ERP Today’s new CEO on the platform’s bright tomorrow

Martin Ashplant has joined ERP Today as the CEO to spearhead continued operational excellence and community engagement. Martin is a digital publishing leader with more than 20 years of experience across both B2B and B2C publishing bodies. Read more on the announcement of Martin Ashplant as CEO for ERP Today here.

ERP Today’s editor-in-chief, Giacomo Lee, sat down with Martin to discuss his professional background, why he decided to join the platform and his bright vision of the future.

Giacomo Lee (GL): Could you tell me a bit more about your career journey so far?

Martin Ashplant (MA): I’ve been in media for over 20 years now. It’s a huge passion of mine. If I think back to how my journey began, it was probably back in the mid-nineties when I had a choice to either do work experience at a local newspaper or go into a lawyer’s office. I chose to go into journalism. I’m not sure if my parents have quite liked me not taking the legal route, but apologies to them in that case!

Ever since then, I’ve been addicted to media. I think media is supremely valuable in society and it’s such an exciting industry to be in. Actually, again, in the mid-nineties, I started my love of media when winning a Young Sports Writer of the Year award for writing an article about the comeback of legendary Manchester United and France striker, Eric Cantona, after he kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan. So, that was the first time I saw my name in print and the obsession has carried on ever since.

I spent a number of years as a journalist and an editor, often in the technology beat. More recently, I’ve held numerous leadership positions in various publications, such as Metro, City AM, DC Thomson and the New Statesman. I’ve also worked as a consultant for multiple different businesses, all of whom are connected to content in some way and help them do various digital transformations and such.

My most recent position before joining ERP Today was working for Future, which is a fantastically successful publishing business, working across lots of different sectors. I was a managing director there and responsible for the B2B technology area… I’m looking forward to continuing to be part of this really exciting industry.

GL: I’d also love to know why did you decide to join us at ERP Today and the Wellesley Information Services family?

MA: I guess the first thing is the sector we’re serving. I’ve always found enterprise technology really fascinating. For me, it’s kind of interwoven in the fabric of how so many businesses and so many organizations operate almost across every single sector imaginable, often without people even realizing it. For me, at its heart, ERP systems are all about improvement, whether that’s about increasing efficiency and productivity, delivering better insights or just simply helping people do the best possible job they can.

I guess, [it is also] a time when we’re at that precipice point where there are so many exciting technologies coming in that offer the promise of massive leaps forward. So, of course, I’m talking about Gen AI and machine learning, and it just feels like there are so many interesting things [happening] in this industry.

So that was the first thing that really attracted me to ERP Today, and I see the platform as being right at the center of this really exciting time in a really exciting industry. I see us providing that essential vital information to everyone connected to this industry. Whether that’s an end user, who is at the beginning of their ERP journey, still trying to understand all the various areas or a subject matter expert who needs a specialist, niche insight on a particular area, I believe that ERP Today is perfectly positioned to offer that and more.

GL: Let’s think about 2025. What will success at ERP Today look like in a year’s time?

MA: I think there is so much opportunity to grow because the industry is growing. The industry is becoming even more integral to the way businesses and organizations operate. If I’m looking forward to a year’s time, I would like to see ERP Today being the essential go-to destination for anyone who needs a better understanding or more insight on anything to do with enterprise technology.

I see that working both from an end-user point of view and a vendor point of view. I feel that we can be that essential glue which connects end-users of enterprise technology and helps them understand what they need to know and then puts them in contact with the people who can provide them with the products and services they need.

We can act as that middle ground between buyers and sellers and make it work really well for both.

GL: What can B2B offer in this age of short-form video and TikTok?

Martin Ashplant: B2B in the age of short-form media like TikTok is a really interesting perspective. I think I would go back to how I’ve always approached media wherever I’ve been: it’s always got to be an audience-first approach. So really understanding who your audience is and being close enough to them to know where they’re going for this insight, where they’re going for this content. And if it turns out that enterprise technology end-users and decision-makers are on TikTok, then we will be on TikTok serving our content there. I don’t think it’s necessarily happened yet, but I think it’s all about making sure that B2B media is providing really valuable insights and information at the point where users need it.

Currently, I think that is best served through the mediums that we’re in. So, our digital website, magazine, and social media, particularly business-focused social media like Linkedin. But that’s not to say that will always be the case. B2B media has been in existence for literally over a hundred years. It has always been there and it’s always been valuable. I can only see it becoming [even] more valuable in an age where increased importance is put on trust and the veracity of content.

There is a crucial role for any B2B media organization to play in delivering that valuable information and making sure that it is well-researched and based on people who know what they’re talking about. Whether that’s on TikTok, whether that’s on Instagram, whether that’s on something that is yet to be invented, it will remain pervasive for many, many years.

GL: So you can definitely see the future of B2B media as it stands at the moment?

Martin Ashplant: I think the future is bright. I really do. I think the ways to get information out to people are only going to grow and that’s just really exciting to me. It means that we, as part of a B2B media organization like ERP Today, have increased means to get our content, our fantastic journalists, our webinars and our events out to a [growing] number of people and get instant feedback as well.

That’s the beauty of this age that we’re in at the moment. It’s a two-way relationship. Gone are the days when you put something in a printed product and then you never really hear anything back. Now we’ve got this great community who are helping us create even better products and telling us how we can improve what we do, telling us what they need to know, helping us understand and also contributing as well.

I think we’re in a really privileged position that the people that we’re talking to are experts with great experience in this world. So, being able to harness that and to help them tell their stories and offer their insights is fantastically exciting to me.