You may know that Infinica has been around for 14 years, developing solutions for customer communication management. But did you know how we got our start? We’ve been privileged to work with great customers on products that are revolutionizing the industry, but our story has its share of ups and downs.
Back in 2006, Herbert Liebl was a managing director at Vienna IT consultancy Qualysoft. With a strong presence in eastern Europe and the DACH region and many well-known customers, the company was focused on custom software development and system integration.
So in the coming years we will continue following our vision to enable personalized and individualized customer communication in a structured, automated way, giving you unprecedented control over the content, format and channels of communication.
The seeds of a product
One customer project included the requirement to generate contracts and other documents through a graphical user interface. Herbert soon recognized that multiple customers in a wide range of industries shared this requirement. But they didn’t need just graphic design of document templates; customers also had to create and manage these templates and text blocks and pull data from various sources for creating dynamic documents.
The opportunity to create a standard product for customer communication management became clear. We were lucky to have an ideal first customer, internet and cable TV provider UPC AT (acquired by Magenta in 2018). We worked very closely together with their team on requirements definition and product development, and they were completely onboard with the compromises involved in building a standard product. They really were – and still are – a likeable group of people who we genuinely enjoy working with. In 2010, the fact that the close and productive cooperation resulted in such a great solution was confirmed officially when the joint project won the ECM Award, bestowed by consulting house PENTADOC and IT magazine Computerwelt.
A company is born
The Qualysoft relationship was both a blessing and a curse. Qualysoft had access to many satisfied customers who were strong candidates for such a solution, greatly easing customer acquisition. However, the company’s focus was on custom development. Ongoing development and support of a standard product requires different business structures and a completely different mindset. For instance, investment in future development is needed, with the associated risk of going the wrong direction; while for a system integrator development effort is very clearly and directly tied to guaranteed revenue. Custom development allows – and relies on – fulfilling the unique needs of each customer, whereas a standard product involves compromise in order to build a product that mostly meets the needs of most customers.
We discovered that a surprising number of enterprises rely on highly manual processes to generate such documents, for instance using templates in Microsoft Word.
As a result, in 2014 we spun off completely from Qualysoft and founded Infinica GmbH. This made it much easier for us to build an organizational structure more suited to a product development business model. Qualysoft is still an implementation partner, but independence has made us much more attractive to other system integrators, thus greatly expanding our reach.
Product pivots and maturity
Another major difference between standard and custom development is the need to build in flexibility in order to meet diverse customer needs. We definitely learned this lesson. In the early days of Infinica, business processes were hard-coded, but we soon realized just how widely processes can vary from customer to customer. We undertook an extensive development cycle to enable flexible business processes that customers can define themselves through a graphical tool. It took a year and a half, but was well worth it – our Process Designer is unique in the industry and one of the features our customers value the most.
Ongoing development and support of a standard product requires different business structures and a completely different mindset.
More recently, one of the biggest steps we took was into the development of Infinica modules for interactive document processes. Documents such as quotations, contracts, forms or responsive emails typically require some degree of unique content. We discovered that a surprising number of enterprises rely on highly manual processes to generate such documents, for instance using templates in Microsoft Word. Unfortunately this lacks any oversight or control. It is prone to copy-paste errors and often leads to the use of templates that are outdated, accidentally altered or were maybe never approved in the first place.
To address these issues we created the Infinica Composer and the Infinica Workplace. Users can generate legally secure customer communication and can then distribute them through a choice of output channels. The documents generated are based on user-generated content and pre-defined text blocks combined in approved templates that conform to corporate identity and marketing requirements. Compliance is assured since users can only act according to the rights they are granted. We developed this functionality in close cooperation with our customers; as a result the solution truly meets the day-to-day needs of users and greatly simplifies the task of document creation.
The company grew steadily through the years, and of course Herbert found himself needing to devote more and more time to general management responsibilities. In 2017, after two years as sales manager, Jürgen Pfalzer joined Herbert as joint managing director of Infinica, taking over important parts of the business management and allowing Herbert to concentrate on technology and product development.
Targeting new markets
From the start we never targeted specific vertical markets. Every industry with a high volume of customer communication has a strong potential demand for our solutions. It’s always fascinating to dig into the needs of a new customer; every company is different. For instance, while most customers focus on traditional full-page A4 document formats with long texts, a railway operator provides train tickets with brief data snippets in numerous formats through many different channels.
On the other hand, geographic expansion has definitely become an important topic for us. In the first few years our focus was heavily on the Austrian market. Although we did win our first German customer, the pension fund Kommunale Versorgungsverband Baden-Württemberg (KVBW), in 2009, it took us several years to establish a name for ourselves in Germany.
For growth beyond the German-speaking region we rely on local integration and reseller partners who speak the local language, know the culture and already have a strong customer network. In this way we’ve expanded into Belgium as well as into eastern Europe and currently have customers in ten different countries. We’re now moving into Italy and Poland, again with the help of local partners.
We undertook an extensive development cycle to enable flexible business processes that customers can define themselves through a graphical tool.
And this year, in spite of all the uncertainty that 2020 has thrown at us – a global pandemic, the sudden switch to remote work, the inability to meet with customers in person, the cancellation of live events, a global economic crisis – we’ve been able to grow steadily in every measure, from customers to partners to employees.
A look ahead: Communicate Your Way
What does the future hold for us and for our industry? Clearly internationalization will continue to play a major role as we establish more strategic partnerships. Meanwhile the desire for greater efficiency, speed and agility, as well as improved customer experience, is driving digitalization in all industries, and we are happy to ride that wave and to support companies with digital transformation of their communication processes. We will also expand our SaaS offering, providing our customers even more flexibility in how they do business.
Finally, for many years now business has been moving in the direction of personalization, from individualized shopping recommendations to design-it-yourself products. So in the coming years we will continue following our vision to enable personalized and individualized customer communication in a structured, automated way, giving you unprecedented control over the content, format and channels of communication. Even our name reflects this infinite variety of choice. Or to put it briefly, we help you to “Communicate Your Way”.