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Qognify CEO Steve Shine steers company through challenging times

Qognify CEO Steve Shine steers company through challenging times

Qognify CEO Steve Shine steers company through challenging times

YARMOUTH, Maine—A lot has happened since Steve Shine took over in April 2018 as CEO of Qognify, a technology solution provider for physical security and enterprise incident management, including Qognify’s acquisition of IP video management software (VMS) company On-Net Surveillance Systems (OnSSI) and IP video technology company SeeTec GmbH, not to mention having to steer the company through one of the most challenging years in our country’s history.

The following is an exclusive Q&A with Shine:

SSN: It certainly has been a busy and challenging couple of years! What has the company been able to accomplish since you took over as CEO?

SHINE: The Qognify team and our many business partners have achieved many significant advances throughout the business over the last few years. If I was to single out the most important thing, it would be the clarity of our understanding of what we do and which customers we are best aligned with. We excel in the enterprise segment or where incidents in safety, security and operations can incur significant costs, reputational risk, or regulatory non-compliance.

Our mission is to help these organizations minimize the impact of incidents in security, safety and operations – and we do this by focusing on their outcomes.

We have always been good at building great products and delivering these together with our partners, but everything we do now includes a passionate emphasis on what business outcomes our customers are looking to achieve. Today, Qognify is a much more focused organization.

SSN: Could you also please give an update on how the company responded and did during the pandemic? What were some the key challenges and how did you overcome those?

SHINE: At the start of the pandemic most organizations didn’t really know what to expect, but the outlooks appeared bleak. With hindsight, it is clear that there was an initial slowdown in new projects, as customers paused to see where things were heading. The second quarter of last year was definitely a low point, but through the next two quarters the business returned to a more normal volume, albeit with some significant changes in working practices.

What has clearly changed since March 2020 is the way we engage with our customers and partners – all the way from the initial identification of a project, through the sales process and on to the project installation. The changes are quite detailed but can be summarized as having transitioned permanently to a more than 70 percent remote/online process. 

SSN: Please talk about how the company did last year, and how this year is looking after one quarter, compared with last year?

SHINE: 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but in the end, we performed well, and the outlook continues to improve. The first quarter of this year is on plan, although there are some geographies and industries that are obviously still struggling with the pandemic. However, even in these more challenged markets the commitment to constantly improving how they manage security, safety and operations is a high priority.

SSN: Can you explain how the company is developing its portfolio of VMS and Enterprise Incident Management solutions, as well as reimagining the VMS with your new VMS+ approach?

SHINE: We are seeing much more sophisticated buyers that have evolved from having a relatively simple siloed view across different security products such as VMS, Access Control, Fire Detection, etc. They now consider physical security and safety as a series of business processes which can have different impacts on the organization, and require different processes to resolve and minimize the impact of these issues.

As you look across different industry sectors you realize that these processes differ both in how the process needs to work and the impact on the business.

This is Qognify’s sweet spot. The roadmap of every product across our portfolio is aligned with this “product to process” shift with an emphasis on vertical industry needs. We are delivering these solutions today and will be strengthening this position across the portfolio for years to come. In the end, minimizing the impact of incidents in security, safety and operations is really why our customers make their investments in the first place – it is the outcome that matters.

SSN: Please talk about how the integration of OnSSI and SeeTec has gone and what that acquisition has meant for the company?

SHINE: Today, Qognify is one fully integrated company, and we have arrived here much faster than I had hoped. I have been really impressed by the approach our teams took to this integration project. Almost immediately our people started looking across product portfolios, processes and customer bases and asked the questions “Where is best practice?”, “How can something product A does so well benefit product B?”, “Can we build something once and share across the product portfolio?” and “What do our customers get out of this richer portfolio of products and skills?”  

SSN: Do you see business, in general, starting to open up and are you bullish on the rest of 2021?

SHINE: The impact of COVID-19 varies by geography and industry, but I am so impressed by how our team has adapted and moved forwards. Physical security, safety and operations continues to be a growing priority, so the underlying market is a healthy one.

For us, the momentum in shift from “product to process” and the focus on outcomes is most exciting and is the direction that shapes everything we do. I have seen this shift before in other technology/business sectors – and it is exciting to see it taking place in this market. The positive impacts it can have for our customers can be truly transformative.

This transition will be a challenge for the vendor community. The traditional analysts’ approach to judge vendor capabilities by the number of “feature boxes” you can tick for a product is not sufficient any longer. Thus, they will need to completely rethink how they advise their customers in the future. But I have faith that we will see the whole of this industry step up and redefine the next generation of solutions. 

SSN: Any final thoughts on the new role and the future of the company?

SHINE: My role is no longer new, although the changes the company and the industry is undergoing makes every quarter feel like a new world sometimes. I’m thrilled with the team we have here at Qognify and I’m excited to be a small part, alongside our partners and the change agents, inside our customers that are redefining the market and making the word we all live in more safe, secure and resilient. Over time I believe you will see Qognify emerge as a leader as this market transition reveals itself.

Note: This feature is part of SSN’s continuing CEO profile series.


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