Jared Lane of HighRadius: “Drive seamless and omnichannel customer experience”

Accelerate continuous improvement throughout the enterprise leveraging innovation, future state process design, operating model redesign, change management, and leading practices/benchmarks. Targets focused on delivering cash flow, cost savings, and revenue become more aggressive over time. Digital disruption enables clients to accelerate performance by transforming how they sell to and support their customers. Enabling our client’s […]

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Accelerate continuous improvement throughout the enterprise leveraging innovation, future state process design, operating model redesign, change management, and leading practices/benchmarks.

Targets focused on delivering cash flow, cost savings, and revenue become more aggressive over time. Digital disruption enables clients to accelerate performance by transforming how they sell to and support their customers. Enabling our client’s customers to access information, submit claims, pay invoices, and submit requests for system enhancements through self-service portals results in an enhanced customer experience.

As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Lane.

Jared is a seasoned executive with over 20 years of management experience directing Sales, Professional Services, Operations, and Advisory Services for high growth companies. He is known for a hands-on technical experience that enables credibility with technical buyers and client project owners. As a dynamic, results-oriented executive, Jared joined HighRadius in August 2020 with the mandate to accelerate the adoption of HighRadius products to transform finance processes for delivering quantifiable business results.

Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Back when I was a teenager, I was a manager at Blockbuster Video, which was a great job at the time (for a teenager!) Looking back, I do question the decision to leave a 17-year-old in charge of a store, but then again, Blockbuster isn’t known for making the smartest business decisions. During college, I was a tour guide — and I loved that job. I mention those two positions because although I didn’t realize it I loved them because they were relationship / customer-focused jobs. At that time, I just enjoyed my seven free movie rentals a week!

Since college, I’ve spent the last 20 years helping C-level executives at Global 2000 companies modernize their back-office technology stack. I’ve managed and participated in hundreds of technology implementations at Fortune 500 companies, and I’m known as someone who combines hands-on technical skills with management expertise. I was an executive at the startup, Datacert, Inc., from $2 million in annual revenue to a successful exit at $65 million, then further to $140 million annually after five years. While at Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions, I directed the sales organization of a high-growth business unit, which included managing a client portfolio of over $125 million annual revenue.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
My first job out of college was at Enron (yes, I worked at Blockbuster Video and Enron — not the most promising start to a career!) in their technologist program working for Enron Broadband Services, creating a bandwidth trading platform. It was bleeding edge stuff, and I didn’t recognize at the time how cool it was. As Enron was collapsing, some coworkers and I went down to the cafe in the building to grab some lunch and walked by the Enron store where you could buy shirts and tchotchkes with the Enron logo. It was busier than a Best Buy on Black Friday. People were fighting over crystal wine glasses, gold cufflinks — anything with the Enron logo on it. We walked by and just shook our heads. Little did we know, those items would be on eBay that night, selling 10x what they paid for it!

That story aside, going through that experience at such an early point in my career was extremely valuable to me and taught me everything you’d imagine it would about business ethics — and that no company is too big to fail. Still, most importantly, it was a real-life psychology lesson. Enron didn’t fall overnight. It was a slow process that started in the late summer and didn’t finish until December. Having a front-row seat to speak with colleagues and watch all the different ways people reacted to that taught me a lot. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a crash course in relationship management dynamics — which would become the foundation of my career.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’ve been fortunate in life to have a few great mentors and bosses along the way — but when I look back, I think it has been a peer I worked with for over 15 years. We came up together, starting at the bottom and working our way up, making our fair share of mistakes along the way, but we got to a point wherein meetings we knew what each other would do or say without planning it. That synergy we developed catapulted our success and was a springboard for our careers.

One story that comes to mind is that at one point, the company was re-architecting the solution to be a platform-based technology, and a prospect issued an RFP about six months before we would’ve liked because they wanted to see the “new stuff.” The meeting was scheduled for 8 hours of deep dive on the platform, including a demo. We had four screens to show them at the time, so it was daunting.

We decided early to be completely open about the situation and not sell them on vaporware or mock-ups that weren’t real. Through a ton of preparation, we were able to walk them through the vision, including the risks, and get everyone — from finance to IT comfortable with the solution. The meeting ended up running long, but we earned their business, and they remain a customer today.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I’m going to cheat a little bit on this one and refer to a talk given by Andrew Card (who was George W Bush’s Chief of Staff) on 9/11. Mr. Card was the gentleman who whispered in the President’s ear while he sat at the elementary school reading to students.

I was fortunate enough to hear him speak on “Leadership in Crisis” for a little over 2 hours to a group of about 20 executives in Washington DC. He focused on two events during his talk. The first was the morning of 9/11, and having to decide if he interrupts the President, pulls him away from the students, or waits until the event is over and then rest of that day on Air Force One. The second part of the talk was when they went to ground zero, and President Bush gave his famous rallying cry, “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people whole knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon”.

