Innovation has been in Ardex’s DNA, right from when founders Scott Miers and Bruce Baker met while studying Computing Science at university and combined their passions for technology and racing to create a software solution for breeders and trainers to manage their financials.
But what has parlayed that early inspiration into the successful company Ardex Technology is today, according to its Business Development Manager, Suzie Stephen, has been the relationships it has built, which have further fostered that spirit of innovation into a new era under the ownership of Inglis.
“We have built on the principals which Scott and Bruce worked very hard on, which was talking to the clients to see what they need and building that for them,” she said.
“It’s custom-built software for the racing industry. It is not an out of the box product. It’s been years in the making to deliver something for the racing industry and tailored for that industry and that’s very important.
“It’s been years in the making to deliver something for the racing industry and tailored for that industry and that’s very important. ” – Suzie Stephen
“I always say, our products are built by clients for our clients. What’s at the core of our model is feedback-based development and projects are based around what our clients want.”
Ardex now offers a suite of products, customisable both for the size and purpose of the client, be they a breeder, trainer, farrier, dentist, vet, agistment farm, race club or auctioneer.
It offers subscription-based solutions for a wide range of requirements, including communications, financial management and reporting, racing management, stallion and broodmare management, documentation control and process management.
Above: The Ardex Breeding Menu available on the Digital Breeding Toolkit
Ardex’s greatest asset though, is its client base, which includes some of the biggest names in the thoroughbred industry in Australia and New Zealand, while continuing to expand its services internationally.
Local people, global approach
The entire business, including a technology and development team, is based out of Sydney, something which Stephen says has ensured that Ardex has been able to retain its connection with its client base.
“It’s really great having people in house. I work in the same office as the developers. We have that relationship whereby we are working on projects together; it is really collaborative. Client requests come in and we are all trying to brainstorm what to build and how to build it,” she said.
“It’s a really great environment for that. It means when things need to get done, they get done, which is good.”
The collaborative influence also flows on to Ardex’s relationships with its clients, with an absolute focus on identifying and resolving problems for them. It is that approach which Stephen says has ensured the company has remained innovative over its 22 years of existence.
A key Toolkit for breeders
That approach was the genesis for the latest innovation from Ardex, the Digital Breeding Toolkit, which was launched this week, and is available for Ardex Premier users.
Its aim is to help streamline the breeding process for users and it will give increased visibility of all elements from scheduled coverings to following a mare’s pregnancy scans. It includes a digital covering book that can help plan and schedule coverings, a pregnancy scan tracker, Docu-sign integration for electronic contracts as well as other features, with the aim of replacing manual processes with mobile technologies.
Above: Entry procedure on the Ardex Digital Breeding Toolkit
It’s really important to us that what we’re building not only meets our clients’ needs, but is almost ahead of them. We want to be on the forefront of what our clients may need,” Stephen said.
“The Digital Breeding Toolkit is exactly that. It shows them what can be done with breeding technology. It’s about those constant conversations with our clients, and then us setting the agenda for ourselves year on year that we are going to be improving on what we have developed. We can confidently say that the technology we are offering is cutting edge. It’s innovative, and most importantly it’s serving their needs.”
“It’s really important to us that what we’re building not only meets our clients’ needs, but is almost ahead of them. We want to be on the forefront of what our clients may need.” – Suzie Stephen
The Digital Breeding Toolkit is the result of not just the innovation coming from within Ardex, but the realisation of the potential of the relationship it holds with its clients.
“At the end of the breeding season, we caught up with our breeders and asked them what it was that they wanted to get out of the Ardex software and Ardex program and that’s how the Digital Breeding Toolkit evolved,” Stephen said.
“We worked really closely with a number of our clients, especially Coolmore Stud in Australia and Waikato Stud in New Zealand, to discuss what manual and time-consuming processes we could alleviate with the use of technology. We sat down with those clients and worked through what the major pain-points were. It’s a good place to start with any development project.
“We worked very closely with them ongoing, going back and forth with demo builds and test builds and people trialling and testing, and we’ve worked over that six-month period to put out a product we were really happy with.”
Above: Ardex worked closely with Coolmore Stud throughout the development of the product
The key achievement of the Digital Breeding Toolkit, according to Stephen, has been to implement a digital covering book, which not only makes documentation a lot more straightforward, but also allows greater understanding and collaboration across major breeding operations.
“You have the option to share that information more easily within the team. It’s not a book locked away in an office somewhere. Your staff can view that and generate reports more easily as well,” she said.
“With all of these things, the bottom line is to save time. We always want to achieve that for clients. As we know, the breeding season is one of the most hectic and busy times of the year, so for us it is really important for our clients to take back that time.”
Above: The covering book menu on Ardex Digital Breeding Toolkit
Accessibility a key plank of future strategy
There are a variety of product development ideas in the future roadmap for Ardex, but key to its strategy is further development of its web-based product, Ardex Essentials, to provide greater flexibility and usability for current and future clients.
“That’s a shift towards the more accessible and compact version of the Ardex Premier program, in our new product Ardex Essentials. It’s all the core features in a web-based system. That’s the direction we want to take that product,” Stephen said.
“It needs to be accessible, easy to use and we want the subscription to be affordable for the various sizes.” – Suzie Stephen
“It needs to be accessible, easy to use and we want the subscription to be affordable for the various sizes. Everything from an agistment farm with 20 mares to a larger operation, or from the smallest trainer to the big stables and everything from pre-training to breaking.
“Technology should be for everyone and everyone should be able to benefit from that and that is something that we would really like to achieve moving forward.”
And at the heart of that is the people, be they within the Ardex team or part of the client base, which drive that innovation.
“The thing I really value about this industry is that it is an industry of people. The people in this industry are so fantastic. We just want to work with those people to help them and help their businesses,” Stephen said.
“That’s where the passion comes from. It’s about giving people back their time and making things easier.”
Article courtesy of Bren O’Brien TDN