Digital technology is all around us, whether that’s via smartphones, tablets, social media, ecommerce and so on. Arguably these are all platforms that are taken for granted in the personal and professional arenas.
Brown explained to Real Business what it was that he felt helped his company stand out from other nominees, saying: “I think the biggest thing is that it’s disruptive and changed the status quo of online performance. Online retail bounce rate can be as high as 70 per cent and our tech reduces it, taking money from Google and Yahoo, while we’ve also reduced the budget allocation required for search.
“Additionally, our performance-based model means clients pay if we produce incremental revenue and are consistent on all products, but lastly our products cover such a broad portfolio from retargeting, reporting, and customer engagement.”
On 20 November, we reported just how demanding today’s consumers are when it comes to online shopping, with half of customers expecting to receive email offers after visiting websites. With that in mind it’s perhaps no shock that the company’s most wanted product is Ve Contact, which reengages with consumers who have abandoned their purchased mid transaction.
A rising service, meanwhile, is VeChat – something Brown describes as an AI chat engine. “It stores one million phrases in 11 languages and will speak to users in a native language if they look to leave a page, asking if there’s a problem. Their feedback will then tell us if it’s a search issue or something else. A year from now, most products will probably be evenly used.”
The company launched in 2009 to provide data-driven solutions to boost revenue – but an evolution has happened since then. As Brown puts it: “We’re now a global leader in website performance – we change to evolve. Previously we supported 75,000 lines of code and that’s 10m now as the client requirements change, but we still have the same core of technology.”
Studies and reports continue to surface around big data, which may be why that’s where the biggest demand is from Ve’s clients. “Few know what it is and how to use it. If we work with ASOS for example, ASOS will want to set 50 conditions, using live data to market to customers accordingly – whether they’re overseas, a frequent purchaser and so on. Increasingly we are mining data live and retrospectively – that wasn’t needed three years ago.”
And despite the determination of some companies trying to go above and beyond for customer retention, Virgin released a report in September that said 48 per cent of businesses don’t use their websites to find new customers and that attitude “will be the biggest failing in their organisation”, according to Brown.
“Retailers will try and push an ad campaign and it may not be selling because of a broken link or if an image isn’t loading – we find common points of failure and will highlight them. They’re really working in the dark if they don’t do that.
“If we work with hotel clients on a promotion, we can say there’s a mass saturation of ads here and you don’t have inventory there, so push Scotland and tailor ads accordingly with data they have and aggregate it in real time. Retailers should make sure the opportunity is maximised and they’re probably doing a bad job if they’re not.”
One of the most impressive things about Ve, is that the 2009-launched UK business has over 500 members of staff in 19 countries and 6,000 clients.
“We had 25 people in 2011 and we’ve just acquired a company with ten staff members and one last week with 42 people, which is the first time we’ve grown through M&A. We’re a private business with no VCs and over 70 per cent of revenue is overseas – tech is supposed to be a global business,” Brown highlighted.
“Americans pragmatically export. Because they’re one territory, everything is gravy. I used to be fascinated with broken countries. We have a duty to be global and if you have a technology that’s groundbreaking, you fill the gap in every market or watch someone else do it.
“We’ve benefitted from operating in London. It’s arguably easier here to hire people from foreign countries than in their native countries. We’ve had Germans push into Germany from London and now we have 40 staff in Berlin and we’re hiring another 40 now and usually send founder of territories back to native countries.”
Although the company has phenomenal scale, with offices in Sydney, Sao Paulo, Paris, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and beyond, London is still key.
Brown told us that, individually, London is still the biggest office and the business is always using it as a stick to drive other offices. The UK is where its development team is with 110 people and the company doesn’t have development elsewhere. Innovation and creativity there is bursting, he added, but Europe is failing on the IPO side of things.
“I think we’re preparing for an IPO in a way tidying up for governance and availability for listing. Why list though? We’re revenue producing, while lots of tech companies fly high for valuations but not revenue, though you’re able to reward staff management and shareholders. When do you do that and when do you prepare? There’s no rush.”
Reverting back to the topic of winning the award, Brown revealed that they can bring out different attitudes internally with a fear that they may lose out by entering year on year. On his part, he confessed: “I think awards are very motivating and we’ve been successful this year – all awards have their own nuance. Each time we’ve won something, it sends waves or validation throughout the company. When people have the keys for success, they’re driven for more.”
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