EDM Group’s CEO and President on ‘Paperfreedom’, Digitisation and Smart Technology Solutions
For our March Executive Insight section we also reached out to Sam Ferguson, who has more than 20 years’ experience leading business services companies operating in the technology and business process outsourcing sector. As CEO of EDM Group, Sam has direct responsibility for driving forward the company’s unique end-to-end outsourcing solutions to enable customers to improve operational efficiency, enhance customer service and reduce regulatory risk through digital transformation. Sam has more than doubled the value of the EDM business through a strategic acquisition strategy and organic growth that has strengthened EDM’s value proposition in its core vertical markets, across the UK and the US. Here he tells us more about the company’s ethics, achievements and aspirations for the future.
What are the company’s top three priorities towards its clients? What makes EDM different?
There seems to be a trend in the market currently, where procurement seeks out the lowest cost option, rather than looking for the value that a partner or service can bring. Our approach is different because we demonstrate how we can apply smart technology to business processes to create real business transformation significantly enhancing operational efficiency. A few examples of this are: the PRISM platform we developed for the mortgage industry, which reduces the time taken to carry out an initial valuation on a property from weeks to just seconds; and our digital pay-out solution which allows our automotive clients a car finance decision in ten minutes as opposed to days. Building on our heritage in document management, we are now building smart technology solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
EDM Group is an advocate for ‘paperfreedom’ – how is the company transforming global businesses through digitisation?
Customers typically interact with a business via multiple forms - by letter, paper mail, email or perhaps via a website. Our Digital Mailroom technology transforms communications from these multiple channels into a standard digital format, so it can be routed, managed and shared by the right people. A paper document on a desk for example, cannot be read by a number of people at one time, it can get lost or misplaced and you have to wait for it to be copied and ‘shared’. If a paper document is digitised as soon as it enters a Digital Mailroom, it can be accessed by multiple people updating the systems simultaneously. So, we reduce inefficient processes based on people sharing information in serial, rather than parallel. While we see the use of paper documents receding by as much as 20% a year, we still manage 40 million pieces of paper a month on behalf of clients, so while paper is not disappearing, by digitising it we can manage it better.
Why is digitisation beneficial for companies?
Overall, the benefits for organisations are numerous: companies can free up critical resources to focus on core activity that adds value and delivers excellent customer service and an overall better customer experience. Integrated and innovative technology solutions that streamline processes and lower operating costs can give our customers a real competitive edge. Most importantly, our customers trust us with their critical data, so security and compliance are very high on their agenda.
EDM is in the process of building smart technology solutions based on AI and robotics – can you give some examples?
'Gone-away' and 'Return to Sender' letters are a good example of this. Customers often write to their bank informing them of a change of address, but typically organisations store customer data in silos by product. So when new product information or other correspondence is sent out, it goes to the old address. With robotics, you can 'train' your system to look for other instances of a change in a customer record and automatically update them all at the same time. Robotics can also intelligently look for the 'sources' of data that organisations provide, such as the DVLA, and match that to make sure customer data is accurate. The benefits are huge efficiency and cost savings and a much improved customer experience.
What have been your biggest accomplishments as CEO of EDM?
When I took over EDM in 2006, the business was not growing, but we have worked hard to build a global company that we can now be proud of, with 1,400 people and an annual turnover of £70 million plus. I’m proud of the technology that we develop and the technologies we apply to solve business problems. Our customers trust us to maintain a resilient business that can offer the best quality services, premises and people.
What further goals do you have?
We will continue to build on and develop what we have already started. We are taking our PRISM technology to the US mortgage lending market and will use our new financial year that starts on April 1st as the kick-off point for re-energising and continuing to drive EDM Group as a fast-growth business. I’m genuinely excited by the ability of our technology to disrupt markets for the good of everyone in the supply chain, including customers, and to stamp out inefficiencies in business processes that still rely on paper.