Veloce CPQ - Luigi Aditiarama interviewed by Frank Sohn of Novus Consulting


What's the secret sauce in Veloce CPQ and why is it a great option for today's high tech enterprises and manufacturing companies that have struggled with their CPQ projects?

Listen in to Luigi Aditiarama, Veloce’s VP of Product at Veloce, as he talks with Novus CPQ Consulting’s Frank Sohn about the approach that went into the development of Veloce CPQ from the beginning.



Configure, Price, Quote Podcast transcript

Frank Sohn

Welcome to the configure price quote podcast. My name is Frank Sohn and I'm the founder of Novus CPQ consulting. This podcast is a hundred percent focused on Configure, Price, Quote — also known as CPQ — and will provide you useful insights to this topic.

My guest today is Luigi Aditiarama, the Vice President of Product for Veloce, a company that offers a standalone CPQ solution, as well as an extension for Salesforce Revenue Cloud. Veloce CPQ solution is tailored towards customers with complex CPQ requirements, and Luigi has over 15 years of business experience and joined Veloce in 2019.

The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Welcome, Luigi, to the CPQ podcast.

Luigi Aditiarama

Thank you, Frank, super excited to be in this podcast and have the chance to share my experience with your audience.


Frank Sohn

Very excited to have you Luigi, and before we get started, let's maybe, talk a little bit about yourself and what you did before you joined Veloce in 2019.

Yeah, sure. I used to work for a CPQ company as well before Veloce; it was called Apttus back then. I actually joined them in the early days when they were maybe less than 40 employees and then they got acquired. I think they're operating under the name of Conga today.

They do CPQ, CLM, and the whole Quote to Cash. I actually started with the sales engineering department. I helped sell CLM and CPQ and then midway, I joined one of the Big Four to implement CPQ; that's when I learned to actually use the CPQ that I sold and actually was implementing it in bigger companies.

And then I moved to the product side and I'm very happy with that, because I have the whole full breadth of experience from actually selling it, from building the product and also implementing CPQ. That's my background.

Frank Sohn

Excellent. So you have experience from multiple sides. That's very helpful, but now let me ask one question: after you've been with Apttus and then with one of the Big Four. What was the main reason for you to join Veloce?


CPQ for the modern enterprise

Luigi Aditiarama

Interesting. As you know, Apttus was built fully native on salesforce.com, but towards the end, they actually had a different strategy, moving it off the salesforce.com. When I first got introduced to Veloce, one of the biggest challenges at the enterprise level for CPQ is to actually have great performance, especially on the Salesforce.com platform.

Veloce CPQ was very interesting. The founders were very technical and they actually built a solver. What they call a Solver. Simply put, you give the solver a problem: could be a configuration problem, could be pricing problems, and it spits out the answer — the results, if it can find the results — within less than 200 milliseconds.

I thought that was very life changing technology for the enterprise CPQ; Businesses really need this type of technology. I got super interested and I got to know the founders and I decided to join Veloce.

Frank Sohn

Excellent. And what do you consider the most exciting part of being in this complex enterprise CPQ space at this time?

Luigi Aditiarama

Even being in the CPQ space for more than 15 years now, you see improvements from a technical perspective and functional perspective every day. You see that CPQ is something that is a must have for every business at the enterprise level. And it's exciting to be able to be a part of this space where you can still keep improving on the experience, on the technical functionalities of CPQ.

If you look at CPQ from 10 years ago, it kind of morphed into a more, what we call now, Quote to Cash Order, because it touches even before you get to the quoting and it touches everything downstream out where the quoting is done. It's a very interesting space for me, especially the level of complexity and the room for improvements. It is massive.

Frank Sohn

Fully agree, lots of room to improve in the CPQ space still. Let me ask one other question before we talk more about the products and services that Veloce offers. Tell me, what do you do when you don't work, Luigi?

Luigi Aditiarama

It's an interesting question. I actually live in the Bay Area, Northern California and as everybody knows, it's pretty expensive to live here.

I'm a very outdoorsy person and I love sports. I decided to just take advantage of what California has to offer. So I do a lot of biking, outdoor sports, and before COVID, I actually did a lot of contact sports such as boxing and playing soccer — not the American football, but, what the rest of the world calls football, we call soccer.

