As the digital transformation wave washes over us, AI is one of the advancing technologies at the very pinnacle of this transformation. The emergence of AI technology enabling services propels next-gen AI-powered search with more relevant and personalized results. This translates to achieving business goals, superior customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and optimized conversion rates.
Louis Têtu, CEO and Chairman of Coveo, has made significant advancements in this domain. His dedication has helped Coveo become one of the leading companies doing AI research in commerce, service and workplace applications. “We make search, data, and AI more accessible, so every business, not just tech giants, can provide relevance at scale with the power of AI,” elucidates Louis.
Securing the Company Foundation
Before joining as CEO in 2012, he was an early investor of Coveo. As he joined forces with the organization, his first step was to revisit the business plan. He then began architecting a multi-tenant cloud offering. Having gained a complete market understanding, he firmly believed that subscription models would overtake perpetual licenses. He also saw the movement toward AI. In July 2019, announced the acquisition of Tooso, an AI-based digital commerce engines company specializing in e-commerce.
Additionally, in October 2021, Coveo acquired Qubit, an AI-powered personalization technology for merchandising teams, thus displaying the organization’s commitment to digital commerce. “Large world-leading technology companies are using Coveo to power relevance, but we aren’t stopping there. We have partnered with these organizations, including SAP, Salesforce, Adobe, and many more, to expand our innovative capabilities,” informs Louis.
He explains how he and his team believe AI is at the epicenter of all digital experiences, which is critical in the experience economy. Coveo believes that technology is only part of the solution, so the organization helps cultivate a collaborative environment between each other, their partners, and customers to provide the best experiences. This approach brings Louis pride in his customer success team as much as his R&D team, which is a department that constitutes 40 percent of the workforce. “We have been immersed in AI for more than a decade and have had the unique advantage of working with some of the largest data stacks of global enterprises. This allowed us to mature very quickly. To do what we do at scale requires maturity,” opines Louis.
Encouraging Novel Ideas
Delving deeper into the thought process behind this approach, Louis explains how he feels Coveo must foster a culture of innovation, keeping two things in mind; creating an environment that encourages collaborative and high-velocity ideation and iteration and keeping the innovation highly connected to customers through their technologically-driven devices. Coveo aims to create a collaborative environment where obstacles to communication and politics are eliminated so that the workforce can direct their focus on finding the truth, as opposed to fighting over who is right. Louis believes that hierarchies can create obstacles to creativity and innovation. So, instead, he helped Coveo generate an environment whereby everyone could contribute, submit ideas, and challenge the status quo.
“The notion of risks with experimentation is really important. It’s a constant reminder of why we hire people to tell leadership what to do versus telling employees what to do. I firmly believe that as a leader, it is not my job to tell them what to think – but to think about what people tell me. And make no mistake – this is a constant challenge. I like to think one of the most important things a leader can do is ‘decant the truth’; fostering an environment of unfiltered conversations,” adds Louis.
Incepted in 2005 by Laurent Simoneau, Richard Tessier, and Marc Sanfaçon, Coveo today commands quite the market presence. In 2017, Coveo opened doors to its Montreal office with 25 employees. Since then, well over a hundred new employees have joined the Montreal office, which has expanded onto additional floors of the historic Gare Windsor building. Coveo has also opened offices in Quebec City, San Francisco, New York, and London. As of early 2023, the company possesses over 750 in house and remote employees around the world. The company attributes a core part of its success to its employees and, as such, believes that the workforce’s wellness should be prioritized. Coveo values work-life balance and promotes transparency while simultaneously acknowledging the success of others. “We believe it’s ok to fail, but fail fast and adjust. This helps to stimulate innovation and research. In my experience, employees shine brightest when they share common goals and beliefs beyond a paycheck. At the end of the day, when you have great people engaged in a common purpose, and you respect everyone in the same way, your innovation and success rates will follow,” says Louis.
He also reveals how Coveo has stitched investing in its community and local causes into the very fabric of the organization’s values and beliefs. Coveo is part of the 1% Pledge where one percent of the company’s profit, time, product, and equity is dedicated to helping vulnerable communities access knowledge and education. Louis adds, “This commitment has been an important way to attract talented people, customers, and partners who have the same desire to build a better world. And that’s helping us build a stronger business and a brighter future.”
People First, Success Follows
Louis’ journey as a leader, he reveals, has been a fruitful experience. And while he has been fortunate in his 34-year-long career to hit all the major business milestones like IPOS, financing, and growth, the shared experiences with his colleagues and employees have been most memorable. “We have a purpose and a great group of colleagues, all of which make a great culture and destination for people who want to be a part of that. With over three decades in business, my typical day revolves around thinking about how to create more value for all our stakeholders. I feel a responsibility to the wellness of our people while ensuring complete customer delight and, finally, our shareholders, in that order. It’s people first. You can’t do well if your people aren’t well,” proclaims Louis.
Today, Louis and his team are making significant advancements in this domain. “It is also important that everyone has a chance to recharge themselves. For myself, my family and I spend time together at our lake house in Quebec,” he reveals. Louis envisions continuing to revolutionize this sector by leveraging his skills, team of professionals, and comprehensive suite of innovative solutions and services.