ORdigiNAL is the largest distributor of speech recognition solutions in the world. The company has a broad portfolio and, as a specialist, is looking for innovative total solutions in the areas of document management, telephony and speech. Director Jordy Onrust talks about ORdigiNAL’s growth and ambitions, the future of innovation and the importance of the channel and channel partners.
Founded in 2004 by Jordy Onrust, ORdigiNAL initially started as a distributor of mainly hardware and dictation devices. A year later, speech recognition solutions from market leader Dragon (Nuance) were added and that’s when the ball started rolling. The company soon expanded into Belgium and Luxembourg and is now active in more than 50 countries and works with more than 1000 resellers.
The pandemic caused enormous growth. “People were forced to work from home and started teaming, zooming, you name it. That brought us many new partners, and ultimately new end customers. What was somewhat overlooked were the ergonomic conditions. I think many people were too late to realise the importance of, for example, a good office chair or the right collaboration and productivity tools. If you can answer your emails with your voice, you work three times faster and have better posture.” Onrust stresses that partners and end customers must believe in the solutions and practicality. “You have to be able to indicate the ROI and make the benefits very clear. That was difficult before Covid 19, now you see that companies had to invest in workflow processes since their employees had to work at home. At the moment, we are hopefully at the tail end of the Covid crisis and I notice that companies are picking up their old processes and putting less energy into innovation. The challenge in selling these solutions is that they are often not business-critical. It is really conceptual selling. It’s up to us to get them back on the innovation path.”
Another consequence of the corona crisis is the enormous explosion of cloud use and applications that use it. “Cloud accelerates our growth and sales,” Onrust states “To give you an example: until a year or two ago, a partner always had to go to the end-user to install the speech recognition solution and to provide support if necessary. Now we can simply offer a trial version in the cloud. And that is quite successful. We have a trial to paid license conversion of more than 72%. That’s great for our partners, of course, but also us.”
ORdigiNAL currently has six cloud data regions where its solutions are hosted. Onrust: “The most recent one has been in Melbourne, Australia, since December last year. We work with several dozen partners in Australia and New Zealand and it’s nice to see how high the adoption of cloud solutions is down under. It differs per region how high this adoption is. In Germany, for example, the infrastructure is less up-to-date and investors are more cautious. There, relatively many solutions are installed on-site. Cloud solutions, however, is what drives us. As a partner of a large number of vendors, we help improve and better support the cloud offering.”
Importance of the channel
Jordy Onrust emphasises the importance of the channel. “Many vendors say they want to do more directly or take on large customers themselves, but we very much believe in the channel and in nurturing it. It is important for us not to offer just one solution, but to give our channel partners as much as possible to work with us. Voice recognition is just one part. For example, what do you do when you have a document? What is the workflow? Do you want to print it or digitise it? If you want to have your PDF files well-organised in a system, you need capture management tools. Of course, you also want to automate processes. And what about signing software? ORdigiNAL is also a Microsoft partner and we can link all these tools and solutions together in an Azure cloud. We support our partners with training, project management and support because we have noticed that solutions such as speech recognition and workflow automation are not easy for everyone to master.
We are not a ‘broad distributor’, we are a ‘focus distributor’ and our focus on software and services.
Onrust also emphasises his company’s strong service department. “That’s one of the reasons why partners and vendors want to work with us. We don’t really make our own solutions but enhance vendor solutions. That’s something that sets us apart.”
“Our credo is ‘offering digital solutions in an original way’,” says Onrust. “It is not for nothing that our company name contains the words ‘original’ and ‘digital’. And we continue to believe in this approach. I think our partners also really see that we take that extra step for them and provide support so that they can be successful. Even if they don’t have the technical knowledge themselves to be able to offer their customers innovative products and solutions.”
Onrust signals a shift from a ‘perpetual sales model’ to a ‘cloud recurring revenue’ variant. “In the traditional model, you sold a project once for a hefty sum and achieved a certain revenue as a result. We are moving towards a model in which the turnover continues for a longer period and is credited annually. Some resellers find this difficult. I think the end customer is now convinced that this is the future.”
Three key vendors for ORdigiNAL are Kofax, Nuance, and Microsoft. Kofax provides software and solutions for automating and digitally transforming information-intensive processes, both in the cloud and locally. These include Robotic Process Automation, Intelligent Document Capture and Business Process Management. “ORdigiNAL was Kofax’s Global Partner of the Year last year,” says Jordy Onrust. “Kofax positions itself as a challenger to Adobe with its own PDF solutions. Although we are the largest PowerPDF supplier in the world, we also offer the other solutions from Kofax’s broad portfolio.”
Nuance is engaged in speech recognition and transcription based on AI technology. The American company was recently acquired by Microsoft for 16 billion dollars (13.45 billion euros). This makes it Microsoft’s largest acquisition since LinkedIn in 2016.
Finally, Microsoft is an important vendor for ORdigiNAL. Onrust: “We have our Teams direct routing platform, with a direct telephony link. We have a worldwide agreement with Orange, which enables us to link Orange phone numbers to Teams. This way, Teams becomes your telephony system and you no longer need separate telephones or VoIP systems. If required, we also offer a call centre solution for Teams.”
The future of speech recognition
Speech recognition products were already used at an early stage, especially in the legal and medical world, where a lot needs to be recorded,” says Onrust. “In 2021, speech recognition has become a lot more commonplace, just think of Siri, Google Assistant or the option in WhatsApp to convert spoken text directly into apps. We currently have four language teams, as we call them. The Dutch language team focuses on the Netherlands and Belgium, our French language team is based in Paris, the English language team for England and Ireland operates from London, and the German language market (for Germany, Austria and Switzerland) is served from Munich. We are now also active in Scandinavia, Spain and Italy.”
Speech recognition has taken off in recent years and we are now on the eve of the next step, in which machine learning and artificial intelligence play an important role. “Correctly recognising speech is no longer a problem and is almost flawless, but do you want what you say to be recognised literally? Maybe you mean something else. Speech recognition is slowly changing into understanding speech. From recognition to understanding. The artificial intelligence thinks with you, as it were.”
Speech recognition is now mainly used individually. Onrust also sees this trend slowly changing. “We see more and more initiatives to work out physical and online meetings. How handy would it be if, after a day of Microsoft Teams meetings, you could access the prepared reports in your CRM? That is the future. And it’s much closer than you might expect. Teams already knows how to convert voicemail messages and translate them if required.
Cloud Speech solution
Dragon Professional Anywhere Cloud is the latest and most accurate cloud speech recognition solution from industry leader Nuance. Speech recognition allows you to do three times more in the same amount of time. Since all processes are done in the cloud, there is no need for hardware investment. ORdigiNAL offers Dragon not only to specialist partners but also through the Ingram Micro Cloud Market Place. This makes it easy for virtually any IT reseller to offer speech recognition. Try it now, without obligation at dragon-trials.com.