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SPi GLOBAL: Taking the quantum leap

In this era of IoT and start-ups, the pioneering spirit is perhaps at its record high.

Disruption is quickly becoming the norm – whether in science, agriculture or any field of industry and study. The availability of information with the aid of technology allows this rapid advancement. And as society becomes more entrenched in vast amounts of information, evolution takes a turn – on the way people live, how knowledge is processed over time, and how businesses engage with their customers. The ability to promptly and appropriately adapt to the changing needs of this age, therefore, is a much sought-after attribute.

This is the kind of company SPi Global is all about. Here, excellence is a standard that translates to creating value that sustains growth for its clients’ businesses across multiple information-intensive industries. For 38 years, the company has proven to be a resilient and reliable partner to industry-leading companies for their content and technology solutions needs; anticipating the demands of the markets to ensure business transformative outcomes.

Setting up an offshore team for a leading information provider leveraging a combination of multi-lingual resources in 12 languages, for instance, was not a herculean feat for SPi Global. Its multi-site strategy, combined with web extraction and normalization technologies, is a customized solution that supports a product that meets the risk and compliance requirements of banks and financial institutions.

Similarly, over the last year, state-of-the art technology tools have been developed to improve operational efficiencies, such as an auto-proofing system for journals which can process a manuscript in just under five minutes. A process that used to take 24 hours to complete, the advanced automation platform has quickened time-to-market for a leading scholarly publisher by 7000%.

Impressive testimonials and compelling stories featuring unprecedented results permeate among the company’s diverse and highly technical clientele. But truth be told, not too long ago, the company was more known as a traditional publishing services provider. Disruption wasn’t the norm, even when the concept of innovation was always a broadly encouraged mind-set.

Building a strong brand

Established in 1980 providing data entry services to Fortune 500 companies, SPi Global was a pioneer in the country’s outsourcing industry. Years later, the company expanded its suite of services to include journal editorial and content production in what has become SPi’s core business.

Today, SPi Global is the market-leader in providing end-to-end content technology solutions for the extraction, processing, and enrichment of structured and unstructured content.

Headquartered in Parañaque City, Philippines with19 delivery centers spread across six countries including India, the US, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and China, SPi Global provides data services and subject matter expertise to companies involved in deeply specialized domains coming from various industries such as research, scientific, technical and medical publishing; education publishing and digital learning; and secondary data aggregators to include fintech, legal, risk, media, retail and corporates.

Infusing disruption amidst a culture of innovation

Among the business tenets of SPi Global is to protect its core services. However, a volatile market and the constant emergence of more sophisticated technologies push the boundaries of the content solutions landscape, requiring renewed perspectives. According to SPi Global President and CEO Ratan Datta, to remain relevant as a content player, it is not enough to help the markets reach their goals; instead, one must start taking the market where it needs to go. “We can only do this by owning the future of content technologies. Our grand goal is to leapfrog giant IT consulting companies, and dominate the content markets as an end-to-end technology leader,” Ratan said in a 2016 memo to SPi Global leaders crystalizing the vision and setting the strategic direction of the company when he assumed leadership.

To jettison old processes and develop new-and-improved ones, SPi Global reassessed its content solutions platforms, realigned its technology development capabilities and launched value creating initiatives for new and existing clients.

Pioneering technology tools and applications were reprogrammed to streamline processes, like in the case of Fusion Flow™. A pre-publishing management tool that reduces hand-offs by condensing the pre-editing, copyediting and typesetting stages into one user, it accelerates productivity to 300%.

In-house logos were also updated and trade-marked, such as the SPiCE™. SPi Global’s proprietary editing application which supports over 3,000 patterns for auto-structuring and referencing, it does not only ensure language accuracy during the pre-editing and copyediting stages, but also transforms word documents into digital products.

Cloud-based platforms and software were deployed to enhance customer experience, like the Online Proofing System (OPS). An accessible editing space designed as a collaborative environment between author and editor, it gives authors the capacity to make notes and changes directly to the user-friendly interface.

While the company’s movement as a content technology player became more agile, sophisticated end-to-end technology models emerged in-house to respond to more mainstream industries. The Email Classification Service (ECS) was built to extract, evaluate, normalize, classify and monitor research email data traffic of financial services firms. The NLP-based platform integrates regulatory compliance requirements with actionable insights to facilitate data-driven decision-making.

Employee programs were also launched in response to Ratan’s call for change.

The Infinity Awards, an ideation platform that opens opportunities for employees to operationalize transformative ideas made waves across the enterprise. On its maiden run in late 2016, SPi Global’s leadership team screened a total of 209 proposals from over 400 participants. Some of the winning projects during its first outing like the machine learning-based RoboReader™, the accessibility service for subtitling and closed captioning SPiCaps, and the Technical Publishing Outsourcing (TPO) service are already generating revenues. The program’s winning projects of 2017 are currently on pilot stage, while the 2018 Infinity Awards is headway towards the screening process with almost 400 project ideas received.

A smart and strategic move: From KPO to technology solutions

The distinctions earned by SPi Global through the years were testament to the company’s dominance in the KPO sphere. It’s been recognized as a “Global Outsourcing Leader” by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) in the prestigious Global Outsourcing 100 list. The company also received the “Outsourcing Professional Award for Best Business Process Outsourcing Team” from the National Outsourcing Association in the UK (NOA), it was also cited in the Black Book of Outsourcing and awarded multiple times in the Philippines ICT International Awards, among others. It would have been easier to stay at this comfort level doing things where it is already good at and recognized for.

However, Ratan charted a change of direction that would completely shift SPi to a technology paradigm. “If there is a way to do a journal article uniquely from a hosted platform then we should be the first in the world to do it. If there is a way to do zero composition and minimal editing to get a whole book done in a matter of days, for a fraction of current costs, then we should be the first in the world to do it,” Ratan said. “Once again the emphasis is on transforming service into a technology solution.”

Recently, SPi acquired SCOPE e-Knowledge Center and opened a new delivery center in Noida, India. These and other initiatives have placed the company on a trajectory of rapid expansion. At the same time, they demonstrate commitment to innovation and technology development, aimed at deepening existing client relationships and engaging new partners. By harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, specifically machine learning (ML) with natural language processing (NLP), to decipher both structured and unstructured content – text, image, or voice, SPi Global is bound to further sharpen its tools to help organizations realize the full potential of their information assets.

Becoming the undisputed leader in the content technology solutions industry is more than a matter of tenure. It is about having deep domain expertise honed by the challenges of change and driven by the purpose to surpass its laurels. Being named one of 2018’s “25 Hottest Artificial Intelligence Companies” in Asia Pacific by a leading print magazine and IT consultancy firm out of Silicon Valley is telling that SPi Global’s technology leap towards making content accessible, adaptable and actionable was not simply a matter of time. For a smart company, it was, inevitably, a matter of course.