The global guys next door: Parker Software shortlisted for International Trade Award
Parker Software has been shortlisted in The Sentinel Business Awards, running in the “International Trade” category. The company has been recognised for its outstanding achievements in global ecommerce, after extending its reach to six continents. Their story, as told in the awards submission, can be read below.
From Tunstall to China
Parker Software began trading as a one-man company in a Tunstall back-office. Today, the company is a global operation with 10,000 customers across North and South America, Canada, UK, EMEA, and Asia Pacific. Over the six continents in which we trade, a Parker Software product is used once every second.
Those numbers translate into revenue. In fact, as of November 2017, over 60% of Parker Software’s total revenue originates from customers outside of the UK. These international customers are major household names, including the likes of Ford, Cisco, and GSK – to name but a few.
So, how has a company that began its life in a tiny Tunstall office managed to make such a deep global footprint? The answer is excellent international trade achievements.
Parker Software was a forerunner in the ecommerce space. Back in 2003, the company launched its flagship live chat product, WhosOn. Live chat software is a common sight on websites today, but was a breakthrough in the early noughties. As such, Parker Software was one of the few companies in the world offering a business live chat solution that could be downloaded online by anyone, anywhere.
This early digital innovation gave the company its first wave of global growth. By 2005, Parker Software had launched its second product and hit the 1000 customer milestone by trading its solutions in Europe and the USA. By 2009, this had accelerated into 5000 global customers – thousands of which were overseas.
The tally now stands at 10,800 customers across the world. Our WhosOn product in particular is thriving in international markets, and geographical business sales attributable to this solution alone are as follows:
- Worldwide: 87%
- Americas: 76%
- APAC: 70%
- EMEA: 95%
To further highlight our overseas performance, the number of solution implementations as broken down geographically is as follows:
- Worldwide: 6000
- Americas: 2500
- EMEA: 3500
- APAC: 500
We have achieved these figures as an SME with an agile team of just 35 employees. Our small size has not prevented us from making substantial overseas deployments for huge corporations. For example, we’ve broken into China with exclusive deals for two multi-nationals, as well as breaking into the Middle East with a huge deal for an FS leader.
Open to the world
These successes have involved both technological flexibility and ingenuity, with in-solution Mandarin and Arabic language translations proving particularly demanding. Thanks to the innovation of our development team, our software can be installed in 60 languages. And it’s not just the software that is multi-lingual, we also offer multi-lingual training and customer support. This has played no small part in enabling us to gain market share in technically challenging environments.
The international utility of our software has allowed us to stand apart from our competitors on a worldwide scale. However, our people have had to be just as flexible as our products to achieve global success. So, to cement our international status, we also have a dedicated Orlando office focusing on overseas technical support and customer service.
Wherever in the world our customers are, both our technology and our team are available to them. We have performed remote training around the world, as well as directly travelling overseas to offer on-site assistance. At the time of writing, in fact, four members of our UK team are in America supporting customers.
Without overseas trade, Parker Software would likely still be a one-man band with a small-time solution. Our success around the globe has enabled us to grow into a multi-million pound company employing teams across three offices in two countries. We’ve made our mark from Tunstall, to Turkey, to China, and are winning more big-name global customers each year.
An international USP
While many businesses have rushed to jump on the cloud computing bandwagon, we know that many of our customers prefer secure, installable software solutions. This is particularly true in countries like China and the Middle East, where watertight security and privacy are of paramount importance.
So, we have continued to offer on-premises editions of our software as well as cloud editions. We have then marketed these secure on-premises editions to organisations based in – or wanting to operate in – China and the Middle East. In those highly regulated environments, our installable solutions offer the strict level of security needed to ensure compliance.
It is not just the installable element of our software that makes it so appealing worldwide. We have also placed a heavy marketing focus on the multi-lingual nature of our solutions and their ability to translate languages in real-time. To stand out from larger competitors overseas, our translation needs to be second to none, and this has been an area that we’ve been fine-tuning for over a decade.
The global guys next door
We know that the strength of the software alone isn’t enough to succeed in markets so vast and complex. So, a key sales tactic has always been to sell our services as well as our solutions. Internationally, this takes shape in the form of expert project managers who work alongside the global customer to scope out requirements, key milestones and time frames.
Here are some specific examples:
↬ We recently worked on a global pharmaceutical implementation of WhosOn. This was worldwide in scope, starting with USA, Canada, UK and Japan. A large-scale, six-month project, the implementation required multiple tricky technical integrations. To win such a deal, we had to market our people just as much as our products. We dedicated a project manager and several developers to manage the project and the global chat integration, and were able to beat off several bigger competitors through the level of service we committed.
↬ A leading mobile provider desired WhosOn implementation in over 15 countries. Starting with the UK and rolling out internationally, the six-month project was strategically split up into three phases. Amongst many others, requirements included international server setup and language translation. Again, we were only able to succeed against huge competitors by committing to the customer and providing them with end to end project management and stellar multi-lingual service.
↬ An international bank required WhosOn live chat in three countries. This was a four-month project that included setup of staging environment, custom mobile app API integrations, CRM lookup, creation of dashboard, remote control, and chat both on website and in portal. Once more, the project management was handled entirely by Parker Software, with a robust plan in place for smooth delivery.
At all turns, we use our people and their vast technical expertise and experience, coupled with the humble SME’s dedication to the customer, to win large global deals.
Small enough to care, big enough to be worldwide
This SME’s dedication to the customer is imperative to our sales success. The opening of our USA office was a further strategic move that allowed us to offer – and market – the availability of 24/7 technical support. We also offer technical support during UK bank holidays to ensure that our international customers are never left without service. We’ve become a round the clock resource to our customers without ever becoming a robotic, faceless enterprise, and this has undoubtedly given us an edge.
To maintain this overseas edge, we keep our global profile high. We regularly attend international trade shows, with a recent example being a speaking slot at AI World Conference and Expo in Massachusetts. The USA is a common trade show stomping ground for Parker Software, as well as attending events in countries such as Germany, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Switzerland.
Events are just one aspect of our international PR efforts. We also allocate 50% of our marketing budget to online advertising campaigns overseas, and conduct regular outreach work to international publications. Examples of success in this area include USA award wins and press recognition. That’s not to mention our book, The Conversation Engine, which features experts from across the world as part of another huge international campaign.
The spaces in which we operate – live chat and automation – are saturated. The competitors are huge corporations with enormous budgets and teams. We at Parker Software see ourselves as ‘David’ in a war against Goliaths – with overseas strategy our winning sling.