The 2018 Beeline Conference: What Did We Learn?

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The 2018 Beeline Conference, which officially wrapped up Wednesday, may in retrospect be a milestone event for the company. Not only was the conference well attended, professionally organized, highly informative and analyst-friendly (in terms of access and transparency), it also provided visibility into a company that has weathered a near-perfect storm in 2017 and is now unfurling its sails, looking toward the horizon. Realistically, on the voyage ahead, there will be both smooth sailing and rough seas — and as any seasoned mariner knows, that’s just how it is.

Challenges

The past year was clearly a challenging one for Beeline — the first year of operating as a single company while combining the former Beeline and IQN legacy VMS systems within a complex, changing market. Hence, the company faced both internal and external challenges:

  • The internal challenges included the usual travails of merging two companies and various balancing acts that can come with that (e.g., promptly eliminating redundancies, while servicing a combined customer base; reorganizing and melding two cultures, while retaining key talent; continuing the ongoing development of the company’s technology on several fronts, most importantly the convergence to one platform; and maintaining a coherent strategy for moving forward). To all of this one must also add that Beeline was managing these challenges under the watchful eye of a private equity investor that was no doubt interested in execution
  • The external challenges included an operating environment that continued to be characterized by disequilibrium, ongoing change, increasing complexity and an evolving competitive and partnering landscape. For a solution provider that has technology at its core, the developing landscape of applicable technologies (e.g., data capture and management, analytics and AI, to name a few), necessitates keeping abreast and correctly matching potential, new solutions to actual client needs. On the one hand, client needs are changing, while, on the other hand, the operational needs remain paramount. There are also changes in procurement (e.g., an apparent shift in priorities from cost savings to talent acquisition). On the supply side, there are talent supply constraints, increasing numbers of independent workers and evolving traditional suppliers, as well as new digital suppliers

In 2017, Beeline dealt with many different challenges — including needing to strike a balance among competing interests and conflicting needs.

Accomplishments

Coming away from the conference, we can point to a number of Beeline’s accomplishments:

  • Coming through the usual post-merger “valley of death” in pretty good shape and ready to move forward (CEO Doug Leeby gave Beeline a grade of B+ for its performance, and we would agree) — although there are still challenges ahead
  • Forging a unified culture — we think, a different Beeline — that is intensifying its focus on client needs and customer support, while adjusting its view of technology. That is, viewing technology as an enabler of meeting client, MSP and supplier needs as they are and as they evolve — perhaps paving the way — rather than as a vanguard that will radically draw clients into the future of work. We’re not sure that Beeline would agree with all of this, but it is the perspective we formed at the conference
  • Completing the Horizon microservices platform in a little over a year was a major accomplishment, as it is really the foundation for the convergence of the two legacy VMS platforms into a single offering. Not only is Horizon the final destination for conversion, it is also an advanced technology platform that will allow for more efficient development of new features, as well as more strategically various and innovative new solutions
  • While there were several features from each legacy VMS platform the provider made accessible to both Beeline and IQN users (via an earlier version of Horizon), the launch of BeelineOne is a major milestone in the conversion/integration trek. BeelineOne — the application and UI layer on top of Horizon — represents what will become all of the functionality that former Beeline and IQN clients, MSPs and suppliers will be using at some point in the future
  • Beeline has continued to evolve its Self-Sourcing offering and is garnering interest and engagement by more clients. Tuning the solution in response to customer needs (what they really need versus what may have been anticipated in an initial solution) has been ongoing and seems to have brought the solution into alignment with customer needs (those being less about having a self-sourcing tool and more about having alternative sourcing channels and access to new talent sources)

There were no doubt other accomplishments that were not visible to us over the course of a two-day conference, but those above were what stood out for us.

Conclusion

The 2018 Beeline Conference will likely be viewed as the conference that occurred at a pivotal moment in Beeline’s history.

Beeline will be moving forward in a future environment that will continue to be characterized by disequilibrium, ongoing change, increasing complexity and an evolving competitive and partnering landscape. These conditions may prevail for at least five to 10 years, or they may continue indefinitely. Having a state-of-the-art technology platform that gives the company the ability to develop new functionality and solutions as the environment continues to change should provide Beeline with a significant advantage. Combine that with Beeline’s ability to be an agile, independent actor in the industry, an open vision, a strong culture and a capable team, and Beeline faces a new set of opportunities with critical capabilities and assets.

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Voices (2)

  1. Sunil Bagai:

    Good summary, Andrew. I agree that it was a great conference, probably one of the best I have attended in a while. I appreciated the transparency from leadership and the warmth extended towards partners. They really do care about the ecosystem and that is refreshing to see.

    Exciting times ahead!

    1. Andrew Karpie:

      Sunil, Was great to see you at the conference (albeit briefy). Let’s meet up in the Bay Area in May to catch up on Crowdstaffing, and in general. Thank you for your readership and support. Best, Andrew

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