Making Markets for our Products, Making Products for our Markets

After 18 months in a B2B Software as a Service Business, I want to share a couple of lessons I learned how to address our markets with our products.

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We build AI-driven software products, a software development kit teaching mobile phones reading. We can read any text in a real environment like utility meters, loyalty voucher codes, license plates, passports, driving licenses, or tire identification numbers – black on black background. Our business model is a B2B Software as a Service Model driven by our investors looking on Annual or Monthly Recurring Revenue and monitoring our churn rate.

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There are no Excuses
The root cause for apologies in your Market2Order process is a missing or mediocre service level between marketing qualified leads and sales accepted leads. A lead can never be good enough qualified or never be closed fast enough after hand-over to sales. It is the understanding of personal accountability key to success. In a process flow, you cannot work like a flow-type heater or believe in Taylorism. It’s customer first, and during lead qualification, you need customer empathy on both ends for the customer and a seller. On the other hand, it’s the personal accountability of a seller to ensure a proper qualification service level – then we call a lead ‘sous vidre’ qualified.

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Prospecting is the Hard Thing
In our core industries, we are very successful with face-to-face meetings at industry events. At these events, we can ensure the right customer empathy and gaining customer insights – so we can achieve both:

Making Markets for our Products and Making Products for our Markets

Nevertheless, we win with our innovative products anchor accounts, where we did not see a market before. After such a success, the tough manual work of Prospecting and doing the account based marketing is not everybody’s preferred work. Much groundwork, the real understanding of the use case, describing the benefits and build a story around the on-kind-wonder project. We are leveraging the Social Media Channels, harvesting contacts, emails, and phone numbers. Moreover, doing painful cold-calling. Not many people understand that selling starts with the first ‘No’.

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Advertising and Pay-Per-Click
In the first years, the online channel and spending the marketing funds with Google, Facebook, LinkedIn will bring many leads and accelerate your growth faster than Prospecting and industry events. However, after a certain period, this lead flow will stabilize and not support the hyper-growth as expected when you start to segment your customer set and qualify your leads ‘sous vidre’. You need to invest more in personalized landing-pages, multi-language support, videos, whitepapers, and other for customer valuable content.

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Mailing, mailing, mailing
Once you have the right content available, you can start a proper and valuable mailing campaign. A newsletter is not essential news for all your customers. You make the news as personal as possible. Follow up on the target groups and be as valuable as possible.

Webinars is for the technical audience
We do have monthly releases, and at least once a year, we launch a significant leap. Introducing this major leap to a developer audience in a webinar is the best way
for us to ensure customer success and minimize customer churn. We keep contact with developer audience and target for referrals.

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KPI, KPI, KPI
Count how many leads you generate each week, measure how many calls you had, calculate the conversion rates, count the mailing contacts. Plan your events, schedule meetings before a marketing event. Measure your performance and honestly understand the implication for your Monthly Recurring Revenue and your Churn in your business model. You will need it anyway to explain to your investor, what you are doing with their money and it ensures clarity what your sales & marketing team is doing.

Having learned a lot about selling Software as a Service in the last 18 months, we still can improve our work with a channel partner, complementary solution vendors, and value-adding resellers. We drive business through system integrators – from the small digital agency to the global players, but multiple selling through our business relationships is by now rather a one-of-a-kind exercise or in other words, still enough to learn in the next 18 months.

 

 

 

 

RECRUITING IS HARD: It’s just finding the needles in the haystack.

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We at Anyline are recruiting. We need people in the space of Artifical Intelligence, nowadays one of the most contested areas of digitization. We are tripling the number of AI engineers within a year.

But how are we doing this? How do we find, attract, develop and retain those talents?

We stick to five critical success factors:

ONE. We invest in people when they need our help, and we are not waiting until we will need them. We are collaborating with universities, and most of our AI engineers did their thesis with Anyline projects. We have a certain amount of open seats booked for students and stick to their time plan and wait until they finish their exams. Do not ask what candidates can do for you, ask what you can do for your them (stolen from JFK :-))

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TWO. Intrinsic motivation factors are essential in the beginning. Extrinsic will be more critical later; however, you have to walk the talk of individuals career plans. And with career progression, these motivational factors you need to cover at a certain point in time. Start to walk the talk from day one.