Mr. Card was able to relate those stories down to the crisis’ that business leaders face every day and the best strategies to get through them, proactively and positively. That talk was life-changing for me, and I still carry around my notes from that day on my laptop and refer to them often.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

HighRadius is a Fintech enterprise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company for the Office of the CFO, which leverages Artificial Intelligence-based Autonomous Systems to help companies automate Accounts Receivable and Treasury processes.

Our mission is simple, action-oriented, and relies on tangible business outcomes:

In less than 6 months, transform Credit, Electronic Billing and Payment processing, Cash Application, Deductions, Collections, Cash Management, and Cash Forecasting processes from legacy processes to a modern digital platform.

And hold ourselves accountable to real business results that matter to CFO’s Office:

Improve working capital, reduce Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), reduce bad debt risk, accurate cash flow forecasting, and high degree of automation of manual processes driving operational efficiencies.

HighRadius is perfectly positioned to help its clients transform their business for a better customer experience and deliver measurable business results to help them thrive in the ever-changing business and market conditions.

To learn more about us, visit https://www.highradius.com/

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

1 . One of the biggest concerns that finance and transformational leaders face when taking up an automation project is having to wait for years to actually start seeing whether their tech-investment has been able to move the needle on the business results that really matter — such as DSO, bad-debt, and FTE productivity.

To solve this problem, we have consolidated all our expertise in delivering 1000+ order-to-cash transformation projects into dotONE Performance to ensure that their A/R transformation project delivers real business results from day one! And it’s called dotOne performance because we strive to make companies 1 in 1000 by delivering real business results through digital transformation.

To learn more about how we do it, check out what dotONE Performance really is!

2. Free Accounts Receivable Benchmarking + Scorecard | Compare Your Company’s Receivables Performance Within Your Industry to Achieve Best-in-Class Performance

Modern-day receivables management is no longer a simple collection paradigm. It has evolved to become a strategic function of financial supply chain management. Receivables Management now involves end-to-end supply chain functions of credit, collections, deductions, and cash application. We see that companies are now emphasizing higher efficiencies in receivables management — to reduce bad debts and significantly increase working capital significantly.

This custom benchmarking report will help leaders diagnose their receivables operations to identify improvement opportunities. Readers could claim their free report by requesting it here

C. HIGHRADIUS™ FREEDA | Digital Assistant for Order-to-Cash and Treasury Departments

Freeda is an Artificial Intelligence-enabled Digital Assistant for Order to Cash and Treasury teams. It is capable of answering questions and helping with work just like a knowledgeable colleague or reliable resource.

See Freeda LIVE on Autonomous Receivables — a new world for Order-to-Cash!

Combining A/R Analysts with AI and digital assistants could laser-focus teams on strategic work with higher corporate impact. While the AI digital assistant will perform the clerical tasks and provide deep analytical insights, the A/R analyst will evolve to combining this insight with their context-sensitive judgment to drive better outcomes.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
This is a great question and one that you will get 10 different answers from 10 different people. 
 One of the most common threads you will hear in these answers is that it’s merely a way to replace or modify business processes with new technologies.

That really short changes it. Digital Transformation is so much more than implementing the hottest new software to solve the problem of the day. Digital transformation is a holistic approach to looking at a business (or specific part of the business), including the processes, the people, the culture, the vision, the leadership, etc. and rethinking how technology available can be a win-win-win for the business, their employees, and their customers.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

The question should really be what companies can’t benefit from a Digital Transformation! 
 That said, any larger company and most mid-sized companies will benefit the most from digital transformation.

Our customers range from some of the largest global corporations including more than 200 Fortune 1000 companies as well as mid-size companies that don’t have the IT resources to consolidate on an ERP platform but still want to automate and streamline their receivables and treasury processes.

We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.

I like to use ‘ERP and acquisitions’ as an example, whenever I am asked this question. 
Financial systems haven’t changed in 30+ years, and this is a double-edged sword. On one side, the structure is necessary to ensure controls are in place for every day expensive to modify. And even with all of the money in the world, these systems are rigid and can only go so far.

A colleague once used an analogy (that I really liked). She said that traditional ERPs were like buildings that were built to withstand a hurricane. The walls, windows, roof, and floor are all reinforced for whatever is thrown at it. They’re dependable. But, this same dependable building limits the business when they want to expand their operations. Anything that you build onto it is obvious and awkward and requires special maintenance. It’s a thorn in your side — unless it’s done right! Having the right add-on can bring multiple buildings together, without having to bulldoze and start from scratch. It can give you a platform to collaborate with partners, customers, and vendors. It can allow your business to make faster decisions. Eliminate human error — the downstream cost of errors occurring at the transactional level is extremely underestimated. Back to the building analogy. An electrician runs the switch for a light in Room A into Room F down the hall. The light still works but it causes frustration to every user of that light — until someone decides to fix it.

