Published 04. Aug. 2020
Dany De Budt: Smarter & Simplified Digital Transformation
The COVID-19 outbreak has reshaped organizations’ digital strategies across the board. Dany De Budt imparts his knowledge on how business operations, finance and supply chains can benefit greatly from digitalization.
The virus outbreak has pushed many companies to hasten the digitalization of their processes, especially with their back-office functions.
Facing challenges such as manual processes, paper-reliant procedures and limited operations visibility, C-suites are quickly realizing that their systems are in dire need of a digital overhaul.
A SNIPPET OF BASWARE
A provider of cloud-based purchase-to-pay and e-invoicing software, Basware has helped to simplify invoicing and streamline procurement processes for clients in over 50 countries.
Offering services such as e-Procurement, AP automation and analytics, Basware’s solutions have been widely recognized by Gartner, IDC, Forrester Research and more.
EMBRACING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
When it comes to digital transformation, many organizations tend to overlook the ‘back’ of their company, including finance and accounting.
With the emergence of the coronavirus and its effect on global trade, the digitalization of these essential operations are pushed even further down as companies shift their focus to business continuity tactics.
But why is digital acceleration so important? How does applied intelligence optimize business practices?
De Budt (picture left, from Computable) explains that digitalization helps firms to make strategic business decisions based on keen analytical insights from digital intelligence.
“Actionable intelligence has become a company’s most valuable asset. And while human intelligence is still important, it is not enough on its own.”
“A company needs to create a business intelligence framework that is based on human intelligence but paired with digital intelligence,” De Budt imparts. “Without digital intelligence, a company will be disrupted sooner or later.”
“With better availability and application of data and analytics, customers have been able to model and understand the ensuing impacts to their people and business faster and more accurately than before, resulting in reduced lead times from planning to execution to impact.”
He illustrates how digitalization, such as “transitioning from on-premise to cloud-based solutions”, helps reduce inefficiencies and costs, including physical overhead and human assets.
“It helps with an overall streamlining of systems, creating efficiencies that result in better visibility into your corporate operations.”
DEVELOPING DIGITAL TALENT
Although businesses across industries are adopting smart innovations and digitalization, a key issue most of them face is finding the right talents and training their existing workforce.
A trend survey by Management Events found that over 60% of business leaders named availability of key skills and talents as the biggest external impact to their business growth.
De Budt reinforces the finding, stating that digitalization has made the talent landscape more competitive.
“The skills needed for an evolving digital workforce – that has increasingly become remote – have become more critical.”
“Talent needs to adapt and embrace a flexible mindset and schedule,” he emphasizes, “They need to be self-disciplined, and much more organized, with excellent problem-solving capabilities. Digital transformation requires digital competence.”
De Budt names the Human Resources function as a critical part in an organization’s digital transformation.
“With each new digitization initiative, having highly-skilled, technology-savvy talent to deliver the best omnichannel customer experience will determine overall deliverable timeframes,” he remarks.
“It places HR in a crucial role since employee engagement, training and onboarding are its domain.”
TRANSPARENCY OF OPERATIONS
One of the prevalent issues that companies had during the lockdowns, and before the outbreak, is the visibility and accessibility over their finance and accounting processes.
“Many companies were caught off-guard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” De Budt relates. “While many firms have business continuity programs, most of those were templated, basic versions of how to handle temporary disruptions.”
In fact, a survey by Gartner discovered that only 12% of companies around the world are highly prepared for such crises. Other studies found that some organizations are ill-equipped with the right technology to remotely access and manage invoices, which are still heavily paper-reliant and locally stored.
“Transparency into operations is vital to a company
so it can take a snapshot of its financial health at any time.”
De Budt points out that, “Investments into technology that improves processes, get a handle on spending, and create 360-degree visibility will be a significant factor in business continuity planning, allowing them to manage business risks and pivot during supply chain disruptions.”
