Category Archives: Uncategorized

Esker Recommended PEPPOL Access Point by IMDA in Singapore

Sydney, Australia — January 10, 2019 — Esker, a worldwide leader in AI-driven process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced today that it is a certified PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line) Access Point authorised by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), a statutory board of the Singapore government. This accreditation enables Esker to send and receive e-invoices to and from all entities using PEPPOL network.

Singapore is the first Asian country to implement the e-invoice framework based on the PEPPOL standard. PEPPOL is an open network that simplifies document exchanges between companies (e.g., invoices, sales orders, etc.) and ensures standardisation of documents and connectivity.

Read more about this press release here:

Hays Automates the Delivery of Customer Invoices with Esker’s Accounts Receivable Solution

Sydney, Australia — January 8, 2019 — Esker, a worldwide leader in AI-driven process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced today that Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people, has automated its accounts receivable (AR) process using Esker’s cloud-based Accounts Receivable solution in France. The solution has enabled Hays to automate 100 percent of customer invoice delivery, 65 percent as e-invoices and 35 percent as paper invoices.

Until now, the company had been manually processing close to 35,000 customer invoices annually, which often resulted in invoice recipient errors, delays in sending (up to a week), and a lack of traceability and visibility. Automating the AR process was key to supporting the company’s growing business and global automation project to improve the productivity of its 650 employees across 21 offices.

Read more about the press release here:

Top 3 Credit to Cash Automation Projects for 2019

Finance leaders who are currently budgeting for automation projects and planning for transformational change in 2019 have an opportunity to make a significant impact based on the types of projects they undertake. Yet so many CFO’s and Controllers lack the necessary information to do so and struggle to make automation investment decisions within the credit to cash cycle. Top companies understand that it’s not about doing the most work, it’s about doing the most important work. Here are three projects that should make the short list in 2019:

Highest Impact – Least Resources

In collecting cash, it may seem like every project is a priority. The key is to consider what most have documented as having the greatest value with the least impact on accounting and IT resources: automated payment reminders. A function that is often manually done for most companies can quickly be set up to automatically generate fully customizable payment reminders based on delivery preferences at the company, customer group, or at the customer level. Messaging can be tailored based on level of severity (e.g., neutral tone within 30 days, stronger wording over 60 days, collections action over 120 days, etc.) Collectors can track delivery status and read-receipt status, as well as bounced emails. Automated payment reminders are a simple, yet completely underestimated collection tool. Read how automated payment reminders helped reduce manual duties at LinPepCo, significantly reduced their DSO, and virtually eliminated customers in the 90- day past-due category here.

Customer Experience First

What will have the greatest and most immediate positive effect on customers? A project holding unlimited potential for customers and improving their customer experience? Simply, be easier to do business with. By providing a customer portal that gives them a place to view and pay their invoices, download their statements, apply credits, request a payment plan, sign up for autopay, dispute an invoice, communicate with your AR staff, and so forth is crucial to improved customer satisfaction. Providing your customers with a bunch of these self-serve options will reduce the need for your customers to contact you as much for their account management and billing needs, thus, giving your team much needed time back to focus on other aspects of collecting cash and managing your receivables. Learn how Trek utilized a global customer payment portal to reduce their DSO in this case study.

Compliance – External Functionality That Compliments Existing ERP Investment

There’s often a struggle between deciding upon new products and features verses the need to optimize existing technology to reduce costs and facilitate a greater return on your investment. It’s not always obvious which way to go. Sometimes the best strategy is to find a way to do a little of both. It’s easy to get carried away with all the great new automated processes out there, especially solutions that promote doing more things at once. I’m not sure that’s always the most cost effective or efficient route. E-invoicing customers, for example, is probably already set up in your ERP. However, e-invoices sent to customers outside of the US may not comply with local country regulations and requires being handled manually.

