Joep Hoeks, Chief Product Officer Exact: "We need to work smarter, not harder"
Labour shortages, rising prices, a 24-hour economy that never stops, sustainability issues… The current market demands a lot of entrepreneurs and nothing about that is likely to change anytime soon. To remain relevant, keeping up with these developments is crucial. Technology can help. Embracing technological innovations may force you out of your comfort zone occasionally. That isn't always easy. Still, such innovations are precisely what enable entrepreneurs to make a difference. In this article, Joep Hoeks, Chief Product Officer at software specialist Exact, discusses the challenges SMEs face and how they can become future-proof with the help of business software.
"According to research, the great majority of SMEs believe their market will be strongly affected by technological change in the next three years", says Joep. "However, research also shows that only 5% of SMEs want all those new technologies for themselves. We see many SMEs still shying away from use of the latest innovations in business software. On the one hand, they find such innovations complicated and are not very clear on what to do with them. On the other, they think the investment will be high, or that their challenges are so unique that no good solution exists." Hoeks feels this is a missed opportunity, because future-proof business is not possible without software. "While humans remain a crucial element, their precise role is changing. When software can handle the simple, routine tasks, people have time for creative, high-quality work and can add more value for their organisation."
How can you motivate SMEs to get behind automation? Start by facilitating entrepreneurs. Joep continues: "Here, software developers play a very important role. They can help make entrepreneurs' lives easier. New business software nowadays is almost always cloud-based, which is helpful. This makes it easy for us to take care of secondary matters such as updates, privacy and security. It will take more than that to get SMEs excited, though." Hoeks is referring to Exact's vision on business software development, on which he is happy to expand.
The software of the future is user-friendly, open, integrated and No Hands
Exact believes that the software of the future should be user-friendly, open, integrated and No Hands. Joep Hoeks: "Our business software's development is based on these four principles. That supports our users' agility, which I strongly believe is vital when it comes to future-proof business."
By software that is user-friendly, Exact is referring to intuitive cloud software with a modern user interface. Look at all the apps on your smartphone. These applications, many of which are intended for private use, often prove their worth in short order. "This is where business software developers should look for inspiration. Fortunately, more and more, the UX requirements we see for personal apps do seem to be becoming the standard for business software as well. After all, the use of Exact's solutions should be just as intuitive. That's why user-friendliness is high on our agenda."
- Open architecture
In addition, entrepreneurs need flexibility when it comes to software tools. Connectivity is therefore a priority in Exact's product development. "We invest in an open architecture for our portfolio and in an associated partner network of software vendors so as to encourage freedom of choice and collaboration within the market. For example, our Exact App Store offers users secure access to apps from other providers with a low threshold. They can easily expand and customise their software to their industry or company-specific challenges."
- Integrated environment
Integration is about the provision of a single, comprehensive work environment; an integrated software suite that combines the worlds of financial and ERP software. That way, users can work with great efficiency, do not have to switch between programs all the time and also have quick access to a good overview of and insight into all business processes. "Additionally, we focus on seamless collaboration between entrepreneurs and their accountants. This is increasingly important, as everyone's work is becoming more data-driven."
- No Hands software
Finally, there's No Hands automation. Joep's stance on this is brief and to the point: "That is the essence of our software. We are all about the automation of repetitive manual tasks to give our users the time and ability to work on their passions."
Work smarter, not harder
From the shortage of labour and inflation issues described above, to our non-stop 24-hour economy and the market's demanding and dynamic nature, small and medium-sized enterprises and their accountants face daily challenges. These demand a lot of them, necessitating good insight into their organisation and a great deal of agility. "To continue serving our customers well in future, we will also continue to innovate based on our four principles. Because in order to achieve their ambitions, automation has to be easy and fun. We need to work smarter, not harder", says Joep Hoeks.