Like many, as we approach the one-year‘ anniversary’ of the first UK lockdown and with a roadmap back to our former lives mapped out by the Government, I find myself reflecting on the last 12 months – all of us in our different boats trying to weather the same storm.
Whilst so many have had to watch their businesses collapse as whole industries were forced to shut up shop, for others the pandemic has presented significant, unforeseen opportunity. Personally, I am so grateful to be working in the fast-growth technology sector – the forward momentum has kept me busy and focused, and technology has provided critical services and facilitated the human connection that we all so desperately need. From Zoom calls with grandparents to team meetings; from online supermarket shopping to e-learning; medical appointments to track-and-trace systems, I have no doubt that the innovation the world has seen over the last few decades has gone a long way to mitigating the negative impact of the virus.
People who choose to work for fast-growth technology businesses often have common personality traits – they are driven by progress, innovation, momentum and creating change. The mass movement of whole populations online has tested these traits to the max and our annual Speechmatics trends report suggests this environment will be our ‘business as usual’ for some years to come. I am so proud of the way the Speechmatics team has responded and kept a laser focus on our vision.
In the last year, we have signed our biggest ever deals and our future market opportunity looks even more promising. The pace of change is accelerating and we have optimized the business to be focused on agility to take advantage of it. We have restructured internally to elevate the brilliant, ambitious minds within the business and are doubling down on technology and research to maintain our technical leadership position. As is the natural ebb and flow of a growing business, we have said goodbye to some much-valued team members – their contribution to the Speechmatics story to date has been significant and much appreciated.
We have also welcomed two hugely experienced advisors to the Speechmatics family – David Quantrell who has held a number of major EMEA roles including President of EMEA for McAfee and Senior VP EMEA for Silicon Valley company, Box and former CTO and Co-founder of SwiftKey and acting CTO of Benevolent.ai, Ben Medlock. The experience they both have with scaling some of the world’s best-known technology businesses is second to none and we are feeling the impact of their input already.
We also have a new Chief Marketing Officer, David Keene – responsible for marketing and partnerships. David joins with a wealth of experience gained whilst working in leadership roles at Google, Salesforce, SAP and Oracle to name a few, and having started life as an Engineer and Product Manager, he talks our ‘deep tech’ language! David was one of the first business leaders for Google Enterprise in Europe and played a part in building the Google Cloud business – his hyper-growth B2B experience comes at a very exciting time and I look forward to the months and years ahead working hand in hand with him.
So, although the forthcoming Spring might bring about reflections of a somewhat empty year, for many of us in the fast-growth sector, the pace of change has been extreme. I am in absolute awe of the whole team at Speechmatics – their energy, aspirations and confidence about the future of this business is infectious and I will relish the opportunity to spend time with colleagues old and new ‘in real life’ over the coming months.
Katy Wigdahl, CEO