Today’s profile comes from the Chief Technical Officer from Invu, Stuart Evans.
Invu develops and provides software solutions and services to help organisations with control, management and security of electronic documents and the automation of workflows. Invu’s solutions enable automated document scan, capture, process and archive and integrate readily with most back office systems, allowing tighter control of financial, HR and general business processes.
Our questions are in bold.
Who are you and what’s your background?
I studied chemistry at Manchester University originally. Working on automation of research experiments and data processing led to a software engineering career including VC backed internet and mobile start-ups in Silicon Valley, California and Austin, Texas. Diffusion Inc. was acquired by Vignette, where I worked on their wireless and digital TV opportunities in EMEA, including Egg TV banking. I also co-founded Solomio Inc. creating an innovative solution for mobile operators before the company was acquired by Openwave.
I then became a principle Architect at Sage for four years that led to operational finance experience and here I am, with 20 years’ experience in the software industry behind me!
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
Since joining Invu as Chief Technical Officer in 2007, I have overseen the development of Invu Document Management, taking the Invu product portfolio from a simple eDM solution to a suite of products that can automate processes, provide real-time information and offer security and compliance of critical data.
My experience as a lead architect for Sage, overseeing products for the accountancy marketplace and also establishing the Sage SAAS provisioning team, has brought to Invu a technical knowledge of Sage products invaluable in the development of our company’s market leading Sage 200 integration offering.
My day-to-day role is working on our software products and solutions with clients to ensure our services and offerings are making their business processes efficient as possible.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
We develop Electronic Document Management (eDM), Accounts Payable (AP) and Purchasing solutions for a range of sectors, particularly those which are highly document dependent or where compliance is important. Invu’s comprehensive product suite encompasses document and content management, workflow, document automation and collaboration solutions.
Invu is a Microsoft Gold Partner as an Independent Software Vendor (ISV). The company and products, therefore, meet the stringent requirements of the Microsoft Partner Program introduced in 2010. We also partner with a range of software vendors, such as ABBYY, a data capture, recognition and extraction tool provider, whose Flexicapture technology sits at the heart of many our solutions and IRIS that supplies Invu Document Management to around 20% of the top 100 UK practices as the IRIS Accountancy Solutions document management product of choice.
Our solutions increase information integrity, visibility and access, reduce costs of paper, document storage and retrieval, providing auditable document records management and reduce risk of non-compliance. Our systems include workflow and integrate with most back office systems to allow tighter control of financial, HR and general business processes.
Tell us how you are funded.
Invu was founded in 1997, in 2004 the business was floated on AiM, money was raised from shareholders until we delisted in 2013. Our most significant investor was David Goldman, one of the founders of SAGE and his family still have a large stake in the business. Today we are funded from cash generated from our business.
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
Invu was founded to bring order to the digital chaos created when businesses moved from paper chaos to digital chaos scanning in paper documents. Document Management and Business Process solutions to the SME market place came later. At that time there was no quality vendor below the enterprise space and Invu’s innovative technology enabled lower pricing and much shorter implementation times. Today, Invu continue to champion delivering a clear, known cost and timeline, results focused solution to an SME business problem, across a number of industries.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Invu works with medium sized businesses, who want to automate their business processes and have control over their documents, whether originating in paper or digital forms.
We also work with finance directors to improve purchase order processes and workflow streams to create better visibility across businesses.
Invu’s revenue is based on software licencing and software support and assurance (Invu Care). This is complimented with a significant amount of professional services for new implementations and projects. Soon we will be adding new Subscription based offerings and pricing, which will further improve our model for easier acquisition and a stronger long term view.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
That’s a tough question! I would like to see the Fintech sector expanded throughout the UK. Sometimes it seems as if the sector is as choked by the London boundary. I think more innovation and variation would be possible if businesses further afield were embraced.
What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
I think it is the same for most large players. A generation on from the birth of the internet there is a ‘storm’ approaching with new, digital native users demanding new business models and new levels of compliance. The business models and systems created 20 years ago, and nurtured through time, simply cannot adapt to this environment by evolution.
