We talked to Michael Lantz, CEO at Accedo on how they transform the video experience and the following is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Lantz: We’re doing great, thanks for asking. With two young children (3 and 7), I’ve been very happy with the policy in Sweden to keep preschools and primary schools open throughout the pandemic, which has allowed me to be able to focus on work.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Accedo.
Michael Lantz: Having spent a number of years as a management consultant for IPTV, broadband services, and media companies, I could see a trend emerging where eventually TVs would become much more interactive and engaging. This was a vision shared by my colleague at the time, Fredrik Andersson, and we also realized that the user experience would play a pivotal role in that transition. So, in 2004 we decided to start Accedo with the vision that we would enable media companies to maximize the potential of the next generation of video services. Since then, the media industry has evolved dramatically, and apps have remained important for ensuring a good user experience for consumers. We have been really fortunate to be able to grow the business as the industry has evolved.
How does Accedo innovate?
Michael Lantz: Innovation is at the heart of everything that we do. The fast pace of change within the media industry makes innovation all the more important, to the point where it is a critical success factor. Realizing this, we established a dedicated innovations team a number of years ago to develop next-generation user experiences. The team is always looking at the latest tools and technology and tracking the market for user behavior trends that could impact how consumers want to interact with the video.
I am extremely proud of the innovations we have been able to bring to market thanks to our team’s work, including award-winning products, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences, and exciting partnerships with global technology leaders like Google and Amazon.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Michael Lantz: The business impact on Accedo has been relatively limited. We’re fortunate to be working in an industry where the underlying fundamental trends are strong and healthy. As with other businesses everywhere, we have had to adapt quickly to remote working. As a global company with multiple offices, that transition has perhaps been easier than for other, more centralized companies. Being in a fast-paced industry means that we are well accustomed to adapting to changing environments. Our teams have all worked hard to adapt to a new way of working, and internal communication between them is, if anything, better than ever.
The other major challenge has been the lack of in-person interactions with our clients, and we have seen some impact on our business in areas where that has higher importance, such as the Asia Pacific. This has been less of an issue in other areas of the world, such as Europe and the Americas.
Looking ahead, we’re closing in on 2021, and it’s still unclear when we can go back to a normal way of working all over the world. We’re undoubtedly looking at a minimum of another three months without any business travel, and we’re making plans accordingly.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Lantz: Fortunately, we have been able to continue working, serving our clients, and taking on new customer engagements. This has meant the business has remained healthy throughout, and in fact, we have been continuing to recruit throughout the year, ending the year with almost 10% more employees than at the beginning of 2020. That has no doubt been challenging for new starters; however, everyone has risen to the challenge brilliantly.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Accedo in the future?
Michael Lantz: I’m fortunate to have been in this industry for close to 20 years, running Accedo for 16 of those. I have seen trends come and go, and I think I am able to see the bigger, long term picture rather than being sucked into the challenge of the day. By addressing company building this way, I can avoid most of the short-term stress and anxiety that others may feel. I’m pleased with Accedo’s long-term trend. We are the global market leaders in a growing market niche, and we believe that we have many years of continued growth with expanding offerings, addressing new markets.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Lantz: We normally don’t comment on any specific competitors because the nature of our industry means that sometimes a competitor would be a partner, and other times a partner would be a competitor. I believe that competition is actually really important and part of what helps us stay in the game. Knowing other companies are working in this space means that we need to continually adapt and innovate to stay relevant for our customers. We have a strong heritage of working in this industry, coupled with a forward-looking, innovative approach that enables us to stay ahead. Having a regional presence also means that our customers get the benefit of regional understanding with global knowledge.
Your final thoughts?
Michael Lantz: 2020 has been a challenging year for many, and the pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on businesses, the economy, and personal lives for many around the globe. As we move into 2021, we are reassured by the hope of a vaccine and the eventual return to normality. In the meantime, businesses will need to continue to adapt to new working practices. Some of those changes may become the norm as we move forward. I think many people are looking forward to getting back to offices, but I am certain businesses will need to enable more flexibility in the future for remote working. I also believe we will see more events adopting a hybrid approach, with in-person events delivering some content online for those who cannot travel.