The app revolution in business management

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Investvine+App+RevolutionSoftware applications have not only become an integral part of our personal lives, they are also becoming increasingly important for business planning. Companies like Anaplan are providing innovative tools that have a lot of advantages over conventional business software systems and their enterprise planning add-ons. To learn more about these solutions, Investvine met Robert Bergstrom, partner and co-founder of Executit, a Stockholm, Sweden-based management consulting and business solutions company with a subsidiary in Singapore. Focusing on solutions for enterprise performance management and business planning, Bergstrom is working closely with Anaplan and its cloud-based business modeling and planning platform for sales, operations and finance, using five Anaplan core apps.

When did you start working with Anaplan? I got interested in Anaplan and met Samir Neji [Managing Director at Anaplan Asia-Pacific] for the first time back in 2012. Later, when I left Accenture in February this year and launched my own company in March, I reconnected with him.

Why have you chosen to exclusively work with Anaplan as a software provider? Given that Executit is a management consultancy, and also a business solution company, our focus is on key challenges for companies that cannot solve their problems in a satisfactory way, for example in enterprise performance management. We have found that Anaplan is probably the only software product we can use to implement quick solutions to solve business planning problems. Conventional solutions would take months to implement and that wouldn’t fit for many. As a business consultancy, we understand the core problems of companies and can solve their key challenges. And with Anaplan, we can do that in a very quick way. That’s why we chose to work with them and their solutions.

Executit operates a subsidiary in Singapore. What brought you to open a base there? We think the region is very interesting and growing strongly. It’s also a good base to expand into the rest of Asia. Apart from that, I was based there before, and the relationship with Anaplan also started in Singapore.

In your experience, what is the biggest challenge in improving Enterprise Performance Management in Asia? The core challenge is that companies mostly rely on IT consultants when they have business planning problems to solve. However, we find that many problems are lying outside IT and are business management-related, so they also need business consultancy. IT and business management need to be combined, that is our model. Apart from that, other challenges that need to be addressed are, for example, in finance and controlling when it comes to management reporting and defining key performance indicators, or in the supply chain. We believe that companies need to take a more holistic view, look at their business as a whole and at issues that should be prioritised. That’s where Anaplan comes in.

What is the issue with IT consultants? Many companies think that IT can solve everything, and they put all their effort into IT implementation. However, that resolves probably only 20 to 30 per cent of their issues, while the rest has in fact to be solved outside an IT system. But many companies simply don’t have the time to do that.

In Asia, companies seem to have a different mindset when it comes to Enterprise Performance Management. What would they need to adopt in order to change? They will need to understand the challenges in the business environment from a global context. The complexity today lies in global supply chains, and companies need to be very agile in managing and planning their business. They cannot continue working with their old annual static planning processes – that will leave them way behind. They need to reallocate their resources and start planning on a much shorter, monthly basis.

For which of your services do you see the highest demand in Southeast Asia? Definitely business management in terms of setting targets, developing forecasts and allocating resources in the sense of investing money. Connecting the targets in sales forecasts, supply chain, finance and controlling and see how all this ends up in the financial statements.

What issues do executives in the region have with sales targets? That could be a number of things. Setting targets needs to be based on a top-down as well with a bottom-up perspective. The top-down perspective might be – for a publicly listed company – looking at the expectations of the market, the future value of the company, on margins etc. to define where there is need for growth. It’s the view from outside. From the inside, they need to look at sales targets from a bottom–up perspective in order to create realistic targets. For a sales person, it’s about realistic key performance indicators, about manageability and sensitivity.

How would you encourage business executives in Southeast Asia to use such business planning applications that you are advocating? Speaking from my personal perspective, back in 2006, applications were not all that common. But this has completely changed today in a sense that many actually can’t live anymore without apps. And this notion has also become true for companies. As a business leader today, for instance as a chief financial officer with a responsibility to have solutions in place, why would they spend ten months to install IT add-ons when there are apps available – for example from Anaplan – that are instantly useable? Of course these apps need to be tailor-made for a particular company, but this can be done in 10 per cent of the time necessary to get a conventional IT add-on fully running. So, why would a company spend time and money on new individual IT solutions when they can buy a pre-built app that takes only a few days or at most a week to get it up and running? I am absolutely convinced that this will be the future of business planning – just look at how apps have been integrated in our daily lives: this will happen in companies too. It just a matter of time, and a mindset change will come starting with an executive’s perception that an app is not something unsophisticated anymore.

