[00:00:10] Blaine: Hello everyone and welcome to our VANTIQ webinar series of interviews with thought leaders and practitioners in digital transformation and the real-time enterprise. Today’s topic is rapidly creating transformative applications. My name is Blaine Matthew. I’m Chief Marketing and Product Officer at VANTIQ. And for those not familiar with VANTIQ, it’s a dynamic platform for quickly creating transformative, digital applications for your agile business. And the way it does this is by accepting incoming streams of information from devices, people, and enterprise systems, continuously analyzing that information, and then enabling your business to take effective action in real time.
[00:00:49] Joining me in this discussion format webinar today is Vilavanh Messien, managing partner and Stephane Marcon, Technical Director of Infosquare, a global systems integrator with offices in France, Belgium, and Canada. Welcome guys! Welcome to the webinar today.
[00:01:08] All right so let’s have fun. As You know, we’re going to make this very interactive. Now since these are prerecorded, we won’t be taking questions live, but do feel free to send any questions that occurred to you during our discussion or comments to [email protected] So what don’t we get started guys?
[00:01:28] Vilavanh, why don’t you go first? Please tell us a bit more about yourself and Infosquare.
[00:01:50] Vilvanh: Sure. My name is Vilavanh Messien. I’m the managing partner at Infoquare. So, I’m responsible for business development. Infosquare is essentially an IT systems integrator. We are specialized in information management.
[00:01:50] So we’ve been working with our customers in Europe and North America for many years on very complex and challenging projects, all related to information management. Our goal is to provide very custom-made solutions that will help our customers in addressing their information management challenges. This is the key of what we’re doing.
[00:02:21] Blaine: Thank you. Sounds like you have a challenge right behind you, Vilavanh!
[00:02:25] Vilavanh: Yeah exactly! Something just fell. [laughter].
[00:02:28] And Stephane, tell us a bit more about your background and your role at Infosquare.
[00:02:32] Stephane: I’m the technical director of Infosquare so I am overseeing the daily parts of our work. I am responsible for overseeing the delivery of old projects and focusing a lot on strategic projects.
[00:02:51] Blaine: Thank you so much, Stephane. Great! And so why don’t we start at a high-level – usually we start by talking about the notion of digital transformation and since you’re practitioners helping companies execute these kind of strategies create and execute them, I’m interested in a high-level – what particularly excites you these days about what’s going on at the intersection of business and technology? Why don’t we start with you Stephane?
[00:03:15] Stephane: [There is] a lot of excitement in terms of how technology in general can answer business needs. I would say that we are entering, maybe, a phase where IT and technology, in general, can provide and support business opportunities. So digital transformation for us is really about efficiency and how companies are focusing on building a better service in a better way. So efficiency I think, in terms of digital transformation, is the key word for us. And certainly, using tools and technology in general to focus on those priorities is really the key point. So, I would say that there are a lot of different technologies that we need to orchestrate, that companies need to orchestrate, in order to deliver a good service at a good time. And we’ll certainly talk about that in the next few minutes.
[00:04:28] We’re about grabbing the good opportunity at the good moments and orchestrating, also, all resources that are available and all system resources in general to answer those needs. Or to answer this opportunity or this incident also because we all think about opportunities, but we may also have some incident to solve and it’s also about how technology can address those incidents of yours.
[00:05:02] Blaine: Thanks, Stephane, you’ve touched on a bunch of topics there that I think are seeds for the rest of this discussion. So, thank you for that. Vilavanh, what are your thoughts on what sort of excites you about what’s going on with the intersection of business and technology these days?
[00:05:20] Vilavanh: I think I can only second what Stephanie just said. I mean, when we’re talking about digital transformation, we’re talking about how to become more efficient, more effective, generally speaking. And nowadays competition has never been as fierce as it is right now. And companies need to be able to overcome their challenges and they need to, first of all, be able to improve their existing processes. They need to be able to create new services with really high added value.
[00:05:55] But all these things, I mean, they need to be done very quickly. I mean, time to market is key. It’s very, very key. In the past, we could afford to have projects that could last maybe a year or a few years. Now, it’s not the case anymore. You have to go very, very fast, again. And technology is there to serve the business. We need to find the right technologies that will allow companies to grow very fast while being, at the same time, very cost effective.
