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Face to Face

Face to Face with Marcell Vollmer, COO Ariba

Q: A lot of solution providers call themselves “end to end” providers, though few of them actually are. Do you feel confident that this is something Ariba can offer?

Absolutely.  We’re already offering it today. Every day, billions of consumers around the world use sites like Facebook, Amazon, Uber, etc.  to manage their personal lives because they make things so easy.  When you shop on Amazon, you don’t worry about connecting to each individual merchant. When it comes time to pay, you don’t worry about integrating into each individual bank or credit card company. It’s all done for you within the network.marcell volmer

The same is true with the Ariba Network. Everything companies need to manage commerce – from sourcing and orders through invoice and payment – is there for them.  They don’t need to worry about connecting to individual trading partners using multiple systems – with more than 1.8 million companies in 190 countries, chances are they’re already connected and in one place. And if they aren’t, they can be within minutes. Or they can tap into the community to find new partners. 

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.