There’s no question companies of every size and across all sectors need to drive their digital transformation strategies. In a world of rapid disruption and other uncertainties, harnessing new technologies can be key to competitive advantage.
But inevitably there are challenges for finance leaders who lead digital transformation programmes. At the same time they are developing transactional processes, that may be based on legacy systems. With that in mind, software group Jedox has developed an offer that meets the needs of CFOs, whatever point they are in the digital journey.
Its corporate performance management (CPM) software used to create planning, analytics and reporting solutions, has at its core an online analytical processing (OLAP) database designed for budgeting, forecasting and data consolidation. It enables Excel, in addition to web and mobile as its user interface.
The challenge ahead
Florian Winterstein and Christoph Streng are advocates of where companies should be going, in terms of developing their digital transformation strategies. “Data and digitalisation are the foundation of successful business models of the future,” Winterstein said at the time of his starting at Jedox last September.
Their arrival at Jedox follows a fundraising a year ago from Iris Capital, eCAPITAL entrepreneurial Partners AG and Wecken & Cie. This fresh impetus provided the means to fulfil expectations of being “a super significant player in corporate performance management (CPM) through a very true cloud model and a very customer-oriented, value driven approach,” says Winterstein. “Our ambition is to be one of the top five global, dedicated next generation players in the space,” he adds.
The Jedox offer is about addressing companies’ needs at two levels, says Winterstein. “In the lower hanging fruit you have IT systems, processes, automation, RPA. It’s about efficiency, shortening process cycles and simplifying processes and process cycles. And beyond that lets say the second layer of digitalisation is to get more out of it, more insights, to have better techniques to do something better,” he adds.
“The first layer is efficiency gain, the second would be an effectiveness lever, its effectiveness of how does AI help you simulate your business scenarios, how does AI or other modern techniques offer better insights because of enlarged data pools. How does that help you to better predict more and more where the world is turning to and how do companies behave in a much more volatile world in terms of planning and planning cycles,” says Winterstein.
The CFO is key to business transformation in any organisation, so the Jedox approach relates to the challenges faced by the finance function in areas such as reporting, building out analytical processes and having the right planning, reporting and analytics systems in place.
“It’s finance that is able to enable, lead and guide the process into the future. If finance becomes the owner of the forecast process, finance should be the expert of how to run and support it and also how to develop the maturity of planning. This is where we have a clear roadmap and idea to guide and how to accompany that process,” he adds.
Part of the challenge for many finance functions is working with the systems and culture in place as they develop best practices and partnering to capitalise on technological innovations. A recent survey Jedox conducted with accountancy body ACCA revealed that 80% of finance teams are using Excel, suggesting a flexible approach is required.
“It 100% confirmed planning is often undertaken as a table-based approach. So part of our product strategy is strongly table-based, where I think we can create value for the customer. Pragmatically speaking, change always takes place where you are,” says Winterstein. “
“Jedox is in a position to guide and consult our customers and hand hold them through that challenge and that process. And then we have a whole level of different technologies and approaches on how to guide our customers within their digitalisation strategies, from one maturity level to the next,” he adds.
“What Jedox is doing is offering on one side an easy way of getting into digitalisation, if you look at how we embrace Excel, looking at how this works with cloud solutions, then creating additional value by applying AI and predictive analytics,” says Streng.
There also needs to be flexibility for addressing different companies’ business models and value creation stories. “What we are providing is a model best practice on how to connect different areas of your organisation into this integrated planning set-up, so now it depends on the organisation, how is it set up, which areas are connected in which ways,” says Winterstein.
“We absolutely care about the various areas of how to integrate not only data from various entities or systems, but also to take care about how for example, how sales is integrated in financial planning, how you look at the supply chain, how it works with planning forecasts, what does it mean with HR. So we have models available to connect those areas and drive the right data base for decisions,” he adds.
Value of ecosystem
As well as Microsoft, Jedox works with a large number of partners worldwide to deliver as much value to customers as possible. “We have standard solutions for various areas such as the office of finance, for sales and for other areas, but at the same time we are open, and the partners are able to adjust and refine these standards to the dedicated customer situation and need. This is how we are empathic and supportive to the CFO and their agenda,” says Winterstein.
Streng says: “Working together in this ecosystem means you need to have a very close relationship in terms of how you advise, how you deliver the solution and the application, in the best way to create value. We’re really an enabler of our partners to understand how clients’ requirements can be addressed by our solution to turn it into real value.
“This life cycle we take with the clients, but also with the partners, means that we’re really advising in terms of the right solution for your current demand, your current problem. We’re basing what we implement on best practices, good standards.
“But we also reflect on what we see in the market, what we see from our partners, in order to bring this practice back to a solution, and finally create specific models, by talking to our clients and partners.
“It’s a circle where we are really evolving with partners, with clients in the right way to offer the best solutions. Your partners and customers tell you what your true value is, if you as a company don’t get a value feedback from them, then it’s time to change something,” he suggests.
One way that Jedox has been in step with changing market expectations is through its history as an open source company. “It’s already in our DNA to be super-open, and be really dedicated to something that is useable, so the company value and the shareholder value increases at that exact moment where we increase customer value. This is the path we are after,” says Winterstein.
“Our interpretation and approach to cloud is, from my point of view, in the best interest for the market. We don’t screw customers in any contractual obligations like multi-year contracts or other constraints you sometimes see,” he adds.