Every country has its own specifications in terms of formats, required fields and platforms by which e-invoices must be sent. Italy is the first European member state to mandate B2B e-invoicing as of January 1, 2019. Any company that does not comply with Italy’s requirements and does not issue e-invoices in the required format faces heavy sanctions. If you’re VAT registered in Italy and currently sending your customers invoices electronically, but have not automated the delivery, the reception or fiscal archiving of e-invoices in compliance with country regulations, the financial impact could be significant for you. You do not need to revamp your entire e-invoicing process. Maintain what works, but consider investigating e-invoice compliance requirements for doing business outside of the US, to supplement your invoice delivery process. For more information on Trends & Developments in the e-invoicing market, read this interview with Bruno Koch from Billentis.

With emerging technologies combining process automation, artificial intelligence, and data analytics – and all promising to generate significant efficiencies, cost reduction, and improved quality for businesses, no wonder it’s challenging for financial leaders to commit to digital transformation projects. However, if you’re ready to do what top companies do and have an unrelenting focus on efficiency – challenging what to stop doing, as well as what to automate, a good place to start in 2019 is automating payment reminders, providing a better experience through a customer portal, and compliment your existing e-invoice process to meet global B2G & B2B compliance.

12 Holiday Tradition Ideas from the Esker Family

The year flew by, again, and it’s already holiday season. If you’re anything like me, you’re running around like a crazy person trying to get everything in order.

As much of an anxiety inducer as the holidays are, one of my favorite things about them are the traditions. Old or new, holiday traditions bring joy to all involved … unless you’re Scrooge. Just saying.

Thinking about my family’s traditions made me wonder “What are the holiday traditions of my coworkers?” So, I set out to find out just that, and this is what I discovered.

Some holiday traditions start early:

“Growing up, my Mom would say we’d open presents on Christmas but then get too excited and we’d end up opening them on Christmas Eve — now we always open gifts the night before Christmas.” – Amanda Samuel, Marketing Coordinator

“On Christmas Eve we have some heavy appetizers and watch the movie “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby. After the movie, the kids make up a plate of goodies for Santa and his reindeer. Before bed, we gather on the couch and I read The Night Before Christmas. My children are now 17 and 15, but the tradition continues.” – Joe Hanousek, Customer Experience Manager

“My Mom used to wake us up at the stroke of midnight and we’d open presents.” – Jairus Harper, Customer Advocate

While others revolve around family:

“We have an annual Whobilation, based on the 2000 film “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Different competitions take place and the winner from the previous year is the Cheermeister, overseeing everything. There’s even a themed invite sent out.” – Will Bakker, Sales Demand Rep

“My family celebrates Hanukkah together every year. We’ll make potato latkes, light the menorah and end the night by playing board games.” – Josh Chaimson, Esker Solutions Support Specialist

“Before I got married, I’d spend every Christmas Eve at home with my parents and brother. We’d have my Mom’s homemade egg rolls and Grasshopper cocktails for dinner before opening presents. After presents, we’d have some more Grasshoppers, eat candy and play the board game Rummy Royal. Oh, the good old days!” – Kasey Schmitz, Marketing Director

“For the past 10+ years I have done a big Lego project during vacation between Christmas and New Year’s. It started because my daughter (now 17 years old) loved Legos like I did, and it was a special thing we could share and look forward to each year. She has since outgrown, but I carry on the holiday tradition and will be working on an awesome Mack Anthem tractor-trailer rig this year.” – Jeff Fritsche, Technical Architect.

or food:

“We came out with a spin on White Russians called “Fat Russians” in which the cream is replaced with eggnog. This is included in our traditional Swedish smorgasbord which contains items like: Limpa bread, Swedish meatballs, Bond Ost, lingonberries, pickled herring and Glögg.” – Joe Anderson, Sales Demand Rep

“Every Christmas Eve we have a big Polish party in Chicago. There are always homemade pierogies with different fillings (potato and cheese is my favorite), mizeria, salatka jarzynowa and other yummy dishes and desserts.” – Samantha Heavner, Creative Coordinator

Holiday traditions are something we’re all fond of:

“We’re starting a new holiday tradition this year — dressing up in ugly Christmas outfits!” – Steve Smith, U.S. Chief Operating Officer

“Holiday mad libs. It’s fun and silly.” – Joanna Honore, Strategic Alliance Specialist/Customer Advocate

“As a Christmas gift, my family goes to a sporting event. It could be Badger football or basketball, a Packers or Bucks game. It’s a fun holiday tradition because we don’t always know what to get each other and this gets us out together as a family.” – Renee Platto, Digital Marketing Manager

From all of us at Esker, we’d like to wish you a very happy holiday season. What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

5 Fast Facts About Esker

In 1985, Esker was just another startup eager to establish a name for itself in a burgeoning sea of tech innovators. Back then, the company was focused on software consulting and began developing emulations and host access solutions shortly thereafter. But a lot can change in 30+ years. And it has. Esker has since gone on to become a global leader in cloud-based, AI-driven automation solutions that span the entire cash conversion cycle. Think you know everything there is to know about our company? Let’s put it to the test.