[00:06:36] Blaine: You touched on an interesting notion there that maybe, in the past, enterprises, companies were willing to accept the fact that projects took years, possibly, to execute and now they aren’t anymore. Are you really seeing that in the market? Are you seeing companies with an awareness that they just do not have the time and they have to be able to move much faster than maybe your clients, five of five or ten years ago?
[00:07:02] Vilavanh: Of course. Of course. And that’s applicable, too, in any industry. It’s a general trend. You can look at the most successful companies nowadays, they mostly come from the IT world. And we’re talking about Google, Facebook, so on and so forth. They have been very successful, the main reason is because those companies always integrate innovation from the very beginning and they’re able to deliver new services very rapidly and they keep doing that. That trend tends to apply to all sectors. Globalization has played a key role. And companies need to be very competitive, and yet they need to be able to improve their business. And how does it do that? By leveraging new technologies.
[00:08:05] Blaine: Now you talked about innovation, which I also believe is very key to most digital transformation initiatives. Stephane, you focused more on efficiency. Are efficiency and innovation compatible with each other, or are these sort of two different strategic objectives? How do you reconcile those two thoughts? Vilavanh, you can weigh in as well, but starting with Stephane.
[00:08:28] Stephane: I was just thinking, well, actually those are not incompatible at all. Actually, the focus is efficiency and reaching efficiency. You may introduce innovation, so innovation is also a way to reach efficiency. Maybe now we are in an era of disintrodiction of innovation, actually. It has reached an industrial way of actually injecting innovations. So, we need to constantly innovate in order to reach a level of efficiency, also to be competitive in general. I mean that’s the final line.
[00:09:13] For me alone innovation is completely aligned with this final goal of reaching the efficiency targets that we want reach. Fully compatible, innovation is part of digital transformation and it’s part of those goals of reaching the level of competition, coping with the competition needs.
[00:09:37] Blaine: Well, fundamentally I agree. I think, if you look at the examples you gave, Vilavanh, a second ago: Amazon, Facebook, Uber, they’re innovative companies full of technology. And Because of that, they are super highly efficient at achieving their objectives. At what their company is set out to do, they are the best at that solving that problem for the market or for their customers.
[00:10:04] So I fundamentally agree that sometimes we think of innovation as being be the opponent to efficiency but absolutely not. Stephane, I think I think you’ve nailed it on the head there. When you guys are talking to clients or prospects, does the actual term ‘digital transformation’ ever come up? Do people, do businesses use this term in the real world when they’re talking to you about projects? I’m really interested to know the answer to that question.
[00:10:35] Vilavanh: More often I would say.
[00:10:49] Blaine: Really?
[00:10:38] Vilavanh: Yeah. It’s becoming a sort of ghost word nowadays. But it all comes down to one thing. It’s all about how you are getting better, how do you improve the efficiency, basically, and how do you reach that goal? One way of doing it is by leveraging new technologies. And when you are referring to innovation, innovation is, to me, required. It’s a must if you want to improve your efficiency. Why? Because, as we talked a bit earlier, projects used to take years, maybe, before going live. That’s even still the case. I mean, we are relying on old systems, old technologies. But we need to get past that and use new technologies, and innovation is part of that. We’re talking about innovation, we’re talking about new technologies that will allow you to become more efficient.
[00:11:37] Blaine: Yep, yep. That’s right. Go ahead Stephane.
[00:11:42] Stephane: I was just adding that we also need those new technologies to integrate those legacy technologies that we already have. So, if talk about the industry, for example, the industry 4.0, is certainly the best word currently. We need to integrate what has been done in the past. There is no saying like, “Legacy applications are useless.” I mean they must, they will stay. Everything that was done in the past will have to be integrated within those new paradigms, I would say, of innovation.
[00:12:20] We need to innovate, but we are working most of the time on regulating environments, regulating industries, so we need to innovate, but still be able to integrate with those systems that are providing the current activities that we have. So, we need to innovate. Innovation is completely compatible with the legacy applications that we operate now.
