Hotelopia isn’t just about accommodation – they provide a full range of travel services from transfers, sightseeing tours, activities and car hire to customers and workplaces in more than 185 countries worldwide. Here, we talk with Jon French, head of B2B2C Solutions, to discuss the company’s unique position in the employee benefits market, why employers need to think outside the box with their packages, and the company’s plans for further expansion.
Used in more than 80 countries, Pervade Software’s solutions are leveraged by a wide audience of private and public sector clients, as well as partners ranging from independent consultants to global managed security service providers. Here, John Davies, managing director, discusses the company’s premium position in the global and UK marketplace, the challenges it faces when approaching potential clients and keeping up with industry trends.
There is a tremendous amount of competition in the sector – how does Pervade Software stand out from its competitors?
Right now, there are dozens of IT monitoring systems on the market, and pretty much all of these systems are built on relational databases – meaning they can only deal with one or two data types each. By definition, log systems only handle logs and configuration systems – as you can probably guess – only deal with configuration files. Both data types are wildly different and it is far too difficult to handle log data and configuration files in the same database. Therefore, you have two separate products: one to look at your logs, and the other to look at your configuration files and this issue is repeated across other data types such as asset management, vulnerability, file integrity, database, application performance, network monitoring etc.
We stand out from our competitors because we have developed a brand new database that can process all data types which has won major industry recognition; it’s the only one of its kind and nothing like this has ever been done before. So, we compete with all other data monitoring systems on the market because we can do the job of multiple systems in one. What’s more, we can correlate data that is normally dealt with in multiple systems providing faster and more in-depth forensics capabilities. This is not limited to IT data types either; we handle industrial control system SCADA data just as easily.
We also stand out because we have a unique compliance tracking capability. Obviously, because we can handle all data types, we can audit all devices to collect any evidence for every technical control in any standard or policy including logs, config, asset etc. Furthermore, we have added the ability for contributors to log in and answer non-technical compliance questions such as “Do you have a policy?”, “Do you keep records, if so provide a copy” etc. which means that all evidence of compliance can be tracked in a single configurable system and this is also unique.
What challenges does Pervade Software face when approaching new clients and driving new developments?
Our first challenge is that people do not believe that it can be done. The industry has always had a wide array of monitoring systems and people are used to the fact that, if they want full visibility across their whole infrastructure, then they have to have four, five, or even six monitoring systems in place – when we waltz in and say “it doesn’t have to be that way”, people are naturally suspicious, especially because we are a relatively new and unknown player in the market. We almost always have to run proof of concept evaluations, which we are perfectly happy to do.
The second challenge is that, even when people do believe what we can do it, it’s too much of a paradigm shift; too much of a change for them to implement. We’re only really attractive to early adopters at this stage in our growth and even then we tend to deploy our software alongside their existing systems, to plug any gaps in their monitoring capability or automate compliance tracking for a specific certification, and then we work on displacing their other expensive systems over time.
Can you detail the main differences between the OpAudit and the OpView solutions?
OpView is the monitoring system – basically an optimised view of your IT infrastructure and security, viewing everything in one system.
OpAudit is the compliance tracking system – optimizing the way that you work towards becoming compliant, prove your compliance to auditors and maintain your compliance through time, with all evidence available in a single set of screens.
We sell them as two separate products, but actually, they run from the same central server and are part of the same system.
We believe this reflects that fact that it is becoming more and more difficult to separate IT Security from IT Compliance. The increasing cyber threat means that everyone’s customers are demanding proof that their systems are secure and gaining certifications ranging from Cyber Essentials, IASME, ISO27001, PCI-DSS right up to NIST 800-53 is by far the best of way of demonstrating that you have the right controls on place to be as cyber secure as possible.
As a company, is it challenging to keep up with and introduce new trends?
