December 19, 2018 - Blog, News

The Tip of the Iceberg: 2018 Retrospective

Tom O'Connor, CEO of Version 1

2018 was a momentous year of progress and transformation for Version 1. However, it was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the difference we want to make.

2018 was a momentous year of progress and transformation for Version 1. However, it was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the difference we want to make. Earlier this year, we passed our 1000th employee milestone, our 1200th employee is soon to arrive , and before this year has even closed, we are already talking about how things will be when our 2000th ‘Version 1’er’ joins us in the not so distant future.

For myself personally as I began the 2018 New Year as CEO of Version 1, I had one goal in mind – to ‘Preserve the Core of Version 1 and Stimulate Progress’. We have worked tirelessly this year on our new cross-organisation ambitious Strategy for 2021 which focuses on preserving the heart of Version 1 – while aiming for significant progress along the way.

Although we consciously set the bar extremely high for ourselves, it was still hard to imagine what 2018 could bring for Version 1 – and the sheer amount of progress that our people, our customers and our technology partners worked to achieve over the past 12 months.

THE VERSION 1 DIFFERENCE

I’ll start with one of the most visible changes that occurred in 2018, the announcement of our refreshed corporate identity. Usually a ‘rebrand’ or ‘relaunch’ implies something has gone wrong, that a company needs to change in order to reinvigorate their brand. This wasn’t the case for Version 1, we didn’t ‘rebrand’ and we didn’t change anything fundamental about ourselves – the opposite was true, we wanted to preserve and reflect what has made us great to date. The refreshed brand now focuses on bringing to life a modernised visual identity which incorporates what is unique in how Version 1 has delivered services and solutions to customers over the last 20 years; Strength in Balance. This has been our unwavering commitment to a balanced approach to delivering on three commitments: making a real difference for customers, building an empowering culture for employees and growing a strong organisation for the future.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Our long-standing mission is to make a real difference to our customers’ businesses and this year we were excited to share stories of the real differences we made. We shared how Version 1 supported Primark’s global expansion across Europe and the US with the implementation of a new core financial system; and we saw the continued success and media interest attracted by the government digital service developed for The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Overseas, Version 1 was acknowledged at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas by Phil Eedes, Technical Architect with the UK Ministry of Justice in relation to an exciting and critically important large-scale Cloud migration programme for the Legal Aid Agency executed in partnership with AWS and Version 1 in the UK.

We set our sights on becoming a world leader in Customer Success by 2021 – building a new team in 2018 – and learning that focusing on continuing to achieve world-class Customer Satisfaction scores wouldn’t make our customers happy as we continue to scale. We knew we were going in the right direction when our head of Customer Success Aoife Sheridan, alongside her newly formed Customer Success team took home the CX Impact in Business IT & Technology Award at the inaugural Irish CX Impact Awards for the strides they have made this year and it was great to see the positive impact Aoife and her team made in delivering our highest customer success scores ever during the year, with dozens of customers giving us a 10/10 in our quarterly surveys.

INNOVATION LABS

Something that has made ripples across both our customer-base and our people this year, was the launch of the Version 1 Innovation Labs, and it’s been great to see the real business impact this has had on delivering solutions to customers. From machine learning and chatbots, to migrating databases to any public cloud platform at the click of the button – the first year of our Innovation Labs has brought many exciting technologies, solutions and ideas our way.

In many ways – this year for Version 1 was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we want to achieve, and moreover, the Innovation Labs is also only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how innovative our people and customers have been. Many times, we only see the biggest Innovation stories – but beneath the surface, it’s unbelievable what our people, working alongside our customers across hundreds of customer sites and projects have achieved daily. The honesty, perseverance, focus and commitment of our consultants behind the scenes has really been a standout moment for myself, and I’m sure, for many of our customers too who have collaborated with us along the way this year.

COMMUNITY

Our people rallied together to raise funds for several initiatives across Ireland, the UK and further afield as part of our Community Trust initiative. From educational support and local sports clubs, to supporting social causes and people in our communities with special needs, we commend everyone involved for distributing over €50,000 in Community Trust funding to worthy recipients this year. In addition to the Community Trust activities, many of our people took part in other community initiatives and fundraisers including Movember, Byte Night, the Focus Ireland Sleep Out and Camera Education.

