Posted on Monday 17 December 2012 by Ulster Business
Automated Intelligence CEO Mark Godfrey (second left) and CTO Simon Cole (right) celebrate 500% growth with Norman Apsley (second right), Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Science Park and Mervyn Watley, Director of Corporate Real Estate.
But that's the story from Automated Intelligence, new tenants at Northern Ireland Science Park, who deliver a wide range of information lifecycle management software solutions.
The success of this fledgling rapid growth company lies not just in their innovative product range, but in the team heading up the operation – Mark Godfrey as CEO and Simon Cole as CTO.
Bristol-based Mark and local man Simon, who hails from Co. Down, met up ten years ago when they were both working for Meridio, which was later acquired by Autonomy, another NISP tenant.
At that point, on seeing an opportunity for product innovation and keen to move in a different direction, they decided to launch their own enterprise with self-funding and support from Invest NI.
"Initially, we extended the capability of Microsoft SharePoint and developed a product that increased its functionality by 20%," explained Simon. "This improved its scope and effectiveness and offered potential clients an alternative to the traditional record management solution.
"We continue to develop products that enable large organisations to manage large volumes of business information more effectively, achieving significant reductions in their data storage and IT infrastructure costs.
"Where we are unique, certainly in the UK, is that our products are user focused, rather than solution focused. In other words, we concentrate on making it easy for clients to manage information end-to-end in an efficient and cost effective, way."
Both men are, in their own way, visionaries: Simon's expertise lies in the detail of translating ideas into technical action to meet customer need. His credentials, particularly as the project lead for the Document Lifecycle Management (DLM) Forum that delivered the MoReq 2010 European Standard for record management, are impeccable.
Mark is the big picture marketeer who leads the company, drives the vision and makes the sales. AI's first customer was the Home Office and they now have a strong presence with their products in central and local government in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as some beachhead customers in Western Europe.
AI's rapid growth, they agree, is down to understanding their customers' needs, being at the forefront of technological innovation, and developing products which demonstrably reduce cost and increase quality and efficiency.
"With customers looking for more efficient ways to deliver a high quality information service to their users, information management is a hugely important, high growth industry, so we are definitely in the right place at the right time," said Mark. "Simon's technical contacts and expertise, and my sales contacts and network access, make for a very strong package.
"That's not to say that, despite 30 years' experience between us, we haven't had some challenges to contend with. When we started out in 2010, we were a brand new company with an innovative new product – we needed to work hard to make those doors open for us.
"That has now happened and we are currently focusing on continuing growth in the government sector, as well as moving into the financial sector and the Irish market. We also have the potential to grow considerably in Europe and the US."
As a result, AI have doubled their staff in the last 12 months and expanded their offering from three to seven products. They have also just appointed a new Head of Sales (Ireland) and Marketing Manager with support from Invest NI.
In 2013 they aim to recruit more staff in Sales, Development, Services and Support, with longer term plans for a graduate programme.
"We are in a very good place right now – you could say literally!" Simon continued. "The Science Park is a great location and it's beneficial for us to be surrounded by like-minded technology peers who can offer us opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Mark added: "We still have a long way to go, though. Our ultimate aim is always to stay at the forefront of technology to enable our customers to adopt innovative solution delivery methods such as cloud, hybrid, mobile and other platforms.
Find more information on Automated Intelligence and its products at www.automated-intelligence.com