Despite challenging economic circumstances and the impact on businesses globally, CloudTrade has maintained support levels to meet customer demand and is still set to meet growth targets for FY21. David Cocks, CloudTrade CEO, discusses the challenges, successes and unexpected benefits to come from the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
David Cocks, CloudTrade CEO –
It has now been four months since the UK went into lockdown and we temporarily moved out of our London and Newcastle offices into the atypical situation of complete home working. Fortunately, due to our cloud set-up, all teams were able to quickly settle into home working, with very imaginative work set ups, including bedrooms, kitchens, garden sheds and, for Michael Thomson (Head of Engineering) his under-the-stairs cupboard.
Our team remaining healthy, physically and mentally, has been of the utmost priority and I’m pleased to say that, thank goodness, the team and their families have largely avoided the virus and remained fit and well.
For our customers and partners, the experience of CloudTrade day-to-day has remained unchanged with ‘business-as-usual’ being the overwhelming phrase. Although, our online calls have become a bit more lively and included backgrounds to provoke a conversation (“nice wallpaper” is one I’ve heard) or perhaps the interruption of a pet/child/spouse – which I’d like to think has in fact added variety and the human element to business conversations.
I’m very proud of how our teams have transitioned so smoothly and coped well with the upheaval and unpredictability of the lockdown. As the saying goes, a business is only as good as its people, and that couldn’t be truer than at CloudTrade.
Transactional volumes – we’re breaking records!
With the well reported economic slump seen during the early spring, it was only natural that CloudTrade saw a speedy decline in volume of business documents processed each day, as trading in general declined. However, these volumes quickly bounced back with May seeing a steady increase and June back to pre-lockdown levels. The dynamic, adaptable, and sustainable nature of CloudTrade’s data capture and extraction software means it responds readily to changes in volume without compromising on the speed of processing or quality of the data capture. The CloudTrade service continues to deliver the data you trust whatever document or how many are processed.
Big news for CloudTrade – July is a record breaker! From our preliminary reports July 2020 is set to be a record month for CloudTrade in terms of the volume of documents process and the number of new customers going live. This is an exciting step in the growth plans for CloudTrade. We are still on course to hit our business growth targets despite a global pandemic and when many businesses in our sector have struggled. This is testament to the hard work of our teams, the fantastic customers we work with and a great product.
The future looks green and blue
In spite of the challenges seen in the last few months, the Development and Operations teams have successfully continued the rollout out of our new, Azure-hosted, auto-scalable-on-demand, containerised architecture. Although processing times have always been speedy, this new rollout has reduced processing times in some cases by over 90%. The inherent fault tolerance and resilience in the design of the containerised architecture now boosts our service when running 365 days a year 24/7 and guarantees processing times even during the absolute peak loads.
Lockdown has also given us opportunities to refocus on our product development. Very excitingly we are developing the latest version of our machine learning algorithms to create ever more sophisticated capture heuristics from large data sets of historical documents, increasing the knowledge learnt from documents therefore enabling speedy and more sophisticated auto-rules writing. We will be demonstrating the beta release with a new user interface around Christmas 2020 – one to watch out for.
Lockdown priorities changed
And finally, as we start to cautiously move back into our offices and make these COVID safe, it is a chance to look back and reflect on what lockdown has meant for our customers, CloudTrade and ourselves. For me, overwhelmingly the lockdown has re-prioritised the need for automated business document processing without the ties to manual processing for many businesses. In times of crisis, the phrase ‘all hands on deck’ springs to mind and everyone rallies to keep a company afloat. What you don’t need is valuable team members being tied to manual processing of invoices etc. or relying on needing a physical OCR scanner in the office (which is closed). We’ve seen some customers appreciate the need for our tech and we’ve then onboarded them quickly (sometimes in two weeks), to support them during the pandemic.
Furthermore, it is a chance to reflect personally on what I’ve experienced during lockdown. Without the commute, my bike rides have certainly been more frequent. I thought you’d all enjoy the picture of my family and me on a recent bike ride around the West Sussex countryside – a beautiful place to enjoy, which I’d thoroughly recommend!
Interested in learning more?
Look out for my upcoming report on the impact of COVID on different industries, looking at the impact on trade in general and the estimated recovery.