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Looking back on a momentous year

    bill main pic-1.jpg
    31 Dec

    Looking back on a momentous year

    Awards, exhibitions, investments and global expansion; there was much to celebrate in 2018.


    What a year it’s been! As well as opening new offices in Wales, America and Canada, we received £10m investment from RBS and Santander. These funds will be used to create new innovative technology to add to our suite of solutions, as well as accelerate our growth into new and existing markets, especially North and South America.


    But before we look too far ahead in the future, let’s take a moment to consider the achievements we’ve made this year and some of the ground we have broken.


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    From left: Peter Nicol and Marcio Rodrigues receive a Deloitte Fast 50 trophy. 


    Rankings and recognition


    In 2018, there were a lot of firsts for Vizolution, starting in February, when we ranked 1476 on the Inc. 5000 Europe list of the fastest growing privately-held companies on the European continent.


    The following month, we, alongside O2, won the ‘Innovation Award’ at the Customer Satisfaction Awards, and so began an incredibly successful year of awards, which included being named the 12th fastest growing business in Wales, and receiving a Sustainable Growth Award at the Fast Growth 50 Awards. We also ranked 38th on the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100; a league table of Britain’s fastest growing tech firms.


    In November, we enjoyed our most successful week of awards yet, winning three in one night, including debuting on the Deloitte Fast 50 list, where we ranked 40th out of the top 50 fastest-growing tech companies in the UK. In our second success of the night, we, in partnership with our client, O2, won the Best CX Transformation Through Technology Partnership category at the CCA awards in Glasgow for the use of our innovative live-sharing solution in O2’s renewal and retentions journey. The final award we took home was at the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards, where we, alongside RBS picked up the Highly Commended award in the ‘Best Use of Technology – Non-Lenders’ category.


    Continuing November’s run of success, a few days later, we picked up bronze in the ‘Best Innovation in Customer Service’ category at the ECCCSA, for our transformative work in O2’s renewal and retentions journey. We were also crowned the National Winner of the Small Stage Venture-Backed Management Team at the BVCA Management Team Awards 2018. If that was not enough award success, then a week later, we picked up yet another award, for ‘Financial Services’ at the UK Business Awards.


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    Back row, fourth from left: Grethe Vaughan with government ministers at Westminster.


    With a little help from our investors


    Also, in March, our COO at Vizolution, Grethe Vaughan travelled to Westminster to take part in a roundtable discussion with government ministers to discuss the growth of the technology industry in Wales. Ms Vaughan said: “It’s great to see the Government looking to support digital hubs in Wales, as well as helping to develop new talent. It was a pleasure to be invited, alongside other industry leaders, to discuss the future of the Welsh Tech sector and celebrate its achievements.”


    An important part of our growth and expansion in 2018 has been the expertise and support we have received from our partnerships and alliances with the Development Bank of Wales, Notion Capital, and most recently RBS and Santander Consumer Finance. In November, we secured £10m in funding from RBS and Santander, along with reinvestment from HSBC, and the Development Bank of Wales, meaning that three of the world’s largest banks are now also shareholders in Vizolution.



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    Peter Nicol, centre, at our booth at LendIt Fintech USA.


    Taking the global stage


    In April, as part of our 2018 strategy to expand our global footprint, Vizolution took part in our first ever North American conference, LendIt Fintech USA, held in San Francisco.


    Peter Nicol, our Director of Global Sales at Vizolution, was at the show and said: “Our attendance at LendIt marked Vizolution’s launch into the U.S. and provided an opportune time to announce our expanded operations with HSBC into the USA and Canada. We look forward to continuing the success we have had with our clients in the UK and Europe.”


    Later that month, it was Account Director, Marcio Rodrigues, along with members of the European teams’, turn to travel and represent Vizolution. He went to VivaTech Paris and spent a few days sharing the benefits of our unique suite of solutions that helps enterprises across financial services, telecoms and utilities to streamline their complex journeys into effortless experiences. A few weeks later, we continued our grand tour, travelling to Amsterdam to take part in Europe’s largest FinTech event, Money 2020. At each event we had a plethora of interest on how our customer experience technology improves conversion rates, efficiency and compliance for businesses by replicating the qualities of face-to-face interactions within remote channels (Web/Phone). 



    We held a party when we opened our Silicon Valley-inspired office in Wales.


    Getting bigger

    In July, to accommodate a growing team, our Welsh headquarters moved operations to a Silicon Valley-inspired purpose-built premises, complete with AstroTurf, ping pong tables, meeting pods and a variety of different themed break-out areas. We are able to draw upon a huge talent pool of software developers in Port Talbot, and are, in fact, one of the biggest employers in the area. Having a strong, dependable, and talented workforce has been essential in Vizolution’s rapid growth, both domestically and internationally.


    A few months later, our teams in Canada and the US, also moved operations to larger, more centrally-located offices. The Canadian team, headed by Alexey Smathin, moved to the prime King Street West-location of Toronto, while our US team, headed by Jonathan Jewett, moved to downtown Boston to take advantage of its proximity to Boston’s bustling tech scene.


    Our new North American offices will enable us to strengthen our position in the region, target our dream clients, and raise our profile in North America. Supporting this mission was Mr Jewett, Vizolution’s VP of Sales for Northeast of the US, who, in July, had just a short drive to make to attend CXFS 2018 conference in Boston. “It is only natural that we look to expand our footprint in such a huge market as North America,” said Mr Jewett. “Vizolution has a number of exciting opportunities in the region that we can’t wait to get started on!”