What phone are you carrying and why?
I have used a Samsung Galaxy for the last three years. I love the Android open approach to apps, the flexibility of the interface and the capabilities open to developers. Windows mobiles are good but limiting. Apple is, well, Apple – a well-groomed bully. I am about to refresh and I will go ‘droid once again and some new models are just out.
Where do you get your industry news from?
Good question. I am very ‘unfaithful’ to any one newsletter and cycle through a variety of them: The Paypers, Bobs Guide, Spend Matters and several others. Since we focus on small and mid-market, interesting news is very distributed.
I love exchanging recommended reads with Ian Smith (our General Manager) as we have very different perspectives on what could be relevant.
What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
Again – at Invu we champion solutions for the mid-sized or smaller businesses and I like hearing about these. It is hard work to create one and even harder to bring it to attention. Sproom are an example of this with a neat SME trading solution from the Nordics.
Because I am a technologist I also follow more edgy offerings such as BitCoin which have great technical merit and change your thinking. I love solutions that challenge business models or even whole systems that are in place today. None the less, as you get older you see how long revolution really takes and even the smaller steps taken by vendors (and customers) can be quite bold and interesting.
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
If Microsoft are to be believed the megatrends of the moment are Mobile, Cloud, Big Data and Social – and to be fair – the signs are there. While IT departments are still trying to spell BYOD (Bring your own device), the population as a whole is now used to, and expect, mobility. Desktop sales are in steep decline and smartphones, touch-laptops and tablets dominate. Humans now expect data to come to them. Software vendors now have to add a twist of mobile to anything they do – which can be a shock for some.
Mobility will continue to grow into an expected aspect of business solutions – with iOS and Android devices leading demand with Windows Mobile a poor third place.
The mobile revolution is a very visible one, we all love toys, but the Cloud revolution is a much more disruptive change because it affects not just software functionality but the business terms that surround it too. The Cloud is not just ‘hosting’, it’s a whole new approach to software and its consumption and will revolutionise data analytics. It will change the speed of delivery and sales cycle of software and enable new solutions to be assembled as IT barriers are torn down. From a vendor’s perspective the Cloud is a maturing and powerful new enabler that is ripe for use. Customers are still wondering what it really is, but they will all too soon be demanding its benefits: Reduced IT barriers for projects, Opex commercials and powerful computing features and scaling not possible on a normal business network (well – a lot more seamless than last time anyway!). Cloud is now in its prime time of disruption – vital for vendors to embrace and of real interest to customers. We will see many vertical Cloud apps appearing that solve similar collaboration challenges but with tie-ins for particular sectors – health being a great example.
Cloud is a great place to collaborate and I believe in 2015 we will see an increase in the use of self-service in the FinTech cloud.
Access to good quality plentiful data can enhance or completely transform solutions. For most businesses this will not be an overnight epiphany, but will smoulder for a few years as disparate systems and poor data are herded into the new Big Data world. For 2015, I believe we’ll see an increased demand for better and effortless reporting from a more articulate customer. FinTech should be a leading sector for Big Data wins.
To prepare the ground, start organising your data – show it some respect. Most companies are not measuring the correct things and lying to themselves about the accuracy of their data capture. 2015 will be the year company’s look to clean up their data capture process to ensure they are analysing the right information that is beneficial to them.
Whilst we expect Fintech companies to keep enjoying good Document and Records Management, I expect to see many more Finance businesses automating their processes both client related as well as back office, such as the Accounts Payable function to make their processes more efficient and their controls more effective. Customers are now seeing the need for Workflow driven solutions. They understand that a process needs to be embodied in a system and not just be described in a standard operating procedure document, printed out and left on a shelf. Auditors are now expecting, and even hoping, to dock into an electronic store of data and electronic audit trails that makes their job easier too.
Thanks to Stuart for his answers today.
If you’ve any suggestions for other hot FinTech companies (startup, or established ventures) that we should be profiling, I’m all ears. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s more information on this page.