Connect Ambassadors 2017: The future at work
Posted by Emma Keates
At this year’s Connect Ambassadors event, hosted early May at the lovely nHow Rotterdam hotel – which included a great view of the Erasmus Bridge - attendees were met by an unusual host of the non-human kind. The robot symbolized the theme of the two-day event – the future at work.
The format this year was all new and worked very well. Customers that are members of our five Industry Advisory Councils attended to hear more about our strategy and innovation initiatives and to share their own experiences and ideas as part of an intimate, interactive event. Media and analysts also attended.
Unit4’s CEO, Stephan Sieber, opened the event and over the two days, customers heard from Jeremy Roche, CPO, Erik Tiden, CTO, Claus Jepsen, Chief Architect, Thomas Staven, global head of pre-sales, Matthias Thurner, prevero and Martijn van der Hoeden, who heads our Professional Services practice.
We strongly believe that technology has let us down in the past decade. It has failed to simplify our lives and we cannot afford that to happen in the decades to come. Although millions and billions of euro’s have been invested in technology in the past decade, productivity has not increased.
Setting the future vision
That’s why Unit4 focuses on making software for people, people in services industries and making that smart. By innovating with new technology we’re making our systems self-driving, taking every day mundane tasks away from people and freeing them up to focus on value-adding activities.
We are focused on delivering specialized customer facing solutions to services organizations to help them reduce poverty; educate the next generation; provide housing for people; build roads and basic infrastructure; grow potatoes on Mars and end world famine for example. Our recent acquisitions in the BI and PSA space are proof of this, and we’re innovating to deliver an entirely new enterprise software user experience.
Most exciting was that we announced the release of our ground breaking enterprise bot, called Wanda, bringing a new self-driving enterprise software user experience to market. And it received a lot of press attention. The live demo went down a storm followed by a glimpse into where this technology is heading in the future, with a voice demo using Alexa. Here's just a few of the great press articles published as a result:
- Hello Unit4’s Wanda, goodbye Expensify and Concur? – diginomica.com
- Unit4 kicks off bot revolution – AccountingWEB
- Unit4 releases Wanda bot – Bob Scott’s Insights
- CFO role morphs into 'company venture capitalist' - AccountingWEB
- Unit4 adds machine learning to services-centric ERP system - Computer Weekly
- Unit4 unleashes PSA Suite - Enterprise Times
- News analysis, Unit4 releases Wanda bot - Constellation Research
We deliver the most comprehensive Higher Education offering in the world and are driving rapid cloud adoption in the sector. The 2015 acquisition of Three Rivers has really paid off; integrated with Business World we provide a modern end to end offering in student management. We announced during the event that we have released Spring ’17, extending the offering making it the most comprehensive system available.
Our message for professional services organizations is equally strong. Our vision and promise is simple. Unit4 aims to become the leading supplier in Professional Services globally. The recent Assistance Software acquisition expands and strengthens our PSO offering.
The workplace of the future
Presentations were interspersed with a live and interactive BuzzFeed component where the audience was asked the respond to questions about the future at work. BuzzFeed enabled us to pull up individual answers and to discuss those with audience members.
Customers were also interviewed separately throughout the event including Mike Rogerson, UK Commercial & Operations Director of global Professional Services firm, WSP. They certainly say it best. Here’s a great video where he tells their story. It gave us and the rest of the audience some really great insight into our customers’ pain, how Unit4 helps or can do more, and where they believe their focus will be over the coming decade. Really inspiring!
On day 2, our Industry Advisory Council meetings took place with customers representing the Not for Profit, Higher Education, Public Services, and Professional Services sectors. Separate meetings also took place for the Office of the CFO and covering Performance Management. It was great to see our customers forging new connections with their peers and hearing their ideas and experiences. These discussions always result in great learnings for us and will help us continue to serve our customers well in the future.
In a roundtable discussion on day 2, we explored what work will look like in 15 years, how organizations need to evolve, and how enterprise software needs to support them. This moderated discussion was fascinating, joined by a small group representing customers, analysts, media, and Unit4 executives.
Dinner took place on the famous SS Rotterdam ship, also known as "The Grande Dame". We were accompanied on this former ocean liner and cruise ship by great people and great jazz music, oh, and the world’s best Gin bar! We had great fun and look forward to more great Ambassador events in other countries where we operate this year.
Get a feel for what this amazing event was like with this special video compilation.