Here are five fast facts about Esker that even some of our most longstanding customers and employees may not know.

1) “Esker” is actually an acronym.

Black and white version of one of Esker’s early logos featuring the now defunct tagline, “Making Open Systems a Reality.”

When I tell people that I work for Esker, it’s not uncommon to hear a response along the lines of, “So, what does ‘Esker’ mean, exactly … does that stand for something?” Actually, yes. Yes it does.

The name Esker is an acronym derived from European Software Kernel. As geeky and esoteric as that sounds, its origin is fairly straightforward. A kernel is the central module of a computer’s operating system that connects the system hardware to the solution software. And, as stated previously, consulting on and providing host access software (to help PCs connect to mainframe computers) was Esker’s bread and butter in those early years. Lastly, Esker started out as strictly a European company, founded in Lyon, France, by Jean-Michel Bérard, our current CEO. Thus, European Software Kernel was born, shortened to Esker, and the rest is history.

2) We share our name with an ancient glacial landform.


Esker at Fulufjället, western Sweden. From Wikipedia.

It’s true. If you were to Google its dictionary definition, you may be surprised to learn that an “esker” is not a software company at all … at least not in geological terms.

In this case, an esker — note the lowercase “e” — is defined as “a long ridge of gravel and other sediment, typically having a winding course.” It’s argued that most eskers were formed from deposits of meltwater from a retreating glacier or ice sheet. Areas of Canada, Ireland and Sweden feature notable eskers, while in the U.S., Maine is generally considered the go-to location to catch a glimpse of these ancient glacial landforms.

3) Esker’s worldwide HQ is located in the “world capital of gastronomy.”

Famous view of Lyon from the top of Notre Dame de Fourviere.

France as a whole is revered for its culinary specialties, but there is a special place in foodies’ hearts for Lyon, the beautifully sprawling and historical city located in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. And lucky for us, Lyon just so happens to be where Esker was founded and the home to our worldwide headquarters.

Lyon’s unofficial title as “word capital of gastronomy” can be traced all the way back to 1935 when renowned French food critic, Curnonsky — fittingly dubbed the Prince of Gastronomy — famously bestowed the city with the flattering description. Eighty years later, the tag still sticks. From its legendary Michelin-starred chefs like Paul Bocuse to its modest bouchons and impressive outdoor markets, there are many reasons why Lyon continues to live up to its name.

4) In Madison, before Esker, there was Persoft.

A view of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

In the mid-to-late 90s, equipped with its terminal emulation and host access solutions (which are still offered, btw), Esker had made some inroads into the U.S. market with a presence in both California and Oklahoma. However, it wasn’t until 1999 that its U.S. identity started establishing firmer roots. That’s the year that Esker acquired Persoft Inc., a Madison-based PC-to-host and Web-to-host connectivity solution provider. At the time, the merger was considered the best of both companies’ products and geographic strengths. It would seem that the prediction turned out to be quite accurate.

Today, Madison is home to Esker’s U.S. headquarters and is responsible for over 40% of company revenue. Well, technically, our headquarters used to be Madison. Following Esker’s “big move” in late 2016, when we moved just a few miles down the road, our address is now, technically, Middleton. Either way, we’ll always consider Madison home.

5) Esker just opened up its 13 country location in Hong Kong.

A snapshot of Esker’s worldwide presence.

Esker’s DNA has always been one of a growing global company. That’s why we’re proud to be one of the few mid-sized French companies to achieve international success. The most recent example of this was in September 2018 when we announced our new Hong Kong subsidiary.

