Data is an issue that crosses international boundaries”

Name: 

Ian Stockley

Role and company: 

MD of Indicia

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):  

£8,500,000 turnover

Employee numbers: 

84

Growth forecast for the next three years: 

10-15 per cent each year.

In fewer than 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace?

We utilise a collaboration of data, planning and creative, underpinned by technology, to form customer intelligence. This insight is used to develop a creative interface between consumer and brand, utilising technology expertise, processes and proprietary tools to develop intelligent conversations through appropriate channels.

What’s the big vision for your business?

Our big vision is about how brands tackle big data, and the importance of implementing and delivering a value-exchange system which offers consumers unique experiences and value in return for their data and custom. This delivers additional value to the company. Broadly speaking, with the explosion of digital and social the emphasis for brands is shifting from product to the consumer, therefore it’s paramount for brands to understand customers on an individual basis.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

Data is an issue that crosses international boundaries. We work with businesses on an international level by way of partnering with global companies that are looking to gain a foothold in the UK market.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it: 

I would say that the biggest setback was when I moved from my role in-house at a brand to a marketing agency for the first time. Team ethos and unity has always been something I regard as an important aspect to any business, but I didn’t realise just how important it was until I made the jump from client to agency.

The agency I joined was clearly split down the middle and it never was able to recover from the fractures at the higher levels. However the lessons learned have had a large influence in the culture I’ve striven to create in my own agency.

What makes you mad in business today?

Ethically unsound and immoral people. Deceit is something I cannot abide and is unacceptable. Mistakes and errors of judgement obviously happen in business, but I find it unacceptable when there’s a deceitful motive behind an action.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

I think it is and will continue to be the innovation of technology and what that means to marketing as the balance of power shifts further towards consumers. With so much innovation occurring, it’s important for agencies to be able to identify the right technology for them and their consumers by analysing fully, rather than investing blindly.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

I’m quite positive about the opportunities available. If the business case is strong enough, then there is money out there. Of course it is tough in this economy, but if an idea is innovative/creative/entrepreneurial, then you should be able to find investment – the current economy is just less forgiving for ideas that aren’t well-rounded.

There are many ideas out there that may be great creatively, but lack an immediate commercial application. I suspect finding finance for these initiatives is harder with funders wanting shorter term returns.

How would others describe your leadership style?

The team ethic forms an important part of my management style, which I would describe as decisive and firm. I have a strong view of the direction in which the company should be heading, formed and shaped by being surrounded by a strong team. I am always approachable and willing to have my opinion changed if countered with a persuasive argument to the contrary.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Leaving a private view, having put the odd red dot on an oil painting in the exhibition.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

I think there are a lot of frustratingly long-winded processes for SMEs that are hindering growth and progression. Money is available for growth in this sector, but banks as a source of funding aren’t lending as freely and the time investment needed for matters around finance can be extraordinarily lengthy.

We are currently in the middle of changing corporate banking facilities and the time required, due to the preparation of requests for increasingly detailed forecasts in a very drawn out decision-making process, leads to reduced productivity as resources are diverted from revenue generating activities.

Attitude to risk-taking by banks towards independent entrepreneurial businesses has been too affected by the banking crisis. We need to remember on occasions the old adage: “The higher the risk, the higher the potential return.”

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