Could you give me an example what your apps can do? They deal with how a company can manage its business much more effectively and cost-efficiently. One core app is about strategy execution on the leadership level where they can monitor strategy execution and measure costs and targets of implementing action plans. Another app is the management business scorecard app, which has the same logic but is meant for the rest of the organisation, e.g. a sales director, who can use it for forecasts and targets and a strategic action plan to close possible gaps. Other apps are about economic modelling and simulation, business case development, as well as tracking and controlling. For example, the economic modelling app can be connected in hours to a company’s system, and it can model things such as what happens if they decrease their warehouse inventory by two days or what the value creation metrics in terms of return on investment are. The app can simulate that, and that’s quite sophisticated in my view. If you look at the Anaplan homepage, you can see a video on that. (Video below)

 

Which companies have adopted your solutions out of Singapore? I cannot give company names yet, but I can say that we have been working with a real estate company, a sports fashion retailer, as well as a technology company in a high-tech area so far.

 

Robert Bergstrom, Partner and Co-founder, Executit

Robert B PhotoRobert has 17 years of experience in management consulting and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM). Until February 2015, Robert was a Managing Director at Accenture and the global lead for EPM within Accenture Strategy Capability Network. Robert was based in Singapore during 2011-2013 and was during those years leading Accenture´s Finance & Enterprise Performance practice in Southeast Asia and Accenture´s EPM offering in Asia Pacific.

 

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Software applications have not only become an integral part of our personal lives, they are also becoming increasingly important for business planning. Companies like Anaplan are providing innovative tools that have a lot of advantages over conventional business software systems and their enterprise planning add-ons. To learn more about these solutions, Investvine met Robert Bergstrom, partner and co-founder of Executit, a Stockholm, Sweden-based management consulting and business solutions company with a subsidiary in Singapore. Focusing on solutions for enterprise performance management and business planning, Bergstrom is working closely with Anaplan and its cloud-based business modeling and planning platform for sales, operations and finance, using five Anaplan core apps.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Investvine+App+RevolutionSoftware applications have not only become an integral part of our personal lives, they are also becoming increasingly important for business planning. Companies like Anaplan are providing innovative tools that have a lot of advantages over conventional business software systems and their enterprise planning add-ons. To learn more about these solutions, Investvine met Robert Bergstrom, partner and co-founder of Executit, a Stockholm, Sweden-based management consulting and business solutions company with a subsidiary in Singapore. Focusing on solutions for enterprise performance management and business planning, Bergstrom is working closely with Anaplan and its cloud-based business modeling and planning platform for sales, operations and finance, using five Anaplan core apps.

When did you start working with Anaplan? I got interested in Anaplan and met Samir Neji [Managing Director at Anaplan Asia-Pacific] for the first time back in 2012. Later, when I left Accenture in February this year and launched my own company in March, I reconnected with him.

Why have you chosen to exclusively work with Anaplan as a software provider? Given that Executit is a management consultancy, and also a business solution company, our focus is on key challenges for companies that cannot solve their problems in a satisfactory way, for example in enterprise performance management. We have found that Anaplan is probably the only software product we can use to implement quick solutions to solve business planning problems. Conventional solutions would take months to implement and that wouldn’t fit for many. As a business consultancy, we understand the core problems of companies and can solve their key challenges. And with Anaplan, we can do that in a very quick way. That’s why we chose to work with them and their solutions.

Executit operates a subsidiary in Singapore. What brought you to open a base there? We think the region is very interesting and growing strongly. It’s also a good base to expand into the rest of Asia. Apart from that, I was based there before, and the relationship with Anaplan also started in Singapore.

