Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Ulf Persson, CEO at ABBYY:
What does your company do?
We’re experts in artificial intelligence technologies that understands data, text, context, relationships and relevance of information locked within documents, correspondence and communications. We help companies, enterprises and governments capture content, meaning, relationships and entities to improve business outcomes, accelerate transactions, and create new revenue streams. By digitally transforming content, we help organizations in financial services, insurance, transportation, healthcare and other industries accelerate revenue, improve processes, mitigate risk and drive competitive advantage. Founded in 1989, we have offices in 13 countries, and more than 40 million people use our products, technologies and solutions in over 200 countries.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
As the CEO of ABBYY, my task is to lead the company in a tremendously interesting situation where our market is evolving before our eyes. The changes are driven by a combination of technology advances and the emergence of new markets for information capture and extraction. In this environment we need to proactively change ourselves to not only keep up but to lead. Change requires conviction (that we are doing the right thing), clarity (as to why we are doing it), commitment, and communication. This is my focus: to make sure we make the right decisions, to explain and provide clarity, to show my own and secure the team’s commitment and finally to communicate. The latter means both ways. I need to listen as much and as well as I speak. I enjoy leading the process of setting goals and then drive the company towards those goals.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
The challenges lie in the rapidly changing marketplace and the ability adapt and lead by changing the way we do business as an organization. Our decision-making processes need to be faster and investments in product development must support a quicker time-to-market. Our customer and partner interaction must be tighter than ever. But this also represents the main opportunities for us. Two main trends are defining our landscape are the advance of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities, and Digital Transformation.
ABBYY have been using AI/ML technologies long before it became a hype but the advance over the last few years allow us to expand our capabilities. Digital Transformation drives a rapidly growing market for automated easy-to-use solutions - either customer-facing solutions such as handling an insurance claim digitally or automation of business processes. ABBYY can be an important part of Digital Transformation solutions by helping companies to transform their unstructured data into actionable, structured, intelligent content.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
I think we learn all the time. Therefore, I keep questioning myself and try to improve by learning, including from my own mistakes, and from other people’s know-how. For me this boils down to a few fundamentals: be prepared by being informed, surround yourself with the best possible people and trust them, trust your own judgment, don’t shy away from making hard decisions, treat people with respect and show empathy.