Recently Yooz was identified as an influencer in the ePayables space by Ardent Partners research firm and asked for Yooz COO Laurent Charpentier’s insights in a number of areas related to finance, technology, and the invoice processing automation space. Here are the highlights from the interview between Ardent’s Research Director Bob Cohen and Charpentier.
Cohen: Tell us a little bit about your background, a brief overview of your company, and how you ended up in the AP automation industry
Charpentier: I am currently the COO and chief innovation officer for Yooz Inc. based in Dallas, Texas. We are a leading provider of cloud-based AP automation intelligence. We consistently analyze industry reports and trends and invest in R&D so that our solution solves the most critical workflow challenges that finance leaders face today.
Yooz leverages more than 30 years of technology innovations from our affiliate company ITESOFT in Aimargues, France. The company recognized that there was an unfulfilled need in the U.S. market and has been filling the cloud-based SaaS invoice and payment processing (AP) automation solution gap with an affordable, flexible, customizable, and scalable solution for mid-size companies since 2013. Our platform integrates seamlessly with more than 200 financial systems, exceeding any other solution on the market.
Now, Yooz delivers subscriptions to more than 3,000 customers and 100,000 users worldwide.
I have a technical background. I received my Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Masters of Engineering in Electric Engineering from National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon, France. I have been leading the Yooz North American operation since its inception in 2013.
Cohen: What is your perspective on the ePayables market today?
Charpentier: From what we are seeing in the market, there seems to be affirmation of the idea we have been introducing since our inception, which is essentially that you can turn the AP department into a profit center and impact the bottom line. And resources can become more strategic, shifting from a primarily data-entry role to more data analysis. And then using that information to inform more value-added responsibilities, like negotiating early payment discount thanks to the shortened cycle time.
Finance leaders are figuring out that one of the most effective ways to improve an organization’s bottom line is to decrease the cost of operations that do not directly contribute to profit, and then redirect the freed resources towards strategic, profit-generating initiatives. Automating AP processes creates an opportunity to generate revenue through increased efficiency.
Cohen: What should we be paying attention to now and in the future?
Charpentier: Emerging technologies in AP automation solutions in general have not traditionally been a large consideration for finance leaders when choosing a provider. But they should be! I think solutions like Yooz that leverage advanced technologies like smart data extraction, optical character recognition, and machine learning—all powered by A.I.— will become more and more relevant in the criteria to choose an AP provider. Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is another emerging form of business process automation technology based on the notion of software “robots” or artificial intelligence workers.
Even though security has not yet been an issue—that is actually one of the greatest benefits of cloud-based solutions—it will continue to be a growing concern in general due to the volume of data in the cloud.
Cohen: How has the market/industry changed in the past five years and what do you think it will look like five years from now?
Charpentier: For the past many years, companies have thought they could throw more people at the problems associated with manual AP processes; and there has been absolutely no benefit to that. Now, they are getting serious about automation and leveraging the wide range of technologies now available to choose from. They are embracing solutions like Yooz to handle their business’s diverse needs; for example, data capture powered by OCR (optical character recognition) and smart data extraction, features for fast approval and exception handling, and seamless integration with legacy finance systems.
I think invoice and payment processing will be unrecognizable in the near future when compared to traditional manual, paper-laden workflows. It will be digital, data driven, and strategic. Stakeholders will unlock the value of AP automation and leverage it in more ways than ever to help drive larger corporate objectives.
Instead of continuing to ask, “How do we manage this ever-growing pile of invoices?” finance leaders will ask, “Where do we stand with working capital so we can more accurately forecast cash and manage budgets?” Further, “How do we better manage our supply chain?" And, best of all, “What do we do with the cash that has been freed up?” The answer will be exciting, like developing new products and investing in R&D.
Cohen: As an executive at a FinTech solution provider, what keeps you up at night?
Charpentier: I have newborn baby girl, so as a Dad, that’s a good thing that’s keeping me up at night! And as an executive, it’s thinking about new ideas on how to develop our solution to always be better for our customers, to continue to make their work lives easier by solving their pain points, and to provide the best product and most attentive customer service every day. I like to think that we are leading the AP automation industry by being ahead of the technology curve, and I think it’s important for us to keep innovating so we continue to deliver something unique, current, and relevant to our clients, in the U.S. and worldwide.
Cohen: On a personal note, what is your favorite book or movie and why do you like it?
Charpentier: I typically go to more movies than I read books. But I really thought Dan Brown’s Origin was a great novel. It presented an interesting paradox on faith versus science/technology. I won’t spoil it for people who haven’t read it, but let’s say there is an element of A.I. Since we are passionate about technology at Yooz, and I am a techie at heart, it was thought-provoking for me.