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A lot can happen in 1827 days

from  April 15, 2024 | 3 min read

1827 days. 261 weeks. 43,848 hours. 2,630,880 minutes...that’s how long I have been CEO at Unit4, with today marking my 5th anniversary leading the organization.

I am fortunate to work with 2,600 fantastic people and it’s down to the efforts of everyone at Unit4 that - over this time - we have made the significant progress we have and, consequently, it’s been an incredibly rewarding journey thus far.

Much has changed since 2019 and, of course, within less than a year of joining, we were all ‘locked down’ due to the arrival of COVID-19 in March 2020, which challenged everyone. We handled it in our stride, with everyone coming together and showing tremendous team spirit and mutual support.   A year later, in 2021, we sold the business to TA Associates and Partners Group, and I can tell you that selling a $2B business during a global pandemic is a challenge in itself! Since then, technology – and, in tandem, Unit4 - has continued to evolve.

If we consider how just a couple of key technologies have grown in the last five years, it’s no wonder that organizations are having to adapt. For example, if we take Cloud, it’s predicted that, by 2027, more than 70% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms to accelerate their businesses initiatives, up from less than 15% in 2023 (1).

Similarly, the technology of the moment - AI in all its many forms – has grown exponentially as new applications, platforms and solutions are developed on an almost daily basis. The global AI market (estimated at around $50B in 2019) is now expected to grow to $2.57 trillion by 2032, at a compound annual growth rate of 19%. …now that is growth!

Growth

When I joined, I was asked about the vision for the company, which has always been to be recognized as a ‘people-centric’ business. From my perspective as CEO, it was also about how we could grow (both our business and people), innovate and move to being the Cloud-based business I knew we had the potential to be, with our market leading product, ERPx. Since then, we have developed our vision and our aim is now simply ‘to empower businesses and people to focus on what really matters’.

This means enabling people to focus on doing meaningful work. For us, that is designing innovative software with people in mind - solutions which are centered on the employee experience and enabling a quality journey for the end user, regardless of industry or organization type. This empowers users to spend more time on purposeful work, rather than being distracted with layers of more mundane tasks. We are unique in that our software is modular by design and flexible in nature, enabling connectivity with best of breed applications to provide a single source of truth across finance, procurement, HR, and projects – adding triple value to any organization, and, ultimately, leading to growth.

Delivering transformative customer growth and success is a priority for us and, being a Cloud business, we collaborate with our customers throughout the whole lifecycle – from implementation to the ongoing use of our software. This year, we have launched Success4U, our new SaaS engagement model, designed to give customers a single access point to our full-service portfolio. By understanding customer needs at every stage of the journey, our colleagues can help them to maximize the benefit of our solutions and, in turn, drive customer growth too.

Progress 

When I joined, I knew we would make progress - and we have.

We have moved from being primarily an on-premise company to now focusing on Cloud and core platforms. In line with that, as well as growing and delivering more predictable and recurring revenue - as is a priority for any software company - we have delivered on other key metrics such as Net Promoter Score, customer engagement and our diversity.  And, crucially, as a people-centric organization, our employee engagement scores now sit at an all-time high despite the turmoil of the last few years.

Our Go-To-Market motions are now underpinned by Cloud-first principles, and we have a structured organization driven by cross-functional interlock as we continue on our path to become a global cloud ERP leader. 

The table below summarizes this transformation:

The next 5

Back in 2019, one of my primary reasons for joining Unit4 was its ambitions and core values, as highlighted in the company’s strapline, ‘In Business for People’. That fact remains and, as CEO, that is a real driver for me. Every day, I want to do the best for our customers, their people and, in turn, their customers. I am also privileged to work with an amazing bunch of people within Unit4. As an organization, we pride ourselves being 100% focused on building a culture where everyone feels truly valued. I want to ensure we continue to deliver on that.

I would like to thank the individuals who have served diligently on the leadership team since I joined to lead the company. I also appreciate the support from the boards on which I sit and, particularly, the chairmen I have been privileged to have as mentors - Morgan Seigler and Leo Apotheker. And, of course, no CEO can function without the tremendous support of an amazing, immediate team - my Chief of Staff, Sumit Sandal, and his predecessor, Jonny Bryan, together with the EA’s who have kept me organized, in particular, Louise Legge and Natasha Richards. I thank all of you for enabling me to be successful!

When I reflect on what we have collectively achieved in 5 years, and how much things have shifted, I am humbled and proud that we have accelerated Unit4’s transition and transformation to being a true SaaS company. When I consider how much will change in the coming five years, to say that the next 1827 days will be interesting is, indeed, an understatement!


Sources

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Mike Ettling - Chief Executive Officer at Unit4

Mike Ettling

Unit4 Chief Executive Officer

I’m a CEO, Investor, builder of world class teams, champion of diversity and continuous learner, and I’m passionate about people. From my first leadership role in the Boy Scouts, to exec positions in the tech industry, my career has revolved around elevating, engaging and enabling people. I joined Unit4 to get the market as excited in our unique approach to enterprise tech as I am. We’re building systems that change how people experience work, and the impact will be huge.

Outside of work I’m a proud father, Liverpool supporter and South African.