I used to play in a league down in Palo Alto and I got to meet a lot of great people during my time playing there. Yeah. So super outdoorsy. And I feel like that's maybe one of the many ways to take advantage of the living cost of California is to take advantage of what California has to give you.

Frank Sohn

That’s absolutely true. One question you're also into surfing or is it more, as you said, biking, boxing, and soccer.

Luigi Aditiarama

Biking, boxing, soccer, running. I do a little bit of snowboarding. Not so much water sports. One of the interesting things was: I did a sprint triathlon earlier in my younger days and I actually watched — I've never swam in my life and to practice swimming — I actually watched YouTube.

I learned how to swim freestyle from watching YouTube. And when you swim in the open sea, it's super scary. Since then I haven't gone back to water sports. I've been really scared of the water since my triathlon days.

Enterprise CPQ delivered on Salesforce

Frank Sohn

Fascinating. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing that.

So now let's switch gears a little bit and let's talk about Veloce. Can you tell our listeners in a couple of sentences, what products and services Veloce offers?

Luigi Aditiarama

Veloce offers CPQ in the higher sense for enterprise. We have a different kind of engine. It's a hybrid replication on the Salesforce platform. All data stays on Salesforce, but the mechanism to actually compute is hosted outside of Salesforce, on a cloud server, like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and so on. Veloce has the full end to end CPQ. We have a configuration engine, we have a pricing engine, we have document generation and an approval engine.

Our main difference is that we approach CPQ in a totally different way from the other CPQ vendors. And long story short, we are able to actually improve the performance. Every click performance, we try to stay under 200 milliseconds to give that B2C consumer experience to the enterprise world.

Headless CPQ

Frank Sohn

Excellent. One thing I think, which plays into this, not directly performance, but how you use the solutions is also 'headless' technology. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how important that is for?

Luigi Aditiarama

It's very important. It actually took me back to 2014. When I was working for the Big Four, I was actually in one of the projects for one of the largest telco businesses in the United States and one of the things that they needed was a CPQ that can be plugged into what they call an Experience Layer. 

What 'headless' means, and it's very powerful, especially when you're using it for commerce, is that you want to separate the configuration and all the engines, all the computational components from the experience itself, which is what we call the UI, or the user experience. When I started talking to Veloce and when we started building this product, we wanted everything to be headless. We wanted everything to be API based.

So we have taken and designed what we call the UI Designer to be able to give enterprise business a way to express how they want their quoting experience to look and feel. And we separate that out from the actual data, the data layer, and we separate that out from the actual engine, the computation and the pricing engine, and everything talks through the API layer.

That way you give the most flexibility to the enterprise users. If they want inside sales, to be able to use CPQ in one way, they can define that. And if they are concerned about exposing it to their resellers or to their indirect customers, they can define it in another way. We built Veloce from the ground up to be, to be headless from the beginning of time.

System Integrator (SI) Education for Veloce CPQ Implementation

Frank Sohn

Excellent. And now one question is also, obviously, so you have the CPQ solution that you offer. Do you also offer any services that go with the solution implementation service, for example?

Luigi Aditiarama

Yes, definitely. Since we are a newish company, we've been around for about three plus years now, we offer the services to implement Veloce CPQ to our customers. One of the reasons is that we are not a typical CPQ with the if—then configurator engine, I would say we have a true constraint based engine and we introduced this thing called Product Model. Product Model is pretty much the blueprint that contains all the attributes and how and what the rules should look like and should behave. And what are the pricing rules that should be applied to different scenarios? Product Model is very important and core to the Veloce engine. We decided that supplementing with the services team while we educate the market and different Systems Integrator (SI)'s to use Veloce and implement Veloce in the future... It's the right way to go for now.

CPQ for manufacturing, telcos, medical device industry and subscription-based business

Frank Sohn

Hmm. And what industry and geographical areas do you focus on?

Luigi Aditiarama

Right. So, a bit of a flashback.... When I was working on a different CPQ, not Veloce, that company actually started with the SaaS industry. The SaaS industries have their own set of requirements that they need to run their businesses. It was a massive struggle for that CPQ to move from the SaaS industries to the telco industry, and to move to the manufacturing industry, because the engine was more or less hard coded. Going back to how Veloce was founded, it was founded based on an actual Solver. This solving technology: you give this solver a problem and it spits out the results and it doesn't care what kind of problem it is.

