Back in the early 2000s, it seemed at least everyone owned a mobile phone designed and manufactured by the Finnish mobile giant Nokia. My very first one was a 3310 model which I later abandoned for a more modern and sophisticated 7370 to mark the start of my uni life. During its history, Nokia released some fantastic smartphones, including the N-series and E-series. By the end of 2007, Nokia owned about 63% of the mobile phone market but around the same year, Apple released the iPhone. The product had a slick, modern user interface that was easy to use and a better developed operating system. On top of that, Apple had an excellent marketing strategy and a story to tell about its co-founder, Steve Jobs. With handsets, Nokia wasn’t able to keep up the pace set by Apple.
Is there success after the decline of a mobile phone giant?
Four entrepreneurial minds believed there is, and in 2012, Piceasoft was founded. Risto Kivipuro, Jani Väänänen, Joni Lagerbom, and Jyri Roselius not only share a Tampere-based company, creating a unique set of software solutions to cover the entire mobile devices’ lifecycle but also a background experience with Nokia. When Microsoft approached Nokia to discuss the terms of a new tech merger, the latter company already decided to end the development of computer connectivity software. But Risto, Jani, Joni and Jyri saw an excellent opportunity in using the software and started their own company which appealed to many of their Nokia co-workers who joined in. It was a brave and smart move at that time.
Jyri worked for 17 years at Nokia in several management positions and has a knowledgeable experience in international software operation, while Risto handled Nokia PC software products and product operation during his 30-year software career. Jani is bringing on the table an almost 20-year experience in software development, which includes working as a head architect of Nokia PC software, and Joni has more than 25 years of experience in customer service and was responsible for Nokia PC software product support.
With all their years of expertise, the four Finns knew from the start-up phase the difficulty of moving the content from one platform to another and the undeniable need of an innovative software which could quickly transfer personal content between all major phone platforms. That’s when PiceaSwitch came into the picture. The product portfolio has been growing ever since; it includes a complete point of sale solution PiceaServices™, which is comprised of aforementioned PiceaSwitch™, PiceaEraser™, PiceaDiagnostics™ and PiceaVerify™. As IT asset disposition (ITAD) companies and large repair centres were asking for large volume support, PiceaServices Volume™ was born; it includes Eraser, Diagnostics and Verify. PiceaReporting™ provides fast, reliable, and comprehensive information on, for example, the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. It offers real-time information to the customers. Consumers’ market segment is covered by an online solutions portfolio, which includes PhoneSwitcher.com and PhoneEraser.com.
Nowadays a market leader in the Nordic countries, Piceasoft creates new business opportunities and enables a cost-efficient service for mobile operators and retail chains.
Swisscom has signed a three-year agreement to have PiceaServices in daily use in over 120 shops. The agreement includes an option for PiceaEraser and PiceaDiagnostics products for point of sale usage as well. “A three-month testing period revealed that PiceaServices™ is up to twice as fast as alternative products. As PiceaServices™ software is currently the fastest and most easy-to-use solution on the market, it enables us to improve our customer experience” said Adrian Kobler, Project Manager at Swisscom.
Elkjøp is the largest consumer electronics retailer in the Nordic countries. Elkjøp is operating under its own name in Norway, as Elgiganten in Sweden and Denmark, and as Gigantti in Finland. “We now use PiceaSwitch and PiceaDiagnostics in all of our 400+ retail shops in six Nordic countries. The results of an extensive and rigorous testing in real shop environment convinced us, when it comes to both efficiency and reliability”, said Ove Lyngøy, Commercial Services Development Manager at Elkjøp Nordic.
How to achieve a Customer Satisfaction score of 94%? – Employ and make good use of an international talent.
“When we worked at Nokia, we communicated a lot with customers and learned about the issues they were facing with mobile phones, computers, and other devices. Simultaneously, we were really focused on customer feedback. We put a great amount of effort towards building an outstanding customer support from the first day Piceasoft was founded. We didn’t even have products at that time. But we knew customer support was needed and important for us to push our products to the markets”, affirms Jyri.
Joni adds that customer satisfaction is Piceasoft’s most important drive and value for the customer and the people working for the company. It’s about feeling their voices are heard and that everyone is happy. If a customer wants some changes applied to the software, they can be delivered in a short period of time. “We are very flexible and fast and happy to keep our promises.”
With big goals to look forward to also come new additions to the team such as a Customer Happiness Specialist. An intriguing work title that fits the Slovenian talent Sebastjan Brezovec like a glove. Sebastjan has been living in Tampere for more than 10 years already before being appointed to the role, and his customer service skills, commitment to succeed in his tasks and a good sense of humour made him the perfect candidate. The latter quality comes naturally when recalling the interview he had with Jyri. “What really made a difference in being hired by Piceasoft was my up-to-date LinkedIn profile. Then Jyri had one question: ‘How good are you at multitasking?’; when I replied I didn’t believe in it, he said that’s exactly what he wanted to hear from me.”
What Sebastjan strongly believes in is that customers are happy if they are provided the support they need immediately and if possible, in their native language. Therefore, he can easily communicate in Slovenian, English and German. Given 95% of the customers are from outside Finland, speaking more than one language is highly valued by the company.
Bold plans for 2017
Piceasoft has been growing very fast and continues to attract customers from over 45 countries. Among large customers you can find global mobile operators such as Telefónica, Swisscom, Telia, consumer electronics retailers e.g. Elkjøp and Saturn, distributors (German Brodos, Italian Kolme, Croatian Mobis Electronic, French Save) and many others. 2016’s income statement shows a 300% growth year-on-year and a revenue exceeding two million euros. In 2017, the growth is estimated to continue at the same pace, creating new opportunities for hiring more professionals and opening collaborations with students from different areas of study. Continuous product development, new business models and scaling to new customer segments are definitely challenges but when you’ve tasted success in such a short period of time, the future of the company does not seem impossible to predict.