This valued addition marks Esker’s 13 country location with more than 20 nationalities, joining: France (Lyon); United Kingdom (Derby); Germany (Munich & Dusseldorf); Spain (Madrid); Italy (Milan); Belgium (Brussels); United States (Madison, Denver); Canada (Montreal); Argentina (Buenos Aires); Australia (Sydney); Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur); and Singapore.

And, as Esker continues to expand internationally, our employee base is following suit. In just four years, we’ve nearly doubled the number of employees worldwide, going from 320 in 2014 to over 550 today.

Esker Expands Presence in the Asia-Pacific Through Partnership with IBIZ Consulting Services

Sydney, Australia — December 4, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced its partnership with IBIZ Consulting Services, a consulting firm specialising in business management solutions. This alliance will enable Esker to further develop its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and IBIZ to expand its digital process automation offerings.

As part of the reseller partnership, IBIZ will introduce Esker’s solutions to its existing customers, primarily businesses using Microsoft Dynamics™ ERP systems in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. With solutions that complement the existing business applications of IBIZ’s customers, Esker enables them to eliminate the use of paper and fully digitise their core business processes. The agreement could eventually expand to new countries with solution support by IBIZ’s in-house consultants.

Read more about the Press Release here:

Esker drives AP performance at European Motor Distributors

Driving AP performance with cloud-based accounts payable automation…


European Motor Distributors (EMD) is a subsidiary of Giltrap Group Holdings, a large automotive group in New Zealand. EMD import and distribute a range of vehicles from brands such as Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Skoda, and SEAT.

Consistent growth over the recent years created a challenging workload for the company’s accounts payable (AP) team.

EMD relied heavily on paper-driven processes. This included manually entering data from the 3,500 invoices received each month in PDF format, into EMD’s financial software. On receiving the documents, the AP department printed out and circulated each invoice for approval. The approval process included verification of the invoice amount and coding. Once approved, invoices were handed back to the AP team for data entry and processing.

This reliance on manual processes and the flow of paper around the organisation created significant challenges such as double-payments and lost or misplaced invoices. There was also an alarming lack of visibility of the AP operations and processes.

EMD knew that their AP process was too slow for a progressive business and were concerned that they had no means to quantify the full extent of the problems.

Read more about this case study:

Start with Why

Have you seen the viral TEDx talk from Simon Sinek titled, “Start With Why”? If it’s been a minute, you can check it out here.

Recently, I was talking with the customer service manager of a leading manufacturer of window glass and doors and we were discussing the “big picture” as it related to his automated order management project with Esker. But more on that later …

I once heard an analogy of Sinek’s talk which stated,

  • People buy millions of drill bits every year not because they want drill bits (the WHAT they need) …
  • But because they want holes (the HOW they’re going to do it) …
  • And they want those holes so they can hang a nice painting over the mantle and check off that “honey-do” list. (the WHY they’re doing something)

When we get into the day-to-day trenches of real life, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus on the next task ahead. In many scenarios, this is great! But when considering something like process change within an organization, it’s helpful to keep the focus on the big picture, especially when new technology is involved.

For example, take a solution like order management automation. At its surface, it might seem like an isolated solution for a local problem. However, projects that come to fruition always keep their WHY at the forefront of any conversations with others internally.

Which brings me back to my window glass and door friends: What was their WHY, you ask? When the manager took his action plan back to the organization, he lead with WHY this project was a priority, which broke down like this:

  • WHY: We know we’re growing rapidly and plan to double revenues by 2020. Doubling the team size to scale with increased order volumes and inquiries is not an option.
  • HOW: Therefore, we need to look at how we can make our existing team more efficient. We can do this by using automated technology to perform the low-value repetitive tasks that currently takes up 40-60% of their day.
  • WHAT: We need to eliminate manual order entry. Is there something that can do this? Enter Esker.

As their initiative moved forward, every normal project activity one would expect was still carried out. The only difference? The WHY was kept at the forefront of every conversation.

Do you know your WHY on any current projects?