You can mold it, you can define these different types of problems and make it fit into different industries. We actually targeted a lot of the very complex industries, like manufacturing, telcos, medical devices and the regular subscription-based businesses. So we target a lot of these enterprise businesses because our engine is powerful enough to actually solve their hard requirements.


Veloce CPQ serves enterprise customers with previous failed CPQ implementation

Frank Sohn

Got it. The focus of Veloce’s product development is really first and foremost on complexity, not necessarily on industry. Right? So then the next question is also what customer size do you typically work with?

Luigi Aditiarama

We introduce ourselves as serving enterprise customers, we solve very complex problems with a large amount of data required.

We have customers who need thousands and thousands of quote line items, which are large data sets to deal with. We deal with the most complex industries and the most complex customers. Our typical customers are customers that have used other CPQ tools and have failed, meaning they were not able to achieve what they want or they implemented. Usually they had the easy phase one, however they couldn't move on to phase two or phase three. Their business really takes a hit then.

We started off with very complex customers. And then slowly we are actually deploying a lot of out of the box functionalities in terms of user experience, in terms of pre-built Product Model to actually move downstream. So eventually we will want to offer this to the small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) with the benefit of very quick implementations. You just roll it up with a few clicks and less of a service.

Veloce CPQ External Configurator for Salesforce CPQ

Frank Sohn

Makes sense. Now, let me ask one question. I mentioned in the introduction that you also work as an extension for Salesforce Revenue Cloud, which begs the question: how do you work with the Salesforce Revenue Cloud team?

Luigi Aditiarama

We actually work very closely with them. It's been great. We found out that Salesforce CPQ actually has an official way to work together and integrate with their Salesforce CPQ. We call it the ‘External Configurator’ and we work with their team continuously to improve their customer’s experience with Salesforce CPQ and also to help with their existing customers, if they have any issues.

Frank Sohn

Excellent. And how many employees does Veloce have these days?

Luigi Aditiarama

When I started off about three years ago, we had less than 10 people and now we are approaching 60, I believe. It's been a great growth and growing during the pandemic has been pretty challenging because of remote work and not being able to meet face to face, but I think we have hit that productivity performance where we all know what to do and you know, everybody is just heads down and doing what they do.

CPQ with completely configurable User Interface (UI)

Frank Sohn

Excellent. Now I have a difficult question for you Luigi. I think the last time I had someone from Veloce on the podcast was Joe Parlett and that was in December, 2019. I guess you have made probably a number of considerable changes over this period of time. Can you tell me roughly what these major changes are, and why they are important and good for your customers.

Luigi Aditiarama

Joe Parlett and I speak every day, obviously, and I love challenging questions like this. We actually observed. When we built the product, on day one, obviously there were no customers. Now we have a pretty big base of customers and users using our products. So one of the main changes that we've been focusing on is the way somebody can use our platform to build the product models, to define the rules, to define the pricing and to define the UI. Because as I mentioned earlier, we also have a UI Designer.

Veloce ships with one UI out of the box, but you can customize the UI. You can build different UI components or use the pre-built UI components to put together the user experience. What we've learned throughout the past two years is that we observed how Systems Integrator (SI)'s, — we work with multiple Systems Integrator companies (SI)'s — we observed how users and Systems Integrator (SI)'s use our platform. We've taken this feedback and we created something new. We call it Veloce Studio. Veloce Studio: the basic idea is pretty simple. We want a super easy administration. One stop shop, so you don't have to move to different tabs and move to different setups and objects within Salesforce.

You just stay on the Veloce Studio to do A—Z. We cater to two different kinds of users. One is the point and click, data admins, or sales operation type of person where they just want to make some easy changes, introduce new products to the product model, or change some of the list price or floor pricing easily.

But we also cater to the advanced users, the Systems Integrator (SI) that needs to actually deliver implementation. This is one of the biggest changes we’ve made. We supplement configurable UI with what we call Veloce Education, where the System Integrator (Si) can log in to our system and take a series of courses to understand how to use and administer our product. That's the biggest change that we have announced about a month ago.

Frank Sohn

Novus Consulting helps you with all CPQ related questions. For example, we help customers to find the best CPQ solution for their business. And we help customers analyze their current business process to determine if and where CPQ can help here. It's important to point out that we are a hundred percent independent and always look out for our customers first. This means for us also that we don't get paid by any CPQ vendor for providing them new customers or for any other services. We are focused on our customers and always provide the best available information to them. We also help system integrators to improve their services, and we offer the only CPQ industry subscription that provides monthly CPQ news and trends.