THREE. Mens sana in corpore sano. You have to take care of what they are eating and how young people want to treat their bodies. In our case, we have three times a week a chef in our office, once a week fitness trainer in the office, every other week a masseur and weekly a work out trainer. In the summertime, we have our volleyball session, too. For intellectual hunger, we invite top speakers like international top sports coaches for motivational talks, Corporate CEO to talk about their career and of course, internationally leading AI Experts. As a special treatment, we offer our people medical health service from Mediclass.

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FOUR. A professional onboarding process of new people is a must to integrate them as diverse they are. We hire from Chile to New Zealand. We have people from Canada, Germany, Austria, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania; we have even Irish and Northern Irish people. We have elderly and rookies. We have a higher share of female talent in our teams than usual in high technology companies. Inclusion & Diversity is key. Wherever your office location is, try to cultivate English as your corporate language.

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FIVE. Hire slow, Fire fast. After a month, you know if people are ready for the challenging work and willing to leave the comfort zone. A former boss mentioned once, comfort zone and growth do not coexist. Fire early, when people are not ready. Recruiting is hard, and finding the wrong needle in the haystack is part of the game (approximately what Steve Jobs meant in the quote about recruiting).

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JOINING DIGITALDAYS2018 TO DISCUSS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

DigitalDays2018 is fast approaching and the Anyline team will be in attendance to discuss digital transformations. I will join the panel discussion and give a quick talk on my experiences using digital transformations to create successful projects and how it can be used going forward.

Join us there to find out more about the potential of mobile scanning to power your digital transformations!

DIGITALDAYS2018

DigitalDays2018 will take place on October 3 – 4 in the Grand Hall of the ERSTE Campus. This is the third year in a row that the event will be organized by the DigitalCity.Wien – Initiative. The event is dedicated to showcasing the latest in new technologies with an emphasis on future tech and digitization.

Panel Discussion

I have been invited to this year’s event to share his experience leveraging digital transformations and will give insights from creating successful projects working with start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, hidden champions and corporations.

Furthermore, I will provide examples from his time as an advisor at innovation4x and how they worked to create their moonshot start-up programme and explain my initial shock at exploiting the power of digital transformations and how talented teams can take advantage of digitization processes to create successful businesses.

The panel will also talk about the need to increase agility at companies that are seeking to create awareness of new business paradigms such as globalization and digitization. Of course, they will also cover the biggest challenge of changing approaches to processes that all businesses face – people!

MORE FEATURED SPEAKERS AT DIGITAL DAYS 2018

The event is sure to reveal many new insights from some of the biggest companies in Austria. All of the followers panelists will also give their takes on future tech and digital transformations.

  • Eva Czernohorszky – Technologie Services, Wirtschaftsagentur Wien
  • Lisa-Marie Kanz – Head of Human Resources, Runtastic
  •  Sabine Mlnarsky – Head of Human Resources, Erste Group AT
  •  Martina Schmied – Personaldirektorin, Stadt Wien
  •  Markus Stelzmann – Regie Tele Haase
  •  Julia Stone – Director of Digital and Innovations, REWE International AG/Billa AG
  • Eva Zehetner – Head of Group HR, A1 Telekom Austria Group

Check out the DigitalDays2018 website for more details!

4TH GLOBAL SUMMIT AND ANNUAL EXPO ON MULTIMEDIA & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Anyline will be in Rome to present at the 4th Global Summit and Annual Expo on Multimedia & Artificial Intelligence. The event will take place July 19 – 21 at the Rome Holiday Inn.

The team will give two different presentations at the Summit.  I will give a talk on “The journey from convolutional neural network to real customer value”. Aniello Patrone, Anyline’s Computer Vision Engineer, will give his talk on “Document scanning, from R&D to a real product at Anyline GmbH”.

Anyline prepared a quick summary of what will happen at the 4th Global Summit and Annual Expo on Multimedia & Artificial Intelligence, if you’re still deciding on what to do. Check it out and make a note of when Andreas and Aniello will be giving their talks!

