None of us saw the crises of 2020 coming and the Covid-19 lockdowns hit our market and customer base very hard. We focus on the Sub Saharan SME hospitality and retail markets, which have been most impacted by Covid-19.
We restructured the company when the pandemic struck in order to preserve cash and protect our core development, QA, and support teams. Fortunately, we had all our systems set up to work from anywhere, as befits a cloud-centric software company.
Looking back at 2020, product-wise, we worked hard on five parallel efforts:
- Improve the existing products to adapt to rapidly evolving market needs such as remote ordering, reducing touch where possible and adding a raft of new integrations. The new integrations have been centered around hospitality PMS systems and more payment and loyalty methods. We will soon release support for most of the more robust bank card payment devices, as well as cash management machines. All of the integrations have been developed to be re-used by the next generation of TallOrder apps.
- Developing a new set of back-office portal apps that will dramatically improve admin functionality going forward. The new admin portals are being developed using the same technology as the next-generation POS apps, which will ensure we gain a lot more development resources across the product range. With the new AWS Cape Town data center up and running, we will host the new portals locally vs out of Ireland to boost performance.
- Releasing Now, SlipApp and myTab. Now allows easy access to sales and performance data for owners and managers optimised for smartphone use. SlipApp replaces production printers plus generates accurate performance data about every step of the order and production process. SlipApp can also be used on any device to replace a failed production printer. Very handy after hours! MyTab is our new customer-facing display app that will display the items as they get added to the invoice and then display the selected QRCode for easy checkout, without the need for printing a Pro-forma invoice. The next step for myTab will be displaying a special QRCode that will enable customers to link themselves to the invoice for both loyalty and own device checkout purposes.
- Developing the next-generation version of POS using leading-edge technologies that will result in better performance across a wider range of POS devices. The most important aspect of the new POS will be the release of a platform that can scale well for a number of years into the future. The first releases of the new POS app will be for single device merchants and it will gain shared local functionality next.
- Implementing the TallOrder data warehouse using AWS Redshift. Combining lots of SmallData into an aggregated BigData set has been a cornerstone of the TallOrder vision from the start. Our goal is to be able to help our merchants with advanced demand forecasting by applying machine learning. Plus, the generation of extremely useful peer benchmarking data to help our merchants focus on areas they need to improve. The deployment of an industrial-grade data warehouse will allow us to make major and ongoing improvements to the TallOrder business intelligence capacities.
We have had to adapt to doing demos remotely, installing, and training remotely plus providing customer support on a remote basis. Despite much-reduced marketing budgets, the Marketing team ramped up lead generation big time. The support team has been the unsung heroes behind the scenes; keeping our clients running on a 7×24 basis which is no small feat for a relatively small team.
Anna’s team adapted very well to the new normal and we go into the holiday time far busier than ever before! We see sales growth supported by the move to the cloud as well as by opening up markets north of South Africa.
The pandemic has forced many businesses to rethink their cloud strategy so that owners and managers can manage more of their own businesses remotely. This has accelerated the move from the old-style legacy solutions to cloud-based solutions which are driving strong sales growth.
We have customers running in a number of overseas countries and see strong demand for TallOrder in many other markets, especially driven by the market-leading set of PMS integrations. We expect to see strong hard currency growth in the year ahead as we add support for popular international payment methods.
We wish all of our customers, channel partners, and team a healthy, great holiday season and all of the best for 2021 – may it be much better than 2020 for all. Thank you very much for your support in this toughest of years!