#mission #digitalization

Tenth Anniversary of sum.cumo

sum.cumo was founded in 2010. After ten years of company history, the representatives of the different divisions of sum.cumo report on the rapid development in the following.

Something to Celebrate: Tenth Anniversary of sum.cumo

sum.cumo operates in tightly regulated markets and specializes in digital strategies and solutions for state lotteries and the insurance industry. The company provides its customers and partners with a clear, modern vision for the future – and delivers the technology to go with it. Its mission: to firmly establish internet-enabled methods, technology and people in the thinking and doings of its customers. Its broad palette of products and services helps them to jumpstart their digital efforts and quickly achieve their goals. In this article, representatives of the various departments at sum.cumo think back on the company's rapid development to mark ten years of the company's history.

Front end

Summarizing ten years of development in front end technology is like trying to explain Webpack in a single sentence: impossible. Everything is changing – the terms, the requirements and challenges, the self-image of the front end team at sum.cumo, and even the meaning of the term "front end" itself – probably even more quickly than we ourselves can consciously perceive.

Ten years ago, sum.cumo started out with three developers and a conventional technology stack, specializing in providing services for insurers and lottery operators. In order to get established in these industries, we had to learn to think on our feet, adapt our technologies and requirements, and optimize our resource and cost efficiency. As time went on, we developed a taste for being the drivers of change instead of being driven by it. One of our first projects was supporting the establishment of Dextra Rechtsschutz AG. We had to learn to make the best of our mistakes – learn from them and move on, keep adapting to changing requirements, and nevertheless always provide our customers with sound business and technology advice. Of course, that project was a huge challenge for us. Now, after nearly ten years of partnership, we enjoy looking back on it as we continue working together toward future successes. We kept that spirit even after we came back to Hamburg.

New projects kept our customer base and our team growing steadily, meaning that in addition to overcoming technical challenges, we also had to consider where we were headed: How do we want to work? Which trends do we want to follow, and which ones do we want to start? Are rapid growth and agile working mutually exclusive? It's all thanks to our heterogeneous team and our demanding customers that we were able to find answers to these questions.

To this day, sum.cumo is able to give its developers the leeway to keep growing, set their own priorities, try out new things, and learn from each other. Since the old days, we've thoroughly modernized our technology stack – with Vue.js, GraphQL, Storybook, Cypress – while continuing to grow and even implementing products of our own for sum.cumo, such as SCIP Sales.

A flat company hierarchy, common exchange formats, and short lines of communication enable us to provide dependable and foresightful advice to our customers. As a result, we no longer consider ourselves driven by the requirements of the market; instead, we work with our customers and partners to set new standards for the industry. We devise new working methods and set technological trends, participate in the global developer community, and react with agility to changing demands – despite our remarkably quick growth – thanks to the absence of strictly defined departments and specifications. And sum.cumo's employee reviews (such as on kununu.de) give testament to the fact that we still tackle challenges together. So we want to say THANK YOU for ten years of innovation, courage and enthusiasm!

Back end

It takes a team of experienced experts to make a software project a success. But that's not all that counts. They need to work together toward common goals and accomplishments. This sort of culture of cooperation and mutual appreciation has been part of sum.cumo's DNA since the very beginning. And despite starting out with four developers in 2010 and growing to the respectable size of 60 employees over the last ten years, the back end department has managed to stay true to these values.
The back end naturally mainly focuses on the technology. There are many ways to build robust software. At sum.cumo, we originally opted to use the Perl programming language to create novel, monolithic platforms for insurers and lottery operators. When in 2014 the technology started to shift toward Ruby and Ruby on Rails, it was just the beginning of an exciting journey. We've steadily moved from monolithic platforms toward service-oriented architectures – and in some cases, even completely distributed microservice architectures. In the process, it became clear that stubbornly sticking to a particular programming language not only gets in the way but also brings actual disadvantages. Not every screwdriver fits every screw. So we came to the conclusion that an agnostic approach toward the choice of tools is best.
The last ten years have taken us from one-off development projects to extended product development collaborations with customers and partners. This means that right off the bat we can furnish customers with feature-complete software born of many years of experience, enabling them to achieve their set business objectives much more quickly. The time to market is an important criterion for success, especially in the lottery and insurance markets.
As of 2020, our back end products are supplemented by a newly introduced range of managed services, giving our customers the benefit of our expertise in support, IT security, and managed infrastructure. As a result, our back end comes with a formidable package of highly polished features. Once again though, all this only works because of our excellent team and our motivation to always keep moving forward, breaking new ground, and making the best of what we find.

