Simon O’Kane: “Our Customers Must Be Our Absolute Focus”

Melanie Gabriel
Melanie Gabriel

Co-founder and CMO, Yokoy

With Simon O’Kane, we have appointed our first ever CRO.

How does he see Yokoy’s position on the market? And how can companies reap the benefits of automated spend management in these difficult economic times? We sat down together with Simon and our CEO Philippe to get some answers.

Philippe, Yokoy created the new role of the Chief Revenue Officer at the beginning of December. What does this role mean for the company?

Philippe: The economy has changed significantly during the last 12 months. Higher interest rates, more volatile markets and an increasing risk of a recession are only some topics that CFOs have to deal with at the moment.

For Yokoy, this is a great chance, since we can help CFOs and finance teams adapt to these challenges and support them with their most pressing issues like cost analytics and cost control. With the new CRO role we can position ourselves even better in this context and ensure that we address the needs of our customers in an even more targeted way. 

Simon, what excites you about the new job you will be taking on at Yokoy?

Simon: Finance teams are going through a major transformation and I’m excited to be part of it. When I got to know Yokoy, I realized that spend management automation is a game changer for companies – and that the finance department can indeed be a driving force when it comes to employing the latest in technology and shaping the digital transformation of a company.

I helped scale companies like Asana, Qualtrics and Salesforce. All of them have been questioning the status quo from the beginning and went on to disrupt their respective industries. I see Yokoy en route to do the same thing, with its highly skilled team and cutting-edge technology leveraging AI and machine learning.

Simon, what are your goals and priorities at Yokoy? What are you focusing on right now?

Simon: My role is about bringing together all the functions involved in the go-to-market motion to ensure that we create the highest possible value for our customers. I want us all to work more closely together than ever, joining forces towards a common goal.

A key point for me is customer centricity. Yokoy has always developed its technology by listening to customers, finding their pain points and addressing their needs. That’s what I will continue: putting our customers front and center in everything that we do. Therefore, my priority at the moment is listening – to the Yokoy team and to our customers. I’m only able to drive initiatives that bring us forward when I have a deep understanding of the status quo.

How would you describe the state of spend management in companies at the end of 2022?

Simon: The current economic situation has made it a difficult year for many companies. In times like these they need to gain full control of their spending, streamline their processes and cut unnecessary costs. CFOs and the finance department have to take charge here, not only to maneuver a company through turbulent times but also to build up a resilience for the changes and developments still to come.

Philippe: The changing role of the CFO has been a point of discussion for some time now – they are increasingly taking a strategic perspective in addition to their regular duties in reporting and bookkeeping. The current economic downturn puts this strategic role even more into focus. In the end, it always comes down to costs: Where is a company spending the most money? What is it getting in return? CFOs need to give well-informed answers to these questions and shape the company for future success. For that they need to leverage the right technologies. I’m sure this will become even more of a priority in 2023 – call it the “CFO of the future”.

Speaking of 2023, what should we look out for in the coming year?

Philippe: Even though 2022 has shown that companies need more transparency and control, they are still thinking and working in silos. They implement a new solution here and there, but overall these solutions are still not fully integrated. Luckily, more and more companies are realizing that they can only unleash the full power of their digital transformation by integrating their processes and tools.

We at Yokoy are in a perfect position to address this. Our platform already integrates all the processes in spend management – be it expenses, invoices or corporate cards. Thus, we are breaking down the silos and enable real end-to-end automation of all processes involved. But it doesn’t end there: we are also pooling data in one place and provide companies with a central source to gain insights into their spending. We are building a spend management cockpit that helps CFOs and finance teams stay ahead of the curve.

Simon: Analytics and data insights are crucial. Saying that data is the new oil is basically a cliché right now, but I think it still holds true: companies can only get real value out of digital solutions if they also leverage their data in the end. With the economic situation remaining difficult, CFOs need to provide guidance to their company. And data-based insights play a pivotal role in making the right decisions.

Thank you both for your time!

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