“It’s gone crazy since lockdown,” says chief executive Will Saville of the demand that has doubled for its multi-lingual platform giving its 250 clients bespoke intranets, apps and customer portals as well as performance and behaviour tracking analytics. All now essential tools to withstand today’s challenges, they can also give firms the power to shape their offices in the future.
Designed for companies with 500-plus staff, the award-winning, Surrey-based business offers blue-chip clients, such as L’Oréal, Primark, Comcast and Mars, a subscription-model with tailored, adaptable solutions that the workforces find easy to use and relevant, strengthening their engagement.
Returns on investment come not just from efficiency savings, in some cases thousands of hours a day, and increased productivity as staff stay well informed, but since the pandemic from employees being able to operate flexibly and remotely.
Founded in 2006 by Saville and business partner Richard Paterson as technology consigned the traditional company newsletter to history, but digital replacements were still not fit-for-purpose, Unily now has global team of 200 in offices from north America and Australia to Hong Kong and the UK.
Developing the business from a services provider to a product producer has led to rapid growth especially over the past two years with revenue growing 40 per cent year-on-year and turnover reaching £20 million.
Spotting the digital opportunities increasing and with 50 per cent of clients in the US, Unily also embarked on scaling in 2019, raising its first ever external round of investment, £51.7 million from Silversmith Capital and Farview Equity.
Since then the pandemic has changed the physical commercial landscape. Internal communications, once in the background, are now at the forefront of a firm’s operations and planning.
“They are crucial in times of remote working keeping workers informed, Unily keeps pushing boundaries and has become a valuable tool as collaboration and efficiency become more vital,” explains Saville.
“We spend a lot of time listening to clients. But the days of building a system in-house are over. Unily takes that pain away from customers.
“Our users get best-in-breed experiences that are ahead-of-the curve. The right content gets to the right person. One example is our Universe portal that connects our customers allowing them to offer ideas, share work, feedback and get inspiration from each other. It increases our community and educates us.”
A nascent idea Saville had been keen to develop connecting frontline workers in small separate hospitality venues such as cafes or bars that are part of bigger chains, is on hold as the sector embarks on recovery.
Next month however Unily’s new Feature Store will officially launch, the “direct result of Covid-19,” says Saville.
“Clients will be able to download new features to their own site and have them go live immediately. They can enhance their choice and flexibility with features that slot in with the design they have chosen.”
Continuing to build on new business in sectors from healthcare, retail and energy to transport and financial services, Saville and Paterson expect to recruit up to 50 new staff in coming months in a market that, although highly competitive, has enormous scope for solutions.
But for British engineering SMEs such as theirs to play the leading role they are capable of in the economic fightback, making the most of the opportunities technology is opening up, they are also calling for more government grant help as well as the investor and research and development tax breaks currently on offer.
“Pioneering engineers are the ones going to keep the lights on,” they declare as they look ahead and forecast a future for their product “filling an emerging gap for virtual office experiences that replicate the experiences of a physical hub.”