|Igor Ulis - Co-Founder and CEO, Omnigon|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 07 December 2015 09:54
Can you tell us about Omnigon and how you formed the company?
Omnigon started over seven years ago with a couple of people that I’ve known from my previous companies. We came together to start a professional services company; we later expanded it to focus solely on sports, media and entertainment.
It was based on a number of relationships that we’ve had in the industry and from there, through the work that we were doing with Madison Square Garden and a couple of other large entities around New York, the word about Omnigon spread.
We realised we were onto something when there were no other companies approaching the market from a perspective that we were - a very specific focus on the software development discipline, with very strong visual and user experience design.
So we started to heavily market our services across North America and then later on into Europe. We opened our office in London nearly two years ago; the larger European market has since opened to us as well.
What is your background and how did you come up with the idea?
I am a software developer by trading; I have a computer science degree. Ultimately, the business side of computer engineering was more attractive, meaning actually designing the solution and working with a client to figure out exactly how to make it work best for their needs. I’ve led a number of large scale projects for Omnigon and I love the technology aspect of it.
I love building systems that need to scale to millions of fans in very rapid ways, that really is what is very attractive to me about the industry that we’re in. I’m very excited about where the industry is going as well.
How does Omnigon stand out from its competitors in the digital industry and how hard is it to keep up?
We don’t really go out there advertising ourselves as a digital agency, we are more of a consultancy, we focus on understanding what the particular business problem is that the client is trying to solve and then identifying the right solution for that particular problem.
One of the reasons why clients say they like working with us is that we offer them 90% of the functionality for 50% of the price. What that really means is we don’t go out there trying to build the fanciest or most advanced solution that the market can offer, we try to identify the most appropriate solution for the particular business need that the client is trying to solve.
Other agencies out there may be focused on creating the most visually engaging experience or the most technologically advanced experience, but we like to understand the business implications of the solution that we’re putting forward and how that fits into the client ecosystem that we’re working with.
What markets are you trying to tap into geographically, you have an office in London but where else would you like to be?
We are aggressively expanding in Europe and the larger European market, working with clients in Germany and Italy and obviously the UK. We are looking to expand beyond Europe into Asia, obviously a very interesting market place, very different to what we’re used to in North America and Europe.
So we think that will be our next big conquest and we look forward to seeing how that evolution comes through.
What sectors are you targeting, you’re strongly involved in sports and entertainment , are there any others?
We’re going to continue to focus heavily on sports, media and entertainment. We feel those are our niche markets and where we can continue to bring the most benefit to our clients. We understand the unique relationship between the fan and the content that they’re consuming, whether that content be sports content or entertainment content.
Obviously the nature of the fan changes and the type of engagement that the fan expects also changes, but the fundamental notion of someone being very passionate about whatever it is they’re consuming stays common across those three industries.
You talk about understanding what the fans want, Omnigon designed the Rugby World Cup app, how did it come about and are you a fan of rugby?
I had not heard much about rugby until we started working in Europe. I certainly enjoy it now and I understand more about it now than I did before.
We obviously have a number of people that are working in our European offices that are huge fans of rugby and were very deeply involved in the design of that app and the user experience that app offered.
We worked very closely with World Rugby in understanding what it is that they’re trying to achieve with rolling out a mobile solution.
There were a number of moving pieces with the mobile app that needed to be addressed; there was the in-stadium experience and understanding what a fan wants to see when they’re at the venue. There’s the at home experience in the local market and what that fan wants to consume and then there’s the larger global fanbase.
I honestly didn’t know how prevalent the sport was globally and how popular the event is until we started working with World Rugby.
There are millions, if not billions, of people that consume this content all around the world and we needed to understand what it means to present content in multiple languages, what it means to present streaming video across the multiple geographies, so obviously a number of different moving pieces that make this app very complex to roll out but also very interesting and engaging for the fan wherever that fan may be.
The app was a great success, do you have a favourite piece of work that you have done at Omnigon over the years?
We love all our clients and we love all the work we do. Certainly a number of different digital experiences stand out and for me being a software engineer. Some of my more favourite apps are probably those that are more complex to build.
We do a lot of work in racing and the complexity of delivering data from a race track makes it an interesting and complicated endeavour to undertake where you have only a few milliseconds from the time that the data is collected at the track, to the time that the data has to be collected and presented on the actual mobile device.
There are a number of apps we’ve built that have these very low latency requirements for data delivery. Those are probably my most favourite, purely from a technical engineering perspective.
But certainly a number of different experiences that we’ve built have a large number of unique functional points as well as unique visual experiences that make them extremely attractive to the fan.
Looking ahead, what are the next moves for Omnigon and where do you want to see the company in the next five years?
We are doing a lot more work with delivering video across a number of different platforms - we feel that is an evolving industry segment that will see a number of different business models come out in the next two years.
The whole notion of delivering subscription video is something that is changing globally. We see a very strong shift in how content is packaged and delivered now that users expect to consume content in whatever fashion they want, on whatever device they want and in whatever timeframe they want.
So we’re very excited about where that industry is headed and we are doing our best to keep up with all the trends in how that particular aspect of the sports industry is evolving.
There’s also a number of devices that are coming out to the market that will ultimately revolutionise even the nature of the content that we’re consuming.
Consuming 3D content is not something that we thought about two years ago but within the next two years you’re going to see a lot of people wearing these headsets that will allow them to experience a sporting event in a way that has never been available to them before.
Naturally, it is an interesting aspect of the industry that we’re keeping a close eye on and seeing how we can build digital experiences that incorporate that. The notion of personalisation of content is also something that we see evolving very strongly in the industry.
Being able to have the sports ecosystem understand me as a fan, what teams I like, what sports I like, what devices I have and when those devices are on me at a particular time of day or week and how to present me with the content that I want at the exact moment, exactly when that sports news or sport event happened, is something we’re working with our clients very closely on and designing a number of interesting initiatives around that.
Igor Ulis is the Chief Executive Officer and founding partner at Omnigon, a digital consulting firm that delivers strategic, technical and creative guidance and solutions to leaders in the sports, media and entertainment industries.
Prior to Omnigon, Ulis was co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Something Digital, a boutique software consulting firm focusing on non-profit and healthcare sectors. Among the company’s clients were The Partnership for Drug Free America, Association for a Better New York and the Greater New York Hospital Association.