Digital transformation is taking over businesses by storm. Over the course of last few years, the world has been witnessing a rush of companies looking to modernize systems and processes in an effort to keep pace with customer demands, regulatory requirements and shrinking budgets.
Meet NiceLabel—a leading global developer of label design software and label management systems, who understand the significance of digitization and attained a successful stature in the cutting-edge competitive markets. In an interview with CIO LOOK, NiceLabel emphasizes on leveraging digital transformation to primarily focus on creating value for its customers and business partners.
CIO LOOK admire and appreciate the contribution put forth by such avid leading establishments, and takes pride to feature NiceLabel in ’Best Performing SCM Companies, 2019’ edition. We recently spoke to Chris Walsh, NiceLabel CEO.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
What led to an inception of the company?
NiceLabel was established in 1993 by Slovenian entrepreneur, Zvone Duplancic, to develop software solutions for local businesses. After successful completion of a challenging project for a Japanese printer manufacturer, NiceLabel recognized the barcode label printer market was growing quickly and offered an opportunity for it to meet the demand for the development of Windows printer drivers and barcode label design software for these new specialty printers.
Describe your company and its cutting-edge solutions which address all the needs of your customers.
NiceLabel is a technology company focused on creating value for its customers and business partners. The company employs a very diverse team of 150 people based in 12 countries. The headquarters is in Slovenia. Sales and support offices are in the USA, Germany and China. It’s CEO and several senior managers are based in the UK. It operates as one virtual global team.
NiceLabel helps companies of all sizes improve the quality, speed and efficiency of their labeling, while reducing cost. With the help of our label management systems, organizations are able to digitally transform their entire labeling process, from design to printing to label management. The result is a leaner, more agile operation that enables companies to respond more quickly to changing market conditions and requirements, get products to market faster and compete more effectively in the sectors where they do business.
How do your services differ from the other companies’ offerings?
NiceLabel focuses on providing solutions that create value for end users. NiceLabel technology is strongly differentiated targeting users focused on creating value and sustaining competitive advantage through improved print productivity. With NiceLabel, companies really can do more, faster, with less and they can sustain this advantage over time.
NiceLabel’s label management solutions maximize value for businesses and their partners by giving them a single, scalable platform to manage all their global labeling and marking management needs. NiceLabel technology addresses the needs of the widest range of end-users and optimizes the performance of the widest range of printing and marking devices. At the forefront of market demand, NiceLabel seeks to use its domain expertise to proactively give customers what they need.
What marketing activities do you implement to reach out to your potential customers?
NiceLabel combines traditional and modern marketing techniques in order to reach various customer segments. The company has invested heavily in building a large, well-qualified marketing team with expertise in product, digital, communications and vertical marketing. The team is diverse and works virtually from several international locations.
The marketing team takes an integrated approach aiming to share domain expertise both within and across vertical markets that can help end users create value. It uses customer success stories to illustrate how value can be created. It aims to leverage its channel and alliance partners to reach more end users.
As per the company, what is the significance of digital transformation in an organization?
Digital transformation is taking business by storm. Over the last few years, we have been witnessing a rush of companies looking to modernize systems and processes in an effort to keep pace with customer demands, regulatory requirements and shrinking budgets. We expect the digital transformation trend to continue. For labeling this means modernizing legacy systems to improve quality assurance processes, increase speed and drive efficiency. Digitally transforming labeling offers another benefit, one that many companies overlook. By digitizing the labeling process, companies are able to turn both direct and indirect costs into visible savings. Going digital also allows companies to capitalize on otherwise missed opportunities to speed up time-to-market and sell more.
NiceLabel not only digitally transforms other companies’ labeling processes, but also digitizes its own processes in order to accommodate rapid growth and provide innovative products, solutions and services. As an example, we have made significant investments in new IT platforms on company and functional levels to enable faster and more effective collaboration between our offices on different continents, our global reseller partner network and clients from around the world.
What technologies are you leveraging to make your solutions resourceful?
As a company we have traditionally been close to Microsoft. We are a long-time member of their ISV program and our software is based on its technology stack, meaning it is developed in .NET and leverages its database (SQL Server) and server technologies (Windows Server, IIS). Our server applications interface is built in HTML5 and runs across all browsers and operating systems. Client applications closely resemble Office applications to ensure new users get productive as fast as possible. As our customer applications are mission critical, we have invested early and heavily into test driven development. Today we continuously run an extensive portfolio of real-life automated tests on top of maintaining 95% code coverage with unit tests. This results in NiceLabel being the most reliable labeling platform in the market.
NiceLabel also pioneered labeling from the cloud as early as 2012. This head start allowed us to fully appreciate the value the cloud can create by digitally transforming compliance labeling so we doubled down on our cloud investment and released Label Cloud last year. Label Cloud runs off Microsoft Azure and is the only true multi-tenant, cloud-based label management solution on the market. This allows us to provision new customers in minutes rather than hours or days, greatly reducing the time and IT investment for our customers.
In most cases our software needs to integrate with customers’ ERP, Manufacturing Execution or Warehouse solutions, so we invest in assuring ease of integration for all of these key applications. For SAP specifically we have certified the interface and developed a unique ABAP package that streamlines the integration while offering the most benefit to users.
Our R&D team is working closely with Microsoft and other software solution providers—from the design phase and through the complete development process—to assure the best architecture and seamless integration with customers’ systems and software solutions. The team is constantly investing in education and new technology research to make sure NiceLabel solutions are future proof and use the best-in-class technology available in the market.
What are your company’s future aspirations? What strategies are you undertaking to achieve those goals?
NiceLabel is ambitious. The company has grown rapidly in recent years as it has extended its product range, geographic presence and channels. Its core strength as an applied engineering team, is its ability to develop and deploy mission critical software solutions to enterprises globally.
NiceLabel has an impressive list of major global enterprises as existing customers, but within its core served market it sees the opportunity to double its current business.
NiceLabel is disciplined and focused on organic growth within its target market. It is investing in a balanced way across its development and commercial teams to extend its technology advantage and to increase global presence. NiceLabel’s core strategy choice remains differentiation based on domain expertise and superior technology. In the longer term it sees the opportunity to apply its world class software development skills to adjacent high growth markets.
Into the Shoes of CEO
Chris Walsh is the CEO of NiceLabel. Before assuming his current position, he worked with the company on a founder succession plan over a seven-year period. Chris has over 30 years of experience as an international leader in both software and hardware technology businesses. Under Chris’s leadership, NiceLabel has seen substantial growth in its business both in Europe and also internationally (the company’s revenue has trebled both in the USA and EMEA regions; EBITDA increased significantly over the same period).
Previously Chris was Managing Director of Zebra Technologies EMEA. Joining the business shortly after start-up, Chris led the team to $150m in revenue over a 9-year period. The business grew both organically and through a series of acquisitions and employed 250 people.