Meet Björn G. Karlsson, Annata’s Product Development Head, who has helped shape Annata 365 over the last 20 years. He and other experts are heavily involved in identifying trends and needs to accelerate product development for our customers in the global Automotive and Machinery markets.
Tell us a bit about your professional product management journey.
Björn: My curiosity and passion for technology and the industry led me on this journey. When companies started to adopt our solutions, I became interested in exploring industry-specific tools that can help transform the businesses we work with and those who work in them. The idea of creating an impact in the present and future will continue to fuel my passion. By productizing this knowledge, we can start doing so much more; this is how Annata 365 came about.
We see a significant trend in empowering businesses with Machine Learning (ML) algorithms. So how are we empowering customers to map where their data optimization opportunities lie so they have clear strategies for sourcing the data that ML requires?
Björn: Data quality is essential for any ML framework. Annata 365 helps companies collect quality and consistent data with minimum effort. ML models can then help in decision making, e.g., by helping to automate business processes with decision automation and decision support, or provide better insights into product, customer, and service data. This ranges from predictive maintenance and customer journey prediction to managing problem-solving suggestions via chatbots. We prioritize using ML models to help with RPA, optimization, and decision making, but the possibilities are endless. Blending your customer data with connected vehicle data (e.g., failure codes and driving style), along with external data sources like weather forecasts, gives endless opportunities around maintenance schedules, suggestions to drivers to change their driving style and to lower their maintenance, rental cost or their insurance.
The automotive and machinery business values high specialization to stay competitive and can require very specific software solutions to keep up. How is Annata 365 addressing these unique ERP needs?
Björn: We designed Annata 365 to manage the lifecycle of nearly any type of device, including the sales and after-sales processes, providing a 360° view of both the customer and the vehicle. One of the advantages of our solution is that it supports both legacy business processes and trending business processes like current dealer models, emerging agent models, B2B, and digital retail and process automation. Managing equipment components, for example, can also benefit the automotive industry as vehicles have become more componentized, with serviceable components that were previously only common in the equipment industry.
How do you prioritize and build a product roadmap that keeps pace with technology and market demands?
Björn: We are highly focused on customer success, and their feedback is what aids us in our product development plan. Our solutions are both deep and broad in functionality, which gives our customers great flexibility to handle market changes and demands. In addition, Annata 365 is built on Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Azure, cloud, and evergreen technologies, so our customers are guaranteed the latest and greatest technology every time.
Supply chain complexity is increasing, and data availability is critical. How has our technology helped in restoring supply chain visibility?
Björn: Managing spare parts is a big challenge for OEMs, and when demands are not addressed in real-time, this affects the entire value chain from wholesale to dealer channels and workshops. When speed to market is threatened, businesses lose their competitive edge. Predictive management of spare parts, including asset tracking by location with real-time alerts, will solve underlying problems that may surface in the long run. We developed Annata 365 to help with parts ordering management and inventory control and introduced substitute parts to address some of these supply chain issues.
For the equipment business, the most common field service challenge that we see is capturing real-time through their field service management system. Tell us a little about how we can bridge the gap when it comes to sharing information between field workers and the office.
Björn: Our field service solution is designed for the automotive and equipment industry, not as a generic field service solution. This makes it more ‘Fit for Purpose. Information is synchronized to the back-office in real-time if you are online through dual write between our front-office and back-office applications. This way, parties involved in the service execution have the newest information available, making it possible to react to any change that happens during the service execution, e.g., by ordering new parts in near real-time, changing service schedules, rerouting mechanics, or communicating via Teams in context of the work order.
As a Microsoft ISV partner, what advancements can we look forward to in the near future?
Björn: In the next 6 – 18 months, we are looking at creating a more unified customer experience through the integration of Microsoft Power Platform with Dynamics 365 CE & F&O. We are driving to an era of no-code/ low-code, and the key to making that possible is to have a solid foundation, so together with Microsoft, Annata 365 will continue to provide scalable solutions for businesses to become agile and quickly deploy simpler digital transformation initiatives at scale.
On a lighter note, what’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Björn: I recommend turning off your instant app notifications and checking them every 2 hours. If you use Google as your search engine, start browsing search results from pages 5 or 10. Don’t use or limit personal social media use during work hours; this will make your day more productive, and you will have more personal time after work – but that is possibly easier said than done for some!
Annata 365 provides solutions for Manufacturers, Importers/Wholesale, Dealers, Rental, and Fleet businesses who strive to maximize their market value, excelling in customer service and sales. Our industry-specific Management Solution integrated and leverages the standard features of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations, as well as providing extensive additional features specifically designed to support the automotive, equipment, and medical device industries. Our solutions are built to track your vehicles and machinery, and devices with a 360-degree overview. With Annata 365, you get all the business-specific processes connected to the vehicle, equipment, and devices lifecycle and all the standard functionality (HR, Finance, etc.) needed to run your entire business, all within one solution.