As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, companies will need to focus on innovation in order to keep pace with the changes. At the root of every transformation, there’s a strong desire to find new and improved ways of doing things, coming from the top down.
Emerging technologies like blockchain and APIs are bringing major changes to the infrastructure of the business world, and there’s no doubt we will continue to see shifts happening soon. The question is: Which businesses will survive the transition, and which will remain frozen in the past?
Transform It Forward with Vince Padua: The power of API-driven technologies
On the most recent episode of the Transform It Forward podcast, I sat down with Vince Padua, the Chief Innovation and Technology Officer here at Axway. Vince is known for his outcome-driven approach to building visionary technology. Over his 20-year career, he created several groundbreaking products for Fortune 500 companies.
Through his work, he has successfully accelerated tech adoption rates and delivered large-scale initiatives to democratize technology outcomes. Vince shared his perspective on how technology has changed over the past two decades, his predictions for the future of the industry, and the power of API-driven technologies.
The desire to transform
During his career, Vince has played a central role in major transformations at organizations like IBM and Dell. Throughout his experiences, he says the common denominator has been a strong desire to transform coming from the leadership level.
Although it seems simple, this desire is the driving force behind adopting new technologies, taking a fresh approach, or developing a new strategy. The desire may come from the need to solve a problem, manage a crisis, take advantage of a new opportunity, or maintain a position of authority within the industry.
“That seems a little bit flippant, but at every enterprise, I’ve ever been, at every company where there’s a major transformation initiative, whether that’s a technology overhaul architecture or it’s a desire to change the business model and how we seek to monetize the software or how we want to engage with customers and partners, it starts with really the desire to transform.”
Once the desire is there, Vince says, the company needs to establish a clear vision and path forward, as well as a measurement framework to ensure their goals have been met.
With the rapid pace of evolution happening in the technology sector today, Vince says these digital transformations are being spurred along more quickly than ever. He notes that with the emergence of new trends like AMLs and blockchain comes pressure for businesses to adapt quickly and invest in new technologies or risk falling behind.
The challenges of tech transformation
It’s inevitable that along with these transformations, companies will run into some major challenges along the way. Vince says one of the most common challenges companies face today is the skills and talent gap, as implementing new technologies typically requires additional training and hiring.
With everything moving at lightning speed, teams are required to move faster as they adopt new processes, which requires a high level of performance and ongoing value delivery. Also, finding the right culture fit is another challenge Vince references. He notes that if teams aren’t consistently delivering value in real time, then they’re ultimately letting resources and investments go to waste.
To solve this skills gap and the lack of talent brought about in part by the great resignation, Vince says companies are increasingly turning to automation services. Cloud-based platforms and other infrastructure providers are offering more automated processes to help close the gap and ensure faster delivery every step of the way.
“To help enterprises deal with the skills gap before, you may have needed a team of 10 very technical engineers, but maybe the language that they were working on before or the pace at which they were moving before is now no longer sufficient, or at least marginally insufficient.”
Although many companies are adopting these new, automated processes, large institutions as banks are still mostly using legacy systems that have been around for years. But how can these institutions use the legacy infrastructure as a lever instead of a boat anchor to launch them into the new wave of the future?
The potential for disruption
Companies have been relying on heritage infrastructure for business processes like credit services, healthcare, and forecasting for decades. Employees are familiar with the way they work, they’re trained on them, and they’re still fundamental to business operations today.
However, Vince notes that although it’s unlikely that these systems will disappear soon, there’s certainly a significant potential for disruption in this area. Cloud-based platforms will continue to “nibble at the edges,” as Vince says, to transform smaller, less regulated processes, while many of the more established business processes will continue to operate within the legacy systems.
The speed at which these transformations will take place depends on the industry. Sectors like education and insurance, for example, have seen an acceleration in the rate of adoption recently, while other areas such as automobile manufacturing may move at a slower pace simply because of the physical supply chain.
One of the key decisions to be made in terms of the transformation process is whether to modernize current systems or start from scratch altogether. Vince recommends companies look to other companies and startups operating in their area and ascertain whether they’re getting traction with the new processes they’ve implemented, or if they’re still in the experimentation phase, and decide based on this knowledge.
“If they are getting traction, then it’s a pretty good sign that you maybe need to be thinking about going faster, which likely would mean starting from scratch or looking to accelerate via partnership or acquisition versus where things are maybe moving a bit slower and not as quickly.”
Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed the transformation of what Vince calls “front office” processes like collaboration tools, financial management, and insurance. Next, he expects to see a modernization of “back office” processes like authorization, approvals, and internal forecasting.
A transformation in this area would give businesses the flexibility to focus on their unique value proposition and again, move faster by leveraging automation. Vince notes that some technologies that will move this transformation along include blockchain smart contracts, microservices, service mesh, and machine learning.
“I think that is going to be a major vector and the trend for the next decade, that as this technology comes online and as the need to go faster, not just in the front end or the front-end processes, but now in the back office, it’s critical for customers to not just be competitive, but to ultimately differentiate themselves.”
Five key takeaways
Here are five key takeaways from my conversation with Vince:
- The key to transformation is simpler than you might think. A desire to transform is the most important thing. It could stem from an existential crisis or a market opportunity, but the one theme remains the same: you need to do something different to stay competitive.
- Change never comes without its challenges: skills, people, and culture. Each of these elements needs to work together to allow the company to move faster, ensure ongoing fit and continue to deliver value.
- APIs make it easy to share information across institutions and stimulate automation. Companies that are in walled gardens cause a gap in their users’ experiences. Automation is the key to solving this challenge.
- To identify where transformation should occur in your organization, look at the startups in your industry. What are they offering that’s different? Are they gaining traction? What can you do to respond?
- During the next 10 years, there will be a continued modernization of our back offices, how people deal with things like their finances, mortgages, and insurance. They expect acceleration facilitated from blockchain to machine learning and AI. Things like automating approvals, authorization, forecasting, and contracts are no longer something you might need to do — they’re mandatory.
Listen to the full podcast episode here.
If you missed previous episodes, click here.