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Old St Labs Brings Businesses And Their Suppliers Closer Together

Through its supplier collaboration platform Vizibl, Old St Labs in supercharging innovation and growth at the world’s largest businesses. We caught up with Co-Founder Alex Short to discuss the organizations recent success.

Alex Short

Q: Alex, could you explain the function and advantages of your enterprise tool Vizibl?

A: To understand the area in which we play and the advantages of our tool you need to first consider the way that large businesses spend money.

In order to do business and make money, enterprises need to spend billions of dollars with their suppliers each year. The nature of that spend varies hugely depending on the nature of your business, for a winemaker it might be bottles, for a smartphone maker it might be microchips. But the fact is that in most large organisations, 80% of all operational expenditure goes directly to a small handful of critical suppliers.

These suppliers greatly impact the success of the organisation. They are responsible for delivering new ideas and innovations into the business and are a vital cog in ensuring the business generates profits and remains relevant into the future.

With so much money being spent on just a few critical suppliers, it stands to reason that enterprises need to work closely with these suppliers and ensure they get the most out of these relationships. In the fast moving, technology-driven business environment enterprises operating in today, that means being capable of collaborating and co-creating with these suppliers to maintain market share and increase profitability.

Obviously to achieve these outcomes buyers and suppliers need to able to communicate, share ideas and work together seamlessly. Until we created Vizibl, there was no platform that brought both of these parties into the same environment and facilitated this sort of work.

Vizibl creates an environment where companies can work closely with their key suppliers to set joint objectives, solve business problems, identify cost savings and deliver top line growth.

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Q: What are your plans for keeping Old St Labs on the forefront of technology innovation?

A: At the moment Vizibl sits alone in the supplier collaboration technology space but based on the way our industry is heading that won’t always be the case. We know that the business landscape is being disrupted, in fact, we’re part of that disruption. The key to success, both for ourselves and our clients, is to remain nimble and to deliver innovation quickly.

That being said, there are a number of specific elements in our offering that we think positions our business well to remain at the forefront of our space. We have developed a product called LUCYD, which is a cognitive engine that by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning helps our users make smarter decisions. At the moment, Vizibl leverages LUCYD in a similar way to how Einstein powers SalesForce, but we see its applications stretching far beyond the realms of Vizibl into bots and a number of other areas of the enterprise.

By putting tailored information in the right people’s hands at the right time, cognitive computing has the potential to reshape the way enterprises work and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that discussion.

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Q: Old St Labs recently announced a deal with Vodafone can you tell how you cracked into the notoriously challenging area of enterprise software sales?

A: It’s true, adding another big name like Vodafone to our list of customers is great news for our business. That fact that we’ve seen so much early success with businesses of that nature shows there is a real need in the market for what we’re offering.

In terms of cracking the enterprise sales space, I’d say there is no magic trick, but I’ll point out a few of things that I believe helped our business get traction in this space.

The first is that you need to solve a real problem. This is something we spent a long time on before a single line of code was written or sales call was made. My co-founder and I invested significant effort in those early days trying to understand what is happening between enterprises and their supplier both on a micro and macro level. We interviewed business executives, spoke to colleagues, friends and basically anyone that would let us listen to them. Through that process, we were able to identify that large businesses wanted, scrap that, needed to collaborate with their key suppliers, but there was no technology solution that could support such an endeavour. What all that listening and learning did was give us confidence that there was something that needed fixing. It wasn’t our own idea, it was the idea of the people we spoke to, the people who, potentially, would one day could become our customers.

Ok, so the problem has been defined. Now how do you solve it? For us, a critical part of this process and a large factor that helped us break into the enterprises space, was the focus we put on user experience and design. Anyone that is familiar with traditional enterprise software knows it’s horrible to use.

Consumer products on the other hand, have become so easy to use that most new tech products are sent without instructions and can be operated by a three year old. But enterprise software lagged severely behind.

We knew if we could replicate the user experience people had become accustomed to in their private lives into a working environment, we’d have gone a long way to cracking the enterprise space. Vizibl has remarkable processing power and is capable of many things, but since day one we’ve stuck to a mantra of making the product elegant, straightforward and easy to use and I feel that is a big part of our success.

Finally, I’d say it comes down to people. You need to hire the right people into the right parts of your business. For us, that meant hiring people that know the enterprise. I work with a fantastic team of salespeople, customer success managers, marketers, designers and software engineers and all of them understand the enterprise space. A lot of the people that I work with come from large enterprises or have previously sold into those sorts of businesses. So I think it’s fair to say we know that challenge that lies before us.

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