Financial IT interview with Sunil Pandit, Strategic Partnerships and Alliances Manager of Sidetrade
Financial IT: Can you please tell more about Sidetrade and the career path that brought you to join the company?
Sunil Pandit (SP): I’ve been in enterprise sales for about 20 years now and originally joined Sidetrade from a competitor in 2012, as one of the first UK sales managers. After some initial success I wanted to move into another data related technology company, and joined Talend, who also happen to be a Sidetrade customer.
After 4 years at Talend, I felt it would be good to get back in touch with the folks at Sidetrade, many of which were still there during my initial time. Conversations quickly escalated and I re-joined in July 2019 as partner and alliances manager with the remit to build an ecosystem of partners across independent software vendors, system integrators, and consulting practices to further our growth plans across the UK and Netherlands.
Financial IT: What is unique about Sidetrade?
SP: From a tech perspective, Sidetrade is unique because of its SaaS model, offering a non-complex web tool and providing the largest pool customer payment behaviour predictive analytics in Europe. This is an invaluable resource for our customers, because our AI learns from their data and our data lake, meaning AI predictive analytics and dunning strategies are ‘smart’.
It’s just what customers need when it comes to making decisions about calling activities for credit controllers, dunning strategies and customer segmentation for cash collectors, cash collection team workloads based on available staff, greater cashflow visibility and predictive analytics for CFOs, and which tasks can be automated by Aimie, our AI assistant.
Other unique features in the platform in accounts receivable include a new feature called Cash Target, which allows financial and sales managers to set team and individual staff targets and track them over time, with useful KPI dashboards.
There’s also a mobile app, that allows you to access customer contact details, outstanding payment information, and other financial indicators from an Android or iOS smartphone, meaning financial customer relationship management is always at your fingertips.
From a culture perspective, Sidetrade is composed of hugely talented, experienced, and motivated individuals all wanting to be part of an adventure, and this also gives us a unique feel.
Innovation has been in our DNA from day one, since our founding almost 20 years ago. We creating a data science lab in 2015 and Aimie, our AI assistant in 2017. During Covid-19 lockdown, our product and R&D teams have created CashControl (a free offer for SMEs to use of AI receivables platform to collect cash and create payment plans), then the Sidetrade Unpaid Invoice Tracker, looking at 26 million overdue invoices between 3.7 million businesses across six European countries, lifting the lid on business payment behaviour during this crisis.
Financial IT: Recently, Sidetrade announced a partnership with Threadgold Consulting. Can you please tell us more about this partnership? How can SMEs benefit from this?
SP: We’ve noticed that the small and medium size business market did not always want to engage a Big 4 type business to help assist in the area of working capital improvements or technology advice. Threadgold Consulting, with their small but dedicated team of finance professionals filled the gap, giving the small and medium-size businesses the confidence to use our platform in a cost-effective way and avoid unnecessary costly expense.
Threadgold offer a rapid, value-for-money out of the box Netsuite/Sidetrade implementation, thereby avoiding unnecessary expenditure. And, when you look at many of the ERP offerings, they are strong in the key areas of material, product, and production ledger management, but very poorly served in terms of accounts receivables.
It means the accounts receivable department has to rely on manual extractions and carry out a bunch of manual tasks prior to picking up the phone and asking for payment clarification. With Sidetrade’s solution, they will have access to a platform that accelerates the payment of invoices, uses AI to predict payment behaviour, reduces DSO and bad debt and eliminates the need to recruit more heads or rely on external borrowing, if they get better control of their ageing balances.
The outcome is these businesses making their cash collection more efficient while also maintaining good customer relations, and if they are looking for additional equity funding, investors will see a business with good cashflow, which is attractive.
Financial IT: What is next for Sidetrade?
SP: In the unprecedented context of a pandemic with uncertain economic repercussions, there are nonetheless two significant trends which could have a positive effect on Sidetrade’s business in the months ahead.
Firstly, the pandemic is acting as a catalyst for digital transformation, accelerating investment in SaaS and AI to optimize business processes. Secondly, the tidal wave of unpaid invoices is focusing the attention of every CFO on cash flow security. In this new paradigm, Sidetrade solutions are ideally positioned to deal with these issues that have become more critical than ever. This is why, despite the crisis, we have every confidence in our ability to make 2020 a new year of growth. We are well-positioned to embrace the future with optimism