We have many other services. So check it out today at novuscpq.com. Send me an email to frank dot sohn at novuscpq.com to learn how we can help you with your CPQ questions and keep us in mind when you look for a hundred percent impartial CPQ advice.

And what are the most common challenges that your customers face right now?

Luigi Aditiarama

There are challenges. Our customer profiles are pretty similar. They have been using a type of CPQ or two and they have failed. Most of them have implemented some CPQ and they are not able to change with the times, right? Because their business has grown, they might have new services, or new subscription business, and they want to be able to apply CPQ across their departments, but they're not able to do that. That's the most common customer profile that we have. Companies that know what the value of CPQ is, have used one or two CPQ before, and that CPQ was not able to meet their requirements.

Frank Sohn

Excellent. One thing which I also see quite a bit is that you have to convince users to actually use the solution, right? So you have a solution, but the solution is only so good as the users that actually use it. What do you do to convince more users to use your solution?

Luigi Aditiarama

Right. We approach it in a slightly different way. Actually, one of our early customers — I've never spoken to this person before and I got a message from him on LinkedIn — He was really thankful for Veloce and how it changes his day to day as a salesperson. I was really surprised. But not actually surprised, because the biggest difference of Veloce is the UI design tool.

It sounds simple. It sounds like it's very obvious, but when you allow the business to express how the CPQ should look like, then you don't really have adoption problems. You will give the sales user, the sales operations, exactly what the UI and user experience should look like and what they're looking for.

If you remember what I just mentioned about a minute ago, a lot of these customers have used CPQ before like other CPQ tools and they have failed. When they come to us, they know what they want. They know what they're looking for and having the UI design tool to give them exactly what they want to the accuracy of like 90 plus percent, it's really game changing and adoption will not be a problem anymore at that point.

Fastest CPQ implementation for enterprise

Frank Sohn

Fully agree. I see that in every CPQ selection project: that the user interface is very important when customers select or evaluate the CPQ solution. And that's true for new as well as existing customers.

Anyway, let me ask another question about the typical Veloce project. How long is a typical Veloce project? I know it's a fuzzy question, but try to answer it anyway. And what can customers do to get ready for it?

Luigi Aditiarama

Right. None of our customers will fit into what you call out of the box experience of other CPQ tools. As a company —and a personal side note, I'm very familiar with a lot of CPQ tools — so when you put the comparison side by side, apple versus apple, where a customer has these requirements that require a lot of custom solutions for other CPQ tools versus using Veloce where our platform allows you this customization very easily. Done this way, the implementation becomes really short. It is much shorter than if you use other CPQ, but these are still enterprise at the end of the day. These are still very difficult requirements, very complex workflows, right? It's not simply 1) product and 2) options and 3) bundle, and I'm happy with my result. So when when you take the whole end to end requirements, and you try to implement these requirements, complex requirements using Veloce compared to other CPQ, we are way faster than other CPQ in terms of implementation because of the way we have developed this product to allow such customization to be supported by our engine.

Frank Sohn

Got it and all the CPQ solutions integrate with lots of other systems potentially, right? So you already, obviously mentioned CLM since you're a Salesforce partner also, but you would also integrate with ERP, product life cycle management systems, billing and on and on. What should customers know about your integration capabilities and Veloce out of the box capabilities?

CPQ integration with Salesforce or CPQ with direct integration

Luigi Aditiarama

Two main things. The whole Veloce CPQ data resides on the Salesforce platform. Meaning all the data doesn't go to any of the Veloce servers. So it just stays on the customer Salesforce platform. And why I mention this is because a lot of the enterprise customers we work with, they already have a pre-existing integration that requires data from their Salesforce.

We can make use of that. We don't need to do anything. We just gain that setup right away. Because they already have it. If they have a middle layer that talks from Salesforce to the middle layer, from the middle layer to the downstream system, Veloce can make use of that. The second point is that our engine, our server, it's stateless and it's hosted on a cloud platform like Google cloud and AWS.

If a Veloce customer needs direct integration, and they don't want to integrate to Salesforce, they just want to integrate directly from AWS or GCP to their downstream system, which is very common. For example, like a telco company, they might want to integrate with their own system that checks the validity of the address, and if this address is something they can service, right? They don't need to go to Salesforce to do that. They can just directly integrate. We can call that integration through an API from our server directly to their server. It's very easy for us to integrate. We also package the data as small as possible, Frank, to prevent latency.