SUMMIT PREVIEW AND SCHEDULE

The Summit will take place over 3 days and features a wide range of talks and panel discussions. Anyline will present on the first two days of the event.

Day One

Andreas Greilhuber will give his talk “The journey from convolutional neural network to real customer value” on July 19 at 11:05 as part of the Keynote Forum. Here’s a quick overview of all the talks from the first day.

  • Visual perception for autonomy application to object detection and behavior analysis in complex environmental conditions
  • SensFloor®: Human movement tracking and more
  • Tracking user status and situation using wearable devices
  • Semi-tensor product compressive sensing and its application in image processing
  • Evaluation of mobile GSM performance under different atmospheric propagation models
  • Recent research on hardware neural networks
  • Foraging behavior of ants and its application in optimization field
  • Detection of uneven road surfaces on internet of vehicles
  • Use of multimedia in grant applications
  • Advanced time series prediction methods
  • A biologically inspired spatio-chromatic feature for color object recognition

Day Two

Aniello Patrone will give his talk “Document scanning, from R&D to a real product at Anyline GmbH” on July 20 at 11:50 as part of the Keynote Forum too. Here are the other talks from the second day of the event.

  • Distributed artificial intelligence in robotics
  • Trends and challenges in virtual reality technology
  • Face expression recognition in constrained and unconstrained environments
  • Layers of meaning: Exploring artistic impressions and imperfect realism in virtual reality
  • Applying both hybrid restricted Boltzmann machine and deep convolution neural networks to low-resolution face image recognition
  • Multimodal image popularity prediction on social media
  • Automatic video superimposed text detection based on nonsubsampled contourlet transforms
  • Real-time highly accurate face alignment using a three-stage convolutional neural regression network
  • A new matrix operation in compressed sensing
  • Awards & Closing Ceremony

Day Three

The third day of the Summit will include a networking session and a lunch at the conference venue. The Summit will then conclude at 13:30 on July 21.

GOING 5G AT ALLEY IN NYC

The Anyline team has been growing steadily over the past number of years. As a result, we’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world to show people our mobile OCR technology. This has brought us to places like Berlin, Istanbul and soon China. However, there’s one location we’ve had our eye on for a while – The Big Apple.

New York attracts giants from the worlds of business, art and nowadays, technology. We’re expanding our support of the US market and our search only lead us to one place. We’ve been lucky enough to secure an office space at Alley NYC. We came across Alley and once we found out that their office space supported 5G networks, we jumped at the chance to work there.

So why is 5G so important? 5G networks are the next generation of mobile connectivity. And while 4G brought the power of broadband internet to mobile devices, 5G is set to blow the possibilities of mobile internet wide open.

HOW WILL 5G CHANGE THE WAY I USE MY DEVICE?

5G networks differ from 3G and 4G LTE by offering high bandwidth with low latency. While 4G connections are strong enough to support mobile browsing in most locations, 5G will take mobile internet a step further. Your mobile connection will be capable of live streaming sports events in the highest definitions and communicating with connected devices from large distances.

The ability to link mobile devices with connected devices in the internet of things offers huge potential for innovation. Technology like 5G will be crucial for the development of autonomous driving, VR experiences and cloud-based computing.

Current 4G networks support these types of technologies but the low latency of 5G networks will mean improved user experience as “lag” becomes a thing of the past. The full potential of 5G is yet to be realized as developers still wait for a device that supports 5G connections to be released. But early signs show that the adoption of 5G devices will be a large stepping stone for realizing the smart homes and smart cities of the future.

WHY HAVE ALLEY BROUGHT 5G TO THEIR WORKSPACE?

The 5G network was brought to Alley NYC through a cooperation with Verizon. It’s part of a collective of similar projects known as the Verizon 5G Future Series. Together, they will host workshops, seminars and talks to discuss and discover the future of mobile internet and how 5G can be used to connect the world around us.

