Hybrid Work Requires More Than What Excel Allows: Andreas Simon


“After companies implemented an ERP system, they started budgeting, planning and forecasting, and soon realised they needed an EPM (Enterprise Performace Management) system to survive in the new environment,” says Andreas Simon, Director MEA at Jedox.

In the new era of hybrid working that is building its place in the post-pandemic work sector, ways of collaboration are evolving. Andreas Simon, Director MEA at Jedox, says that to survive in the new environment, companies need to be more flexible, adaptable, and quicker than what Excel allows.

In an exclusive interview with Datatechvibe, Simon shares how Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solutions are the new way forward. At the core of EPM is data sitting in a central database, which allows for convenient access and communication between departments and people.

Excerpts from the interview;

Tell us about Jedox’s journey in the Middle East since its establishment in the region.

We moved into the Middle East market in 2013 when we found a partner and started building our regional footprint. In 2019, I moved to Dubai to take care of the impending opening of a new legal entity in 2020. Together with the team, I am responsible for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) market. Having people on the ground helps us support our clients and partners more directly.

When I started in the region, we would fly in for a week or so at a time and then fly back out, but we soon realised that our constant presence would make a difference in moving things forward more quickly. We had won some important customers in the region with a growing need for continuous support on the ground. The team here is focused on market development and enabling our partners to run and implement projects rather than the development of the product itself; which takes place in our headquarters in Europe.

What changes are you witnessing in the region, and how are organisations using data insights for performance management?

The situation was challenging to navigate in 2019 owing to the pandemic. It took us longer to open our subsidiary in that environment, but we successfully started in July 2020. Despite the pandemic, Jedox grew 50-60 per cent year-on-year.

Many changes were happening in the region because VAT was introduced to the market, which put businesses under pressure to get an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system set up. And after they implemented an ERP system, they started budgeting, planning and forecasting, and soon realised they needed an EPM (Enterprise Performace Management) system. To survive in the new environment, companies saw the need to be more flexible, adaptable, and quicker than Excel allowed. EPM platforms help companies be more agile and faster in everything from budgeting, planning, and forecasting to training plans and execution.

With hybrid working culture becoming the new normal, what are the challenges ahead for performance management solution providers?

The hybrid working culture is actually benefitting EPM solution providers because Excel doesn’t work well in a hybrid working environment. If people are sitting at home and working on their Excel spreadsheets and then sending them back, there are all kinds of issues with different versions and manual copying and pasting.

Companies realise that the hybrid working culture needs a new way of working, which is supported by EPM solutions where workflow is provided, and data sits in a central database. Budgets, plans and forecasts are now done automatically, and the data collection and reconciliation are automated rather than manual. So EPM platforms are supporting the new normal of hybrid working culture.

How are you planning to increase your footprint in the region?

Our strategy has stayed the same since we arrived. We want to work mainly with partners who give us access to their network of customers. To increase our footprint here in the region, we want to work with our partners, winning new customers, especially in their network. For example, we still have partners with no EPM in their portfolio, which we’d like to change. We’d like to be added to their portfolio and gain access to their network, as it’s a better way of increasing our footprint here. We want to work smarter, not harder.

A significant positive is that we’re quite close to Microsoft here, and we fill Microsoft’s gap as it is missing an EPM platform, which is exactly what we provide. Besides being integrated into Powerpoint and Excel or Office 365, we also have access to integration into Microsoft Dynamics, one of the major ERP systems. So working together with dynamic partners is one of our goals. Our platform is very flexible and adaptable, and we also integrate into other systems, such as Oracle, SAP or Salesforce. This is helping our expansion in the region as we have solutions for all kinds of different environments.

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