On today’s episode of Thriving at the Crossroads, I introduce Jörg Wiemer, co-founder and CEO of Treasury Intelligence Solutions (TIS). TIS builds a cloud based SAAS to simplify and streamline your payment flows and bank relationships.
More details on TIS can be found here:https://www.tis.biz/en
In the second segment of the show- I will cover Lora Cecere’s post on Decisions at the Speed of Business
Build Smarter Payments With TIS
Welcome to Thriving at the Crossroads episode six. I’m your host, Amber Christian. Today, I’m pleased to introduce my first German startup. Jörg Wiemer, the CEO of Treasury Intelligence Solutions is our guest today. Jörg, is that name ringing a bell for any of my listeners? Perhaps that’s because he used to be the treasurer at SAP. Jörg has left that role and is running his own startup company, Treasury Intelligence Solutions, which is based in Germany. One of the things I like about Treasury Intelligence Solutions and the reason for the interview is the solution that they’re providing actually solves problems for companies with multiple ERP systems.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve got Oracle for some subsidiaries, SAP for others, and yet you’re trying to harmonize your bank relationship processes and your payment processes, it’s going to be challenging. I interview Jörg to talk about what their solution provides from Treasury Intelligence Solutions.
Welcome back to Thriving at the Crossroads. Today’s guest is Jörg Wiemer from TIS. Today’s topic is going to be all about payments. Everybody knows I love payments. Jörg’s company has some really interesting innovations in the payment space that we’re going to explore today. Welcome to the show, Jörg.
Thank you for inviting me today. It’s a pleasure to be here.
We are filming this or recording this in Orlando, Florida in Association for Finance Professionals Conference. Jörg, why don’t you go ahead and introduce a little bit about yourself and the company, TIS?
I’m Jörg Wiemer, CEO of TIS, one of their founders, co-founder. We started our business in 2010. Actually, based on the pain which I had in my former life as a treasurer, I worked for SAP for eight years as Head of Treasury, Senior Vice-President, one of the CFO’s group direct reports. The pain which I had in my former life as the treasurer is the cradle of this company.
TIS is the leading cloud platform for payments, liquidity and bank relationships. We really solve the problem that customers have, customers in all industries. We focus on medium and large size corporate customers. Not only SAP customers but we are a SAP partner and we do have an SAP certified interface as well. It’s about technology software as a service, pure play. Why? Because this scales much faster than traditional on-premise installations.
The company is growing pretty fast based on excellent customer feedback as a payment platform. We are a multibank enabled, so we connect customers’ ERP systems, not only SAP but SAP treasury systems, Oracle systems. We connect those ERP systems with different banks our customers are working with.
I think that’s a really interesting component to what you’re doing, Jörg. When I did a presentation here at AFP, I asked the audience and asked them, “How many of you have a fragmented ERP landscape?” Fully, a third of the audience raised their hands. I think the reality of today’s environment is, with the inquisitive nature of a lot of companies as they’re buying companies, divesting from companies, they really end up with multiple ERP platforms. Sometimes they have some things on Oracle, some things on SAP, on homegrown third party systems, and they really struggle to figure out, “How do I create a commonality of processes when I have multiple ERPs?” Why don’t you speak a little bit to that and some of the unique things you guys do to solve that problem for companies particularly in the multiple ERP space?
That’s completely true. What we see in our customer base, various ERP systems and various e-banking tools, they create large inefficiencies for our customers. This is a really painful experience. Think about customers running on 20, 30 different SAP systems in different versions. How do you want to connect all these systems through in-house projects, maybe through service bureaus to different banks? This is a nightmare. Let’s assume you were successful in connecting all these systems with all your banks, then suddenly RBS decides to exit.
To get rid of their customers. Exactly.
Then you start again with your IT project connecting the next thing and reinventing the wheel again and again. This is on the bank side, so it’s obvious, customers want to have flexibility. They want to be bank-independent. Same on the ERP side. Think about even the large SAP customers, they typically run on different ERP systems. Maybe these were acquired. Maybe this is for historical reasons. Different ERP systems, maybe treasury systems in parallel, HR system providers, ADP also, and all these different systems. They create payment files, payment instructions.
Those payment instructions, they need to flow through different, let’s say, bank specific e-banking tools to the different banks. It’s an M to N relationship. You always need to reinvent the wheel. Each and every customer needs to reinvent the wheel based on in-house project. Think about different communication channels. You could leverage SWIFT, you could leverage local protocols like EBICS, you could go direct through host to host, then you have the different bank and country-specific payment formats. Even in the SEPA environment, you have different SEPA flavors.