EMPOWERED PEOPLE, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION 

Our people have continued to bring highlights our way this year, and this year it was important for us to capture what is it that makes our culture truly special in several different initiatives. However, we are not perfect, and we have learned so much this year and will continue to learn in 2019. People across Version 1 took part in Diversity and Inclusion celebratory events such as Pride, Cultural Diversity Day and our Alter Ego video. Our Diversity and Inclusion initiative has been something that has taught us a lot about ourselves this year. As an organisation, we took part in Unconscious Bias training, and we were surprised that we could be all accountable for unconsciously hindering our Diversity and Inclusion efforts!

THE DNA OF VERSION 1

While we worked on taking action with our Diversity and Inclusion efforts, we also opened up about what really makes Version 1 a Great Place to Work, and what our people inherently have in their DNA. We are proud to have been recognised as a Great Place to Work Ireland, and a Top 10 GPTW in Europe in 2018, however, we believe that our reputation as a Best Workplace can sometimes give people the wrong impression of us; that a great workplace is one that is ‘easy’. The DNA of Version 1 culture guide launched in 2018 explained what makes Version 1 a great place to work, but not an ‘easy’ place to work.

Several Version 1 people had achievements in their own rights this year – Aoife Sheridan, our Head of Customer Success was shortlisted this year for the Disruptor Award at the Women in Tech Awards 2018, and Emer Fogarty, Learning and Development Analyst at Version 1 was also shortlisted for their Rising Star Award. Our Head of Delivery Northern Ireland, Lorna McAdoo was shortlisted for the NI Women in Business Awards in 2018.

WELCOMING OUR NEW COLLEAGUES

We were proud to welcome many more new people to Version 1 this year with the acquisition of SAMR2 to our Software Asset Management practice, and data analytics experts Presidion joined us as part of our Digital Services practice adding specialist expertise in Advanced Data Analytics. We also welcomed HR Transformation Specialists Cedar Consulting on board and moved our London HQ as part of the acquisition. We’re hoping to add more great companies to the Version 1 family in 2019.

STRONG ORGANISATION

With Customer Success and Empowered People progress underway, building a Strong Organisation in tandem to balance our success was very important. One aspect of this was our continued success with our global technology partners, Oracle, AWS and Microsoft. Achieving AWS Premier Partner Consulting Status was a great stride for Version 1 in terms of our continued focus on upskilling, specialisation and Enterprise Cloud expertise. Something that we were delighted to see, was a team of Version 1 consultants winning the AWS European Game Day in 2018 – beating out some very stiff competition and the best of the best! We were honoured to win six awards (5 Gold and 1 Silver) at the UKOUG Partner of the Year Awards 2018. voted for by Oracle end users. These awards are an unbiased and independent reflection of which vendors are excelling within the industry from a customer perspective. Building on our success in the arena of Microsoft since 2006, we were delighted to launch a whitepaper with Microsoft earlier in 2018 to help customers to navigate the migrating of complex enterprise workloads to the Public Cloud.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019

As 2018 ends, and we move one year closer to our ambitious Strategy for 2021, we would like to thank every one of our people, our customers, our partners, our suppliers, the community initiatives and tech meetups and event organisers who have all contributed to making 2018 our biggest year to date. While we have never hit the milestones achieved in 2018 before, we don’t intend to repeat the success next year but far surpass it – so this year really is just the tip of the iceberg for our organisation, our people and our customers.

We would like to offer you our continued commitment to maintaining Strength in Balance alongside our continued success. My personal commitment is to remain as focused as ever on preserving the core of Version 1 as we progress – retaining the heart that has kept our first customer and our first employee on this journey with us for the past two decades.

Thank you for helping us to make a difference in 2018.

We make differences. Big ones, and small ones. Driving innovation in all areas of a customer’s business on a daily basis is something that Version 1 people have always been known for. Help us to make a difference in 2019…

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