While streaming services will be immediately enhanced, it’s the application of 5G in the internet of things that will revolutionize the way we think about the world around us. As a result, Alley have launched the 5G Lab at their workspace to empower entrepreneurs and startups to work with this new technology. They want to see what can happen when innovators have the opportunity to leverage a high bandwidth, low-latency internet connection to fuel their ideas.

HOW TO MEET US AT ALLEY

While we don’t have a team based in the US full-time, team members from our HQ in Vienna travel to the States on a regular basis. New York is a great base for Anyline while we have team in the USA and Alley is set to be our new hangout while we’re there.

Our next scheduled trip to NYC is between June 21 – 28. Get in touch if you’d like to meet!

A Showcase for the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

Anyline-WU

I was invited to talk at the Vienna University of Economics on March 15 about anyline.com. My talk was part of a current speaker series being run at the university. I gave the students an introduction to Anyline and explained the challenges of founding and how Anyline became an established company in the Austrian technology scene.

Presentation on Anyline & Mobile OCR

From Humble Beginnings

Started my presentation by telling the story of how Anyline was formed. Once I explained how Anyline emerged as the solution to a problem held by mySugr, I moved on to introducing the company goals that were set in 2014.

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Since making this commitment, Anyline has grown to a company of 30 people. In addition, +10 million scans a year are now reported and we have +100 enterprise customers worldwide.

Where Are We Now?

Once the Anyline origin story was clear for the students in attendance, Andreas explained what we’re working on now and how we plan to achieve our future goals. Since becoming COO, Andreas has brought his favourite maxim into play wherever possible.

“Clarity affords focus” – Thomas Leonard

The result is what we call the Anyline compass. This compass has two key components, which are our mission and our vision. Below is the slide I used to convey this to the audience at the WU.

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After clarifying the importance of of the compass, I introduced the audience to the technology behind Anyline and gave examples of how it can be vertically integrated across a number of fields and industries.

Anyline in Action

We’re happy that we work with a lot of market leaders and we try our best to show off the ways that these companies make use of Anyline to create and optimize innovative processes. Andreas gave the students a full rundown of Anyline’s partners and the solutions they use to improve their businesses.

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Questions & Answers

At the end of the presentation, we opened the floor to questions. Thomas Reutterer, the event organizer and a professor of service marketing and tourism at the university noted that the students were highly engaged and asked very pressing questions. Andreas had a similar opinion.

“I was very impressed by the laser-sharp questions asked by the students. They showed a fantastic understanding of our business model, the risks involved in our business and even how the technology itself works.” – Andreas Greilhuber

2018 Anyline World Tour: Barcelona Mobile World Congress 2018

Barcelona. Having an early – I mean a real early morning – flight, I will arrive 8ish. On my agenda various meetings with Samsung, IBM, ABBYY, microblink and many others until Tuesday evening.

Beside the augmented and virtual reality events Barcelona MWC is the place to be for a mobile OCR company like anyline.com

This year we have had already industry focused events for utilities and police in Essen, Berlin and Frankfurt. After this week in Barcelona we are starting the preparation of events for SAP in Austria and Florida. Continued by an MRO event to promote our serial number scanner with season final and highlight at Oracle in California.

Our products for meter reading, passport and license plate scanning are now underpinned by an universal serial number scanner.

A derivate if our serial number scanner – the vehicle identification number scanner – was presented to the world at the ai inside summit in Vienna.

Recently we delivered our first european driving license scanner (w/o MRZ) to Ministry of Interior for all police officers in Austria. The promising POC with an German Automotive OEM will demonstrate our business value in the core of the automotive value chain. Automotive industry will even more globalise our footprint in the mobile world.

With our machine readable zone product we are with United Nations, Australia, Global Blue (tax refund) and soon in Indonesia.

We convinced e.On, Vattenfal, Siemens, Tieto. With these partners we are #1 in Utilities with our mobile OCR meter reading product. We are Minimising risk in the Smart Meter Rollout, reducing churn and first and foremost simplifying the metering.

The high volume scanning use case digital interactive marketing with The Sun, Red Bull, Karlsberg and Landskron is a case for the business value we are generating in loyalty programmes.

So I have enough story telling raw material for my partners in Barcelona 🙂