As K2 kicks off our 20th anniversary, we are so grateful for everything it took to get here. This anniversary is a special intersection of gratitude and possibility, and we're excited to celebrate our achievements together. We recently sat down with K2's CEO & President, Evan Ellis to get his perspective on what has led to the company's success and longevity.
What are the secrets of K2’s success and longevity?
K2 has a rich history, and I believe the secret to the company’s success is the people. They are the heart and soul of our company. We have employees who have been with us from the beginning, and one in five employees have been with us for more than 10 years.
K2 has a unique culture and it goes back to our South African roots. South Africans value family, they value loyalty, and they work hard — but they also like to have fun. All of these characteristics have formed a great inner foundation. We’ve built upon that foundation, and it is represented by the people who have joined the company over the years from all over the world. I believe our cultural diversity has enriched and strengthened our company immensely.
In addition to our people, I know the key to our success is our loyal customers. We have operations around the globe, including large enterprises or multinational companies distributed around the world.
Sixty-five percent of K2 customers have been with K2 for more than five years, and 20% have been with K2 for more than 10 years. What have your customers brought to the company, and why do you think you have so many long-term customers?
Though our customers are in just about every industry, our platform enables them to develop applications supporting nearly every function within their business. This automatically results in a breadth and depth of companies and customers, which is not only incredibly interesting but creates a richness for both our employees and our customers.
The other piece is that our mission has remained the same throughout our 20-year history: We exist to put innovation in the hands of the business user to make the impossible easy. Everyone talks about innovation and that is one of our values, but we come at it a little differently.
We want to create solutions for our customers that will empower them to be innovative so they can transform their business. The fact that we’ve stayed true to that idea is one reason we have so many long-standing customers. They’ve grown right alongside K2, and this makes us strive even harder to continue to develop better and stronger products.
Can you speak to the changes to the technological landscape over the past 20 years?
When K2 started 20 years ago, there weren’t a lot of companies focused on the cloud. We initially provided our solution to customers in the traditional way: We sold them the software, and they deployed it on servers and ran it themselves. We provided support, but there wasn’t a tight bond once the customer took delivery of the product.
Over this 20-year period, the industry has begun to migrate to the cloud and so has K2, which has allowed us to deepen our relationships with our customers. With the old way, there wasn't an intense focus on day-to-day customer service. That’s all changed in the cloud environment.
We now provide a very strong cloud offering. It’s not only being embraced by the majority of our new customers, but our legacy customers are beginning to migrate as well. K2 Nexus, our cloud-based platform, is the key area that underlies everything else.
Other important areas are mobile — which has become so critical to how applications are developed (both online and offline) — and integration. In today's environment, companies can’t deliver the kind of value customers demand without integrating into their existing applications or data sources.
Over the past 20 years, we’ve focused on being innovators in a changing technological landscape, which is critical to allowing us to continue providing value to our customers.
Expand a bit briefly about what those ongoing relationships have meant to K2 and what they meant to you since you've taken over as CEO.
The relationships with our customers are key, and this is illustrated in many different ways. We have a very strong set of customers who are eager to speak on our behalf and share their experience with prospects or existing customers. It's very rewarding, and to me, it’s a real testament that we are providing value.
We've also heard from customers that deploying K2 applications in their organization has enhanced their careers and led to them being recognized as leaders who are helping their organization transform through digital innovation.
When a customer talks about the dollars and cents and the impact, that's great. It's obviously very important because businesses are run on a financial basis. But when customers tell us how our products have enabled them to do things they couldn't do before, or how K2 has created an environment to deliver positive business outcomes, that is very exciting — and we have many customer examples of that.
What have K2’s partners meant to the company over the years, and how have they helped you better serve your customers?
Our partner community is in many ways part of the extended K2 family. We’ve had a set of partners who have developed solutions on the K2 platform, which we can include with our product line, and that's been critical. So they have actually built a product on K2 that they're providing to customers. We have an expansive group of partners worldwide, like UiPath, Google and ABBYY, which is very important because every time they're successful it helps propel K2 forward.
Then we have a set of partners who get very involved in working with customers — whether it's building and deploying applications on the K2 platform in a services environment or helping them expand the applications throughout their organization. These service partners also play a crucial role in our success with customers.
As a company, it's not our strategy to do everything ourselves. We focus on the core orchestration platform while our partners complement and augment our work. Together, we are able to meet our customers where they are and bring them a strong product offering.
Can you talk about the future of the company?
As we embark on 2020 and beyond, we have an even more focused strategy with both global and regional partners. We’ve got an important partner showcase and solution initiative in 2020, which will give partners the ability to deploy rich applications and solutions more quickly and provide customers access to more applications built on the K2 platform.
By forging strong partner relationships, we can focus on developing our core expertise and best-of-breed solutions. Then, our strong partner ecosystem creates amplified value to our joint customer base. It’s an exciting partnership for K2 and our regional and global partners.
We’re equally excited about forging even stronger relationships with our customers, and part of that is being driven by the shift to the cloud. We've been making this transition over the past two years, and this year, we've got an even stronger initiative to begin to move many of our longtime customers over to K2 Nexus.
As they migrate to a cloud environment, we’ll be able to provide more value as we better understand their requirements. With K2 Cloud, our customers can leverage the solution to its fullest and not have to worry about issues such as maintaining servers, managing resources, and — perhaps most important — security. They can leave that up to us. As we get our entire customer base on the cloud, these relationships will grow even stronger.
In addition, we've got some very exciting things that the product team is working on, and we've got one of the biggest product releases we've had in several years coming out this summer. The new product release will enhance the customer experience, and we're committed to continuing to invest in extending our innovation for years to come.
The one thing I have learned in my career is that you're never done. There's always something new to do: one more hill to climb, a new solution or innovative feature to deliver. I'm very excited about what the future holds for K2 and what we can do to continue driving value for our customers over the next 20 years.
To learn more about the history of K2, visit our Celebrate 20 landing page.