In an interview with CIO Look, VerseOne Group shares the story of its landmark contribution to the ever-evolving world of content management and integrated digital solutions. In a fast-moving market, a certain unique set of principles have enabled VerseOne first to dominate, then to grow beyond its initially sector-specific offering.
VerseOne Group now deploys a suite of Open Standards and fully Cloud-based products that offer holistic, comprehensive digital transformation services across multiple business sectors. Founder, CEO and Chairman Alan Neilson joins us for our CIO Look special edition on “The Most Customer-Obsessed Companies, 2019”.
Kindly take us through a detailed overview of the company.
“VerseOne Group is an innovative software and services company providing cutting-edge digital transformation solutions. Its Open Standards suite of purpose-built products empowers an organisation’s employees and their customers through intelligent connection. Using a personalised approach that unlocks content value, VerseOne provides an exemplar experience that positively transforms businesses and creates competitive advantage.
“Our approach is validated by our loyal, growing customer base of over 120 organisations, deploying around 250 specialist applications servicing more than 20 million people in the UK. Our customer-centric philosophy has won independent recognitions and awards – but the greatest accolade is that VerseOne is now the established market leader in Social Housing and Healthcare, and is making inroads into the broader public and commercial sectors. It’s a compelling testament to the flexibility, agility and functionality of our solutions, and we’re rightly excited about the future.”
How do you diversify your company’s offerings to appeal to the target audience?
“VerseOne provides web and smart mobile device technologies, digital and creative services to Social Housing, Healthcare, Local Government and commercial enterprises. Every digital solution has to meet the needs of myriad types of user both within and outside any business; so in order to be truly ‘transformative’ to an organisation, we live by a credo of flexibility and what I call ‘soft key configurability’ – meaning our integrated digital platform is easily tailored according to the desired User Experience (UX) without needing costly, time-consuming custom code.
“Our Open Standards, Cloud-based solutions can be deployed to the business area of greatest need, subsequently growing into an integral part of the overall digital ecosystem; the single unified technology platform that supports them minimises deployment time and maintenance costs. As well as providing immediate efficiency benefits, this takes the strain from often-stretched IT services in our customer organisations: a win-win outcome.”
Give a detailed description of the Founder/CEO/Management’s contribution over the company and the industry.
“I founded VerseOne Group because I realised that business ‘content’ is the most valuable asset of any organisation; and that in the struggle to manage digital change, typically these valuable content assets have become scattered over disparate silos, creating significant challenges to access, accuracy and relevance. Our integrated digital solutions bring them together to release their potential.
“Similarly, as a serial entrepreneur and veteran of over 30 years in the software industry, I’ve striven to team up with motivated people focused on making a meaningful impact with technology. The same credo applies in relation to VerseOne’s valued customers: 04 | MM2020 | | MM2020 | 03 what I call our TPE, or Total Engagement Programme. It’s a 365-degree approach, a true partnership, with VerseOne as an extension of the organisation, sharing, advising and adding value from inception. As well as best-in-class software and digital know-how we thus provide strategic, operational and creative services of maximum benefit to our customer, and ultimately their customers too.”
What innovative measures has your company undertaken to stay ahead of its competition?
“Innovation is a founding principle of VerseOne and we remain committed to it. Harnessing the power of new technologies provides a richer, more engaging experience, and makes our digital solutions the gold standard for others to follow.
“As an example: we have an exciting new collaborationand- communication product suite called Vocoll, which boosts workforce knowledge-sharing leading to faster customer response and service delivery. The integrated ‘knowledge bot’ and AI-based capabilities of the Vocoll component provide rapid, powerful tools for self-serve diagnostics and issues logging and resolution. That’s literally hundreds of man-hours saved at one fell swoop!”
How is your company upgrading in the face of volatile technological advancement, in order to offer disruptive products?
“The Digital Revolution is as powerful as the Industrial Revolution of a different era. The steady corporatisation of the previous two centuries is being dismantled; we’re returning to the idea that smaller businesses can leverage their advantages of agility and flexibility over larger, less ‘digitally-savvy’ organisations to compete and prosper. Success rewards those that “adapt and adjust to the changing environment”, as Charles Darwin put it: those that cannot will fail.
“I’ve always believed that an organisation’s customers are their judge and jury for determining success. In the age of ‘digital first’ customers base judgement on the overall experience provided by accurate, relevant, compelling content. We’ve made our digital solutions flexible to a degree I’m confident you won’t find anywhere else; and our deep industry experience allows us to hit the ground running right from planning, all the way through implementation and beyond into service management. Flexibility makes you futureproof, and sector knowledge means you’re enacting change, not reacting to it.”
Describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learnt that has shaped the journey of the company.
“VerseOne has been independently recognised by industry experts and observers, including twice by Red Herring as one of the top 100 technology companies in Europe, and by the CIO magazine as one of the global top 20 CMS providers. We’ve been shortlisted as Technology Company of the Year by the UK National Technology Awards; we’ve held ‘ISO 9001’ certification since 2012, and ‘Investors in People’ since 2015: these accolades are testimony to the strength of our vision and the high value we place on our people.
“The most important lesson for any organisation regardless of its commercial offering, is to stay true to its vision and founding principles, whilst being responsive to customer needs, market dynamics and the regulatory framework in which it operates. Our founding principle, that content is a key commercial asset, is what’s always driven our approach to providing world-beating digital solutions. Our experiences in the market and close, ongoing collaboration with our customers shape and refine our offering, but we’ll continue to offer constancy of vision by remaining true to our guiding spirit.”
Kindly highlight the company’s future endeavours. And how it is planning to expand globally?
“In our increasingly interconnected lives the volume, velocity and veracity of information is exponentially increasing: it’s a global phenomenon affecting every industry and frankly every human being. To handle this deluge of information – content – and ensure it’s turned into real value in the ‘time-poor’ world we live in, personalisation, data-driven AI, and knowledge-sharing and collaboration with peers and experts must be the way forward. We continue to invest in our solutions with this in mind, together with keeping the customer at the heart of everything we do.
“Over the last 15 years VerseOne has empowered organisations to cut through the online noise and deliver to their target audiences in an intelligent, personalised and effective way. To continue making good on our mission statement, we’re redoubling our focus on what I call The Three P’s: People, Products and Processes. It starts with the People: the extent to which Products and Processes can be tailored depends on being able to reach out and understand what our customers need to achieve – and to use our own several decades’ cumulative sector experience to guide them towards realising their business dreams.
“With the right People, Products and Processes on board there’s no mountain we can’t climb. VerseOne is dedicated to having the whole industry singing from our hymn-sheet.”