    Sentiments that will reign true in 2019, as we continue to explore avenues for growth and look forward to replicating some of the impressive KPIs for existing North American clients, as well as any new clients we manage to secure.


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    Vizolution technology enables customers to complete their customer journey remotely as if they were face to face.


    Adding to our client base


    Speaking of which, we welcomed several new international clients to our fold in 2018, including Bouygues Telecom, Inchcape and Hang Seng. We look forward to working alongside these companies and helping them streamline their customer journeys into effortless experiences. Our innovative suite of solutions typically increases conversion rates by >40%, reduce time of transactions by 50%, reduce costs by eliminating paper, and improving compliance, while still delivering net promoter scores of >80.


    We have helped improve numerous clients’ journeys throughout 2018. For example, the transformation of RBS' mortgage application process into the UK’s first completely end-to-end paperless mortgage process. We have won numerous innovation awards alongside RBS for our role in transforming its customer journey (including UK Business Awards and Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards).


    Impressive KPIs (11 days reduced per journey; 74% of offers issued within 14 days; 79 NPS for Q1, 2018, compared with 53 for the paper journey), combined with a compelling story, (100% decrease in paper, resulting in an average of 7 million documents saved per year), show in a very tangible sense how our technology can not only improve operations for the business, but also for the customer. RBS’ paperless mortgage process sets a new standard for the banking industry and demonstrates how taking steps to meet evolving consumer requirements, while prioritising environmental considerations, can also generate significant commercial benefits.



    From left: Sabrina Gross, Fabrice Amand and Robbie Mitchel, working on ensuring our clients' success.


    Implementing an infrastructure of success 


    One area in which we have focused on expanding and making stronger throughout 2018 has been our Customer Success team. We have a multi-lingual team made up of professionals with proficiency in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew. A good Customer Success team can provide valuable insights into the benefits that Vizolution is creating for the customer (client); help them discover new pain-points and help them achieve their business goals.


    Sabrina Gross, Customer Success Director at Vizolution, said: “In 2019, we will continue to roll out monthly reports for all of our clients’ customer journeys, while building the Customer Success methodology and internal processes. Having a strong customer success infrastructure will allow us to learn and share best practises of how we can better work to fulfil our clients’ needs.”


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    From left: Robin Betts, Jonathan Gibbs and Leighton Sparkes arrive at the London office.


    To give is to receive


    While Christmas was certainly a time for receiving gifts in the form of awards, it was also a time for giving, starting in September with a sponsored bike ride from Swansea to our office in London. Robin Betts, Jonathon Gibbs and Leighton Sparkes raised a total of £2,176 for LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity.


    Speaking on the long, three-day journey, Mr Sparkes said: “We started to relax once we got on the final leg in London, travelling along the Thames, through Richmond Park and Holland Park, and when we arrived at the London office in Notting Hill, we felt a real sense of achievement and were grateful for the warm welcome and cold refreshments. The icing on the cake was seeing so many people donate so generously!”


    The rest of September was spent attending events in the US and Canada, including CX Week Canada, Banking Customer Experience Summit 2018, and Finovate Fall 2018. October continued in the same way September ended, with attendance at awards and events, including CX Exchange Banking Financial Services and Insurance, Money 20/20 USA, and Wales Fast Growth 50 awards dinner.


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    Bill Safran, centre, takes part in the 'High Tech vs High Touch' debate at Fintech Connect.


    Exploring the delicate balance


    A few days later, members of the Sales Team from the London office met up with our Vice President of Sales for Central and Southern Europe, Fabio Tessara, to attend Web Summit 2018 in Portugal; an event widely regarded as the best “technology conference on the planet”. Some great connections were made, and talks attended, including one called ‘Winning trust: the delicate balance between technology and human’, which, of course, is at the very core of our philosophy and what we do.


    Attending these kinds of events is essential in not only making some great contacts, but also keeping abreast of the issues, themes and hot topics affecting customer experience and FinTech. They are also opportunities for Mr Safran to share his unique insights into the industry.


    To that end, later that month, Mr Safran took part in a ‘High Tech vs High Touch’ panel discussion with other global thought leaders and industry insiders at Fintech Connect in London. Addressing his fellow panellists, Mr Safran expressed how it needn’t be an either/ or situation, “Why should we force a customer down a channel (remote or in-branch)? Let the customer make the choice in how they would prefer to complete their transaction in their channel of choice.”


    It was Mr Safran’s insights in the FinTech industry and entrepreneurship that enabled him to be named in Lloyd’s ‘The Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders’ in 2018.




    Expanding and exploring new opportunities


    In order for us to achieve this level of success, we have been consistently growing the size and scope of our team. We now have more than 150 people across our international offices and are constantly on the look-out for more.


    Mid-December, Mr Rodrigues visited Latin America to assist with the deployment of our market-leading technology in a leading bank. He was also there to explore opportunities in the region and to meet with C-level executives to showcase how our innovative suite of solutions can help transform enterprises' complex customer journeys into effortless experiences.


    “It’s been an exceptionally busy year, and with plans to grow our global footprint in the coming years, especially in North and South America, as well as expand our suite of innovative solutions, 2019 will offer a whole new set of opportunities, as well as provide different challenges. With our dedicated team of professionals, across our many international locations, however, I have every confidence, we will meet every challenge, and surpass what we have achieved this year,” said Mr Safran.