Fresh Tech: Robotic Process Automation in your Cash Conversion Cycle

Let’s say you’ve just implemented or are considering a customer-facing portal for your order-to-cash process. Good choice! It’s a great way to give customers the convenience of self-service on their time. On the purchasing side, we see companies with significant purchasing power make their purchase orders (POs) available automatically on their portal which is tied to their purchasing system — voilà!

Where it gets complicated

Every customer and supplier has their own portal. This came up on two recent conversations for me on the order management side. A medical device supplier sells to large group purchasing organizations (GPOs) which consolidate smaller hospitals so they have greater purchasing power. It’s a win-win for everyone: Suppliers get large order volumes and the customers consolidate their purchasing power.

Unfortunately, here’s what ends up happening to my medical device friends. After they get a notification that a PO is available, they log into a portal, view the open POs, pull down the PDF, save it, and process it from there. It’s tedious, time-consuming, and very, very manual. Now multiply this by the rest of your customer base!

Another automotive parts manufacturer sells directly to the large automotive manufacturers around the world. Ford, GM, and FCA, given their purchasing power, saved themselves a headache and essentially said, “If you want our orders, come and get ’em.” Ugh.

On the “to-cash” side of the business, we’re seeing a major uptick in customers say things like, “If you want to get paid, upload them to our AR portal.” Customers get the control and visibility of all their outstanding invoices in one platform yet, the supplier is supposed to manage logins and domains for every single one of their customers. My colleague Aaron LeHew wrote an eloquent piece that digs into this topic, which you can read here.

How robotic process automation can help

From AP folks pulling down invoices to pay, customer service teams trying to manage and not miss orders, and even AR teams trying to get paid in a decent time frame, we’ve seen and heard first-hand from customers about the “portal fatigue” in the market.

Esker’s developed Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to a level where it can mimic a human and actually log into a portal and push/pull an order or invoice into said portal.

RPA is great technology for repetitive, constant tasks. Combine that with Esker’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine? Now we’re cooking. Allow me to illustrate.

A notification comes in from your customer’s purchasing portal to your central email inbox, Esker’s AI technology extracts the data on the order and understands that you’ve got a new order waiting in the customer portal. Meanwhile, in the portal, the RPA bot is monitoring for a new order and automatically downloads that order to a network folder. From there, it’s automatically picked up, pulled into Esker’s Order Processing solution, routed to the correct CSR, and automatically entered into the ERP system. The Esker AI engine then cross-references those orders pulled down from a portal vs. email notifications to make sure that no orders were missed. This process happens automatically, all the time, in a matter of seconds.

Now that is fresh tech.

AI Making an Impact in Enterprise Supply Chains

Businesses in multiple industries that adopted a proactive AI strategy for transportation and logistics saw profit margins of more than 5 percent, while those without such a strategy lost money.

Artificial intelligence has found solid footing in consumer devices and the retail space. Techniques like machine learning and natural language processing can be seen in personal digital assistants like Amazon’s Echo and recommendation engines used by Amazon and Netflix.

Now AI is rapidly gaining traction in the commercial space, from customer-facing call centers to back-office applications. It’s also reaching into the complex world of supply chain and logistics helping to: automate and streamline various functions, improve shipping times and order fulfillment, reduce costs and bolster profits. When machine learning is applied to inventory and supply and demand, forecasting becomes more accurate, warehouse management is improved by reducing under and overstocking and supplier management is made easier.

All of this means a better return for companies that use AI in the supply chain. According to a survey by BI Intelligence, supply chain and operations is the third most active area for the use of AI, with 42 percent of respondents seeing revenue gains from investments in the technology. Pointing to a McKinsey study, BI Intelligence noted that businesses in multiple industries that adopted a proactive AI strategy for transportation and logistics saw profit margins of more than 5 percent, while those without such a strategy lost money.

There’s still room to grow. In the same McKinsey survey, only 21 percent of transportation and logistics companies had deployed AI solutions at scale or in a core part of their businesses. The field is wide open.

What’s driving AI in the supply chain?

There is a convergence of forces driving the use of AI, not only in the supply chain but throughout the business world. Computing power continues to grow and become more cost effective, and machine learning algorithms are getting more sophisticated. The amount of data generated, particularly in logistics and supply chain, is skyrocketing. This is important, since it’s data fuels the AI machine.