User Experience

2010 marked the beginning of a journey for our customers – and theirs – that continues to deliver success to this very day. The objective: sustainable UX. Implemented correctly, UX serves as an important driver for digital sales, performance-oriented sales processes, and self-service systems. It can generate more sales per user while simultaneously reducing costs for the company by stimulating upgrades and optimization of internal structures and processes.
Germany's largest and most successful comparison site, Check24, went online two years before sum.cumo got started and was aimed at exactly the same target and customer group. You might be wondering how that's relevant now that everyone is talking about Amazon as the trailblazer of e-commerce. Well, although many insurers might wish for their customers to have the Amazon experience, many of them become unconditionally dependent on Check24 as a result. In other words, rather than investing in their brand, marketing and customer service and reaping the rewards for themselves, they've handed over their customer relationship capital and the foundation of their company's success to another player.
That's another reason why now, only ten years after our founding, we have 20 UX and visual designers from the most renowned digital and design agencies and innovation hubs – why we can pride ourselves on being likely the most specialized and experienced provider of user-centric solutions for insurers and lottery operators in Germany. Our mission is to enable our customers to establish successful sales and service channels and to keep optimizing them.
Our long-standing customers – such as nexible (ERGO), freeyou (DEVK), Dextra, die Bayerische, rhion.digital, verias24, LOTTO Niedersachsen and LOTTO Hamburg – already rely on our expertise to make their brands genuinely digital. User research, requirement engineering, conversion optimized UX design, brand design, innovative user interfaces, scalable design systems, prototyping, A/B and usability testing and UX writing are just a few of our daily activities in pursuit of user satisfaction and our customers' success.

Digital Consulting

In the beginning it was one room, one group of twelve people, and one conversation. Back then, what characterized sum.cumo wasn't just that the whole team could fit into a single room – it was that everyone knew about everything that was going on and chipped in their expertise just when it was needed. It was exactly that startup culture that enabled sum.cumo to make decisions for itself and its customers based on a solid foundation of digital competence and business acumen.
Ten years farther on, the same culture is still going strong – despite significantly more complexity. Nowadays we have 25 colleagues in the Digital Consulting department alone. The team has an extremely diverse set of skills and a deep pool of knowledge about all manner of highly specialized digital topics, from agile project management through digital products and platform solutions to digital growth and transition strategies.
Communicating via chat and video conferencing as well as realtime cloud-based documentation tools, and above all through the strong cohesion within the team, sum.cumo still succeeds in providing customers with just the right knowledge and assistance at just the right time to enable excellent decision-making with regard to digitization issues.
A question we hear often from our customers is, "Who was that? I've never heard that name before." This goes to show that contact with customers isn't something we leave to just anyone. We look after each other and make sure that a customer's problem gets solved by the team member best qualified for the job. From the managing directors to the student trainees, everyone pulls together to turn sum.cumo's digital future and that of its customers into reality.
These days the room may be virtual and the conversation may be displayed on a screen, but the startup character – informed by agility, trustfulness, reliability and mutual appreciation – will still be going strong ten years from now and even after.

Online Marketing

When sum.cumo was founded in 2010, many people asked themselves why a tech company needed to provide marketing services.
The team surrounding our founder, Björn, had already completed many projects together that gave it a strong focus on e-commerce. So concepts like tracking methods, lead and sales generation, and the importance of the customer journey were intimately familiar and had a strong formative influence on the work at sum.cumo from the very beginning.
But the motivation behind offering marketing services, especially digital marketing, wasn't devoid of self-interest. The goal is and has always been to better understand the individual customers of sum.cumo's partners. This knowledge (and in the meantime, ten years of experience) forms the foundation on which we can build successful digital business models in the insurance and lottery operating industries. Each project and each platform is intended to satisfy the customer's needs in a particular way.

Understanding its customers' customers – that is, the target group – and their needs allows sum.cumo to create platforms and products that sell much better, because the focus is placed on the particular customer of the particular platform from the very start. The result – here at sum.cumo as well as at its partner companies – is customer-centricity in both sales strategy and platform development.
How do we gain knowledge about the customers of a particular platform? From the beginning, sum.cumo has never stopped trying out new tools – for web analysis, for generating performance metrics for the user experience and the customer journey prior to visiting our platform, and many more – and deploying the ones that worked in order to stay on the cutting edge of technology in the industry.
And how do we use the knowledge gleaned of individual customers' requirements? From the start, sum.cumo has been its customers' partner for marketing their insurance or lottery products. Over the years, its services in that capacity have become ever more diverse and complex, encompassing everything from marketing consulting through marketing planning all the way to oversight and control of operations on any or all of the customer's digital marketing channels. We started interest-based advertising via Google Ads in our very first projects, and today, every one of sum.cumo's marketing employees is Google-certified. The marketing strategies developed by sum.cumo are custom-tailored to the target group and the project – they might use interest-based campaigns, be targeted at developing new markets, or consist of any ratio of the two. A wide variety of channels is available. We've implemented successful campaigns using the increasingly important search engine advertisements provided by Google Ads and Bing Ads, but we've also used affiliate marketing, social ads, display advertising, advertising by influencers, video ads on Youtube, and dialog marketing to good effect. Attribution and customer journey tools provide insight – subject to the restrictions of data protection, of course – into the importance of each channel for a campaign.

Thanks to these tools, we can always keep optimizing campaigns. The knowledge about the behavior of the target group – even on the website itself – that we gain during each campaign is exchanged among the various departments of sum.cumo, generating lasting benefit for the corresponding partner or customer project.
Since its founding in 2010, sum.cumo has been steadily pushing the boundaries in the marketing of insurance and lottery products as part of an overall digitization strategy, and we intend to keep leading the way for these industries.

The development of new technologies is continuing rapidly, and customers' digital expectations continue to increase in turn. To enable our customers and partners in the state lottery and insurance industries to keep pace, we'll keep working on digitization implementation strategies, eliminating fragmentation in the IT landscape, and creating solutions to make comprehensive data collection and analysis possible. Here at sum.cumo, we're excited to see what the next ten years will bring, and we're looking forward to seizing the opportunities and facing the challenges to come – all together as a team.