Annata Ask the Expert Series | Q&A with Guðrún Ólafsdóttir: Statement of Direction

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We recently unveiled our Statement of Direction, titled ‘Powering the Road Ahead,’ a testament to Annata’s future ambitions and unwavering commitment to innovation. This statement reaffirms our dedication to customer-centric innovation excellence, serving as a beacon for product development and customer engagement.

We had the honor of sitting down with Guðrún Ólafsdóttir, Chief Product Officer of Annata, to delve deeper into the Statement of Direction. Guðrún provided valuable insights into how this statement will shape Annata’s future product offerings and the company’s overall strategic vision. Her perspective sheds light on Annata’s relentless pursuit of innovation and customer success. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. Could you share a bit about your background and how you came to lead the product team at Annata?

I have over 20 years of experience in product development, my career has spanned across Iceland, Denmark, and Malaysia. This journey allowed me to travel across the globe, engaging in diverse projects as a developer, consultant, and trainer, particularly with products from LS Retail, a Microsoft ISV partner.

My career progression led me from being a hands-on developer and consultant to a training manager, and ultimately to the role of development director. I played a key role in shaping LS Retail’s transition to the cloud, optimizing development processes, and enhancing the partner experience to navigate the evolving cloud landscape effectively.

In February 2023, I had the privilege of joining Annata, as the CPO (Chief Product Officer) an opportunity I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have. At Annata, I’m working alongside talented and passionate individuals. Here, the focus is on Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations (F&O), contrasting with my previous focus on Business Central at LS Retail.

This shift represents not only a change in product scope but also a continuation of my journey. I’m hopeful that my experience and diverse background will add value to Annata, enhancing our capabilities in A365 and contributing to our collective success and innovation in the industry.

  1. What aspects of your role do you find most rewarding or challenging?

The most rewarding aspect of my role is orchestrating harmony within the development teams to develop products that genuinely fulfill our customers’ needs. Building products intelligently and incrementally minimizes rework and waste. It is incredibly rewarding.

By thoroughly understanding our users’ needs, leveraging our strengths, and considering the financial impact of our work, we can tackle challenges more effectively and with a clearer sense of purpose.

  1. In your own words, can you please share a quick summary of what the Statement of Direction is about?

Sure. The Statement of Direction is our compass into the future and in this future, we see Annata leading the way in the automotive, trucks & buses, and equipment industries, with our solution that is not only innovative but also instrumental in driving our customers success.

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  1. From your perspective, what makes this new Statement of Direction particularly important or exciting for Annata and its customers?

The new Statement of Direction is crucial for both us and our customers, emphasizing the essential role of advanced technology in maintaining competitiveness for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), distributors, and dealers. Our solution, A365, stands out as a unique solution, showcasing the strengths of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, providing a seamless experience across all devices and tailored specifically to industry needs.

This Statement of Direction reinforces our commitment to continual updates and improvements, ensuring A365 not only helps our customers keep pace with market trends but also positions them as leaders in their respective fields.

  1. How do you see the Statement of Direction shaping the roadmap for future product development at Annata?

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AI and machine learning are transforming business operations, indicating a shift to more intelligent, data-centric models. The cloud simplifies access to advanced technologies, making them available to everyone. Sales are evolving into personalized experiences that resonate with each customer, enhancing satisfaction and effectiveness. Service operations are becoming more accurate, minimizing errors, and optimizing results, thereby boosting customer satisfaction.

  1. How do customer challenges or feedback influence the direction outlined in the Statement of Direction?

Our commitment to the automotive, trucks & buses, and equipment industries has led us to integrate the insights of industry-specific program managers into our R&D process. This strategic move enhances our focus on specialized knowledge and ensures our solution is closely aligned with actual industry demands.

Our managers play an important role in capturing the latest trends, regulatory updates, and best practices, directly influencing our product roadmap. Essentially, they act as the bridge between our customers and R&D teams, ensuring that customer feedback and challenges are central to our development strategy, thereby shaping our Statement of Direction.

  1. Can you provide some insights into how Annata plans to balance maintaining the current product while innovating for the future?

Our strategy for balancing current product maintenance with future innovation involves a collaborative effort between the product team and the architect team. The product team is focused on enhancing and updating our existing offerings to ensure they continue to meet customer needs effectively.

On the other hand, the architect team plays a vital role in ensuring that our solutions are not only maintainable but also scalable and future-proof. They’re responsible for integrating new technologies and methodologies that align with our long-term vision, thus facilitating continuous innovation.