In your experience, what is the biggest challenge in improving Enterprise Performance Management in Asia? The core challenge is that companies mostly rely on IT consultants when they have business planning problems to solve. However, we find that many problems are lying outside IT and are business management-related, so they also need business consultancy. IT and business management need to be combined, that is our model. Apart from that, other challenges that need to be addressed are, for example, in finance and controlling when it comes to management reporting and defining key performance indicators, or in the supply chain. We believe that companies need to take a more holistic view, look at their business as a whole and at issues that should be prioritised. That’s where Anaplan comes in.

What is the issue with IT consultants? Many companies think that IT can solve everything, and they put all their effort into IT implementation. However, that resolves probably only 20 to 30 per cent of their issues, while the rest has in fact to be solved outside an IT system. But many companies simply don’t have the time to do that.

In Asia, companies seem to have a different mindset when it comes to Enterprise Performance Management. What would they need to adopt in order to change? They will need to understand the challenges in the business environment from a global context. The complexity today lies in global supply chains, and companies need to be very agile in managing and planning their business. They cannot continue working with their old annual static planning processes – that will leave them way behind. They need to reallocate their resources and start planning on a much shorter, monthly basis.

For which of your services do you see the highest demand in Southeast Asia? Definitely business management in terms of setting targets, developing forecasts and allocating resources in the sense of investing money. Connecting the targets in sales forecasts, supply chain, finance and controlling and see how all this ends up in the financial statements.

What issues do executives in the region have with sales targets? That could be a number of things. Setting targets needs to be based on a top-down as well with a bottom-up perspective. The top-down perspective might be – for a publicly listed company – looking at the expectations of the market, the future value of the company, on margins etc. to define where there is need for growth. It’s the view from outside. From the inside, they need to look at sales targets from a bottom–up perspective in order to create realistic targets. For a sales person, it’s about realistic key performance indicators, about manageability and sensitivity.

How would you encourage business executives in Southeast Asia to use such business planning applications that you are advocating? Speaking from my personal perspective, back in 2006, applications were not all that common. But this has completely changed today in a sense that many actually can’t live anymore without apps. And this notion has also become true for companies. As a business leader today, for instance as a chief financial officer with a responsibility to have solutions in place, why would they spend ten months to install IT add-ons when there are apps available – for example from Anaplan – that are instantly useable? Of course these apps need to be tailor-made for a particular company, but this can be done in 10 per cent of the time necessary to get a conventional IT add-on fully running. So, why would a company spend time and money on new individual IT solutions when they can buy a pre-built app that takes only a few days or at most a week to get it up and running? I am absolutely convinced that this will be the future of business planning – just look at how apps have been integrated in our daily lives: this will happen in companies too. It just a matter of time, and a mindset change will come starting with an executive’s perception that an app is not something unsophisticated anymore.

Could you give me an example what your apps can do? They deal with how a company can manage its business much more effectively and cost-efficiently. One core app is about strategy execution on the leadership level where they can monitor strategy execution and measure costs and targets of implementing action plans. Another app is the management business scorecard app, which has the same logic but is meant for the rest of the organisation, e.g. a sales director, who can use it for forecasts and targets and a strategic action plan to close possible gaps. Other apps are about economic modelling and simulation, business case development, as well as tracking and controlling. For example, the economic modelling app can be connected in hours to a company’s system, and it can model things such as what happens if they decrease their warehouse inventory by two days or what the value creation metrics in terms of return on investment are. The app can simulate that, and that’s quite sophisticated in my view. If you look at the Anaplan homepage, you can see a video on that. (Video below)

 

Which companies have adopted your solutions out of Singapore? I cannot give company names yet, but I can say that we have been working with a real estate company, a sports fashion retailer, as well as a technology company in a high-tech area so far.

 

Robert Bergstrom, Partner and Co-founder, Executit

Robert B PhotoRobert has 17 years of experience in management consulting and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM). Until February 2015, Robert was a Managing Director at Accenture and the global lead for EPM within Accenture Strategy Capability Network. Robert was based in Singapore during 2011-2013 and was during those years leading Accenture´s Finance & Enterprise Performance practice in Southeast Asia and Accenture´s EPM offering in Asia Pacific.

 

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