Technology Disruption in the Enterprise Performance Management Space
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Technology Disruption in the Enterprise Performance Management Space

Abraham Saxionis, Head of Financial Performance &Tranformation, Keolis Commuter Services

1. In the light of your experience, what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening with respect to the Enterprise Performance Management?

The ever-advancing pace of technology is transforming every aspect of Enterprise Performance Management from data collection to processing, visualization, and execution while enhancing and accelerating the availability of business intelligence information. The term timeliness is becoming equivalent to “real-time” even for tasks that less than ten years ago took days or weeks to complete. Further, the introduction of mobile devices in the workplace and advancements in technology such as IoT have increased the number of data sources dramatically and have driven the volume, depth, and breadth of data collected to new heights. As an example, in the Transportation industry, the Internet of Things (IoT), is beginning to expand drastically the volume of data we collect and analyze where even trains cars are now providing details in real-time such as customer counts, temperature controls, noise and vibration levels, and GPS, helping us improve the customer experience or adjust.

This trend has created both challenges and opportunities for companies and has increased significantly the expectations of the CIO to capture, transform, and seamlessly distribute data, real-time. Most end-users and key stakeholders know that real-time transformation of data to information, can be a powerful competitive advantage and inability to do so, is an existential threat.

2. Could you elaborate on some exciting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?

Currently, at Keolis, we are pursuing maximum digitalization in every part of the business, from the front line where we issue tickets and collect revenue, to the back office where we are revamping our payroll system and time capturing capabilities. Our goal is to automate all manual processes so that we can eliminate the risk of fraud, error, mishandling of information and in the process, gain the insights we need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our business. Two initiatives which are already delivering significant benefits to Keolis are a.)The implementation of online dashboards using QlikSense where KPIs and performance metrics of all projects and operating results from all functions of the business will reside and b.)The implementation of a new budgeting and forecasting software solution, Jedox.

While we are still at an early stage in the implementation of QlikSense, it is already producing some significant benefits, and its impact is being felt company-wide. Through our digital dashboards we are transforming the way line employees, managers and executives receive their information, and we can make it available to them either on electronic boards located throughout our business, on their laptops, or mobile devices, anytime, anywhere.As an example, through QlikSense, we can provide line managers with the ability to slice and dice payroll data for the areas of their responsibility immediately after the daily cycle is closed. Through their customized dashboards, managers can monitor every aspect of their payroll at the functional, department, and employee level and have visibility into overtime, absenteeism, and other significant drivers of our cost. Similarly, as part of our Finance transformation initiative, we have been able to migrate the majority of the manual, excel-based reports to QlikSense significantly decreasing manual effort, improving turnaround times and shrinking our monthly reporting and analysis cycle. Most importantly, we have been able to make our reporting substantially more insightful and have increased confidence in our data dramatically since going digital.

3. What are some of the points of discussion that go on in your leadership panel? What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?

In our monthly Financial Performance Board meetings, our focus is on achieving our current year and multi-year plan objectives and to ensure that all divisions are delivering on the more than 60 improvement initiatives that we have committed to provide over the planning horizon. As you would expect, the majority of our time is spent on reviewing and discussing the most critical initiatives in our portfolio with particular emphasis being placed on those with the most significant impact on customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and payback. I view my role as that of the facilitator, helping focus the discussion on what matters most by incorporating into the agenda of our meeting the key Highlights, Alerts, and Priorities or HAP as we call it, which help focus the executive team on what matters most.

4. How do you see the evolution of the Enterprise Performance Management in a few years from now about some of its potential disruptions and transformations?

While it is difficult to predict the future, I believe that EPM as a concept will always be the same because it is in our human nature to want to control, manage and improve what we do and how we do it. What I believe will change is the way EPM manifests itself and how the solutions to our problems are identified and solved., if the current pace of advancement in technology continues, I would expect that in a few years, the issues we are currently trying to address as users in the areas of systems integration, data collection, analysis and reporting, will be drastically simplified and or eliminated. Many of the technology solutions that are in the market today have already made significant strides in delivering advanced integration capabilities and interoperability in their offerings. On the back end, where end-users receive their information, data visualization vendors are continuing to advance their platforms to the point where currently, the solution itself “recommends“ alternative views of the data you have captured,allowing you to select the one(s) that you consider most insightful. It is in this specific area where I expect companies to advance even further shortly, where the need for human intervention for the creation of visual analyses will be minimized and replaced by system-generated insights which can be selected at the click of the mouse.

5. What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?

The only piece of advice I have for my fellow professionals is that no matter what your specialty, do not fear technology but embrace it and make it if not the core, a significant component of your professional education. I was fortunate enough to learn this lesson early on in my career while I worked as a cost analyst at IBM over 30 years ago. At the time, our Finance team was the first to implement a data warehouse in our division, which I volunteered to lead. I immediately realized its power as a productivity enabler in that it made my job significantly more efficient and effective. A few years later, I had the opportunity to use its full power as I embarked on my first enterprise-wide initiative on Strategic Sourcing, which targeted millions of dollars of reductions in the cost of procurement and which earned our small team an excellence award. The success of that project was in large part attributed our ability to easily manipulate large data sets of all the thousands of commodities and services that our division procured and were able to extract the insights we needed from the data to achieve our objectives. That was my first lesson in Enterprise Performance Management, and the first time I realized how powerful of an impact technology could make in the competitive standing of a company.


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