[00:12:47] Blaine: Integration for sure. And you used a different variation of that concept earlier which I think is very powerful. You said “orchestration” and I think it’s even another level beyond integration. We’ve had enterprise application integration for decades, systems to just, at a low level and a middleware level, connect different applications and different data sources together. But actually, orchestrating how they work together in a powerful way, creating new applications that orchestrate all these different legacy systems and data sources, that’s a transformation I think.
[00:13:24] So after that statement, another concept which I think is sort of fundamental to this notion of digital transformation and transformative applications is the notion of real time. So, it’s about not taking, I think again – the old style of enterprise applications that were built over the decades were about putting data in a database and then analyzing the data in the data stream doing queries, pulling reports, and taking an action later. But in this world that’s moving so quickly, we need to build systems that can continuously take data in, process it, and then take actions also in real time. Are you starting to see those kind of use cases or applications in your practice?
[00:14:12] Stephane: The orchestration side, as we know, is already part of our DNA on Infosquare so we’ve been used to integrating different systems in order to produce knowledge in general. And we are, I would say, also a knowledge management company. We focus on how we deliver knowledge and how we make all resources, all information available, how we coordinate those to produce knowledge.
[00:14:47] I think all about, also, how do we ensure that all those resources that are already there, all the data are already there in the company, all the documents, all the structured and unstructured data, how are those delivered to the people when they need it? So that has been our primary focus actually at Infosquare: how do we ensure that we grab all structured and unstructured data and provide that to a knowledgeable worker while he’s making a decision? And this orchestration, that’s what we call orchestration, actually, ensuring that the decision is viewed with both structured and unstructured data.
[00:15:44] It’s about how do we ensure that we use the existing knowledge in the company. How do we capitalize, I would say, on the knowledge of workers? So how do we get and inject, capture information where it sits?
[00:16:01] Blaine: And you said something I think, again, that really resonated with me. You said, “helping that knowledgeable worker”. That’s an interesting way to put it. Not just a knowledge worker, but a knowledgeable worker – I like that concept – while he is making a decision. In other words, this gets back to the real-time notion. The fact that you need the system, the information, the collaboration with the software to be happening now, while the decision needs to be made, not later.
[00:16:30] Vilavanh: It’s all about delivering the right information for our workers while a specific situation is happening. So, it’s real time. Everything has to happen in real time.
[00:16:44] Blaine: Very, very interesting.
[00:16:45] Stephane: I would also add that it is exactly the moments that we involve in a given process, humans, right? So, where we are asked is the automation side where, as soon as we involve humans, that has a cost. So those parts are the moments where we need actually to involve humans. Those are the ones that have values. I mean those are interesting situations for us because those are the ones that we should focus on. So this is all about what is, maybe, not automated. When we start having this collaboration, this moment where someone has to make a decision, someone has to fix an issue, those are the moments that we should focus on.
[00:17:39] And I think, in general, that digital transformation is about ensuring that those particular moments, companies are really doing their best and orchestrating all resources in order to fix them. So, on the production line, when you have incident, the clock starts ticking. And every single business knows exactly the cost that this ticking clock has. I could ask anyone responsible for a production line, he would say, “Okay, one minute, one second, one hour, one day has this much cost”.
[00:18:22] So, I think that this gets interesting because we know those particular movements, we know exactly what is the cost of operations. So that means that it’s quite easy to integrate innovation, calculate, give your return on investment, and tell our customers, “This is your current cost. This is exactly what you will be benefiting from, innovations.” So we like, at Infosquare, those particular situations, because we know exactly what other problems we are focusing on and what our best cost is.
[00:19:00] Blaine: You segued from real time, which is my favorite topic, to human-machine collaboration, which is my second favorite topic. You covered all the bases there. But I’m interested, which of course makes sense, because these concepts are highly related to each other. Are you able to speak about any particular projects either that you have worked on or are working on that maybe combine some of these elements? You don’t have to say the names of the companies, if you don’t like, but just maybe the concepts of some specific project.
[00:19:33] Stephane: We recently built an application on transport and logistics, as an example. This particular subject, the center of the logic for the application was to integrate all events occurring on a particular supply chain. So this is, I think, a good example where we managed, with VANTIQ, to integrate all those events, whether those events are positive or negative; so whether a given driver on the track is late or whether he’s on his way and in the correct schedule. All [of it] is about events.
