INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Christoph Wagner on Growing your Team During a Pandemic and Creating Digital Communication Channels for Customers
We talked to Christoph Wagner, CEO at Scanbot, about the digitization of business processes, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Christoph Wagner: Thanks for asking. We are doing fine in these lockdown times, although we miss our “old” lives – meeting larger groups of friends, traveling, and dining out, just to name a few things which came into my mind immediately. But what has to be done has to be done. I believe that we must get a grip on the pandemic as soon as possible.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined Scanbot.
Christoph Wagner: With more than ten years of experience in digital business by leading and founding digital companies successfully, I took over the role of CEO at Scanbot (doo) in 2016. The company was founded by famous German investor Frank Thelen, who is one of the leading judges on the German version of the TV Show Shark Tank (“Die Höhle der Löwen”).
I’ve quickly started to focus on our B2B software product, the Scanbot SDK, which helps companies to digitize their business processes. It enables businesses to easily integrate document scanning and data extraction functionalities into their applications. Companies use Scanbot SDK solutions to improve operational efficiency, achieve massive cost savings, and boost customer as well as employee satisfaction. A few years later, the SDK attracted more than 200 worldwide customers and is growing very fast even during the pandemic.
How does Scanbot innovate?
Christoph Wagner: Right from the beginning, we’ve tried to solve hard problems and hired the right people to do so. We focused on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning early and now benefit from the experience. We continuously expand the feature set of our product and optimize individual parts. The edge detection for example was based on regular algorithms and performed impressively, but switching it to a machine-learning-based approach massively improved the quality. We’re also glad about the challenges that our customers bring to the table. Solving seemingly impossible problems is a core strength and our modular development to extract data makes solving a lot of them possible.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Christoph Wagner: We are very grateful that so far, our finances have not been impacted materially. But of course, some of our customers are struggling financially, and we have stepped up with support where necessary. On the positive side, the pandemic finally drove home the point that the digitization of business processes is not just nice to have but essential to thrive in today’s world. This translated into increasing interest from potential customers in our software solutions and inspires us to develop innovative products for recently emerging use cases and requirements.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Christoph Wagner: No, luckily, we did not have to decrease the size of our team. In fact, we have been on a hiring spree adding 16 great new people to our team last year, and we are looking forward to welcoming even more new teammates in 2021. Our primary focus is on finding talent with a deep and substantial technical skillset for our software development roles. Nevertheless, we also have open positions in every department, such as our Marketing and Sales teams.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Christoph Wagner: We have always been using Zoom and Slack to create simple and efficient communication channels for your customers. This does not only affect the communication between our Customer Success Team, our solution experts, and the companies we work with but also the exchange between our internal developers and our customers’ developer teams. Additionally, our team introduced dedicated channels with news regarding updates, releases, and bug fixes for each operating system last November to offer even more transparency.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Christoph Wagner: No, fortunately, this was not necessary. But of course, we are indirectly benefiting from governments stepping up to prevent or reduce the impact of a global recession.
Your final thoughts?
Christoph Wagner: I believe the COVID-19 pandemic shows that many of the enormous challenges our world is facing can only be solved in a multilateral fashion. We need more and not fewer international organizations coordinating a worldwide response.
Most importantly for our company, the pandemic has brought attention to the slow pace of digitization. Now that real-life communication and encounters in business, education, and the private sphere must be reduced drastically, digital processes have become the foundation of our every life. This should function as a wake-up call for companies, administrations, and educational institutions to finally fully engage in digitization.
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