. We can deliver equipment in days or hours versus weeks to order new equipment.”
With Electro Rent owned by Platinum Equity and having merged a few years ago with Microlease, another company in the same field, Briskman says asset management and billing have become key customer touchpoints. That prompted the creation of the company’s new Digital Center of Excellence, an internal division focusing on cybersecurity, e-commerce and online initiatives.
Combining company resources in IT, marketing and sales, the DCoE helps ensure ER’s digital resources brings as much value as possible, he says. Briskman is charged with creating and optimizing communication and commerce channels internally, as well as with vendors and customers—all with the aim of creating what he calls a “global virtual matrix.”
The goal: Make ER’s website and customer portal a one-stop shop for testing and measuring equipment.
The solution: MyER. The platform consolidates customer information and is quick and easy to access—not so different from the “Shopping Cart” on Amazon, where shopping and purchasing history can be managed.
“It’s everything from SEO and how we’re going to manage our content, to what training and capabilities we’ll provide our customer base,” Briskman says. “If you think about most companies you do business with, you’re calling customer service or sending an email. Our goal is to handle routine transactions as much as possible online.”
About 20 percent of ER’s customers are using the portal, which was recently rolled out. And the company expects that number to grow as the digital transformation continues. Additionally, Europe and Asia operations are using a new ERP system, but COVID-19 delayed the rollout in the U.S. until training and testing could be conducted in person.
Sales gets a makeover
The company has also looked to Briskman to help extend its services beyond the current scopes.
Shortly after joining ER, Briskman set about updating the company’s enterprise resource planning system, switching from 30-year-old home-grown legacy systems to a combination of Salesforce, DynaRent and Microsoft Dynamics 365 that tracks equipment for ER and its customers.
He says that this will allow ER to manage global assets efficiently by building a more cohesive sales program with a fully integrated CRM and CPQ module, in order to enhance the company’s value proposition for existing and future clients.
“ER is in the space of providing rental solutions. If a company needs a piece of equipment for only six months, it can be much more economical to rent it than to buy it,” Briskman explains. “The added value of the MyER customer portal on top of the new ERP allows customers to manage their account in real-time, which means it needs to support provided capabilities.”
This might include shipment tracking, collating contracts with consolidated information pertinent to multiple countries, and coordinating efforts internally to create a smooth customer experience.
It takes a team
Throughout its recent IT overhaul, ER has gotten significant support from two vendors: Advanced Technology Group and Wipro. ATG was instrumental in the back-end work around implementing Salesforce CPQ, which allows ER to manage its bottom line more effectively.
“ATG helped us design and implement Salesforce, which resulted in a more flexible configuration for price management,” Briskman says. “It’s a complex balance to give customers a great working solution. ATG helped us achieve success in that area in a timely manner.”
That, in turn, allowed ER to successfully transition their application support offshore to Wipro, which provides that support and takes care of lots of the little things that could cause frustration, like a purchase order that won’t print or data entry issues.
It’s not the most exciting work to some, he notes, but it is hugely important, and both vendors have allowed ER to better serve its customers, streamline expenses and increase profits.
Briskman has accomplished quite a bit since joining ER. He also has a history of international accomplishments going back to his first corporate work in 1987 at Kraft Foods, a ten-year stint that found him living and working in NYC, Hong Kong, Chicago and Australia.
Working around the world
Since earning his master’s degree in industrial engineering at Cornell University, he has traveled to more than 65 countries, driving global change in industries including retail, food, pharmaceutical, health care and software.
After Kraft Foods, Briskman moved around: Schering-Plough (New Jersey, Singapore); Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. (New Delhi); Whirlpool (Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East); and two years in Switzerland as CIO at Dufry Group, the world’s largest retailer.
One of his personal top honors: being inducted into the India CIO Hall of Fame while working at Ranbaxy, India’s largest pharmaceutical company.
It has taken a globe-spanning effort—fueled by people and technology —to revamp ER’s online operations. Briskman has been sitting in the digital driver’s seat throughout the process and is now turning to next steps, driving greater functionality across all platforms and throughout the company.
“I believe in digital transformation to enable business; I’ve devoted my career to it, but only when it adds value to a business, not just for the sake of just technology investment,” Briskman says. “It is a tall order, especially so during a pandemic, but it’s also what holds us together as individuals and as a company.”
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