[00:20:25] In the past, we were attempting to consider processes as a set of predefined activities. Everything was structured, predefined, and that’s logical because we are all introducing quality, in general, compliance in the different processes. So it’s normal to try to implement the common denominator of all processes into technology. That was the path that we went for.
[00:20:56] But businesses are a little bit complex. It’s not only transactions. Those are not only predefined transactions. Those are events. I have a damaged package on my track, for example. I notice a damaged package. But, actually, the moment that I notice this damaged package, the clock is also ticking for my customer, for my provider, whoever. The clock is already ticking. And that means that I need to solve this particular issue quickly. I need my driver to know exactly what he needs to do. I don’t need to take two hours to get information that a package is damaged, etc. He needs to declare that live, real time. And he needs to have the corresponding IT system, in general, that is responding to this particular event in time.
[00:21:51] So in this particular application, yes, we’ve integrated all the sensors that were coming from the trucks. So in order to give this insight on operations, “Where are my trucks? Where are my drivers? What are they doing?”, at the moment that they are doing something, I need to be informed. I need to inform, also, my customers as soon as I have either positive or negative situations because he’s depending on what I’m doing. Everything has an impact on another activity.
[00:22:31] So those events, the capacity to inject all events, analyze them live, and react is really the key of all activities. So we’re getting to this next level of technology where we are not in a transaction-based view of our world, we are in an event-based. And that’s the next level.
[00:23:02] It’s a common need, actually. We need to go from a view that is a transactional way of seeing things to an event-based one. And some technologies, some older technologies, or some paradigms, like connected things, they force us to go that way. We need to go that way because, with the existing technologies that we have, we will not be able to cope with this information, all of those events that are produced by our environments.
[00:23:33] Blaine: Well, Stephan, I’ve seen this event-driven logistics application that you built. I have seen it. And I’m interested, Vilavanh, what was your reaction the first time you saw this application that your guys built? What was your reaction to that?
[00:23:52] Vilavanh: I’m not going to talk about only my own reaction, my personal reaction, but I would rather talk about the reaction that most people had.
[00:24:00] Blaine: Even better. Go ahead.
[00:24:03] Vilavanh: Well, first of all, they were all very nicely surprised and impressed with the application. But what impressed them most was the time it took us to build that application. At first sight, the application might look simple. It’s not, if really dig into the details, and then you start to look at what it actually does. It’s a complex application.
[00:24:33] But the most interesting thing is how long it took us to build it. And by using VANTIQ, we showed that we were able to deliver a very innovative application with very few resources in a very, very limited time. And when we’re talking about a very limited time, we’re talking about a matter of days. Basically, it took us less than a week to build that application and we were talking about how competition is being fierce, it’s never been as fierce as it is right now. And no time to market, again, is very important. Here we have concrete proof that we are capable of building, launching new services in no time, basically.
[00:25:24] And so the most interesting thing is that technology, VANTIQ, is something which is available and accessible to any company, regardless of its size. Why? Because it’s cloud-based, essentially. It’s a completely scalable, elastic solution. It can be used by any company without requiring any local resources. You don’t need to have a huge team of IT people. You don’t need to have your own infrastructure to manage that solution. Everything runs on the cloud, is live, is accessible. And time to market here is reduced to a bare minimum.
[00:26:10] Blaine: Interesting. And for those that would actually like to see the application that Stephan and Vilavanh are talking about, a video of it is posted on the VANTIQ web site in the resources section under videos: the Infosquare logistics video. And you can also find the contact information for Infosquare that built the application there as well.
[00:26:32] And I think I agree. My reaction when I saw it was, again, to be truly impressed that it was possible, as you said Vilavanh, for a company with a couple of resources to basically build what is fundamentally a very complex, real-time, event-driven, logistics management system in a matter of days, not in months or maybe a year, but literally in a week or so. That’s pretty incredible.
[00:27:02] Talk a little bit more – and again, the purpose of these webinars is not to become a VANTIQ commercial, for sure, but the topic here is the rapid development of transformative applications and so I do think, fundamentally, that’s one of the reasons you chose the VANTIQ platform as a core tool, because of the ability to build these applications so quickly. How is that, maybe Stephan, you’re running the practice there, how has this notion transformed or how will it transform the way you do business vs. the tool set you were using before? Tell me a little more about that.
