A Year in the Life of Valo in 2020

What a year that was! Like for many, ours was filled with highs and lows. Kicking off the new year we celebrated opening a new Valo APAC office in Melbourne. This quickly turned into sadness when our beloved father of Valo, the great Jari Pullinen, tragically passed away at the beginning of April. We ended on a high with launching multiple new products and rolling out new developments in the company.

So, as this tough year draws to a close, we’d like to take a closer look at the highlights from the year.

1. Embraced remote, agile, ‘new normal’ ways of working

As techies we’re used to being digital nomads, working wherever we lay our heads. However, even for us, shifting our entire team to working remotely was a challenge.

Yet, thanks to our talented and dedicated staff, and using our own Valo tech, we pulled together and managed this transition swiftly and smoothly… taking our Valo Fun online. We introduced online yoga, a hobbies channel and a dedicated space for lunch hours; and we’ve even celebrated our first online Halloween and Christmas parties too!

Every Tuesday we’ve run our popular #TransparencyTuesday on our social media channels, where we’ve showcased something fun or informative from behind the scenes. Take a closer look at our Instagram @valointranet and make sure to follow us if you don’t already.

 

Our Valo Partners have also joined in the online fun. A big shout out to Justin Short from Premium Partner Synergi who brought some much-needed laughter and cheer at the start of lockdown when he turned up to one of our bi-weekly meetings as a 10-year old kid!

Snapcamera on action

Thanks Justin for making us laugh during the first lockdown!

2. Created an even stronger Valo Partner Network, adding 50 new Valo Partners

As a partner-driven business, the Valo Partner family is so important to us. This year we are delighted to welcome 50 new partners into our fold.

Our aim is to give our partners more to sell and more to do, so with the launch of three new products and a brand-new licensing pricing model, I think that’s been achieved this year!

We’re constantly working hard to support the Valo Partners in achieving more sales. This year we rolled a dedicated learning portal to help our Valo Partners get up to speed and onboard the Valo ship as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Valo empowers us with training. They give us the tools we need to do the deployment. They regularly host annual partner meet ups, Valo Summits and monthly platinum webinars. The on-going training really empowers me to be more successful with the product.

To top that off, since opening our APAC office, we’re now able to provide support to the Valo Partner Network in every time zone, 24/5. So there’s always someone on hand to help with those support tickets!

We’re great believers in continually learning, especially from our Valo Partners, which is why we hosted our very first global #ValoDevKitchen partner-only event this November. Take a look at the video below to see some serious cooking by the ValoTechies!

We invited our Valo Partners into our ValoDevKitchen so they could sample some of our latest products and features. We challenged them to come up with innovative ways to use the new tools to create their own mouth-watering demo, the best of which we rewarded in each region! Congrats Insight from APAC, GIS from EMEA, and CreoSpark from Americas.

3. Sold our Finnish consulting business

Jari would have been proud of our many achievements throughout 2020 – particularly securing his Microsoft hero Jeff Teper as our ending keynote speaker in the Valo Online EU Summit. And with our founding President Pekka Walkama now at the helm, we gone on to have one of the biggest years of Valo yet.

We also had to say goodbye to some of our #ValoTalent and wished them the best of luck in the next chapter of their careers. In particular, Sebstien Levert, who had been with us from almost the start as a Product Lead, has gone on to take a prominent role within Microsoft. We will miss him but are happy to say we are in safe hands with the new Product Owners.

In September our Finnish mother company Blue Meteorite sold the Finnish consulting business to the rapidly expanding Finnish IT service provider Valtti Kumppanit.

The sale brought together the operations of two complementary companies, strengthening both Blue Meteorite’s consulting business and Valtti’s expert services and supporting their joint growth strategy within Finland.

This means that Valo’s mother company Blue Meteorite will now focus entirely on developing Valo’s product suite in the international market and the Finnish consulting business will continue to work closely with our team – selling Valo’s products in the Finnish market.

I’m super excited about the future of Valo. This gives us the freedom to really concentrate 100 percent on Valo’s products. We’re going to push on the gas pedal even more and accelerate towards our vision of becoming the best and most lovable digital workplace product suite on the Microsoft platform.

4. Received awards & celebrated successes

The year got got off to a good start by winning two ClearBox Consulting SharePoint Intranet Choices 2020 awards. Out of 30 SharePoint intranet in-a-box solutions they analyzed, Valo topped the bill and won Intranet Choice – Europe 2020 and Intranet Choice – North America 2020!

Valo Intranet Clearbox report Intranet Choice 2020 Europe North America

Thanks ClearBox we love being your Intranet Choice 2020 for Europe and North America!

Six months later, we were stoked to find out to be awarded the Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year 2020 Award in the Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Category for Finland for our Digital Workplace Product Suite.

In addition, when the new 5.4 version of Clearbox’s intranets-in-a-box report came out this fall, the Valo Product Suite ranked high again. To cap the year off, we have also been rated in the “Top 50 Microsoft Partners in the world” by Fifty Five and Five’s latest survey!

