IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Aera talk about their new brand and the A/NZ market

By Patrick Martlew
Thu 12 Jul 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Business intelligence software vendor Aera is both a new organisation and a seasoned one at the same time.

While the company operated under the name “FusionOps” until a year ago, it changed its changed its name after former Anaplan chief Frederic Laluyaux came on board as CEO, who brought with him a bold new vision for the company.

As Laluyaux joined and the company secured (USD) $50 million in venture capital funds led by principal backer New Enterprise Associates (NEA), FusionOps became Aera as it’s core technology offering transformed.

The company offers a solution that leverages AI and ML to analyse an organisations supply chain systems (such as ERP) to deliver real-time cognitive automation at cloud scale.

The solution makes suggestions to organisations on how they can improve processes, while learning about all facets of an organisation and how certain decisions are likely to affect it.

We sat down with Laluyaux to talk about how Aera sees itself positioned in the market and how the change from FusionOps has affected priorities for the vendor.

Noting the name change from FusionOps last year, can you just start by giving a bit of a background on Aera, how things started for you and how you’re now positioned as a company?

Aera has been something that I’ve really been thinking about - as a concept - for about the last 10 or so years. Within my experience in enterprise software, I actively and ongoingly worked to build a vision for what the next wave of transformation might look like. Significantly,  I’ve seen this wave of transactional automation that really shook things up, with things like ERP and a variety of other software tools having a transformative effect on how organisations are functioning.

However, I felt that it was always a struggle staying on top of these systems. What I’ve observed is that we - as an industry - are replacing tools with slightly better tools with incremental improvements, in an attempt to relieve the pain involved with doing work and trying to solve basic issues around things like planning and optimisation. These include things like balancing supply and demand, plan promotions, ensuring adequate inventory and delivery fulfilment. Delivering these kinds of basic tasks from an analytical perspective seemed incredibly difficult.  

As companies are modernising, we’re asking operators - not CEOs - to make more decisions with a higher degree of accuracy, as we give them more tools and data. But at the end of the day, the problems are still accumulating, and employees don’t have the support that they need.

On the flip side, the developments in the consumer world have delivered on a plethora of innovative criteria relating to everyday life. Things like smart voice assistants, real-time traffic monitoring when you’re driving and digitally enabled smart home appliances, have all made consumers live so much easier.  None of that translates to the world of enterprise. While we might have a cooler cloud-based UI in front of us, the work has not changed and that’s why we developed Aera.

How does Aera work exactly?

Aera acts as a digital skill that sits with you and does a lot of the work for you. It understands how businesses work and what is happening in multiple facets of the organisation in real-time. It understands - for example  - all of the dependencies within your supply chain.

It makes real-time recommendations, identifying problems and running through scenarios to solve problems and recommending certain actions. Once an action has been selected, Aera can coordinate with other systems and take that action for the user autonomously. At the same time, Aera knows how this decision is likely to affect the wider context of the business, as it has access to data such as forecasts levels, operational metrics and a host of other things.

Over time, it will be able to refine its recommendations and become more accurate, sort of fulfilling that role of an employee that knows your business inside and out. Best practices can then be dynamically shared across all relevant employees in the company. This is something that doesn’t exist today.

How have priorities shifted in the move from FusionOps to Aera?

Yeah so we had an initial project we had been working on, and we sat down with New Enterprise Associates (NEA) -  who are our major investor - who told us that we needed to have a conversation with this guy called Shariq Mansoor, who was the CEO of FusionOps.

I didn’t know the company, but after we sat down with him and spent many hours talking, I was very impressed with the core technology that he had built, which provided the capability to harmonise data coming from multiple sources in real-time. So we joined forces, raised $50 million in capital and we restarted with a new agenda under the brand of Aera.

The reason why we made the change is that we are now a platform play that leverages the foundational architecture that Shariq and the team had built while adding a lot of intelligence and AI capabilities. I, therefore, wanted a name that was a little more accessible for non-technical users.