In an acquisition, for example, the buyer can quickly build the new company into the financial reporting structure with less effort. The CFO has a lot of stake in an acquisition. They are responsible for evaluating the viability, value, and risks of the new venture. They want information, in the format, they’re accustomed to, as soon as possible after the deal closes. Being able to plug in play eases the strain on the CFO. This leaves the finance organization time to get their arms around the operations, integrate teams, and document existing processes before forcing a bunch of changes on the new organization.

We were assisting a customer that had recently completed the digital transformation with acquisition and they were being forced to merge financial systems immediately following the closing. They had a good understanding of the way their external systems worked, so they were able to leverage this to give the consolidated data to the Executive Leadership and BOD, without upending both organizations. This gave them the much needed time to focus on the people and process so that the final consolidation of ERPs would be done thoroughly. This resulted in lower cost (people and resources), less frustrated teams, and ensured financial accuracy. None of that would have been possible without a previous digital transformation and applying the learnings and processes to the acquisition.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
The most consistent challenge I see companies face isn’t around the technology at all (having a strong, solid technical solution is critical), it’s change management. Making sure the technology is implemented smoothly and can provide value is only half the battle. The change management piece of the puzzle is consistently overlooked and will cause the best product with the best implementation to fail. Assisting our customers with this process is a huge differentiator. It’s why we staff our digital advisory practice with advisors that on average have over 20 years of experience. Understanding and having seen the good, bad, and ugly via hundreds of transformations allows them to share experiences and not repeat past mistakes. Skill sets vary and at the end of the day, people are people and by nature averse to change and digital transformation projects are big, fundamental changes that alter people’s day-to-day activities. Getting buy-in at all levels, before, during, and after is a project within the project but will ensure overall success. How we do that is part of our secret sauce but as I mentioned is as important as the technology and the implementation itself.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each. 
This is a great topic and question and honestly hard to narrow down to just five. It’s something we speak about frequently in my digital transformation advisory practice. Over time I would say the following are the top 5 we have come up with.

  1. Support change management and enable a globally standardized process through a common platform delivering value across the enterprise. Provide stakeholders evidence through the use of data to support a future state process improving organizational effectiveness “helping stakeholders understand what is in it for them” to change how they operate today. Eliminate the number of administrative tasks performed by Sales increasing the amount of time spent selling products/services to customers.
  2. Enhance current reporting capabilities through the use of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Analytics, and Automation. Clients integrate data from multiple ERPs, data warehouses, systems, and applications into one common platform for analysis and reporting. The client now has the ability to report DSO at the regional and business unit level when discussing AR with the CFO.
  3. Accelerate continuous improvement throughout the enterprise leveraging innovation, future state process design, operating model redesign, change management, and leading practices/benchmarks. Targets focused on delivering cash flow, cost savings, and revenue become more aggressive over time. Digital disruption enables clients to accelerate performance by transforming how they sell to and support their customers. Enabling our client’s customers to access information, submit claims, pay invoices, and submit requests for system enhancements through self-service portals results in an enhanced customer experience.
  4. Drive seamless and omnichannel customer experience. One of the hallmarks of Digital Transformation is human-centered design (HCD), a principle that positions human ease-of-use as the primary focus of any digital development project to enhance adoption. Interfaces, apps, and platforms that follow best-in-class practices will eliminate friction, simplify operations, and endeavor to provide users with a positive experience. The vision should be to fully automate all routine work and embrace an omnichannel, service-delivery model that is customer-focused.
  5. Drive Agile mindset and entrepreneurship to foster new ideas across the company. As research points out — and this is the most important — that when corporations launch transformations, over 70 percent fail. One of the top reasons for this is because the leadership is not effective in truly understanding the real challenges of people’s day jobs. As a result, the project is unlikely to provide real business value. Hence it is extremely important to eliminate the red tape and truly imbibe a start-up culture within your organization to foster new ideas and fresh perspectives across levels. Set aspirational goals, and don’t forget to enable your people, process, and technology to leapfrog toward them!

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
The challenging part about culture isn’t creating it. It’s maintaining it. At HighRadius, we have several values we live by, but a few of them really speak to this particular question. One is “Hop on the Roller Coaster” which means fail-fast, learn-fast, and fix-fast when executing. The second one to highlight is “Let the Best Idea Win” which is self-explanatory but emphasizes crowdsourcing using First Principles methods to make better decisions. Lastly, in “Be Bold and Blunt”, having honest feedback at all levels is oxygen for good business debates.

Once you have the culture defined, you need to integrate it into your everyday starting from the top down. Innovation doesn’t happen if all team members from the bottom up aren’t empowered and comfortable sharing opinions, knowing that every idea won’t work. Encourage new ideas and pivot quickly if without recourse if necessary.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? 
The old Navy Seal saying “Stay in your three-foot world”. It basically means focus on what you can control at the moment and ignore everything else. By doing that you eliminate the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that leads to being overwhelmed in any situation. It’s a great saying because it rings true just the same in work and personal life.

How can our readers further follow your work?
— LinkedIn / HighRadius website

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