Partnership with Global Companies

11 December 2023
Language: Hebrew

Guest: Tomer Cohen, Apleona
Apleona Israel lead shares what drives global companies to look for local partners, how it can benefit both parties and how the ultimate winner is… the customer!


Idit: Servicing global clients actually creates opportunities for collaboration with leading IFM companies around the world. In this episode, we will talk about the motives for creating such partnerships. The challenges involved and why the customer is the biggest beneficiary. For this purpose, we invited Tomer Cohen to the podcast. Tomer is electronics engineer with an MBA. Tomer has experience in IFM for the past 15 years. He worked in a variety of global companies such as Intel, Novartis, Syngenta and about a year ago was appointed manager of APLEONA's operations in the Israeli market. APLEONA is one of the leading IFM companies in the global market and is headquartered in Germany. My collaboration with Tomer was in the IBM account. The IBM account is managed by Michlol, which is our boutique business unit, a premium unit that provides end-to-end services to global companies. And you could say tailor made for this project, which is the IBM project. Michlol is completely the typecast, the look and feel that the customer expects to see.
We first met when you started your position. I quickly recognized that we both see things the same way, there was synchronization, full of cooperation and so it was really fun to stand and create a dialogue with someone who speaks the same language as me.
So I'm very glad you came and it's great to have you join us. How are you?

Tomer: Thank you very much, I'm fine, it's fun to be here too. Of course, I also had a lot of fun getting to know you. Still, I also went into a place where you worked for 17 years.

Idit: 16 and a half, to be exact.

Tomer: Who counts? 17, that's just six months compared to 16 and a half. So it's fun because I also have someone to learn from. There is someone who knows the systems and the people. So, of course, my onboarding was also smoother and to this day you help me and I'm happy about that.

Idit: Great, great to hear. So let's talk a little bit about your role, about all the work interfaces you actually have with us, with Electra FM.

Tomer: Actually, today I manage the Israeli market for APLEONA. I am responsible for providing end-to-end customer service to all APLEONA clients in Israel. Today I serve IBM, Deutsche Bank and Biorad.

Idit: All the clients that APLEONA has as part of a global agreement and have representation here in Israel, you are the activity manager who they work with.

Tomer: That's right, I'm responsible for providing end-to-end service to all these customers. Of course, in full cooperation with Electra. Electra are our only suppliers in Israel. Selected after tender, of course. Like everything in the industry, I think Electra was chosen not by grace, but because of its broad umbrella of global service. And I must say, that I, personally, am very satisfied with the service and they also give me everything I need in the worlds of FM.

Idit: Why then would global companies look for what's called a local partner and not expand their activity here or, you know, build something here in our market?

Tomer: I think that global companies, as much as we try to make it as smooth as possible, they still need a local resource to speak the language, let's call it the local FM language, the Israeli FM. Someone who knows the local industry, the people, the requirements, the local regulation, even the culture, the tax laws, income tax, VAT, social security. I am sure that it will be very difficult and challenging for a global company to meet Israeli legal requirements. That's what I'm here for, someone who is connected and familiar with these mattars. Legal requirements for full conformity. Someone who will essentially bring a buffer between the local customer and the global company. And someone who has high availability. At the end of the day, we provide customer service.

Idit: Totally. It certainly makes sense why to look for a local provider.

Tomer: That's right.

Idit: Now, how is the mutual transparency between the partners in all matters of information sharing and performance actually carried out?

Tomer: At the end of the day, I think that first of all there is between us because we, both of us also happen to work in the Petah Tikva area, so you know our partnership is actually, we have monthly meetings, we have quarterly meetings.

Idit: That's right.

Tomer: And annual meetings. We also have KPIs that are synchronized between us.

Idit: Reflect all our performance.

Tomer: Our performance metrics is also our performance as a global company.

Idit: For better and worse, even if the metrics weren't the best.

Tomer: You also know what I say, sometimes I say "welcome problems", thet are always welcomed, because from there, in the end, we also learn how to move forward. So when there are problems it's okay, we are human beings, our wisdom, as managers, is to take the problems and leverage them and learn sometimes how we avoid repeating the mistakes. So for me and it's a good point that you raised, this is a very, very important point, I personally do like problems, only from them I truly learn. If everything is good there is probably another problem that we are not aware of.

Idit: Absolutely. Well, transparency is part of it too. So how do we actually create a customer experience that actually suits the needs of our customers as an FM company?

Tomer: I think, in the end, you know during our monthly meetings with the client that if we take IBM in this particular case, we think with the client, we are trying to locate their real needs beyond the KPIs. There are needs that we, as suppliers, understand beyond KPIs, such as various requirements for monthly reports they need, requests from customers, we check service calls where the customer really hurts. If we locate service calls that are, for example, very dirty on floor -1 and we see service calls that repeat themselves, then it is worthwhile...