Part of that is I wanted to develop an app that had intuitive voice capabilities like a Siri or Alexa, with the possibility of ‘asking Aera’, which is far more accessible under that name, rather than FusionOps. The branding came with the idea of expanding the vision and capability.

Aera is currently quite focused on the supply chain, so things like ERP, demand management and manufacturing performance. Are there plans to expand the solution beyond the supply chain to more aspects of an organisation?

Yes, and we are already doing it. We crawling now within Salesforce and we have a huge knowledge-base within finance and we are building some financial skills for some customers at the moment. While the supply chain is certainly a very critical area for us, our customers also asked us to rebrand because the wanted to deploy Aera in other parts of the organisation. When your name contains the word ‘Ops’, it’s very hard to convince people in wider parts of the organisation that it should be deployed there.

So we’re still developing and building our offering and skills in supply chain and manufacturing, but we’re definitely exploring options outside of this, such as sales, finance and procurement. We definitely want to break down the traditional, functional silos that have been somewhat facilitated by traditional vendors. There is so much value in implementing cross-functions and unifying your environment.

Thinking about traditional vendors like Oracle and SAP, they’re increasingly adding analytic and ML capabilities in their ERP solutions. Do you see these developments as complementary or competitive to what Aera is offering?  

Well, these vendors have had a very monolithic and simple strategy for a long time. They’re getting customers on board in terms of hardware, database and supply chain, they’re trying to push this ‘stack’ approach. The reality of very large companies around the world is that they have dozens or hundreds of instances of these tools.

One of the customers we’re working with right now have been trying to resolve their available-to-promise (ATP) problem for 10 years and we’ve had to crawl data across more than 100 transactional systems, because companies acquire companies, they divest companies and it becomes quite complex with large organisations. The cost of harmonising these systems has traditionally been huge.

We’re taking an approach of, whatever your data is, we’ll bring it into our cloud, we’ll harmonise it, index it and augment it. We’ll then give you a single layer for AI and ML to work on top of it. Whereas the Oracle and the SAPs of the world are more approaching things from an approach of if customers want AI and ML to work, everything underlying it needs to be a certain way. In some cases, I’m sure these vendors can make very smart use of these technologies, but it’s hard to scale because you often have to work under certain conditions.

What is the current state of play for Aera in A/NZ?

Well, first of all, I will tell you that there is no difference between the big Australian companies and the big European or American companies, they are all using the same technology and trying to achieve the same improvements. We have a great leader in the region -  who I have worked with for 10 years - in Rajeev Mitroo, who has built a tremendous network of relationships.

We have a special relationship with the region because the Future Fund of Australia is a main backer for us in the region, so we’ve got an extra relationship with Australia in that regard.

What verticals are you targeting locally?

I guess we’re really going after any company that makes stuff or moves stuff. We’ve started to other types of companies in the services area, but we’ve traditionally gone after companies within things like pharma, CPG, Oil and Gas, Car manufacturers and a host of other organisations that produce and ship.

It’s interesting though because we’re currently looking at doing our first services deal in Australia, who have said they’ve had some of the same issues and suppliers and manufacturers, so we’re certainly looking at branching out

