By Meghan McMahon via PRISM International
In an industry greatly changed and affected by advancing technology, records management firm Tejoury has managed to not only stay the course, but also chart a path of growth to become the largest company of its kind in Saudi Arabia. Salman Alsudeary, who started Tejoury in 2007 and serves as the managing director, said one reason the company has enjoyed such success is because it embraces the changes and advances in technology rather than viewing them as obstacles. He believes the company’s reputation as the highest-quality provider in the market is the driving force behind its prominence.
“Successful companies typically are good at what they do, and this means leveraging current technologies, managing staff efficiently, and delivering on their commitments,” he said. “One of the key elements in building and maintaining a long-term relationship with our customers is trust.”
Tejoury has been able to develop close relationships with clients, giving them the level of comfort that comes with working with a trusted business partner. “Honesty is at the core of these values, and to me means being honest in our pricing, delivery, and even in declaring our mistakes.”
But to Alsudeary, honesty goes beyond simply admitting mistakes. “It’s not enough to just say, ‘I messed up,’” he said, it also includes telling clients how errors will be prevented in the future. For example, in a
meeting with a client, the account or project manager will go over the work they’ve done, including reporting on any issues that developed and how they addressed those issues and plan to prevent them moving forward.
Success from a Small Start
Tejoury started small, with just five employees and $50,000 in revenue in its first year; however, the company has been able to grow and persevere even in a market in which outsourcing records management was mostly unknown. Today, with more than 1,000 employees and a healthy outlook for the future, Alsudeary said Tejoury is now able to lay the groundwork for success in an industry less driven by paper storage.
“We are incorporating a considerable amount of technology ourselves as well as focusing on more variability in our service offerings,” he said.
The key to investing in technology, according to Alsudeary, is to leverage it to make the work more efficient.
“We see that the threat of technology cannot be avoided in the long term, and therefore our solution is to continuously invest in it to maintain our relevance and existence.”
The primary market Tejoury serves is financial institutions, although clients come from many sectors, both public and private. He said they make a concerted effort to focus on growing business with commercial clients.
“We want to go after businesses as a priority because commercial industries have a much shorter sales cycle. It’s a strategic decision.”
Regional Differences and Demands
Saudi Arabia is unique in records management compared with other areas of the world. For example, because the industry is younger in Saudi Arabia than in Europe and other regions, companies still are seeing substantial growth on a yearly basis in page volume, compared with the 1% increases typical in
the United States. Regulations, too, are different in the Middle East, Alsudeary said, using privacy laws as an example. Although the United States has the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, to protect citizens’ privacy, in Saudi Arabia, the financial
liability is subordinate. In addition, paper records historically have been maintained for a long period in Saudi Arabia. However, new regulations are changing that, allowing for some records to be retained for a predetermined amount of time, more in line with international standards, Alsudeary said.
One way this affects business is with regard to capacity. “We have to plan for capacity,” he said. “If retention of records is shortened, that revenue goes away, but capacity is freed up.”
In turn, that new capacity can be used to grow business. “If you manage it correctly, it allows you to tap other avenues for revenue.” He added that regulatory compliance is constantly evolving, requiring adaptability and commitment, and that’s the cost of doing business in the records management industry.
“Regulations in our industry are largely regional. Our presence is currently in Saudi Arabia only, and we have been very focused on taking a proactive role in understanding any new regulations that are being proposed,” he said. “We engage with our clients as well as the regulatorsthemselves to understand and prepare for them.”
It’s important to understand how regulations and laws regarding records management and document storage and destruction relate to specific industries and clients—but it’s equally important to not view the rules as impediments to growth, Alsudeary said. “We didn’t just read the regulations,” that govern Tejoury’s work with financial clients, he said. “We got creative and found ways to turn that into an advantage, to provide a service and allow our clients to be compliant with these laws.”
Impacts of a Changing Industry
Despite Tejoury’s success since 2007, Alsudeary said the company and the industry as a whole do face significant threats, primarily from technology, a poor economic outlook, and bad competition.
The quickly evolving and growing reliance on technology is an obvious factor dramatically affecting paper archiving, but according to Alsudeary, technology issues go beyond that. “The threat of technology, in my opinion, is not only within the obvious outcome, but also in the impact it has on the pace of change as well as the cost of remaining competitive and relevant as technology evolves.”
One challenge is that as technology advances, some functions become obsolete. “Scanning bureaus in the United States, for example, used to do considerable scanning of checks. However, many banks are now accepting check deposits though mobile apps that the client scans himself or herself,” he said. For Tejoury, its home in the Middle East also leaves it more vulnerable to the changing economic climate because of the dramatic changes in oil prices, Alsudeary said. “The government has been forced to overhaul its spending—which in our region is one of the key factors for economic growth—and apply austerity measures. This in turn has made many of our clients reconsider their future spending and have commenced requesting unit price discounts and limiting some of their non-core projects.”
One of the industry threats that’s less recognized and discussed, he said, is poor competitive behavior. One example of this is price gauging, which some companies use as a tool to increase their market share. This behavior also comes in the form of subpar services offered from competing firms, he added “This sours clients we serve against our entire industry and in some instances even provides them with the motivation to turn away from any outsourcing,” he said.
Looking to the Future
Despite these industry threats, Alsudeary sees the opportunity to grow and thrive. “It’s not all doom and gloom, so to speak.” Looking to the future, Alsudeary said Tejoury will continue to innovate its expanding service offerings for clients. He said it’s important for those in the industry to remember that “less paper doesn’t mean less information.” The shrinking numbers of paper records affects business, but it should not be a deterrent to remaining in the forefront in the industry. Instead, you have to look at what is replacing the paper records. “You have to start thinking about managing information, not just managing records,” he said. “I think that’s the future of the industry.”