“For Basware, we’re able to deliver those types of solutions because we’ve employed them ourselves.”
He further states that, “Using Artificial Intelligence, advanced data and predictive analytics, we provide automation with machine-learning that results in increased transparency into a company’s finance, procurement, and supply chain operations.”
POST-COVID-19 SUPPLY CHAIN
The pandemic gave organizations a long, hard look into their progress of digital transformation, or lack thereof. While a majority of organizations were in the midst of digitalizing their business, most companies were not progressing far enough to face COVID-19 unscatched.
According to De Budt, one of the most impacted business aspects is the supply chain.
“Supply chain complexity has grown from simple domestic supply chains to more complex and global supply chains that are vulnerable to third party risks,” he reveals.
He also discloses that as firms address their business continuity issues, they realize there are supply chain blind-spots that the outbreak exposed, particularly in the transparency of their supply chain.
“Suppliers from all over the globe are delivering to locations worldwide, exposing companies to risks created by an unmanaged supply chain and lack of visibility.”
“At Basware, we see Visible Commerce as the future.”
“Being able to have complete visibility across all the flows of money, goods, and services around the world is what we call Visible Commerce,” De Budt reveals. “It’s a state where transparency and data lead to more effective and ethical decision making – a better world economy for all.”
FINANCIAL IMPACTS OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN
The coronavirus impact on the supply chain consequently affects the financial flow of organizations.
De Budt comments that since companies lack visibility on their supply chain, they don’t have a full grasp on their finances.
“Companies that gain visibility into their supply chain are in a much better position to avoid or pivot when an issue comes up. Still, they won’t get there unless they invest in the advanced technology that’s available to them.”
“The challenge here, of course, is the risk of doing nothing.”
He proclaims, “For those that are unable or unwilling to adapt or change, they’ll suffer financially and increase their exposure to supply chain risk, with potentially catastrophic results. Inaction is not an option.”
To give companies a clear view on their financial operations, Basware offers a Financial Impact Analysis. Highlighting their current stand on finance, values and savings, the solution allows businesses to make informed decisions using actual real-time data.
USABILITY AT THE FOREFRONT
However, technology advancement is not the only focus of Basware’s services. From the accounts payable and accounts receivable solutions to their source-to-pay AP Automation and e-Procurement, usability remains one of their core focus.
“The role of digital capabilities is to make everything – everything – easier for our user clients,” De Budy stresses.
“Just like friction in a supply chain can wreak havoc, so can user friction when navigating an application. An intuitive user interface, coupled with automation and machine-learning, makes for exceptional user experience, increasing user adoption and productivity.”
LEADING THE DIGITAL CHANGE
Digitalization, or any big corporate change, are usually expected to begin from the top management, but De Budt begs to differ.
“While it’s important for leaders to lead by examples,” he conveys, “expecting change from ‘the top’ is unlikely to occur in this current COVID-19 environment.”
“Change more likely needs to be driven from the bottom up.”
He continues to explain that the planning and vision for digital transformation start at the top, but the change itself begins from the bottom, to be built piece by piece, ensuring the strongest foundation possible.
Digital acceleration is indeed crucial to ensure continued business growth and competitive advantage, but it needs to be, as Forbes put it, “guided by the broader business strategy”.
“A leader’s decisions shouldn’t be made off instinct or gut feelings alone,” De Budt cautions. “A leader may have the final say, but their decision should be based on reliable insights from trend analyses using big data to reveal patterns to better future-proof their businesses.”
“Data and analytics gathered by intelligent technology can be used to inform business decisions and bring further efficiencies, transparency, and scalability to a company’s operations.”
De Budt deeply believes that digital advancement is a vital, and necessary, contributor to business development.
“Collaboration between customers, partners – and even with competitors to an extent – are key to success,” De Budt imparts. “But technology will lead the evolution to a better state of business. One that allows for increased transparency, automation, and remote working capabilities.”