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
AGVs
Bridgestone Australia uses Dematic's AGVs to optimise warehouse operations
Bridgestone Australia has deployed Dematic's Automated Guided Vehicle solution across its new Melbourne warehouse in Truganina.
Story image
Adobe
Marketplacer and Adobe accelerate partnership for enhanced commerce solutions
Marketplacer has accelerated its partnership with Adobe in order to further enhance the global commerce marketplace.
Story image
Capital
Rubber Monkey gears up for Aussie market with latest capital raise
Rubber Monkey is seeking to raise up to NZ$2.5 million of new capital through online investment platform, Snowball Effect.
Story image
ABI Research
NaaS market expected to reach $150B by 2030 - research
"The market is immature and fragmented, but telco market revenue will exceed US$75 billion by 2030 if they act now and transform to align with requirements."
Story image
Amazon
What brands can expect from Amazon Prime Day in Australia
Amazon Prime Day is the annual two-day shopping event, kicking off this year from July 12-13 and is the global online shopping platform's biggest sales event. 
Story image
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
Story image
Sustainability
Honeywell named Frankston facility services provider
Honeywell has been named the joint facility services provider for Frankston Hospital’s AU$1.1 billion redevelopment.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
Metaverse
How the metaverse will change the future of the supply chain
The metaverse is set to significantly change the way we live and work, so what problems can it solve in supply chain management?
Project management
Discover the 4 crucial factors for choosing the right job-costing solution. Is your team struggling to cost jobs and keep projects running on budget?
Link image
Story image
Wiise
Four things wholesale distributors need to consider for FY2023
In a post-pandemic world, there are many things for a distribution business to juggle. ERP solutions company Wiise narrows down what companies should focus on.
Story image
Remote Working
RDP attacks on the rise, Kaspersky experts offer advice
"Given that remote work is here to stay, we urge companies to seriously look into securing their remote and hybrid workforce to protect their data."
Digital Transformation
Discover the 5 signs your business is ready for a cloud-based ERP. Is your business being left behind as more of your competitors switch to the cloud?
Link image
Story image
Aspire
NEC expands Open RAN ecosystem with Aspire Tech acquisition
With its agreement to acquire Aspire Technology, NEC Corporation has further increased its capacity to deliver End-to-End Open RAN ecosystems.
Story image
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Recruitment
Thales on recruitment hunt for next disruptive innovations
"Recruiting new talent is part of Thales's belief in the power of innovation and technological progress to build a safer, greener and more inclusive world."
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Siemens expands NVIDIA partnership for industrial metaverse
Siemens is expanding its partnership with NVIDIA to enable the industrial metaverse and increase the use of AI-driven digital twin technology.
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Data Protection
Five signs your business is ready to move to the cloud
Many organisations are thinking about moving to the cloud. But what are the signs you are ready, and what are the reasons to move?
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks' cloud security platform receives IRAP assessment
"We provide help protect all forms of compute, cloud native services and access to data within public and private sectors."
Story image
CSG
To win at 5G, telcos must tame their quoting chaos
The catalogs of CSP (communication service providers) market offerings are set to explode as new digital services emerge, powered by B2B2X business models.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Telstra
Ericsson and Ciena, Telstra enhance service capacity for Telstra's optical network
Ericsson, Telstra, and Ciena have announced new enhancements to Telstra's Next Generation Optical Network, which will increase the service capacity of Telstra's optical network to 400 GE (Gigabit per Second Ethernet).
Story image
Samsung
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Supply chain
Discover the 4 critical priorities for wholesale distribution businesses in FY23. Are you worried about how supply chain issues may affect your business in 2023?
Link image
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Accounting
Four factors to consider when choosing the right job accounting solution
Progressive job-based businesses can achieve success by strengthening their ability to quantify every cost attributable to the delivery of an outcome for a customer.
Story image
Management
MYOB snaps up Sydney-based management software specialists
MYOB has announced the acquisition of Sydney-based business management software and support specialists, GT Business Solutions.
Story image
Airwallex
How Airwallex helps businesses achieve globalisation success
As markets continue to shift, businesses need to be able to provide the same quality of service for customers regardless of where they are located around the world.
Story image
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Low-code
Appian unveils low-code certification program in Australia
Appian has announced a program to provide the next generation of low-code developers with access to education on the subject and certification to foster career opportunities.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
IDTechEx
The next stage for 5G in thermal materials - IDTechEx
IDTechEx says higher frequency deployments, such as mmWave devices and very different station types such as small cells, present their own technological evolution and, with it, thermal challenges. 
Story image
SaaS
Ping Identity appoints Deloitte Australia as a partner
Ping Identity has appointed Deloitte Australia as a Consulting Technology Partner, uniting its offerings with the company's consulting services.
Productivity
Discover the 5 ways your ERP may be letting you down. Is your current system outdated, difficult to manage, and costing you a fortune?
Link image