For us it’s a piece of cake as we have developed a platform that is based on a portal architecture, which makes it incredibly extensible. One of the benefits of our software is that new features or functionality needed in response to new cyber threats or compliance demands can be added as a “widget” rather than needing core code changes. So we can keep up with the fast-moving security industry much better than our competitors. Also, their solutions can only handle certain data types, which means that they simply cannot deal with new attack vectors that are designed to be invisible to their systems. For example, the new generation of attacks that leave no logs, which makes them invisible to an SIEM system regardless of how much money it cost.
You’re primarily based in Cardiff, so how is Pervade Software performing in other areas of the UK as well as internationally?
Our software is currently being used in over 80 countries and we have to deal with all queries from these countries, which, of course, come with challenges. What we’re trying to do as a business is develop a collection of channel partners located in different countries – such as system integrators, compliance consultancy firms and so forth. We need partnerships to continue our growth and to further integrate our solutions internationally and we are actively looking for these partners right now.
In your opinion, do you believe industry events such as the Security IT Summit are beneficial to generating new business?
Yes – what many big conference style events do is appoint big-name speakers to present, leading to many industry professionals attending but mainly to sit in on these speaking sessions. This doesn’t help companies like us at all – if I were to set up a roll-up banner and sit at a table, people are only going to visit my stand during the coffee breaks or if they’re bored. The major expos are not much better because there are now so many vendor stands that people are completely swamped by the range of solutions they are seeing and it is difficult to differentiate
Comparing these events to the Security IT Summit, where meetings are scheduled beforehand and suppliers are guaranteed to be able to talk to serious buyers. It’s a much more beneficial use of my time. As a small company with an innovative new solution, I’d prefer to have longer more in-depth discussions than five minute sound bytes on a stand.
Learn more about Pervade Software here
Search Party is on a quest to redefine how companies around the world are hiring their employees. Its recruitment marketplace has attracted millions of professionals represented by over 1,500 recruiters and, together, they are making the hiring process faster, easier and more profitable for everyone involved. Here, we caught up with Search Party’s CEO, Ben Hutt to discuss the company’s continuing success, plans for the New Year, and why diversity should remain high on the HR agenda…
1. How did the concept of Search Party come about – did you spot a gap in the market?
We realised the fundamental problem in recruitment is that it takes too long to hire people. Agencies are useful, but they can be too expensive because they have to spend their time selling to new customers. Therefore, we thought that if we retained the best aspects of what agencies offer and optimised the rest, we’d end up with a better hiring process; so that’s what we did. Granted, it was very expensive to make it all happen, but we’ve attracted 7,500 employers around the world, as well as 1,500 recruitment agencies with approximately nine million candidates.
2. So what year was Search Party founded?
We founded the business in 2011, starting as a cloud-based recruitment platform, but we began to notice that the recruitment industry was in denial about the structural change that was coming, such as the heavy use of LinkedIn. Everyone was trying to kill the agency, and we took a different view and standby the fact that agencies are great at what they do best with the candidates. We first launched the marketplace in 2014 – it took a couple of years to build – and we first introduced Search Party in Australia, followed by a rollout in the UK the same year, and then moved into the Canadian market in 2015.
3. What made you decide to expand to the UK and Canadian markets from Australia?
Well, two English guys founded the business in Australia and we always knew that bias and stereotyping in recruitment was a global problem. So, when looking to branch out, the UK was an obvious choice as it’s competitive and innovative due to people going online for practically everything. As for Canada, we did this as a sort of stepping stone for an eventual US launch – it’s the best place to start in North America without battling the US head-on, and it worked out to be a very logical decision and low-cost location.
4. As Search Party is free for everyone to use, how does the platform generate an income?
When a candidate gets hired, we take a portion of the fee paid. We manage the payment process between the employer and the recruiter – just like if you were to buy an item from eBay, eBay takes a portion of the total transaction and then passes the rest onto the seller. We keep 20 per cent of the fee.
5. You said it took a couple of years to really develop Search Party into the platform it is today. What kind of results have you seen since launching?