It’s a nightmare to connect all these systems with all these banks. It’s M to N relationship, very high complexity. In a nutshell, this triggers very high cost. This triggers very high risk because you can’t control these processes. These are heterogeneous processes. There’s a lack of transparency. That’s the starting point. By the way, I forgot the IT costs. It’s really costly to maintain these different channels and tools. That’s why we decided based on my pain six years ago to start TIS. That was the old world, that’s how we call it, M to N relationship. We release this M to N relationship and we convert this into a one-on-one model where we connect all these different systems through our TIS platform, as a single source of truth with the different banks.
Walk through what does a payment process start to look like when TIS comes into play for an organization? People might be used to in a traditional SAP environment, running their payments there, maybe doing routing and approvals there and connecting to their bank. Help us understand where you fit in this cycle of a payment process in an SAP-type landscape? Where does TIS fit in?
From an, let’s say, NGO’s perspective, you start the payment run, F110 in SAP, and without using TIS, complexity starts. In that second, it’s about payment formats. You need to configure in the PMW or Payment Medium Workbench, then you need to configure your XIPI middleware. You need to test this with the banks. You need to, by the way, add communication channel, maybe a service bureau or something like that. That’s a nightmare. It’s an IT project where you run at a speed of maybe one bank per six months. Some of our customers, they work with twenty or 30 different banks and it simply doesn’t scale.
It’s not palatable. That’s not a price tag that’s palatable.
Exactly. The good news is, in the TIS world, there is an SAP certified plug-in, it’s an add-on. We pick up the file in your SAP system, we ship this add-on or you download this, activate that. Your ERP system creates a payment medium which is an Idoc, for example, or maybe it’s an XML, it’s up to you, customer’s decision. We pick it up, send it to the TIS platform. We convert that inbound format, that’s how we call it, into our meta-format. From there, we convert it into the outbound format. It’s a single point of contact from a customer perspective.
TIS transports those payment files on behalf of our customers to the different banks in the bank and country specific format, through different channels like, we have SWIFT partner, for example. We like to leverage host to host or EBICS channels as well. Once again, we convert the format. We act as a communication hub. We act as an SAP ERP integrator and we deliver workflows as well. Think about the release of payment in the 4i principle. Customers with a heterogeneous ERP landscape, they want to release those payments in one single source of truth and that’s the TIS platform. We know all your bank accounts. We do have a bank account manager as well. All the signature rites are on our platform, so you establish a 4i or 6i principle, release the payment and send those payments through the bank.
In a nutshell, you don’t need to change your ERP landscape. You don’t need to change your banking landscape. You don’t need to configure PMW. You don’t need to deal with XIPI. Simply use TIS as a service provider to reduce your cost, to reduce your risk, and to increase transparency, roll out as five to ten times faster than traditional IT implementation project where you need to configure your systems.
Essentially, you create the payment, you clear out the payment. TIS, it’s in the middle. Serves as the middleware in the connectivity and any workflow routing approval, and you go to your bank. Format mapping everything, that middle piece you do for the approvals and the format mapping and the communication to the bank. Do you have monitoring for failed payments? How about that? How does that work? Let’s say, something goes through the TIS platform and fails, then what happens?
Good point. As part of our add-on, we call it plug-in, SAP certified plug-in, there is a payment status monitor available and the bank statement monitor as well. Let’s assume you execute a payment run which includes 100 individual payments. 99 payments flow through our TIS platform to the bank or 100 flow through TIS to the bank and one gets rejected by the bank, or maybe by the payment approver on our platform.
In that second, we send a message to our payment status monitor in your SAP system. Your accounting colleague realizes a few minutes after he has released the payment run that something went wrong with that single payment, so full visibility and control. You have the full audit trail. This is complete in you. In the old world, without using TIS, the SAP system will tell you after generating the payment run, that the payment was executed. There is no information available for your accounting colleagues. This triggers some problems because the next day you will find out that the bank account statement won’t fit to your open items.
Which is a particular nightmare if it’s batch settled.
There is a huge delay, let’s say, twenty four hour delay until you start searching for the error, and then you find out that one payment was not executed. In our world, it’s completely different. There is a status message flowing back to the monitor. We can also automatically reopen this individual item in your ERP system. It’s an end-to-end process. This is very valuable for your accounting colleagues because they can immediately react. They immediately receive feedback. They don’t need to log in into their e-banking tools anymore to find out whether something went wrong or not.
They can, on our platform, release the payment or release individual payments. They can release HR payments if they have the HR profile. If they don’t have the HR profile, they see the payment header only. They can create manual payments on our platform. They can upload payment files as well, and once again, independent from your ERP systems.
The commonality of process particularly in this multiple ERP system, you can really get the commonality around the workflow routing and approvals and really crossover anything from HR systems to the ERP systems to the homegrown things you’ve got on the side, and even create manual payments inside that. You can really become a one-stop shop for payments visibility across the organizational systems.