With AI and machine learning, computers can quickly process and analyze these massive amounts of data to find patterns, define context and provide useful information to yield faster and better business decisions. As a result, risks are reduced, forecasting is improved, products are shipped more quickly and SLAs are met. Better shipping routes are found, and order tracking and fulfillment is improved. The end result is more satisfied customers.

While AI in supply chain management is still in the early stages, examples of how it’s being used is growing:

  • An article in the Harvard Business Review found that between 2004 and 2013, Amazon saw operational efficiencies improve and revenue jump 10-fold as the company grew the use of machine learning to help reduce fraud and bad debt and improve product delivery and supplier payments.
  • Splice Machine, which uses machine learning in its big data platform, is partnering with supply chain management technology vendor Intrigo Systems to create applications that will improve customers’ abilities to make better predictions in the supply chain.
  • Logistics firm DHL, in a report written with IBM, outlined multiple AI projects designed to make the company’s processes more predictive, automated and proactive. The company developed Resilience360, a cloud-based risk management platform for the supply chain to give organizations greater visibility into such operations as tracking shipments and monitoring events that could threaten supply chain disruptions. Other programs use AI algorithms and machine learning technologies to more accurately predict delays in airfreight and to look at millions of variables from different countries to better manage containerized ocean and airfreight shipment volumes.

“We believe the future of AI in logistics is filled with potential,” the DHL states. “As supply chain leaders continue their digital transformation journey, AI will become a bigger and inherent part of day-to-day business, accelerating the path towards a proactive, predictive, automated, and personalized future for logistics.”

There are still challenges that need to be met. Data needs to be better managed and easier to access, IT systems need to be updated and investments need to be made. In addition, employees need to be trained in AI and data science, and strategies need to be put in place to handle what happens when automation takes over jobs. Still, the benefits from applying AI and machine learning to SCM will be significant.

Adopting AI and machine learning

As executives begin to bring AI and machine learning into their supply chains, what should they keep in mind? Here are a few things:

  • Start small. Rather than trying to immediately apply the technologies to the entire supply chain operations, find specific pain points that need to be taken care of by AI capabilities. This can include using supply chain management software to automate processes that are now done manually – like invoicing and procurement – or addressing problems that drive up costs and inefficiencies, such as equipment failures or inventory management. Once those challenges are solved, expand the use of AI into other areas of the supply chain.
  • Clean up the data. Without good data, AI and machine learning won’t help operations. AI-based systems can’t think on their own – they need data to crunch. Companies want to ensure the data from their myriad tables and databases is accurate, complete and uniform. It will be coming from a range of systems, including ERP and CRM, so it needs to be tagged correctly. Clean data will mean greater confidence in the results created by the AI systems.
  • Pick the right vendor. AI is still an emerging technology, even though many vendors now are throwing around the terms “AI” and “machine learning” as easily as they once did “virtualization” and “cloud.” Finding the right technology partner is important. Can vendors explain how their products will improve your supply chain operations? Do they have services and support to back up their promises? Can they help identify what needs to be done and what skills are needed? Can they tell you the ROI on using their products? Companies need to do due diligence when picking vendors.
  • Tailor expectations. AI and machine learning hold a lot of promise to make SCM more efficient and cost-effective, but they aren’t cure-alls. Such systems can run through and analyze mountains of data to find patterns, offer greater visibility, provide insights and develop recommendations, but the decisions based on all the information ultimately rests with human beings. Companies need to work closely with vendors to ensure that the technology is being used in ways that will lead to the best outcomes.

We’re in the early stages of bringing AI into the supply chain, but already companies are embracing the technology and achieving results. Businesses need to begin their journey down this road, because those who use machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing and similar tools will see improved efficiencies and cost structures, gain greater business insights and be able to make better decisions more quickly. They will get a competitive advantage over those who don’t use AI. Executives just want to make sure that they’re patient and diligent in planning out the road forward. It’s a journey, so take each step as it comes.

As Worldwide Corporate Marketing and Product Management Director at Esker, Eric Bussy is responsible for the development of strategic products, services and solutions. Eric joined Esker in 2002 as Director of Marketing Communications, and in 2005, extended his responsibilities to include product management.