"Innovation is at least as important as growth for a software company."

Paul Ramakers, Chief Executive Officer at Exact
How is Exact doing? What are the plans for the coming year? Is it on track to meet the ambitious sustainability targets? We asked CEO Paul Ramakers.

How did Exact do in 2023?

"We did well. I am pleased with the financial results and our growing family. We have achieved these results by focusing on product innovation, customer satisfaction and a good work environment. Innovation is a keyword for me, because innovation is at least as important as growth for a software company."

"The quality of our cloud platform shows that we take innovation seriously. We have invested a lot in cloud services, and our platform is now growing very fast. I am impressed by the cloud successes we have achieved. More and more customers are using our data centres for their administration. By upscaling, we can then make other investments."

What are your innovation plans for 2024?

"In the coming year – and the years after that – we will continue to innovate our broad portfolio. We pay a lot of attention to the further development and optimisation of our cloud-based complete solution for accountants. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), we will continue to focus on automating manual activities and repetitive work. Our use of smart technology gives them more time to spend on their business."

"One example of smart technology is AI. Last year was all about ChatGPT. Exact has been investing in similar technologies for years. That said, we are impressed by the Large Language Model (LLM) ChatGPT uses. We are also conducting our own experiments to explore the extra dimensions LLM can bring to AI. I expect AI to have a big impact on both the products and services we offer to our customers."

What are Exact's key success factors?

"One of the most important pillars is our large ecosystem of partners. Thanks to our collaboration and the open architecture of our software, we can offer our customers the complete solution they are looking for. We are very proud of all our partners: from those we have been working with for 40 years to those who are just joining us now. By integrating our solutions, we add value for the entrepreneurs and accountants who work with Exact."
"Our ecosystem enables our partners to integrate their products and services perfectly into our solutions."
Paul Ramakers | Chief Executive Officer | Exact
"Another important factor is that we speak the same practical, no-nonsense language as SMEs. Entrepreneurs have the best understanding of their own operations. And we can support them because we understand them. We do this by automating tasks and by making sure they always have the right information at hand. This makes us an important building block for the growth of SMEs in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany."

What role do our colleagues play in this and how do you make sure they want to (continue to) work for Exact?

"In order to keep innovating, we need colleagues who are passionate about what they do and who stand by their customers and our products. Our approach helps us to find these people. We offer great career paths with lots of development opportunities. You see more and more people joining us in sales and support positions. They eventually fill many different roles at Exact."

"Our work environment plays an important role in this process. A healthy work environment makes you feel at home. You feel safe to be yourself, to be open to others and to challenge each other in a healthy way. This helps you to continue to take steps and grow. I am a good example of this myself. 28 years ago, I joined Exact in the sales support department, and now I'm CEO. Of course, the environment doesn't do all the work for you. You have to be willing to put the effort in yourself if you want to get something out of it."

What about your sustainability plans?

"Since 2021, we have been fully integrating responsible business into our day-to-day operations. Sustainability is an important part of that. 'Working with numbers’ is part of our DNA. We owed it to ourselves to make our ambitions measurable. We are tracking our measurable targets on a monthly and quarterly basis. This means I can now say that we have achieved 95% of our targets for 2023."
"To improve our sustainability further, we are raising the bar in 2024."
Paul Ramakers | Chief Executive Officer | Exact
"We have already done a lot of work to make our data centres greener and have achieved great results. We are also very conscious about mobility. We only travel when we really need to, and we take the train as much as possible. To improve our sustainability further, we are raising the bar in 2024. I expect that we can achieve even more this year by focusing on our data centres and how we handle our data storage."

"Our company and all our colleagues are also socially engaged and socially active. Another aspect of this – which I am very proud of – is our Giving Back activities. Each of our colleagues gets three working days to make a contribution to their environment. Last year, Exact engaged in more than 2,000 activities for local initiatives and charities in this way."

How will Exact celebrate its 40th anniversary?

"Exact is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. We will mark that occasion both internally and with our customers and partners. This milestone shows that we are a reliable partner you can build a future with. We have provided innovative solutions for optimising operations for 40 years, and we will continue to do so for years to come."

Finally, what is your tip for entrepreneurs who want to achieve growth?

"Exact has a clear ambition for growth, both as a company and as people. This is the same for many entrepreneurs. Leaders don't achieve this on their own. Make sure you have a good team of people around you who speak the same language and help you set your course. Take a look at yourself as organisation once in a while and ask yourself the right questions: are we doing the right things, and are we doing them in the right way? Talk to each other about what you want to be and in what direction you want to grow. It's so important to keep investing in innovation and in your people, even in challenging circumstances. Face the future with confidence."
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