It’s fair to say we had our fair share of lady luck in 2020: as the world went “remote”, the demand for our digital services to help these users communicate digitally to get RFx transactions done, became greater and more urgent.
We also saw greater attention being paid by companies to transparency and reducing friction costs within the supply chain. Our digital services help break down informational asymmetry between businesses, moving all RFx communication from thousands of opaque emails to a transparent and collaborative auditable digital platform.
Our puritanical product focussed approach continued: we obsess over shifting the paradigm for industrial business from only having access to clunky overpriced legacy systems to one where they have access to the latest agile user-focussed ones. Disrupting the market is at our core, and it has started to pay dividends, with forward looking partners joining us on our journey.
Our team in London doubled down on efforts and made the most of 2020 trends to deliver a record year.
Highlights in numbers
- More active businesses than ever: 318 businesses were digitally onboarded in 2020, +169.5% vs. 2019 and we are ending 2020 with 697 active businesses
- Higher $bn spend facilitated than ever: in 2020 US$941mm of spend was transacted digitally (+79.9% vs 2019)
- Culture shift: when you look at the second half of 2020, $mm spend on the platform was +482.1% vs. the first half and +714.1% vs. same period in 2019 — demonstrating how strong the culture shift in adopting agile digital technology in a remote working environment has been this year
- Happy partners: Our 100% agile approach delivered 52 product releases this year
- Ultra fast adoption: 3 week timeline of “hello” to “we’ve signed” in December, a new record
- Lightning fast time-to-value: <1 day timeline for onboarding an entire buyer business unit (also in December), a new record
Agile partners helped reduce our sales cycle
- 9–12 months (!) was the status quo in terms of expectations for industrial businesses going from “hello” to “we’ve signed” when engaging with enterprise software (the “sales cycle”)
- This ultimately meant high software costs, the need for businesses to be “locked in” on long term contracts, and no incentives for software to cater for the actual users
- We thought this was bad for everyone, so in 2020 we challenged it and stopped engaging with clients who couldn’t make decisions commercially and adopt an agile digital philosophy
- Our sales cycle reduced from 9 months in 2019 to 3 weeks in 2020 (a decrease of 91.7%!) and increasing our licensed partners with 169.5% since last year.
RFx communication processes were broken for other industries
- We started in the energy infrastructure industries, being the most security — and compliance sensitive with large volumes of RFx communication being done on emails
- It became clearer during 2020 that other industries also had a strong need for transparent, efficient and compliant communication within their RFx communication processes
- Renewable batteries, offshore wind, shipping, telecoms and a number of other industrial businesses became new partners of DeepStream getting the same ROI and value from our software
Here are just some of our partners we welcomed onto our platform in 2020:
Our RFx Heroes are driving our business
- We launched a new class of users who were highly engaged on the DeepStream platform and our biggest cheerleaders: the DeepStream RFx Heroes
- Instead of spending large amounts of money on sales for our business (the legacy software approach), we strategically took the decision to instead invest it in our software product
- The basis was this that even if it would come with a lag, making our users super happy would ultimately drive new business for us (as well as our users being super happy)
- Additionally, our RFx Heroes were particularly active in providing feedback to shape the future of RFx digitalisation
Product: we proved that elegant simplicity beats bloated functionality
- A premise of our philosophy is that users are human beings who deviate to the path of least resistance — and in enterprise communication this is why emails are so widespread
- As such, we take the opposite approach to legacy software — instead of adding complexity and functionality we aim to build something as simple and user-friendly as possible
In 2020, our users provided some concrete data points on why our assumptions were correct:
- A front runner in renewable energy partner went from ‘source to award’ in 1.5 hours
- Another partner, a leader in global energy infrastructure services, onboarded 44 new users organically
- 373 vendors joined the platform hassle-free without any assistance from DeepStream
In continuing to make DeepStream easier to use than emails, we also released 52 product features (= 1 release every 2 weeks) — all of this delivered as part of ongoing subscriptions with no additional costs — and below are some which we are particularly proud of:
- Line items module rebuilt with new automated totalling, new fields, and summary view for ease of comparison
- Digital clarifications register removes the need to waste time using an Excel file back and forth over email
- Templates to quickly create new requests with a fixed structure and standardise the format of requests across a company team
Snapshot from our CEO
It has been a bit of a crazy year for all of us, in lots of different ways. Whilst we have had the benefit of a very successful one, it’s important to pay our respects to the swathes of the business world who have been effectively culled by global restrictions. Frictionless trade between businesses is core to what we try to achieve at DeepStream, and it has been painful to see it being curtailed for so many in the global economy.
We are also seeing the effects of technology disrupting labour markets first hand. Whilst FANG (the four most prominent American tech stocks) rallying take the limelight, at an operational level we are seeing this transformation from the analysis we do for clients around their returns on digital capital employed in supply chain processes. With the increasing adoption of more agile products by traditional corporates, the lines between human and digital capital are set to be increasingly blurred. Expect tax on technology — either directly or indirectly via capital gains — in the next few years. It’s going to get choppier out there.
Lastly I wanted to thank our partners and users who have been brave enough to embark on this journey with us. Swapping well trodden manual processes for nascent digital ones requires a dose of faith. Faith which we at DeepStream will do everything we can to repay with lower transaction costs between businesses exchanging goods and services for money.
The team at DeepStream