With the acquisition of FlowExpense, Yokoy was not only able to take over one of the most significant expense management solutions on the Swiss market, but also entered into a strong strategic partnership with Innflow AG. Patrick Meier, Co-Managing Director and Senior Partner of Innflow AG tells in an interview how it came about that two former competitors are now pulling in the same direction and why both parties benefit a lot from the partnership. He also demystifies the biggest prejudices in his industry and gives an outlook on the upcoming innovations in it.In a nutshell: who is Innflow and what do you do?
Innflow is one of Switzerland’s leading consultancies for the design, implementation, optimisation and operation of SAP-centric information systems.
Why did you co-found Innflow in 2004?
We simply thought that SAP consulting could be turned into something even better than what was available at that time.
On your homepage you write that you are one of the leading SAP consulting companies in Switzerland. What sets you apart from the others?
Our customers appreciate above all the fact that we consistently protect their interests, enabling them to achieve their own corporate goals faster and better. The digitalisation in the industry requires us to continuously combine proven know-how with newly emerging opportunities, thereby building SAP solutions that are both creative and stable in the long term. Solutions that can be used in a commercially attractive way, both locally and globally.
We have announced today that FlowExpense will become Yokoy - do you remember how you met Yokoy?
Of course: Yokoy has won an important evaluation against us! As an entrepreneur you have to follow up on such developments. From the contact that was established through this we were able to develop a successful cooperation within a very short time.
With its own competence centre for artificial intelligence, Yokoy is consistently breaking new ground.
What convinced you to enter this deal with Yokoy? And what added value do you as a company, and above all your customers, derive from it?
With its own competence centre for artificial intelligence, Yokoy is consistently breaking new ground. Our customers benefit from these capabilities just as much as we do ourselves. But a very central aspect is also the cultural match. Since the first contact, we have got on well with the Yokoy team. Yokoy shares our values, is highly competent, predictable and uncompromisingly service-oriented.
Now there are some prejudices in the industry in which Innflow operates. One of them: IT projects always take much longer than planned and cost many times more than originally agreed - what do you think about that?
What? With SAP? Never! - Jokes aside: Especially with SAP S/4HANA we always solve challenging tasks. We map multi-layered organisations, implement complex financial, logistics, production and service processes, underpin solutions with creative industry digitalisation and enable a unique flexibility, stability and scalability of the implemented solution for decades to come. Understandably, such projects require corresponding resources. Our project methodology is crucial for our success: it allows us to avoid any unpleasant surprises some SAP projects may have experienced in the past.
Another prejudice: SAP only works for large organisations - do you agree?
In the 1990s, large companies were certainly the first to recognise the value of a fully integrated ERP solution and to raise the funds for complex implementation projects, usually involving structural and organisational changes. Today, SMEs make up the vast majority of all SAP customers, not only in Switzerland but worldwide. The leaner, cloud-based ERP solutions from SAP can also be introduced quickly, cheaply and easily in small companies. However, complexity and scope - and this applies to every ERP solution - are always determined by the requirements of a company or the complexity of the products and services it provides.
Do you know any other prejudices and myths in your industry?
Certainly, even today we often talk about the price and value of our solutions. SAP S/4HANA as a next generation ERP system is guaranteed by SAP to be developed and supported until 31.12.2040. This planning reliability is unique in our industry. Whoever relies on SAP S/4HANA today will have 20 years of peace of mind afterwards. Looking ahead, this hardly seems possible. But when we prepare existing SAP ERP 6.0 systems for migration to SAP S/4HANA, we see that many of these systems have been in productive use for 20 years or more. Originally implemented as SAP R/3 systems, these solutions have been updated to their current status purely via release upgrades. Correctly implemented, SAP solutions always generate significant added value.
How has the Corona crisis affected your company, and the industry in general? Do you also see positive opportunities?
This pandemic is causing enormous damage to people and the environment around the world. Of course, we are also affected by the current situation and now provide a considerable part of our consulting services via remote access. The pandemic-related developments drive towards digital working will certainly give Yokoy even more impetus for its expense management solution and inspiration for complementary functions from other areas of office digitalisation!
What do you think are the most exciting trends and innovations that will move your industry in the coming years?
In addition to the numerous upcoming SAP S/4HANA projects, we will develop ERP-related possibilities for artificial intelligence and smart process automation.
The smart device is now part of our daily life. Our customers transform their business to become smart companies. This will lead to the development of smart industries and public sector organisations. Ultimately, it is the largely decarbonised smart nation we strive for: mindful in its use of resources and capable of solving the most pressing social challenges in clever and fair ways.
Spoiler Alert: The cooperation with Yokoy will be further expanded!
What inspires you to get up every day and do your job?
My tomcat. He wakes me up very early and wants his breakfast! When I'm awake then, I look forward most of all to working with my colleagues and a fantastic team that is in a daily exchange with a wide range of companies and organisations across the entire economic and administrative landscape of Switzerland and to make my contribution to further develop our company.