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Face to Face

Face to Face with Alistair Nicholas

alistair nicholasQ: So Esker’s been around for quite a while, and you’ve been with them for more than 10 years - what’s the journey been like so far?

Well, one of the best things about it is that it’s a company that’s constantly innovating and changing. And in many ways the company that you see today is entirely different to the one that started out all those years ago. In fact, we’re really proud to be celebrating 30 years of Esker this year, so actually now’s a really great time to talk about the journey – and to be honest, I absolutely love it. I’ve been with Esker for around 12 years, and had connections via a previous company, for even longer. So it’s a firm I know well and have dealt with in one way or another for most of my career.

 

Q: In an industry where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd – what do you think is the main differential for Esker?

Yes, that’s true, and it’s quite difficult for those looking to implement a new solution to decide which is going to be the best for their own set of unique circumstances. And if you think about it, that makes perfect sense, deciding on what solution is going to work best is not necessarily a big part of a Finance Director’s day job. So that means the onus is on us, the providers to make that clear. I’ve been MD for around 3 years and really feel that our latest offering – AP Lite (the Esker AP Lite solution) offers something unique to the market. Essentially it’s aimed at SMEs that don’t necessarily need the full Enterprise solution, but at the same time need something that’s very quick to implement, and is flexible enough to scale up if the organisation needs it to. Perhaps a key differential for us as a company, is that the person who started it 30 years ago, is still on the Board and continues to play a pivotal role today. Esker isn’t a faceless corporate. It’s a company that thrives on challenge – but in a good way.

Face to Face with Thomas Senger

Q: Kofax is one of the older, more established document capture providers – why do you think Kofax has prospered where others have failed?thomas s kofax

A: Well, I think one of the answers lies with our ability to be able to re-invent ourselves. We’ve been in business for over 30 years, and over that time we’ve managed to combine the best elements of our vast experience with innovation.

Q: Ok, but as an older company which is likely to have an established corporate culture, do you sometimes struggle to be as agile as you’d like to be?

A: No, not at all. The essence of innovation isn’t just present in our software, but in our approach to how we run the business too. In fact, the size of the company works to our advantage in that we are small enough to be agile and respond to new market requirements, but big enough to offer the advantages of global coverage. We are a $330m company - and in fact, within our market segment, we spend more on R&D than many of our direct competitors. And this enables us to be just as innovative around our solutions and platform offerings.

Face to Face with Markus Ament

Q: So Taulia’s a relative newcomer, but has been around for four years now – what’s the journey been like so far?markus ament-beard

A: Awesome! The great thing about starting Taulia was that the whole experience was a lot easier for us than it is for a lot of other start-ups because we already knew the space, and because we were four friends that knew each other well - and on top of that – we understood the pain points and were confident we could provide the solution. The last four years have been a great roller coaster to be on – and the driving force for it all is passion. We really believe that we have a product which works, and I think that comes across in everything we do. Ultimately, we’re passionate about fixing the inefficiency in the financial supply chain and the antiquated way businesses interact.  So how do I feel about the journey? Super happy!

Q: Sounds great, is there anything – looking back – that you’d change about it?

A: Well, perhaps we made a few poor hires early on, and hired for the wrong reasons, but since then we’ve learned to see through the fluff and find the truly valuable players who bring not only skills and expertise to the company, but also fit with our culture and spirit. Also, we’ve been pretty US focussed over the last 3 1/2 years, and perhaps we should have pushed harder into Europe six months ago…but, we’re on top of that now and are in the process of setting up a London office. In fact, we’re just recruiting a new Managing Director for the UK and I’m hoping that person will be in place at some point towards the end of the summer.

Face to Face with Esa Tihilä – CEO Basware

esa tihiliaQ: There seems to be a new focus on SMEs in Basware – what’s the driver behind this?

A: Well, yes – it’s a part of the overall strategy. SMEs form the backbone of most of the world’s workforce and are going to be key in getting the various economies out of recession. A major part of that is enablement – ie enabling them to work faster, with improved processes and access to a more visible, far-reaching network. Historically organisations might have associated Basware with large enterprise ERP implementations, but today, we’re looking at a much more connected workplace and need to offer a totally end-to-end solution – including easy supplier activation.

Q: Yes, and as a large number of suppliers fall into the SME category, I guess that’s where the new focus comes in?

A: Exactly, yes. For example, if I look at just one of our larger clients, they have a supplier network of 50,000 – providing easy reach into that makes perfect business sense for all parties involved. Get it right, and everyone’s happy.

Q: So would you call yourself a global operator in a way that others can’t?

A: Well, there are plenty of solution providers who market themselves as global – but who aren’t really. Not when you look closely. Basware takes the time and trouble to make sure our solutions work within the current legislation of each party involved across the transactions and currently operate in around 75 – 80 countries worldwide, most of which with access to the product in their own language. On top of that, we’ve made a point in forming partnerships with other solution providers who are able to complement the Basware product and enhance our client’s experience.

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