It’s been one year since Stefan took up his appointment as CEO of Precise. We caught up with him to hear his reflections of the past twelve months and what’s planned for the future at Precise.
Congratulations on reaching your one-year anniversary as CEO. How have you found the past year at Precise and what are the highlights for you?
It’s been an incredible year! When I first joined it was a really interesting challenge, I had heard a lot about biometrics and now it is certainly a hot area with so much activity. The industry has changed dramatically in the last year. Precise is in a fortunate position for the future: we’re well established – we were founded in 1997 and have extensive experience in the industry – and our team is fantastic. I’ve been delighted at the level of skill that I’ve seen and experienced in the company along with the natural drive and ambition.
When I came onboard, we started with discussions about our strategy. It rapidly became obvious that we did not have the right level of presence for the existing business in areas where we had customers in the traditional business like Mobile devices – instead we were sending a lot of engineers from Sweden to Asia and the worst way you can utilise an engineer is to have them sitting on a flight!
So we decided to open up the Shanghai office in China. That has been a fantastic success. We have a very good team over there, and we’ve got great collaboration between our three sites – Shanghai, Lund in Sweden and Potsdam in New York. There were a lot of changes to be made and I’m proud of how open the team has been to these, right from the start. We’ve implemented a more agile way of working which has enabled people to take more responsibility while management focuses on setting strategy and pointing out the direction. The team is now running itself and as a result working closely with our customers achieving excellent results.
Of course we’re only part way through our transformation and there’s still more to do. We have created three business units focused on Smart cards, Mobile devices and Digital identity. The Mobile area is established already and we see a gradual increase in revenue from Smart cards and Digital identity, especially now that we’ve created our product Precise YOUNiQ and are running several proof of concept pilots. As part of our transformation we’ve also changed our strategy around how we communicate. In the past we’ve focused on communicating about the technology and algorithms for biometrics but now we’re moving to focus on the end customer and the real life problems we are solving. We’re talking about why everyday life is complicated and why not make it simple instead? Through a range of biometric modalities, the body can be utilized as the key for convenience and security.
The biometrics industry is in a time of change. What excites you about the future?
Digital identity is becoming increasingly important in today’s society. Everyday behaviour is changing for all of us. Consider banking for instance, we hardly ever visit a bank branch now and we prefer to carry out banking transactions online. We’re making many more purchases online and as a consequence, there’s an increased need for accurate identification and verification of a person for digital services. Previously we had to physically visit a bank branch to identify ourselves in order to open an account, using a passport or driving license. In the future all of this will change. Cash is also disappearing. It’s predicted that by 2023, Sweden will be one of the first countries that will have digital money only. This higher need for secure and convenient methods of identification and verification can only be met through biometrics. And an individual’s data needs to be owned and managed by them.
What’s been the best thing about your role and working with Precise over the past year?
All of the fantastic people of course, it is always about the people for me! I’ve been delighted to see how swiftly we’ve been able to adopt the new strategy and seeing the good cooperation between the team members in Shanghai, Lund and Potsdam. It means that in the future we will not rely on just one leg, we’ll actually be standing on three legs.
It’s also reassuring to get the feedback from the industry that Precise is highly regarded both in terms of what we offer and our leading reputation of very high quality. Achievements such as our recent contract signing with Egis Technology and Mastercard smartcard certification for credit cards shows we’re on the right track!