Every organization needs a visionary leader that understands their market and inspires innovation. Meet Darren Roos, the Chief Executive Officer of IFS, a driven personality obsessed with adding value to his clients. His clarity of vision and hard work have helped him to achieve many milestones. Darren is shaping IFS as a formidable force against the biggest brands in the enterprise software industry, and the Company continues to win against the mainstays that have, to date, been left unchallenged in any real way.
Every decision taken by Darren and his leadership team is measured against the question: Will this add quantifiable value for IFS’s customers? Within the next two years, it is Darren’s vision to take the company past the $1 billion in revenue mark, but with margins that are among the best in the industry. His vision is underpinned by a strong customer focus, and a plan to fully integrate the global network of over 400 partners into the business operations. He acknowledges that this cannot be accomplished without great employees, which is why he has the vision for IFS to be the most desirable employer in the enterprise applications space.
Into the Shoes of Darren
Darren has earned a reputation for rapidly scaling enterprise software businesses through hard work, building talented teams and prioritizing customer focus. Prior to joining IFS, he was the President of SAP’s global ERP Cloud business, where he had end-to-end responsibility for all product and go-to-market functions, and an organization of over 5,000 staff.
A respected thought-leader and Cloud expert, Darren doesn’t see being hot-on-the-heels of the market leaders as second place. He advocates being in love with what you do, focusing on outcomes rather than hurdles and facilitating customer choice at every step. Having grown up in South Africa, he also understands the sound case for diversity in business.
Under his guidance, he has transformed IFS to deliver over 20 percent growth year on year and reoriented it to put customer experience at the heart of its operations. Now, with the Covid-19 crisis creating unprecedented disruption, Darren has been navigating IFS through a challenging business environment. Through quick, decisive action, Darren is ensuring that IFS continues to uphold its strict service standards for its customers and to support its own employees throughout the crisis and beyond.
Eradicating all the Obstacles
One of the earliest challenges to overcome at IFS was breaking down silos – enabling eight different regions to become just three, and for the newly unified global team to work as ‘one IFS’. The silo challenge was exacerbated by the company’s technology platforms. IFS was running its business on IFS software, but every region was using different versions, with different modifications. Moving the global business to own IFS Applications 10 was not only a cultural win, but an operational achievement with unprecedented visibility into the business. Completed in just six months, the transformation not only signaled what is possible to the industry but allowed IFS to walk in the shoes of its customers and act upon the valuable lessons learned.
Darren states that by focusing on five key industries across three solution sets, IFS has developed a product and knowledge base that is deeply industry specific. Having this focus means that both the functionality of IFS solutions, and the capability of the people implementing them, is a real differentiator and hugely beneficial to its customers. It also means that IFS can deploy its solutions at twice the speed of the industry average, all on a single, integrated platform, with cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning built into the product rather than offered as additional modules.
According to Darren, intelligent automation – the automation of a company’s processes supported by analytics and decisions made by artificial intelligence – is already a disruptive force in the industry, and the pace is accelerating. There are certain tasks that are easy to automate, allowing people to perform more complex jobs and therefore provide more value to their employers. The combination of relatively easy adoption, with a business case that provides clear incremental value, means that more companies will realize competitive advantage by implementing it.
Automation technologies are soon to be more the norm than the exception. However, Darren doesn’t believe this will result in a loss of jobs – instead they will act as a facilitator of ever evolving and more complex work that will become increasingly remote in the future.
Influencing Aspects for Darren
Darren’s significant experience was a change in his own attitude to hard work. He is open about the fact that he didn’t truly begin working hard until he was nearly 10 years into his career, having lacked resilience and drive until that point. He realized he had a choice: he could continue coasting through his career or begin putting in the work. He chose the work – and it energized him. In less time than he wasted waiting for his real career to begin, Darren has risen from an individual contributor in a small software company, to CEO of a soon-to-be $1billion technology company.
Advice to Rely on
It’s important for leaders to be credible and authentic. Darren believes that leaders should not to be afraid to show vulnerability at times like these because people want honesty and transparency more than they want bluster and bravado. Vulnerability fosters connection, which is an important success factor for leaders who are trusted to take decisive action – particularly during a time of crisis. There is a groundswell in the market where companies are disillusioned with the overhyped, behemoth legacy vendors. “IFS’s pragmatic proposition and solid track record make us stand out as the obvious alternative. Combining that with the discipline, focus and an ambitious culture make for an exciting future,” says Darren.