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50 Most Valuable Brands Of The Year 2019

An Interview with Chris Sykes, Volume Ltd. Founder and CEO: ‘We Transform Brand Engagement through Creating the Next Level of Customer Interaction by Turning Content into Conversations’

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“Our 2020 vision is to be recognized as a leader in conversational AI and NLP.”

There’s no denying that artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly moving from fiction to reality. In marketing especially, interest in AI has intensified as marketers have realized the potential that intelligently harnessing the ever-growing streams of customer data has on transforming customer experiences.

AI has become increasingly important not only to marketers but to organizations as a whole in order to stay ahead in today’s dynamic market landscape.

In light of the above-mentioned scenario, we’re thrilled to present Volume Ltd.

Volume provides digital communications, infrastructure, social media and channel marketing, data profiling, integrated campaigns and communications, content creation and delivery, and socially-connected marketing services.

The company was incorporated in 1997 and is headquartered in Reading, United Kingdom. It has additional office locations in Plymouth; UK, Colombo; Sri Lanka and San Jose; California.

Chris Sykes, Volume Ltd Founder/CEO/Head of AI & Robotics, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Volume was established to introduce and develop technology and applications to better serve the marketing operations of large B2B Technology companies such as Dell and Oracle. Having established a footprint within these global businesses, Volume was able to replicate and repeat its services and technology within other similar technology businesses. Working with fast-paced and rapidly growing companies ensured Volume developed processes and best practices that brought it closer to its customers to forge symbiotic relationships that extended beyond the provision of marketing services.

Q. How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.

One of our first project rollouts was for Dell where Volume created one of the first global digital asset management applications: The Global Marketing Resource Centre was an early Internet-based repository for marketing assets and content that included product photography and other imagery, pre-compiled sales and marketing content and raw assets such as logos and other graphics. Content and assets were created in multiple languages; that allowed Dell’s marketing teams and local agencies across the world to search, view, and download content and assets on demand. At its peak, the application was supporting over 5,000 downloads per month.

Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?

Like any growing and self-invested privately-owned business, scaling up is one of the primary challenges. With every growth scenario, there is an inherent risk; you can mitigate risk by ensuring your key customer relationships are strong – that you have the right talent and skills in place and that revenue can be gained quickly. Having these base foundations in place means your business can grow in a more structured and less frenetic way.

Q. “Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?

One of our early mantras was ‘you are only as good as your last project’. Meaning; don’t become complacent if a customer gives you an opportunity based on the expectation you have set early on in the relationship. Like any relationship, the effort you put in at the start needs to be maintained and even exceeded if you want the relationship to grow and continue.

Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s reputation?

Reputations are earned or are placed on you. It’s important that we dictate and own our reputation and that it’s not impacted by what others may think about you. We are a relatively transparent business and we showcase our many achievements through social media. Everything we showcase is tangible and can be demonstrated. We always practice what we preach and this means that how Volume is perceived is as close to reality as we can make it.

Q. If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?

Customer Service – Our customers are busy and time- and resource-deficient. They need to be 100 percent sure that Volume’s services and support will make their lives easier and deliver tangible, positive results. Our dependability is a key factor in the retention of customers.

People – Attracting, developing and retaining talent means you can deliver better service to your customers and by motivating employees they become emotionally invested in that relationship, as well as the company they work for.

Technology – Being future-proofed means you remain relevant and essential to a customer’s operation. Value-for-money – Being able to measure return on investment for customers is another factor in Volume retaining long-term relationships. Demonstrating ‘value’ over ‘cost’ is a methodology we all subscribe to.

Focus & tenacity – Running a business for over 20 years has taught me many valuable lessons. When things aren’t going as planned, or others don’t see things the way you do; then you need to stand firm on your convictions. Over the years, focus and tenacity have become valuable attributes.

Q. How do you and your company contribute to the global IT platform and society at large?

We are a socially aware and socially responsible business. We are a company that is motivated by purpose not just profit and ultimately we want to make everyone’s life easier. If we can impact the way people work and can introduce technology and processes for wider improvement then we can feel we’ve made some kind of contribution.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

We have recently launched www.qbox.ai QBox is a first-to-market, patent-pending and Gartner recognized SaaS solution. The product is a management and training tool for NLP (Natural Language Processing) Data Models and is optimized for use with IBM Watson Assistant, Microsoft LUIS, Google Dialogflow, Amazon Lex, Rasa NLU, and Facebook Wit.ai. QBox allows users to understand the performance of the training data for their provider of choice. This ‘machine view’ on the data; gives the user the opportunity to improve the underperforming areas of their NLP Data model (chatbot); helps to clarify the meaning of each intent and increase accuracy at speed.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Our 2020 vision is to be recognized as a leader in conversational AI and NLP. Moreover, we plan to expand our international presence in the US, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Chris Sykes: An Entrepreneur at Heart

Chris Sykes established Volume with the vision that technology would rapidly permeate the sales and marketing operations of the future. As a futurist, Mr. Sykes took the decision in 2015 to pivot his technology-biased digital agency towards AI and looked at how it could be applied within a sales, marketing and customer experience context. He coined the term ‘experiential AI’ and has since built the three pillars that underpin EAI – AI-powered Conversational Platforms, Humanoid Robotics and Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality.

Mr. Sykes is a regular speaker and panelist at AI events and forums and was a finalist in the ‘CEO of the Year’ category at the UK Private Business Awards 2018.

“We’re customer-experience creators with ‘Experiential AI’ at our heart; specialising in the three pillars: VR/AR, Robots, and Big Brain Chatbots.”