That’s our role which we play already with many customers, medium and large sized corporate, actually in all industries. The problem which we address exists across different industries. The problems are pretty much the same pattern. Large customers like Fujitsu, Volkswagen, Bosch, some other well-known customers, they are running our TIS service. It’s a service. It’s not an on-premise installation. It’s a software as a service as a single point of contact or single source of truth.
Absolutely. You just named a few of your customers. You’re making really good progress in the customer adoption journey. For our listeners, I have a different rating scale of customers where ABC is what you call Alpha-Beta Customer, where you’re just getting your first customers. Category D is done in at least once or up to five times. Might be able to get you live, but might be a little bumpy. My final category is E, where we have existing customer basis, i.e. we can help you manage the integration, we can explain it, we know how this works, we have it down to a science. It sounds like you’re in the E category. Is that a fair statement?
Definitely. That’s the case. The company is growing really fast as of today. Very high double digit growth rates in percentage year over year. We have several customers, evangelists on stage. Very positive customer references. It’s a small community and it’s a huge asset to have happy customers. Check our success stories on our webpage, TIS.biz or simply give me a call. I will provide some customer references on top, customer references.
Absolutely. Congratulations on so much success. How many countries are you in right now, as you’ve been expanding? You talked about you’re really growing fast. How many countries are you in now today?
From a product perspective, we have connected all relevant cash management banks to our platform already. Our customers are active in almost every country worldwide. There are white spots especially in Africa, in some areas in Latin America, in Asia, but we have a very, very broad coverage. I assume it’s the broadest coverage in the industry, not only from a country perspective and from a bank perspective, but also from a payment format perspective. Different payment types in different countries. That’s what we cover.
We understand local payment languages. We do have a library of payment formats and bank connectors available for all our customers. That’s the beauty of the software as a service model. It’s a community effect. The customer drives innovation. We carefully listen to our customers, they have very good ideas. When we build or develop new connectors, new formats, additional functionality, like for example, a single sign-on model or single sign-on functionality, based on customer request, these additional features are available at the same time for all customers.
The innovation which we shipped to customers is a four to six weeks cycle. Every customer is always using the latest version of our software. This heavily increases scalability and delivers huge value to customers. You don’t need to wait for new release upgrades. It’s simply there after four to six weeks. You can use this new format and you connect it to a new bank, but you don’t need to use it. It’s a community effect which heavily increases scalability, and that’s one of our USPs, which makes us faster, which allows customers to benefit from our solution very fast.
For our final question today, I always ask, favorite travel destination. Tell us your favorite travel destination and why, Jörg?
I did a lot of traveling, but my favorite destination is Mont Blanc, which is the highest mountain in France. I climbed this mountain two years ago and it was great fun to be there at the top, and enjoy the blue sky and the sunshine and the beautiful view.
Beautiful. We haven’t had that answer before. We’ll have to add that one to our roster. Thank you so much for joining us today, Jörg.
It was a pleasure. Talk to you soon.
Industry Article Review
Today’s article is written by Lora Cecere and is called Decisions at the Speed of Business. This is a post that you’ll able to find on LinkedIn, where Lora is a LinkedIn influencer.
Today’s article, Decisions at the Speed of Business, was written by Lora Cecere, the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Insights. In this article, she talks about the Internet of Things. It’s a huge buzz word today. How do you go from making it a buzz word to something that’s actually practical and something that’s actionable? I really enjoyed this article for its authenticity and its acknowledgement of how new this whole Internet of Things is. Yet at the same time recognizing there’s a tremendous number of opportunities for a supply chain as we move to more of the Internet of Things model.
One of the first insights that Lora had in this article is how today, we have a significant number of inputs for supply chain, GPS, telematics, sensors, social media, and on and on and on. A key is our systems haven’t really adapted from this whole batch process mode. Even though we can have all of these real time unstructured data, our systems are still in a place where they’re really batch processed. She also observed that our processes don’t actually move at the speed of real time, for decisions as well. Not only is it our systems, it’s our process decisions as well.
What are some examples where Internet of Things will actually change things and where we need to adjust our processes? There are two examples that I’ll focus on, and you can read the others in the article. The first was definitive arrival information. This is really information around when will trucks arrive? If you think about the logistics challenges around trucking, they’re pretty significant. People need to know when the expected deliveries are for trucks. Having someone say, “Can I tell you tomorrow?” isn’t really a very good answer. Yet, from a practical perspective, most logistics professionals have to work on five or six different systems in order to actually gather this type of information.
These systems aren’t harmonized, so there’s a lot of online third-party checking, phone calls being made. It’s a significant amount of coordination and manual effort by logistics professionals. This really has to change. It’s not a model that scales well and it doesn’t really position us for the future. She said despite automation in the cabs for a lot of freight carriers, most of the shipping processes and determination for freight are still largely manual. The process is just not efficient. As a result, 30% of trucks roll empty on US highways.
