In an interview Joe Keating, Chief Data Officer reveals that Glantus is an Irish owned technology company that provides a software platform that enables organisations to optimise the value of their Data, to drive process efficiency and automation – primarily for the Accounts Payable and Finance function.
The application of our solution ranges from P2P automation and Statement Reconciliation to automated Credit Recovery Processing. This enables our customers to scale efficiencies and to ultimately do more, with less.
You can visit the Glantus website here
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
There are several aspects to my role as Chief Data Officer at Glantus, here are some of them (in order of priority):
- Lead the Data and Analytics strategy and drive measurable and financial results
- Increase awareness of Data and Analytics at Glantus, our customers and wider eco-system
- Identify use cases for the Glantus Data Platform to solve common business problems
- Provide thought leadership within the Data and Analytics community, in Ireland and abroad
What are your biggest challenges?
At Glantus, one of our biggest challenges is cutting through the noise in the Data and Analytics marketplace to distinguish our offering. There are a wide variety of vendors in the Data and Analytics space, therefore our messaging must be very clear, so that prospects understand that our proposition is unique and has disrupted the Accounts Payable (AP) technology market.
Another challenge that exists is the breadth of our customer base. In many ways, it is a good problem to have – as we are not over-exposed to any one sector. However, we tend to focus on the Finance leaders within organisations, who are usually quick to understand our value proposition – which is to enable them to bring tangible savings and productivity, back into the business.
How do you keep your team/staff motivated?
Our staff are based in different countries and work in teams that span geographical locations: including Ireland, England, Poland and the US. Therefore, keeping our employees engaged and motivated is a key focus for us. The current pandemic has challenged us to think even more, about ways to keep our people connected.
To achieve this, we have taken the following steps:
- Implemented a common staff communications platform (all inclusive)
- Increased the frequency of the Glantus internal newsletter (weekly)
- Introduced ‘Midweek Mindfulness’ sessions for all staff to attend (weekly)
- Organised company-wide monthly update meetings (all business units represented)
What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?
There are many regulations that exist when it comes to the use of Data, including GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). These are important to understand, to ensure that organisations are treating Data with the appropriate level of care and control so that the rights of individuals are protected.
However, there is little regulation when it comes to the area of algorithms, and bias that can exist within Data. This is becoming a problem, and there are many cases relating to financial institutes landing in hot water for breaching the principles of ‘Fair Lending’ (for example). Ultimately, there is a requirement for a worldwide framework to provide templates and guidelines to standardise how algorithms and (conscious or unconscious) bias are handled.
If this does not happen, there will be implications – such as wild variation in how the likes of artificial intelligence in self-driving cars (for instance) handle situations, according to the manufacturers specification as opposed to a consistent global set of standards.
What new trends are emerging in your industry?
The area of Data and Analytics has been a hot topic for many years and has gone through several iterations. Initially, there was Business Intelligence (BI), which was basically the introduction of proper Reporting within organisations. Then, things progressed beyond looking (only) at what happened in the past, to looking at what is happening now (real-time).
The era, as well as the term ‘Big Data’ was quick to come and go. It was essentially just dealing with larger volumes of Data, moving quicker but presenting the same challenge – to use Data effectively.
At the moment, there is an emerging trend that is seeing organisations becoming much more Data-Savvy and using Data to become proactive to events that are happening (or about to happen) within their business, as opposed to looking at how to react – after the fact. At Glantus, many customers are using our platform to alleviate legwork and assist employees in getting their job done, based on automation that is driven by Data.
Every day, things are moving closer to a world where all organisations have some form of automation within their business processes, whether this applies to financial automation, contract compliance, employee on-boarding or enhancing the customer experience.
Are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
In recent years, there has been a skills gap emerging in the market – particularly for people with a mixture of technology skills and business acumen. However, this has been addressed somewhat, with colleges and universities, including: The National College of Ireland (NCI), Dublin Business School (DBS) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) adopting an approach that involves industry representatives to provide input into course planning and curriculums.
