Certinia, a developer of software for service businesses, is using AI and automation to extend the capabilities of its tools for report-building or planning and analysis beyond the financial sphere and into operations, too.
The company offers a suite of enterprise SaaS applications for services companies, including ERP, professional services automation, customer success, and configure-price-quote (CPQ), all built on Salesforce’s software development platform, Force.com.
The new features appear in the Winter 2024 release of its applications, generally available from today.
The company is focusing on automating financial processes so workers can concentrate on the strategic aspects of their businesses, said Dan Brown, Certinia’s chief product and strategy officer, in a conference call to present the new release to press and analysts. For example, new automation features in the report builder enable enterprises to connect financial data with operational data held on the Salesforce platform.
Certinia is using predictive AI to deliver more precise forecasts of cash flow and days to pay, based on analyses of trends in customer payments, and to forecast how many days it will take to staff resource requests, help enterprises keep projects on schedule, or to manage their customers’ expectations when things fall behind.
Expertise mining with generative AI
While some enterprise software vendors have hurried to release generative AI updates to their core products over the last year, Certinia is still working on its plans.
“We think it’s going to be a real game-changer for us, competitively,” said Brown, one of Certinia’s longer-serving senior executives, who previously worked at Microsoft on its Dynamics ERP and CRM systems.
Certinia got an early look at Salesforce’s generative AI effort, Einstein GPT, and has been testing it to automate customer success plan drafting based on data held within Salesforce Data Cloud. But it has also built similar functionality using AWS SageMaker instead of Einstein GPT, said Brown.
“Salesforce has not released its generative AI capabilities to ISVs, but we’re working very closely with both the Einstein GPT and the Data Cloud teams,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
Much has been made of generative AI’s capacity for content creation, but for more general business tasks, its power is in “expertise mining,” or learning from humans how to perform a task. “Generative AI tends to help people who aren’t the experts,” Brown said.
The Only Certainty Is Change
Certinia was previously known as FinancialForce, and adopted its new name in May 2023 to promote the “certainty” it claims to offer customers regarding their financial records. Over the following six months, though, there was much uncertainty as Certinia changed ownership, replaced its CEO, and swapped out top executives in sales, finance, operations, and HR.
The company is now majority owned by a Haveli Investments, a two-year-old private equity firm whose only other publicized investments have been in gaming developers. It bought into Certinia in July in a deal that reportedly valued the company at almost $1 billion. Smaller stakes are owned by investment fund General Atlantic and by Salesforce, which has been an investor since the company’s creation.
CEO DJ Paoni joined Certinia on October 12, 2023, to replace Scott Brown, who led the company for three years. Paoni has plenty of experience in the enterprise software industry: over 26 years at SAP. He worked his way up from sales executive to president of SAP North America before leaving the company in August 2022.
New COO Robert Cesafsky arrived the same day as Paoni, and was most recently COO and CFO of AutoAlert, developer of a CRM system for auto dealerships. At Certinia he also oversees IT and finance, helped by another new appointment, CFO Erin Sawyer.
Paoni wasted no time hiring a former SAP colleague, John Tully, as chief revenue officer, and brought in a new chief people officer, Kris Kildahl, who previously held the same role at another SaaS company, Syntellis Performance Solutions. They started in November.
That’s the end of major changes for now, though, Paoni said during the conference call.
“The business is in really good shape. We have a very nice pipeline, and our product portfolio is very strong,” he said. “I think things are very stable since we’ve made these changes.”