Together, these teams ensure that we consistently deliver a high-quality, sustainable solution while staying at the cutting edge of technological advancement.

  1. How will Annata ensure that the data and insights collected through A365 are actionable and drive meaningful business decisions for its customers?

At the core of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and A365 is data integrity – a promise that data is not only accurate and securely processed but also a trustworthy compass for strategic decisions. It’s about making data work for our customers, transforming it into insights that propel their business forward.

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  1. Can you explain how Annata plans to personalize experiences for its customers within the A365 platform?

By leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, Power Platform, and Dataverse, we aim to provide tailored capabilities recognizing the unique needs of the automotive, trucks & buses, and equipment industries. This approach allows us to configure A365 to offer industry-specific functionalities, workflows, and data insights, ensuring that our customers receive the most relevant and effective tools for their business.

Utilizing the flexibility of Power Platform and the robust data management capabilities of Dataverse, we can create customized interfaces and experiences that enhance operational efficiency and drive business success for our clients in their respective industries.

  1. In what ways do you envision new Microsoft technologies like Microsoft Copilot enhancing A365 and benefiting Annata’s customers?

Overall, Microsoft Copilot with A365 will bring smart, data-driven functionalities that can transform how our customers operate, making their processes more efficient and their decisions more insightful.

Microsoft Copilot in A365 can offer predictive analytics and intelligent recommendations, helping customers make more informed decisions quickly and efficiently. Copilot can automate routine tasks and processes, freeing up time for users to focus on strategic activities and innovation, thereby increasing overall productivity and streamlining operations.

With AI-driven insights, our customers can offer personalized services and interactions, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. By leveraging the latest AI technologies, A365 can stay ahead of market trends, offering innovative solutions that address the evolving needs of our customers.

  1. Are there any specific features or capabilities that you’re particularly excited about integrating into A365?

I’m excited about enhancing A365 with AI and Microsoft Copilot features to improve user experience, with a particular focus on making interactions more intuitive and efficient.

Beyond these AI-driven enhancements, the real magic happens in the synergy of A365 with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, Power Platform, and Dataverse, which creates customizable, role-specific experiences, elevating efficiency, and productivity across every team member’s workflow.

These improvements are about more than just adding advanced capabilities; they’re about refining the user experience to be smoother and more attuned to their needs.

  1. Looking ahead, what are you most excited about in terms of Annata’s future product offerings and developments?

I’m excited about the growth and investment in our R&D team, reflecting dedication to innovation and diverse product development. This expansion will not only enhance our product offerings but also bring real benefits to our customers and influence industry trends.

To support this, we’ve implemented the Scrum@Scale method, enhancing collaboration and decision-making across our global offices in Iceland, Malaysia, and Hungary and ensuring that our product vision and strategy are closely aligned with the mission and goals of our organization.

This approach will also streamline processes and support growth, making it easier to integrate new team members and ensure that we continue to deliver value-driven solutions to our customers.

  1. How do you think Annata’s solution will evolve over the next few years based on this new direction?

In the coming years, Annata’s solutions will continue to evolve, guided by our strategic focus on the research component of R&D. Our commitment to investing in R&D will enable us to actively explore and integrate innovative technologies, ensuring that our solutions stay ahead in the industry.

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As a result, Annata’s customers can expect increasingly advanced, efficient, and tailored solutions that leverage cutting-edge technology to drive their success.

  1. On a lighter note, what books would you recommend for the product enthusiasts out there?

My reading interests lean towards management and I’m a big fan of Christian Ørsted’s work. Ørsted is a Danish bestselling author, management consultant, and speaker. His critique of the heroic leadership model and the pitfalls of conventional motivation strategies offer valuable lessons for product management.

Ørsted advocates for psychological safety and trust within teams, encouraging an atmosphere where ideas can flow freely, risks are taken thoughtfully, and mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities. His approach to managing change is particularly enlightening. He suggests we view change as a natural and manageable aspect of our work, not merely an obstacle to overcome. Enhancing adaptability, fostering ongoing learning, and promoting open communication are key to this.

I strongly believe that adopting this approach can make product development more effective and empathetic, ultimately boosting productivity. It fosters a culture of innovation and collaboration, leading to better and more successful products.

Download Annata’s Statement of Direction here. For inquiries and more information on our Statement of Direction, please reach out to us.

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