It’s been two years now since we started our adventure launching SAP Conversational AI. We provide an end-to-end platform that will revolutionize customer support with bots powered by Artificial Intelligence. Our technology includes Natural Language Processing (NLP). This piece of AI technology has been technically validated (benchmark done by Andreessen Horowitz – results available online) and is now considered best in its class when it comes to NLP. Our freemium business model is also validated: 25.000+ developers are using our APIs and we have several significant B2B customers.
At this point, our next challenge is scaling which is very complicated but does bring the incredible benefits that come with hyper growth.
According to the World Economic Forum (“What is hyper growth and what can we learn from it?”), ‘hyper growth’ is when a business has a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) greater than 40% and that it has doubled its revenue in less than two years. In that context, what do we need to do to succeed?
Anticipation is key to scaling in a B2B environment
Anticipation is crucial: you need to be prepared and ready to scale at the right time. The correlation between readiness and time to market is key.
If you decide to start growing too fast too soon, you won’t be prepared enough. Thus your risk of burning cash is very high and this is probably one of the main causes of startup death. On the other hand, if you decide to go too late, then you risk losing a huge part of the market. You will then be ‘a follower’ but not ‘the disrupter’ in the market.
In my opinion, being prepared means having in place an efficient organization with existing repeatable processes for pre-sales, sales, billing and invoicing to be able to face increasing numbers of customers. An automated delivery or at least partially automated is also key to avoid a cost explosion and maintain sustainable growth. This delivery has to be based on a robust, scalable and cost-effective infrastructure able to increase or decrease quickly and smartly. Last but not least, your team has to be ready to focus on execution.
But considering all these changes, how do you keep your company DNA while growing at that speed?
Staying in touch with your roots
Growing very fast is an exciting journey for sure: business, customers, infrastructure, team, revenue, profit, and so on… Everything is speeding up and hopefully, this is impacting the value of the company accordingly.
But there are still many challenges while focusing on the rapid growth objectives. For instance: how to remain agile? How to remain ahead of the market? How to keep our best people?
To my mind, the answer is quite simple: during this momentum you need to be able to focus not only on the business growth objectives and the mid-term/long-term goals but also on what has made your success up to now.
Keeping a constant eye on your past successes and failures is key: this is the DNA of your company, your ability to re-invent, to break the limits, to focus on speed and operational excellence, to keep hiring the best talents, to avoid compromises and much more.
How will users benefits from scaling
Having looked to the prerequisites for growing fast, how will the users benefit?
‘Best effort’ is no longer. Users will receive high availability with the associated Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The service team will be organized and able to handle complex requests and problem-solving with higher results expectations. They will communicate with users instantly in any situation.
In a freemium model, all users can benefit. Even if some features remain available only to ‘paying’ customers, the overall improvement of the solution and the increasing expertise of the team will serve everyone.
Our experience of scaling at SAP Conversational AI
During the past few months, we have been preparing for hypergrowth at SAP Conversational AI. Step by step we have increased and structured the team, we have upgraded and reinforced our IT infrastructure. We have implemented new smooth processes all the way from pre-sales to invoicing.
The benefits of all these changes are clearly observable thanks to several enhancements to our SaaS solution in the last 4 months:
- Multilingual support
- Data Augmentation with ‘Expression Suggestion’ to train your bot quickly and easily
- Bot Skills, a new bot building tool to improve the quality of your bot building and keeping it as simple as before
- Launch of an analytics platform
- New connectors ready to use and available on our platform, including a pre-packaged webchat that can easily be customized
And this trend will continue with more developments to come in the coming months: context management, mood analysis, and even ‘off-the-shelf’ bot ready for targeted industries.
At SAP Conversational AI, our go to market is both for developers and B2B. And this why we are very happy when we work on new features for large B2B customers to roll them out to all our users including the 25.000+ developers community.