Meet Dave Page, the CEO of Actual Experience plc., who has advised on multinational corporate business systems, with roles in the enterprise, outsourcing, software, and hardware companies. Dave Page grew up in north London with a fiery and resilient mom and a younger sister. Aged 15, Dave left an unremarkable education. Apart from music, Dave’s teachers saw very little hope for him in continued education and encouraged him to find a job. He left with a feeling that he was a failure, and he had struggled with maths and other STEM subjects, so Dave was surprised to be accepted for a four-year apprenticeship at Marconi Avionics, a defense research company involved in protecting Britain and its allies during the Cold War. Looking back, Dave believes the apprenticeship, and the mentorship is provided, have saved him from a rather directionless, and bleak future. Formal education and Dave started to click, and when the apprenticeship finished, Marconi offered to sponsor him through University. It turned out he could do maths after all! Dave graduated from Bath University, one of Britain’s top engineering schools, with a Bachelor of Engineering degree three years later.
A Steadfast Leader
Dave Page worked at Marconi until the Cold War ended in ’91 when many defense industry engineers like him were made redundant. However, he was soon employed by one of Britain’s largest banks, NatWest, working in the City, building communication networks. At the time, the internet barely existed, but Dave was asked to investigate its potential for the bank. He understood the potential of the internet and touted it as a ‘game changer’. With his newfound financial and internet knowledge Dave moved first to British Telecom, and then to IBM, to help them win the first financial services outsource deals based on internet technology. Next, he moved to Cisco Systems, which is an American company, right at the forefront of internet technology and central to its global deployment. From there he joined his first start-up. It was eight years of long days and gritty determination. In the end, it was sold to EDS, which was not the outcome Dave Page and his colleagues had hoped for, but it meant the technology and employees could carry on the journey. Dave then tried to spin some technology out of Hewlett Packard, but that failed fairly quickly. Despite these disappointments, he had realized that creating something from nothing, forming a business from a mere idea, working with inspirational people with can-do attitudes, was a deeply rewarding experience. It was a desire for more that led to Dave’s current company, Actual Experience plc, which he co-founded.
Understanding Human Experience
During his Cisco days, Dave Page had met Professor Jonathan Pitts, from Queen Mary, University of London. Dave was intrigued with Professor Pitts’ research, and he ‘sounded Dave out’ occasionally on whether he thought any of it could be commercialized. One idea seemed to have global social and economic potential, and Dave suggested that he take his research in a particular direction. Years later he called Dave. “I’ve done it!” Professor Pitts explained excitedly and asked Dave to visit his labs for a demonstration.
That’s how Dave and Professor Pitts got together to start Actual Experience. Dave Page took on the role of CEO, while Prof Pitts continued at University. Initially, Dave worked from home, without income, for 6 months, which can be financially perilous when you have a young family to support. However, they made progress and managed to secure some initial funding, sufficient to cover the bills. It took a lot longer – 6 years – to get the science working properly in the real world, then they were able to focus on commercialization, productization, and customers, and floated their company on the London Stock Exchange, which allowed them to raise further funding when required.
As a result of Prof Pitts’ research, Actual is the first company able to analyse the perceived human experience of the digital world and, critically today, the digital workplace. This is vitally important because it is subjective human experience that dictates an employee’s experience, their ability to work efficiently, and even their long-term wellbeing.
The company’s analytic insights provide a powerful common language for People, Finance and Technology leaders to make strategic investment decisions and to take action to create a level and fair playing field for all digital workers whilst recovering hundreds of millions of dollars of time lost due to the poor experience of their company’s digital workplace each year.
Indeed, there are many benefits of increased digital working, both for employees and for companies, for example family-friendly flexible working, reduced business travel (and hence CO2 emissions) and optimised real-estate costs. However, these benefits rely entirely on the digital workplace working properly for all employees, everywhere, all the time. This is where Actual Experience plc. comes in!
Dave Page feels innovation and creativity require a culture where there is trust and inclusion and where fear is absent. Dave and his team work hard on this. He also believes productivity requires a strong sense of purpose – in their case, making the digital world work properly for everyone, everywhere, all the time has immensely positive social, economic, and environmental consequences.
Current Market Landscape
According to Dave Page, the current market landscape is moving strongly in his company’s favor. The world of work has become heavily digital as companies across the globe have accelerated their adoption of digital technology by ten years over the last two years. Consequently, the impact of the digital workplace on employees, and business efficiency has increased by 200% to 300%, in this time, which makes their analytics, and insights critical to businesses and the future of work.
Award and Accolades
It was so important to Dave Page that his kids had a really good education – the education he didn’t have, and Dave thinks his wife and he have managed that. Floating Actual Experience on the London Stock Exchange was a powerful validation for employees and their families of the years of largely invisible hard work that they had put in.