The UK is growing much faster than anywhere else. But it’s interesting to see that, even though we are mainly interested in the UK, Australia and Canada, we’ve recently experienced use in the US and other parts of Europe. It gives us great confidence to launch in the US next year, and we’re also exploring further opportunities in markets such as Singapore. The technology is purposely built to be used in any location and, from my perspective, we should be progressively entering new markets in the New Year.
6. I understand that you also commission research – why has Search Party decided to go down this route?
The reason why is because we want to help people realise the cost of what they do. For instance, small businesses don’t appreciate the true costs of hiring. People can take it for granted and say that it takes too long, or half the time it’s wrong and that’s just life. But we don’t think that’s okay. We think that you should be able to hire the right person in two weeks, every time.
What people don’t seem to understand is the value of that. If I’m hiring a new salesperson and it takes an average of 12 weeks – which is roughly how long it will take if I were to use the traditional methods – then for that period I’m wasting my time reviewing job applications and interviewing candidates. Those two factors together add up to a lot, and when you add the fact that about 50 per cent of the time I’m going to get it wrong, it’s a massive cost to all businesses.
From our point of view, one of the opportunities for conducting research is to educate small business owners, and our business model helps to reduce all costs significantly; together with the technology that we have, the quality and accuracy of the hiring.
7. Have you attracted any big-name clients?
We don’t spend a lot of time celebrating big-name clients as, for us, we put our value in being a marketplace and having thousands of people using our service. But we do have one of the big four banks in Australia, as well as two big accounting firms, and some of the UK’s biggest employers across a range of industries. So, despite our primary focus of just small businesses, big-name clients are coming to us anyway.
8. Judging from Search Party’s website, the entire process is carried out anonymously?
When an employer searches for a candidate, they see anonymous profile: no name, picture, address, telephone number, etc. Recruitment agencies get to choose how much information they would like to share with candidates. For instance, a recruitment agency can sign-up and provide 10,000 candidate CVs. We then collect them, remove all personal information, and turn those CVs into documents showcasing just experience and skill-sets.
We also analyse whether people are ready for a move-up in their careers, or a move because statistically they have been in their current roles long enough to move onto another company.
So at the beginning of the process, candidates are anonymous and the employer can instead focus on finding profiles of people with the right skills and experience, removing any unconscious bias. This levels the playing field for candidates. Once interviews take place, anonymity is removed.
9. But surely that must take a long time to process?
Not at all. We can process about 10,000 CVs in less than 24 hours – it’s all automated and phenomenally quick. We have thousands of CVs coming in from all over the world every day, and employers can only view an anonymous profile until a recruiter seeks permission from the candidate to put them forward for the job.
10. Are there any developments Search Party is working on at the moment for the New Year?
There are always lots of good things on the go! We are mid-way through a user rebuild which includes mobile and a bunch of other pretty cool things that we’ve been working on for quite some time now. We also just rolled out a new communications platform for employers and recruiters to message each other.
JobAdvisor was also recently launched here in the UK – similar to TripAdvisor, but for companies – and candidates can see what it’s like to work for different companies, as well as view comments and photos.
11. Diversity continues to be such a big topic of conversation in HR. What do you believe employers need to focus on more in regards to the recruitment process?
For us, we believe that all companies should embrace diversity. As a tech business, we’ve got a high proportion of women on board; we have more than 20 nationalities working across the world. The reason we’ve achieved this is because we purely focus on what people’s talents are, and whether they would be culturally motivated the same way as we are.
One of the things that I love about our platform is the anonymisation element solves a lot of that because you decide what type of person you want. You won’t know whether the individual is a male or female; where they were born or went to school. All stereotype and bias indicators are removed at the very beginning. The recruitment judgement always be about skills and cultural fit – employers are far too quick to make judgements on the wrong information.
To get started with Search Party, click here
Acting content director and features editor of Cosmopolitan UK, Rosie Mullender, shares some of her top tips and personal experiences on ‘making it’ in the tough world of magazine journalism