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60 seconds with… Ashley Keil

Ashley Keil, VP Sales EMEA, IBML

What’s currently having the greatest impact on your business?
The shift from paper to digital. Clearly a lot of firms now capture or enter information digitally at source. Generally, form submission is going online with e-forms now commonplace in areas such as mortgage, insurance and bank account applications. Whilst the net volume of paper used in businesses hasn’t actually changed – as a percentage of the total amount of documents produced, digital and e-forms are growing exponentially.

And then, of course, there has been an evolution from just structured data – information held in relational databases – to the rise in non-structured information. As a traditional ultra-high volume scanner and capture vendor, we are therefore evolving our product offerings to address these challenges.

Where do you see the next big opportunity?
Firms are operating in a multi-channel environment in terms of information sources. There are now many different ways of exchanging data: paper, mobile, electronic data interchange (EDI), email, web browser and social media feeds. Businesses are having to cope with this mixed world of data capture. The capture engine doesn’t care the source. Paper can be scanned and data extracted using OCR and e-delivery routes mean systems have to be integrated.

The opportunity for us is to be a central capture provider handling all these multiple sources transparently regardless of where information is coming from or the volume and then generate clean, qualified data to feed into line of business applications.

What would make your day job easier?
I guess I am a bit old school. Each morning I quite literally write a to do list. I have been scribbling that on paper – ironic I know given I’m in the digital capture business. But I have changed, and I now use Microsoft OneNote to schedule and plan my work.

What’s the best bit of business advice you’ve been given?
An old boss once said to me, “Get on with things as time is your enemy.” That has stuck with me. When your sales targets – and OTE – is based on quarterly performance, you’ve got to motor on.

If you had had a crystal ball, would you have done anything differently?
Over the years I have seen a number of software vendors enter our market and some have succeeded and some have inevitably failed. Some have been competitive and some complementary. Professionally it would have been great to acquire these companies when they were affordable and, where the option existed, it would have been great to have invested personally in some stock.

Describe your most embarrassing moment
As a young scanner salesman in the 1990s, I was sent to Turkey for the first time and ended up going a restaurant to meet a client. Everyone was drinking what I thought was water. I poured a full glass, gulped it down and instantly coughed it up over everyone. It was ouzo. The Turks thought it hilarious and it really broke the ice. And the good news for me was I secured an order for several hundred scanners.

What was your first job?
In 1985, I was in-house COBOL programme for scanner vendor, Bell & Howell, writing code for an application called ComQuest – a capture technology developed by 3M to convert tape into microfilm. It paid just £1.50 per hour.

What would be your dream job?
I’d love to set up my own windsurfing school somewhere super-hot with palm trees where people could come and stay and I’d be their instructor.

Fine dining and good wine, or curry and a pint?
I travel a lot and probably take 60 flights a year to meet existing and new customers. So, fine dining feels like work. A curry and a beer with friends is more like it to escape from the 9-5.

How do you like to spend your spare time?
I grew up in Wales so hiking in places like Snowdonia is fun but my main passion is water sports. We’ve got a small beach house on Thorny Island near Chichester where we sail and windsurf.

Money’s not an issue, what’s your perfect car… and where would you like to drive it?
That’s an easy answer. I’d have a 460 Bhp Maserati Grand Turismo Sport – all £94,000 of it – and drive down the Amalfi Coast in Italy which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Favourite holiday destination?
It has to be Hawaii, specifically Maui. I proposed to my wife there. It is the most beautiful relaxed place with rugged scenery, volcanos and jungle. And the beaches are ace.