Doing business faster with cloud-based solutions
At the beginning of this year, the way of working suddenly changed for Workiva as well. “We were surprised, just like all other companies,” says Bart van Praag, general manager EMEA at Workiva. “On the other hand, of course we knew what was going on and that the impact of Covid-19 could be big. But what we didn't know at the time was that it would be so extensive and that the consequences would be so wide, all over the world.”
When adapting to the new situation, Workiva was lucky that the company is fully cloud-based. “We are actually already in the cloud with all our business processes, so it was very easy for us to switch from office functions to people who do the same activities remotely. So they work on the same platforms, with the same technology and actually the same functional processes as before March 2020. So in that sense little has changed.”
“Of course we have to get used to that you are no longer in physical contact with people, but that you have to conduct the conversations via Zoom, Teams or Google hangouts. That is not easy for some people because we are social animals, people generally like to see each other. Offices also have a social function. We do see that the work continues as usual, we even experienced strong growth in Q2.
The demand driving Workiva's continuous growth comes from various industries. An important reason for looking at Workiva's solutions, especially from the finance function, is the desire for fast and concrete solutions for compliance issues, in order to have hands free to take measures and to improve cost efficiency.
Van Praag: “We see this trend in the manufacturing sector, for example, from the financial function, ie the CFO, controllers and finance directors. They are certainly not engaged in the normal course of business, they are adapting their entire manufacturing supply chain to reduce costs. They want to spend as little time as possible on compliance issues. They want to have good solutions for that.”
"At the same time, they want solutions that help them to work remotely as quickly as possible. These are cloud-based solutions, so that they can fully focus on making their supply as efficient as possible."
He no longer needs to explain that cloud is important. But he does see a dichotomy in the way organizations deal with it. “A clear gap is emerging between companies that already operate in a cloud-based way and those that don't yet. In practice, the question we encounter is therefore not 'why', but 'how', for example when companies want to scale up their workload in the cloud. It's a change process and change processes can be tricky. So that is sometimes put on hold. But the urgency is there, usefulness and necessity are recognized. Our service teams receive a lot of questions about implementation processes, from companies that want to quickly change from one system to another.”
According to Van Praag, Compose the future , the theme that Gartner is introducing to the virtual edition of ITSymposium, fits well with the trends he sees in the market: “The CFO makes financing available to finance activities that make the company more agile , can make more adaptive . And one thing is certain: with the strong growth of digitization , including the use of cloud-based solutions , the speed at which business is done will increase enormously across the board.”
“So we are dealing with an unimaginably dynamic landscape. We don't yet know what the consequences of COVID-19 will be, but what we do know is that the speed at which business is done has increased enormously, that the playing field has become very dynamic, and that only those companies that survive adapt best to the changes in their environment.“
According to Van Praag, the CFO has a key role in all these changes. “Certainly when directing money flows via the regular organizational functional route. On the other hand, you also see that companies are circumventing structured bureaucracy by putting together all kinds of experimental incubator teams that work together cross-functional, with a relatively flat organizational structure, in order to innovate. The CFO also has an important role in this regard to free up the necessary resources.”
He concludes: “cloud-based technology, cloud-based software, can radically change the way companies work. In addition, the traditional, formal company structure prior to March 2020 will nevertheless change somewhat. I think much more emphasis will be placed on setting up special projects that will tackle and solve specific business issues in a very agile way.”
“What is essential in this transformation is that it is no longer resolved within the functional silos as before. I see that as a fairly significant change in business, because it means that in addition to technology and digitization , the mindset , the tools and the way in which people work together will also change significantly.”
The people who are now walking around in the business world are therefore beginning to see a movement to deal with technology differently, especially in those much smaller special project teams that continue to exist for a number of months, with a fixed life cycle , and then again when the work is completed. break up and then merge into a new team. So the way of doing business and the company structure must be adapted to the skill set of the employees. And the cloud plays a crucial role in this.”
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