Idit: What needs to be done there is some corrective action.

Tomer: Exactly. Our monthly meetings and service calls and joint KPIs of both IBM and Electra create synchronization for one shared goal. And if we understand the customer then I end up passing the requirement on to Electra and Electra eventually implementing it.

Idit: Translates it in execution.

Tomer: Exactly.

Idit: Actually, first and foremost, I would say customer experience, first of all, know the customer. Who is the customer.

Tomer: Communication, communication and communication. What they asks for. Sometimes we, as managers, also have to understand between the lines. Sometimes the client does not always ask.

Idit: That's right, they don't know what they want.

Tomer: They may ask for A, and actually between the lines you will understand that they want B, so you have to understand that. And of course, all of this needs to be adapted to standards and regulations, and share them before any activity we do. So yes, mostly dialogue. Mostly dialogue. And it also reinforces the first question, why do you need someone local? So that they understand the discourse.

Idit: It's the same language.

Tomer: It's the same language.

Idit: It's the same culture.

Tomer: This is the same military service we did together. It's the samenational service. It's the same school. It's the same experiences. We grew up in a small country, so it's very, very important that we understand each other, especially with people who live in Israel across from each other, it will be much easier for us to manage.

Idit: It's also the corporate understanding, meaning wouldn't they think now to come and develop the branch here in Israel, at the level of self-performance, and develop it?

Tomer: I think global companies, and we see it in the entire industry, understand that today the best thing to keep with them is their core business. We see this in pharmaceutical companies, the industry I previously worked in, and at IBM and other companies. They leave their core business, and all other services they find out. Yes, they say let's invest our money, and our resource, in drug development, product development, and everything around, "nice to have" to call it, which is important in itself.

Idit: Give it to a content expert.

Tomer: Give it to a content expert. Because they have the people, they have the knowledge, they have the leeway vis-à-vis other companies, they have experience, they have already learned from mistakes, they are not taking us for a pilot run, because they have a wide range of service that they provide to other customers. And they come already, so called, they come warm and ready for the task. I think we see that even global companies, today that they are outsourcing, they benefit from the entire service package that global companies offer, FM companies, in this case Electra, and ultimately focus only on...

Idit: On their core business.

Tomer: Exactly, on core business, yes.

Idit: Logical, perfectly logical. So now, after all, we're in a podcast about IFM, so from a global perspective, what do you think IFM will look like in five years?

Tomer: Further to the previous question, I, the way I see IFM in five years, is basically that all global companies will export their entire preventative maintenance, all the content worlds of IFM to global companies, and that's why they want to focus on their main business, allocate most of their resources, money and knowledge there, and let other content experts deal with it. In the end, they want to buy quiet and deal with their main business.

Idit: And the end customer is actually the one who receives the service, let's say if I take a case study, let's say an IBM project, which actually also has the global company, APLEONA, and has, on behalf of APLEONA, the service provider, Electra FM for that matter, and then has several circles, then the recipient of the service, will still prefer the same model, or is it something a little more challenging for them?

Tomer: I think the challenge for IBM, at the end of the day, is to get good service. How do they do it? Through which stream, is not their concern. If we cooperate, me and you, don't forget that in the end, APLEONA in this case, provides service to all IBM sites in the world.
I mean, I have the advantage that I still know IBM a little better than Electra, just because we work with them around the world. I know the client's pains.

Idit: Where to put the focus on what's challenging.

Tomer: Exactly, I know where it hurts. I have my channel at APLEONA, I have my business partners around the globe in IBM. I can learn from other sites. We will be able to implement it here in Israel in a smoother way. And that's my advantage. That's why they'll prefer to work with someone who knows IBM sites, because implementation will be smoother.

Idit: And performance on site, as far as they are concerned, for the management company to decide how to carry it out, but while really being like you said before, the transparency between us and the coordination of the relevant needs to the client, as if everything is in cooperation, and as a kind of partners.

Tomer: In the end, I think that both APLEONA and Electra, we are hand in hand, and we are business partners alike at IBM sites in Israel. I don't think APLEONA could have done it without a strong local company like Electra, just like Electra couldn't have done it seamlessly without APLEONA, because they wouldn't be exposed to other IBM sites. That's why there's a tango here,  and tango requires two dancers, and I'm glad Electra is with me, they have all the services I need, whether it's in terms of maintenance, if it's security, safety, HEC etc. etc. And we are strategic partners for IBM's success. My success is your success, and your success is my success.

Idit: And in the end, the customer reaps the fruits, that is the most important part.

Tomer: And in the end, you've been at IBM for 17 years, and I draw information from you, and you help me all the time, which is great.

Idit: Totally. Great, great. So thank you, it was fun having you on the podcast.

Tomer: I had a lot of fun with you. And I hope there will be more interesting episodes.

Idit: Absolutely. Thanks, Tomer.

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