Companies in T&T are still lagging behind in technology use and need to do more to implement relevant software systems to make their businesses more efficient, said Derrick Villeneuve, director of strategy and chairman, Davyn.
“This is so because it is a mentality. It is an evolution. In Canada, it was so at one point, too. Some people see the benefit of technology and envision where they want their business to go and what type of information they need to be more competitive and are willing to make a significant investment to achieve that. Whereas another company just does not see that. They will spend $1 million on a piece of equipment to put on their plant floor, but they will not make that same investment on software to run their business.”
Davyn, a technology company, delivers business applications and was founded in 2000 with a focus on delivering enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to clients in T&T and the English-speaking Caribbean.
Today, Davyn is certified by Microsoft as a Gold Enterprise Resource Planning partner.
“We work with businesses to see how they operate, improve business processes and marry that to technology and to make them more efficient. We provide software that helps businesses run their operations much better. One key area is operational and at the core of that is an accounting system. The other side is customer relationship management. How a company improves customer service, how to better interact with customers, how to measure social media and how do companies put measures in place to market to those people,” Villeneuve said.
One of the companies Davyn provides services for is Blue Waters Products Ltd.
“We provide software to run their payroll, HR, finance, manufacturing, sales and purchasing. They have trucks that go out everyday with all these handhelds and that is a different piece of software, but we handle all of the communication there. There is advanced software for routing, telling the trucks where to go. We do payroll and HR for the Point Lisas Port Development Company. We do payroll for the Tobago Regional Health Authority.
“In retail, we focus on multi-store retail and it is a newer business for us and we have SuperPharm. Everything they have is supported by Microsoft technology which we sold them. We provide support to Pennywise. We are deploying in Excellent Stores right now, that is in progress. We do work for distribution companies like Vemco and Anthony P Scott.”
The interview with Villeneuve was held two Wednesdays ago and was conducted at the Guardian Media Ltd, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
Villeneuve, who has worked five years with Microsoft in his native Canada, said almost 15 years ago when he started his business in T&T he had a company in Canada providing the same services.
“I was here doing consultancy work for a couple companies. I made contacts and there was a local consultant who knew the same software and was the only person locally that did that. He eventually migrated to Canada and worked with me. He was the co-owner and we opened another office here. LJ Williams was our first major customer around 2001.”
He said 15 years ago, there was a “big difference” in the technology environment.
“In North America and in Canada where I am from, even at that time, connectivity was quite solid. Technology was a bit further ahead than in T&T where it was still spotty. There were still a lot of manual systems. Back then the cost of labour was cheaper and you could hire three or four people and have them instead of implementing a system to make your business more efficient.”
Villeneuve said the business environment has changed in the last five years.
“Now labour costs have gone up, there is more competition. There are a lot more companies that are in manufacturing and distribution and it has placed a lot more competition on businesses, so they have to be more efficient.”
In terms of technology, he said companies are now more aware of how they can leverage technology.
“They have in many cases gone through implementations so they are more knowledgeable buyers now. There is more knowledge of what they want and there is more desire to invest in IT to improve operations. It is not possible to do it manually any more.”
Villeneuve said there are only two or three companies in the market that do what his company does.
“T&T is not a big market to have a substantial team. No one else has made this investment. When you replace an ERP system for a customer, it is like a heart transplant, your whole body is affected. Everything is affected by that software replacement. It is how they sell, buy products and interact with the customers.”
Villeneuve described T&T as a small labour market, which makes it difficult to find talent.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is finding consultants. In Canada, you can do that, but in T&T that does not exist. So you may have to hire someone with an accounting competence and train them on how software works, then have them help customers.”
Villeneuve said Davyn has traditionally worked with the medium-sized and larger companies in T&T.
“Companies at the lower end that run Peachtree, that has not been an area of focus for us, but there are solutions now like Office 365, which is a cloud-based solution where even a small business with one employee or two customers can leverage that technology. As an entrepreneur, there is so much technology to help that did not exist ten years ago.”
He said Davyn’s billing rate can range between $630 to $950 an hour.
“Soon, what we want to do is bring in customers and show them how to use the software without charging them for that.”
He said Microsoft sells most of its solutions through partners globally.
“Our competency with Microsoft are ERM and customer relation management. We are the only ERM gold certified company in this region. It is substantial.”
He added Microsoft gives out awards every year; some are global and each territory gives out a country award.
“We won it for T&T Partner of the Year, but not only for T&T, but for the entire region. One of the criteria for getting the award is sales performance. Microsoft said we are one of the few partners that has given them a plan and always deliver on it. We follow up on our commitments.”
Davyn has about 30 employees in T&T.
“Four years ago, we had five people. We grew slowly. I started to get involved full time in the business about three years ago. That had a big impact. We are 100 per cent local.”
He said his company is not perfect and does make errors.
“This is not to say we do not screw up because we do. But our commitment is: if we screw up, we do fix it.”
Despite a flat economy in T&T over the last few years, Davyn has grown its customer base significantly.
“That is because there are a number of customers locally that are realising if they want to compete, they need to know the cost of their product, to know when they have happy or unhappy customers and when they are missing targets.”
About Derrick Villeneuve
Derrick Villeneuve has more than 15 years of experience in ERP in a variety of roles. As president of GIDK Consulting Inc, he grew a business focused on the sales and deployment of Microsoft Dynamics GP with an emphasis on the distribution and manufacturing verticals. Subsequent to the acquisition of the Canadian branch of his company by Options Software and Consulting and subsequently Tectura Inc, he focused his efforts in the area of pre-sales and contributed towards growing the Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV customer base.
With the combination of a bachelor of commerce with a major in finance as well as his background in ERP, Villeneuve has a strong blend of operational and financial skills. He is known for his ability to take failed or derailed projects with unhappy customers and turn them into successes and references. In addition, he has been involved in managing development and consulting teams for both his own firm and under contract for Kewill Systems (acquired by Exact Software).