My personal observation? Think of all the additional traffic it adds, the risk around accidents, all the things that really shouldn’t be there simply because we can’t ship as efficiently as we should be able to.
Her second example was around ocean container freight tracking. For those of you who have been following the news, there was a large shipping company bankruptcy in September of 2016 that affected a lot of suppliers. In September 2016, 2,500 sailors and $14 billion worth of cargo were stranded due to this shipping company bankruptcy. Most of them were from South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Now, if you were a manufacturer and you’re moving freight from this part of the world, imagine what happens when they go bankrupt. You try to figure out what cargo is on which ship. They had significant issues because the ships couldn’t be unloaded due to the bankruptcy. The plight of the freight was unknown unless you had more sophisticated tracking. A lot of companies didn’t. It was some pretty harrowing times as they tried to figure out, “Where’s my freight?” I can’t imagine having to be in supply chain and answer that question when they went bankrupt. It’s a lot of risk in your supply chain sitting there, and a real place where IoT can make a difference in terms of tracking your freight.
How do we actually start to move to taking advantage of IoT? This is my favorite part of the article, because I think Lora’s advice is really authentic and pragmatic. IoT is a really hot buzz word. In the SAP industry, in all of our industries, we keep hearing about how IoT is going to change everything. But how do you actually make it real? How do you position your organization to start to take advantage of it? Like she said, we’re moving from this whole batched process to real time world which requires a very different set thought processes.
She had five steps of advice, or five steps to consider. Her first, show strategic consultants with pretty sides and buzzy words the exit sign. Thank you, Lora. Everyone can claim to be an expert in these technologies, yet really there are not very many that have done this. I appreciated her candor in recognizing that there aren’t a lot of experts in this field. If people are coming to you and claiming to be an expert in IoT and all things integration with IoT, it’s pretty unlikely. I agree with you here, Lora, because we’re seeing so much about how it’s going to revolutionize everything. Yet, we have to have the focused practical examples. A lot of these technologies are new. The analysis around some of the big data that also goes with the streaming data, this is a very new world.
Her second observation, free yourself from traditional thinking. You have to challenge the status quo. When you step back and look at your processes, you have to think about what the real time data capabilities will bring you. Then have the supporting processes to give you the answers you need for business. It’s not about make the process real-time and then figure out how it will change my decisions. It’s figure out what I can get real-time and then how my processes need to adjust.
Third, test and learn. Build scrappy groups to learn new technologies and challenge the status quo. What I really liked here about Lora’s observation is she talks about this ancient world of “as is, to be” processes. Any of us, myself included, that have been on the old traditional waterfall models, we all did the “as is” and the “to be” processes. IoT is completely blowing up a lot of those models. This is new and structured data. It’s really different. I agree that the old “as is, to be” way is not the way that you approach it in IoT. Instead, you really start to learn and evolve through testing.
One of the things that I would add to what she says here in this test and learn is I think this is a place where agile technologies can really benefit organizations, because you’re breaking things down into smaller chunks, you’re learning and you’re iterating. This is a key where some existing things and methodologies I think from IT can really be beneficial for organizations trying to really take advantage of IoT technologies.
Her fourth suggestion, build a holistic data strategy. Step back and decide where data in the supply chain should stream, where it should be pooled and how it should float in the cloud. Really think about your process flows based on these new capabilities. An interesting observation, I would add, Lora, you’re right, in terms of how people are looking at this data. Often, what came out of our ERP systems was reporting at the end, and reporting as an after-thought. I think you have a key insight here in thinking holistically about data.
In most of the traditional waterfall types of projects, we layout our whole process and reporting is phase two, phase three or phase never. Let’s be honest, you always run out of budget by the time you get around to that. People limp along, they do their manual spreadsheets. The reporting doesn’t often really come to the forefront until far later in the process. If you think about imbedding your reporting in the process, how could you make different decisions as the process is moving? That is a big differentiator and is a real dynamic changer in your projects, if you embed the reporting in order to make different decisions. I agree, you need a holistic data strategy to really re-think where you need to take advantage of that data that you’re gathering as part of your processes.
The final thought, educate your team. These are new concepts and your team needs time to actually learn and grow from them. I would add on, I see a lot of companies cut their training budgets, or not allow the extra room and time in projects for people to learn things. If you throw down a really hard and fast date on people with brand new technologies, you’re almost certainly setting them up for failure. You’re right, Lora. You do definitely need to add more to educate your team and to make sure that they’re learning these new technologies to take advantage of them.
The initial projects will take longer, but as people learn and get a hang in these technologies, things will iterate faster and faster. Thank you, Lora for really great insights about how to take what is this ambiguous vague IoT world and boil it down into five practical steps for how your organization can start to embrace IoT.
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