Organisations are embracing cloud computing technology at an accelerated pace.
Many have transitioned to cloud solutions to uphold their digital competitiveness, while others have adopted the cloud to facilitate the rise in remote work arrangements.
Computing's Cloud Excellence Awards recognise the very best of the UK's cloud industry, from the most innovative and compelling products and vendors, through to the top use cases from end-user firms.
This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Thursday 21st September in central London.
Symmetry, one of the finalists, has reached the shortlist for three categories: Best Cloud Finance Solution, Cloud Training Programme of the Year and Cloud Vendor of the Year.
We talked to CEO Simon Kearsley to find out more about their upcoming projects and their achievements in the past one year.
As well as CEO, Simon is founder of Symmetry, which develops the accounting software bluQube. Earlier in his career, Simon was a business systems manager at Oracle, where he set up a management buyout of an area of the business and founded Symmetry in 1996. Since then, he has built a unique business with a transparent and collaborative approach, supporting customers in delivering real, tangible benefits.
Computing: What makes you different from other companies?
Simon Kearsley: Our technology has been developed over nearly 30 years with our customers at the heart of every decision. With more than 100 years of combined IT experience, the highly experienced team of developers, accountants and consultants work to regularly release different functionalities to maximise capability for our customers.
We always try to look at the software from the point of view of the customer, considering what they would want to do to improve the user experience. In practice, this means we've focused on software usability as much as functionality. We proudly don't have automated telephone answering customer service: a representative picks up the phone (normally within three rings) so we can talk to customers directly, listen to their feedback and build on their suggestions. The senior management team are also allocated a group of customers to visit regularly. This helps us to understand how our customers use the system and how we can solve the specific problems they are facing.
What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?
We are strong believers in the importance of taking a transparent and collaborative approach to software development. This has led us to the development of our new reference site programme. The forum is made up of a mixture of long-established and more recent customers to come together and discuss their experiences with bluQube technology. It gives us the opportunity to fully understand the challenges customers are experiencing, which is particularly important as we expand into new sectors and industries. We need to be hot on topics that customers care about and adjust our service accordingly.
What are you working on this year?
In terms of the product itself, we are comfortable that our traditional finance functionality is comprehensive. Our R&D focus is now mainly on artificial intelligence (AI).
Last year we started the development of an AI-based Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system, but we certainly have scope to expand further. We want to remove the burden of basic tasks for our customers, freeing up their capacity to focus on more strategic and personally fulfilling tasks.
Why are events like the Cloud Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?
The awards offer a level playing field for companies, irrespective of their marketing budget. The recognition of winning an award can have a positive impact on a business of any size. Not just in a commercial sense, it also has a positive internal impact. Being rewarded for the high-quality work they are doing can boost team morale and motivate them within their roles to keep striving for the best.