[00:27:40] Stephan: So first, I mean in terms of technology I would say, VANTIQ’s aligned with what we’ve been doing in the past. We are providing more value in a shorter way which is incompatible with all the frameworks that we’ve been using, etc. The big difference in VANTIQ is that it’s a complete line, I would say, of predictions. That means that you can deliver a desktop web interface or have a database that is running on the cloud, but also have edge applications that are available on smartphones. In general, we are compatible with any input and output, so it’s another way of seeing this orchestration that we have spoken about just before.
[00:28:32] It is an orchestration platform that is compatible with all the existing technologies that companies are already using. It promotes or it gives tools to accelerate things – as an example, this one for me is very important – the container of applications that you have with the VANTIQ smartphone application, if we put it that way, in a matter of hours. I don’t have anything that I could compare that with. That’s the crazy thing. We could compare that with an application that we’ve built for customers that took three months or four months to get it right. I’m able to do the very same thing in hours.
[00:29:24] So I’m able to provide an interface on this model of my final customer with a real interaction, barcode recognition, video documents that are provided to my smartphone, just in about three hours, four hours, one day. That’s something that’s – actually you have to test that. You have to see that in order to believe it. And that’s the crazy thing that we have when approaching a key customer is making them believe that something like that is possible.
[00:29:55] For us, is it changing our way of doing business? Yes it is because that way of approaching people saying, “I will show you something that you would not believe.” This is new for us. I mean, this is completely new for us. This way of talking with people saying, “Focus on your business, on the value that you want to provide. Focus on your business. We’ll do the rest. And this part will have no cost for you.” That is something that is the first time on the complete line, I would say, of value, I think for us, it’s one of the few times that we entered into this way of business. And being able to turn to our business, focus on your business, describe how you are acting, how you are operating, and we’ll have, in a very short way, an application that is able to target your specific business need.
[00:30:58] The rounds, also, of analysis, needs analysis, and implementation are so short that you are able to stick with business agility. So you are enabled with agility, provided by IT tools, to stick with the actual business agility. The fact that business changes, and if you wait for understanding, analyzing how business changes, you’re late. Whatever you do, you’re late. Whatever the technology that you are using, you’re late. And this changes the way that we are able to target those particular needs for our customers. And that’s very exciting, really.
[00:31:40] Blaine: Well it sounds like the digital transformation is not just about the clients, but it’s transforming your business and the business of being a systems integrator and consultant. So then, based on that, I’ll ask you a tough question. So whoever wants to tackle this one…
[00:31:58] Maybe since Stephane gave us the intro I’ll give you the chance to address the hard question which is – and we’ve sort of struggled with this to some degree at VANTIQ, too, because we have created a platform that allows companies like yours to radically change the time scale and the agility that you deliver solutions with. – But isn’t the classic systems integrator business model based on time? Isn’t it better for you to take six months to build a logistics application than one week? How is this notion changing your own business model and how you have to think about delivering value to customers?
[00:32:39] Vilavanh: I think that’s a sort of solution providers, or call it system integrator, which is a word that I don’t really like.
[00:32:46] Blaine: I agree I agree.
[00:32:49] Vilavanh: Our goal is to help our customers in getting better in achieving their goals. I think by providing them with the right technologies, with the right solutions to address the challenges, that we’ll get this as well. If you want to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers, you need to able to show them that you can actually help them, assist them. And how do you do that? Well, by using the right technologies, again.
[00:33:17] And if you allow your customers to shorten their projects, to reduce their time to market, and ultimately by get better, you build that confidence. And the goal for any company is to be able to adapt very quickly. They will have to launch new products. So you can work along with your customers to help them launch those new services or products. It’s a continuous process. And it’s true, this has changed the way we’ve been working until now. So, we can now focus more on the business side of things instead of talking about technologies.
[00:34:05] Technology, ultimately, is there to support, help the business to achieve their goals. IT is not the goal. I mean, we’re not doing IT just for the sake doing IT. Technology is there for a purpose and that purpose is to serve business. If we can show our customers that we are trustworthy and we know what technologies to use, that relationship will last for a long time. So, it’s a different way of approaching things.
[00:34:40] Blaine: Stephane, I see you nodding along with Vilavanh. Anything to add to this to this topic, of the changing role of what an SI delivers?