5. Launched three new digital workplace tools

During this last year, heavy investments were made in the development of our Valo Product suite. Microsoft’s Jeff Teper recently said at Microsoft Ignite 2020 with work becoming more hybrid, “customers need the simplicity of having all their tools working harmoniously”, and for us, that means in one place, in Microsoft Teams. So this year we worked hard to bring out the “Valo Version” of the digital toolset for tomorrow’s digital workplace. Take a look at our infographic on our vision below:

User at the Center of A Digital Workplace

See how our digital tools connect within Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft 365 ecosystem with the user at the center.

We’ve put extra effort into new technologies such as Microsoft Teams, with the aim of becoming the world’s leading, most lovable digital workplace product suite built on the Microsoft Platform.

We’re definitely not just a packaged intranet company anymore. We are also that, but not only that.

To work towards this goal, we’ve launched three totally new products that we believe will help you in your day-to-day work.

  • Valo Connect – the app to bring and integrate all Valo functionalities and potentially even third party apps within Microsoft Teams.
  • Valo Ideas  – for running co-innovation and ideation processes within an organization with gamification elements – also running in Microsoft Teams.
  • Valo Entrance – an easy tool to give access to external users to various Microsoft 365 resources with a single dashboard and effortless self-registration.

In the next year, we’re going to put all our efforts in to making the Valo Product suite the best in class.

6. Introduced a new alternative subscription license pricing model

Earlier this year, we responded to our customer requests and introduced a brand new pricing model. Our new subscription-based pricing license is now an alternative to the existing perpetual license. This pay-as-you-go license is especially good news for our partners working in emerging markets.

In fact, the feedback from our customers and partners is really great!

Our customers say that our new pay-as-you-go pricing is the best thing since sliced bread!

7. Opened a brand new office in Melbourne Australia, serving the APAC region

Although the APAC region is not a new territory for us, as we sold the first Valo license there back in 2017, this is the first year we’ve had our Valo Team members on the ground. With our headquarters in Melbourne, our aim is to better serve our growing base of Valo Partners and customers in all the territories in the APAC region.

valo team apac grows

Meet our new APAC team (from the left) Jouni Pohjolainen, Jarmo Kuusinen, Shira Friedman and Daniel Anderson.

Having a local team in Australia allows us to deliver regional technical partner support, partner management services and marketing activity in the time zone that is more convenient for them. Plus, our resident Partner Manager Daniel Anderson regularly shares his best practice “Quick Tip” videos on how to use the Valo Product suite.

As a result of our new office, new relationships have been built with a bunch of new Valo Partners in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and India. Take a closer look at the APAC expansion that happened in 2020.

8. Hosted our first ever online 24-hour #ValoFest

In June, we hosted our very first 24-hour online digital event, #ValoFest, with amazing keynote speakers: Karin Zingmark, a TEDx Speaker giving the session “Leadership and Communications in a connected world of work”; Mark Kashman, a Senior Product Manager at Microsoft showcasing how “Microsoft Teams loves SharePoint” from a technical perspective and Laurie Pottmeyer, the Community Lead for Microsoft Teams at Microsoft speaking on “You Asked: Microsoft Teams Answers!”.

Take a look below at Mark Kashman’s greetings to the audience before the show!

With well over 1,100 attendees and attracting high-calibre speakers including our in-house tech experts, Valo Partners, and a lot of the Microsoft industry greats, we want to thank everyone for sharing their expertise with us and the attendees!

If you missed the live action, don’t worry – you can still register here for access to all the amazing content for free. And look out for our second #ValoFest coming up in spring 2021, the info is coming soon!

9. Held three regional Valo Online Summits

Since we couldn’t hold our regional Valo Summit Tour in person this year, the educational content and parties moved online! The first one was held for the American Valo Partners in April, the second was in the beginning of June for the European partners and we finished the year off with an APAC Valo Partner show!

We are especially proud of securing one of the “founding fathers” of Microsoft, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, Jeff Teper, who gave a keynote speech at the end of our Valo Online Summit EU. This event was open for everyone and is still available for viewing here.

We had the pleasure of awarding our valued Valo Partners in the annual Partner Awards for each region! Valo Partner of the Year in NA was Catapult Systems, in the EU the award went to Dapt (previously known as Bravo Solutions) and in the APAC region Digital First.

On top of this, awards were given out in the following categories: Contributor of the Year, Best Customization, Best Customer Success Story and Marketing Master. To see who won per region in the other categories, take a look at the NA Award winners, EU Award winners and APAC award winners!

This year we also welcomed an additional 50 new partners and 150 new customers to our global #ValoFamily. We can’t wait to have them part of these events as well!

10. Continuous learning with Valo’s ideation and innovation week

Sadly, our annual in-person global ValoTeamCamp had to be postponed, but no worries – the entire team managed to meet up online instead. In September, the first ever Valo Strategy and Innovation Days were held over three time zones, where we put our newly launched Valo Ideas tool to good use!

Learning is part of our culture. So is sharing new ideas and improving on old ones. So, our new Valo Ideas tool was the perfect way to create an environment where our team members felt safe to share their ideas in a transparent way.

As our Production Manager rightly said in her recent blog post we have great individuals in the Valo Team but product development and innovation is a team effort!

What you can achieve with a team is greater than what you can achieve on your own.

***

Thank you to all our Valo Partners and friends, despite everything it’s been a good year. We look forward to working closely with you in 2021. And hopefully, we’ll get to meet up in person again too!

Have a happy and safe holiday season! 💛

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