Having this type of collaboration between industry and academia has resulted in potential skills gaps being considered and catered for by the higher education providers. Similarly, there are a number of not-for-profit and further education providers who are also taking this approach. At Glantus, we would work together with Northside Partnership and The Regional Skills Forum to help define programmes that equip people with the skills that are in demand, within the industry.
How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?
Any crisis, whether it is a financial collapse, an economic downturn, or a global emergency (such as the Covid-19 pandemic) forces an organisation to consider how they operate. There is then a need to discover how best to adapt and learn from the experience.
As a business, Glantus has to continuously adapt and enhance; (a) the value proposition that we offer, (b) the way that it is delivered, and (c) the associated pricing model. Based on the lessons that we have learnt from the past, Glantus now own zero hardware infrastructure and all of our internal business systems are available online (securely) – including the use of our own solutions – from anywhere in the world.
This is an option that we also offer to our customers, as our solution is cloud based (by default). From a pricing point of view, we have a subscription model which has helped us, as well as our customers to link payments to the value realised within their business.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
To me, success means ‘customer advocacy’ and that is the measure that drives me every day. I thrive on helping others to succeed, whether it’s my colleagues, teammates, college students; and especially the companies that use our products.
I’ve always been driven to apply myself fully, to enjoy the journey and to help anyone that I can along the way. So far, it has worked out well and I’m very grateful for that.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
I’ve been lucky to have worked with some fantastic people over the years, who have been very generous with the advice that they’ve given to me.
At Glantus, our founder Maurice Healy has a wealth of experience in business and one of the things that I’ve learned from him is to focus on ‘Right Now’. In business, things can change quickly and making decisions for ‘Right Now’ as opposed to procrastinating – has helped me to act quicker.
In my previous life, I worked with Version 1 and received regular feedback from the CEO, Tom O’Connor. In one conversation, I remember Tom told me to beware of having ‘Happy Ears’. It stuck with me and has helped me to remain positive in my approach but cautious of being too optimistic.
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
Over the course of the past 12 months, we have on-boarded some amazing new customers, including: Sherry FitzGerald, Java Republic, Hydrogen PLC, Aramark Property and First Ireland. We have also deepened our relationships with existing customers like Paddy Power, Applegreen, Gannon Homes and MIG.
From an internal company perspective – one of our biggest highlights has been the acquisition of JPD Financial, UK and US businesses. This acquisition has enabled us to bring new levels of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to credit recovery and financial processing to global businesses and shared services units.
Another big one for us is the recent retention (and extension) of our ISO accreditation. This means that Glantus are fully certified in Ireland and UK, as an ISO9001 Quality and ISO27001 Information Security business. This is another important milestone for our business, as a lot of time and effort is spent on an on-going basis to optimise our company policies and procedures – which underpin the quality of our customer deliveries.
What’s next for your company?
Our aim is to be globally recognised as the leading provider of technology for the Finance function; based on a powerful, integrated toolkit and delivered without business disruption or costly integration requirements.
By extending our technology, that already caters for the automation of Accounts Payable, P2P and Statement Reconciliation to include Fraud Protection and Credit Recovery functionality, the system will effectively generate income for our customers.
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2020?
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing a seismic shift in the way that organisations have adjusted to new world of work. With many businesses now operating remotely for the foreseeable future, the ability to embed efficiencies into core business processes is more valuable than ever and recovering money and credits that are otherwise lost makes a lot of sense.
At Glantus, we are seeing an increase in demand for our automation solutions – especially for companies that are spending a lot of time and effort completing (repetitive) manual processes. Our focus for 2020, is to continue to grow our offering across the Finance function and maximise the value that is created for our customers.
Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
We aim to become the leading global provider of Data and Analytics technology, to the Finance function. We are working hard to reach our goals for this year, but always keeping an eye on ‘Right Now’.