When we pass back and forth the data, obviously everything is secure. And we package it as small as possible, according to whatever data structure and format they need to get the result back.

Frank Sohn

Hmm. Excellent. And then that brings up another question. There’s more about data analytics, right? More and more customers want to use more and more data in their CPQ solution, and was just wondering, do you see that as well? And what do your customers ask for?

CPQ for Enterprise SaaS

Luigi Aditiarama

It's very surprising. For example, the SaaS customers that we have. They want everything to be calculated right away. They want things like ARR, or contracted ARR, or MRR, or ACV/ TCV to be calculated. A lot of our competitors have issues or problems calculating those things, maybe due to the performance of their engine or something else.

Veloce out of the box UI actually calculates those things for them, they don't need to redefine it. They can obviously define the new metrics that they care about, but they can define any kind of analytics. Veloce CPQ has all kinds of slices of discounting, and different levels of discounting, different levels of calculation of your revenue. And Veloce displays real time. Every time a user clicks something, it recalculates everything else. 

Another analytics tool that is super useful for telco companies, for example, is the whole idea of changing the assets. For instance telco provisioning: Move, Add, Change, Delete (MACD), right? It's really difficult when you deal with multiple locations and three or six months later, they call in and want to say: terminate this service or add new service, change the start date, change the end date; it gets really messy, especially for hundreds of locations. Veloce automatically calculates the Delta for them and they will be able to know if they're losing their revenue or they're actually adding to the revenue throughout the whole fiscal year or throughout the year by, whatever they want to define in terms of period of time.

Frank Sohn

Very cool and very useful, by the way. And let me ask one follow up question kind of to this one, essentially about machine learning in CPQ. For a while, that has been a favorite topic of analysts and stuff like this. You don't hear that much about it. I was just wondering how much do you hear demand wise from your customers about using machine learning in CPQ?

Luigi Aditiarama

We hear about it here and there, but we haven't seen a successful implementation of using machine learning on CPQ. What we do have is close, but it's not machine learning, It’s a way to optimize. When we deal with manufacturing companies, they want to be able to optimize the materials used, or the cost, or something else. Veloce’s configuration engine actually allows users to define what we call Optimization Goal. Keep in mind though, this is not using any machine learning or anything like that. So, yeah, to answer a question, not so much.

Enterprise CPQ app with exceptional performance

Frank Sohn

Excellent. One last question, especially looking forward and for the remainder of this year, maybe the first part of next year, what do you think is going to be most interesting for the customers that you work with capability wise?

Luigi Aditiarama

I think the most interesting thing from this point onwards is as they, as all these companies are trying to grow, even though they're already enterprise, they want to keep growing, and they're dealing with a larger amount of data. Everybody uses commercial apps nowadays. Expectation of an enterprise app is that it needs to be beautiful.

The user experience needs to be super easy to use, very intuitive, and the performance needs to look like the Facebook and the Google of the world. I think more and more. Enterprise customers are not settling for an older experience: Oh, this is an enterprise application. Therefore it's slow. Therefore it doesn't look good.

I think a lot of people are not settling for this anymore and moving towards: it has to be great. It has to be easily used. Performance has to be there just like when I use my phones' applications. That's where I see things are trending. It takes a while to get there, but I think it's getting there.

Frank Sohn

Excellent. It's very fascinating talking to you, Luigi, but we're coming to the end of this episode. So hence my last question. What's a good way for interested listeners to contact you if they have any follow up questions regarding Veloce.

Luigi Aditiarama

You can easily Google Veloce CPQ, or find me on LinkedIn. Or you can just email me directly Luigi.Aditiarama at veloceapps.com. Very easy to find us. We hope we can chat in the future. And thank you so much, Frank, for inviting me again. Appreciate your time.

Frank Sohn

Thank you very much for making time for the CPQ podcast today, Luigi and we will have all this information in the show notes. Thanks again.

I’d like to thank everyone for listening and hope you learn something interesting today. If you like the podcast, please go ahead and rate it or share it with your friends and colleagues. In the meantime, you can find us online www.novuscpq.com. So long, everyone.

Latest Blog Posts
Ready to accelerate your revenue growth?
Let's talk.