[00:34:49] Stephane: I would focus on my job which is also to provide consultants with good projects. So that means that this particular situation, where we are reaching the business value, all those projects that are dealing with the business, focusing on business, are interesting for us also.
[00:35:20] So, when you have IT consultants, IT people that already have a background of those transactional systems that we were speaking about, they are sometimes also looking for something else. I’m speaking for them. They need those innovative projects, and they have a background where they have the value to provide to those particular situations that we were talking about. That’s why our senior consultants have expertise in the domains that they have worked in. They, most of the time, have a big nonage on those particular domains. And we have to provide and also we need interesting projects. Those projects are interesting projects. So those digital transformation projects are also interesting projects.
[00:36:17] I would say that it’s not only about delivering in a way that we were delivering before. It’s also about having interesting projects to provide. It’s about a collaboration, also, between the two entities, two companies. So. if my customer has some interesting project and I can provide them with interesting profiles, to work on those, everyone is happy.
[00:36:50] Blaine: Yeah it makes perfect sense. Well let’s wrap it up. If you could both give some thought to a few key takeaways or tips for a business leader who is trying to figure out how to drive this real time digital transformation in her business, what would you advise a business leader to do or to think about today? Maybe Stephan, why don’t you go first and then, Vilavanh, you can wrap it up.
[00:37:18] Stephane: I would say that maybe the advice that we could give to companies is to try. Try meaning, we have something to bring to them. We have technologies and people to be into that. And I would say that digital transformation is a long path. It’s nothing that you can say, “Okay, we start on Tuesday and we end on Friday.” So, I think one of the advices could be start small. You have everyone – you have different details, different companies that are knocking at your doors. We say, “Okay we do digital transformation the best.” Right?
[00:38:10] But I think that we should start small. Is it working? If it’s working, then okay. We deliver at another scale. So, an advice would be, challenge those editors, challenge the existing editors on the market, on the landscape of the IT landscape. And challenge, also, new companies. Challenge those new technologies that are coming on the market that are dealing with your real business cases, the complexity of your business, and challenge those. Use the competition side of using external companies or external services.
[00:38:59] Blaine: I agree 1000%, and I think your discussion about starting small, about being agile, ties well into the earlier discussion when you can build or have in your company a fully operational, scalable logistics management application, real time, built in a few weeks. It shows that you can start small, do something real in a very short time, and then do another thing and another thing and expand from there. I think companies get stuck when they think of, “Oh my god. Digital transformation. It’s a five year project!” And no. Do it. Do it two weeks at a time, and deliver real value in two weeks. It’s not a science experiment. Vilavanh, I’d love to hear your perspective.
[00:39:47] Vilavanh: I would add to that that companies shouldn’t wait. They should start their digital transmission journey as soon as possible, and they shouldn’t be scared. We now have the means for making their digital transformation journey much shorter than expected in a much easier way. You want to require lots of resources. Again, technology is available. It’s accessible to any company, regardless of its size, regardless of its resources.
[00:40:21] We can do a lot. So don’t wait because you’re probably already running behind your rivals on your markets, and things are moving very quickly. So let’s get started today.
[00:40:34] Bliane: Let’s get started. I agree. Just get started. Well guys, that that wraps it. Vilavanh, Stephane, thank you so much for joining us today. Great discussion. A lot of great insight. Obviously, you’re very close to your clients.
[00:40:47] I know you’re working on some amazing projects, a lot of which we haven’t talked about here, but the capability and scale of a company like yours which is, on the one hand, a global company, on the other hand, a relatively small organization. But the speed and ability to deliver big, impactful projects is now available to a company like yours that it would have been certainly more challenging before and we’re very excited to have you as a partner at VANTIQ. We appreciate that so much.
[00:41:21] So again, thank you for driving this really insightful conversation. Listeners, you can reach out to VANTIQ any time at [email protected] And as I said, check out our website for the actual video of the logistics application created by Infosquare. Guys, looking forward to seeing you at in few weeks at an event in Amsterdam, and until then, have a good day.
[00:41:47] Vilavanh: Thank you very much!
[00:41:47] Stephane: Have a good day too!
[00:41:47] Blaine: Bye bye.