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A people-orientated company creating seamless traveller experiences at countries’ borders

A people-orientated company creating seamless traveller experiences at countries’ borders

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Even before the pandemic, the aviation industry needed to invest time and money into transformative digital solutions and the arrival of COVID-19, continued to shape consumers’ preference for a contactless experience. Portugal-based, Vision-Box, supports airports, airlines and governments to optimise the identification and flow of travellers. Vision-Box CEO, Miguel Leitmann, tells Intelligent CXO more about how the company has experienced exponential growth and why it is unique in the global market.

Tell us a bit more about your business.

Vision-Box is a world leader in biometrics seamless travel, automated border management and electronic identity management solutions with technology present in more than 80 airports worldwide. Present on five continents, made up of more than 7,000 digital identity solutions, Vision-Box facilities have been used by more than one billion citizens.
We are the leading partner of the most prestigious airports, airlines, governments and private entities with critical security and identification challenges, supporting them to optimise the identification and flow of travellers, establishing trusted biometric identity enrollment, verification and authentication processes and enabling multi-directional data transactions to transform raw information into actionable business intelligence.

How has the business grown since it first started and how did you ensure growth?

Vision-Box has experienced exponential growth driven by a high level of trust and brand loyalty from some of the most important and prestigious airlines, airports and governments worldwide. Our reputation is built by the fact we are behind several ‘industry firsts’ over the past two decades, including developing, designing and engineering Europe’s first commercial use e-Gate based on facial recognition, deployed at Faro airport in Portugal in 2007.
We are consistently ranked as one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial companies in Europe, have been awarded multiple prizes for our industry-changing technological advancements and we have a commitment to provide our clients with the perfect solution for their specific needs.

At Vision-Box we are in a position where we don’t necessarily need to chase after growth, moreover, we look to capitalise on the industry demand in the most effective way possible. The aviation industry is one of the strongest markets for biometric identification and even before the pandemic the industry was looking or needing to invest time and money into transformative digital solutions and paperless experiences. This, coupled with the impact of the pandemic on shaping consumer preferences for a contactless experience, means that the market is exploding, and we are capturing it to supply a platform capable of coping with the demand. There is also a need to provide a platform which can connect industry stakeholders, either airports, airlines or governments, and delivering a common information and data highway for them to work on an integrated basis as opposed to working in silos. We are the leading platform capable of doing this.

How did the business start?

Vision-Box was providing image processing and video analytics for military projects as the initial core activity, and you could say that we caught the wave at the exact moment when the world was looking for a transition from analogue processing to digital in key industries such as travel.
The Visa Wavier Program in America, which had a huge emphasis on biometrics, was our catalyst moment. When this was activated, Portugal wanted to be one of the first to have biometric passports as the country was already known for having a strong e-government. Though we were competing against global household brands at the time as a new company, the fact we were from Portugal, and the connotations this drew with regards to the digitalisation of processes, really helped us.

We decided to move from video analytics to biometric border control and looked at the ecosystems which needed to be upgraded through automation. At the time, the whole industry was focusing on fingerprint and iris captures, which was proving to be expensive for governments and time-consuming. We knew we had the capabilities to better equip airports and airlines with technology to enable a swifter management of large crowds, in a way which placed security at the heart of the matter while ensuring the best possible user experience.

What’s the business’ approach to management?

Vision-Box is a people-orientated company, not only when designing our user centric solutions to provide technology which places people’s experiences at the fore, but also as an organisation in the way we work. We adopt a management style which breeds creativity and a freedom among employees to present new ideas and solutions but also the approachability for our teams to raise challenges and work together to overcome them. We work hard as a team and our values unify us as we collaborate with each other to ensure we maintain and build on our position as market leaders.

For us at Vision-Box, capital is about human capital. It is our priority to invest in human resources development with quality, vision and ambition. It is where the effect of investment is most propitious. We believe it is the most important element, where companies have managed to resurface and survive in this pandemic environment.
We are unique in the global market because we are the only ones to cover the entire value chain, from software development, hardware construction, implementation and maintenance. That is also why our investment in human capital is so important, because it requires comprehensive skills and visionary people to develop standardised solutions to guarantee the company’s growth.

What is your company’s vision and goal?

Our vision is to be the world’s leading company supporting governments, border control authorities, traveller hubs and all organisations that want or need to improve their security. We are committed to offering superior, tailor-made, border control identity management and security enhancements that excel in dependability, innovation and value creation by bringing the best technological solutions that impact people and organisations collective security, safety, efficiency and convenience.

In the future we envisage expanding this kind of technology beyond aviation to impact the more rounded experience of a traveller even once they have left the airport, tapping into several other environments which require this kind of technology – such as Smart Cities, hire cars, hotels and more.

A big issue for suppliers in this industry is scalability and standardisation. It is one of our main targets to develop solutions which are easily deployable and cover 80% standardisation and are easily scalable to be triggered for a wider range of customers.

What has your career looked like so far?

I had prior experience in the aerospace industry as part of the team which developed, engineered and successfully launched the first Portuguese satellite in 1993. In 1996-2001, I served as the President and CEO of US-based, Logicad3d, (now 3Dconnexion), formerly a Logitech company and spin-off from an aerospace R&D in Germany. I lived abroad for more than 15 years, passing through Germany, Sweden, Italy, France, USA and Japan.

Which market do you provide services for?

Primarily we provide product services and consultancy for the most prestigious airports, airlines, governments and private entities across the world. In producing and manufacturing solutions, we have the whole process in-house, from software to hardware, offering the complete value chain.

The most important stakeholder for the future is the citizen. They have their identity in their pocket via their smartphones, so they are absolutely the most crucial element at the fore of all of our operations and designs. We provide services through superior design, development and implementation of integrated, end-to-end, user centric, digital identity management solutions.

How do you equip your staff with skills and knowledge?

We offer our employees flexible and career progression opportunities, continuous training and development, international exposure and contact with the most prestigious organisations and institutions around the world.
We also have the Vision-Box academe, which is a strategic programme with the mission of creating, promoting and fostering individual and organisational effectiveness by developing and offering an array of innovative and diverse training programmes in support of the organisation’s commitment to employee development and organisational enrichment.

How do you work with other executives within the C-suite to make sure your voice is heard?

Across my leadership teams, I look to implement a strong value for accountability. It’s a hugely relevant buzzword among our C-level executives, almost weekly. Everybody wants to work in a responsible way but the most important thing for me is articulating the value of accountability – seeing a challenge through from start to finish.

We work with a mission mindset, whether that be a two-year business plan for example, and everyone has a responsibility to reach that goal. Ultimately it is their responsibility but of course we are all able to group together to support this.

On a corporate level, interaction across all levels can impact business goal achievement, productivity and profitability. An environment established by open dialogue and the appropriate communication framework requires removing inner barriers, and that’s what I try to do every day at Vision-Box.

How do you ensure different teams in your organisation work together?

We establish a culture of collaboration and proximity of communications, not only between the leadership personnel but between the different departments to have inter-collaborative teams. A culture of collaboration and teamwork starts with the leadership and the company culture, and this then sets a precedent for the rest of the organisation. For us, at Vision-Box, collaboration and accountability are the key words.

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