Brought to you by VANTIQ
Episode 18
Successful Transformations From Around the Globe
Vilavanh Messien of Infosquare, Evandro Prieto of NX2, and Vincent Wang of Sunsea Group are driving aggressive digital transformations for their clients in unique ways, all around the world. Recorded live at VANTIQ's 2018 Global Partner Summit in San Francisco, witness successful systems integrators recount how they are helping their clients thrive and the trends they see for businesses and technologies involved in successful digital transformations. 
Blaine
Mathieu
Chief Marketing +

Product Officer, VANTIQ
Vilavanh
Messien
Managing Partner at Infosquare
Evandro
Prieto
Business Executive at NX2

Blaine: Today, we have a very special edition of VANTIQ TVrecorded live at the VANTIQ 2018 Global Partner Summit! [Applause] What a group, what a group!

As you can see, we’re joined live by an audience of almost 70 people from around the world, actually ten different countries represented at the Global Partner Summit. The theme of VANTIQ TVis digital transformation at the speed of real time.

Today, we’re joined by four experts in digital transformation. We’ve heard from some of them over the course of the summit in the last two days. Let me invite them up on the stage. First, we have Vilavanh Messien from Infosquare. Next, we have Evandro Prieto from NX2. And then we have Vincent Wang from Sunsea. Vincent, thank you.

Why don’t we start here with Vilavanh. Vilavanh, tell us a little bit more about yourself. We heard about Infosquarealready and what the company does, but how did you get to be the managing director of Infosquare?

Vilavanh: My name is Vilavanh Messien. I’m one of the co-founders of Infosquare. We started the company four years ago in Belgium. Prior to Infosquare, I had another company that was bought out. We are starting again; a new adventure. We specialize in information management, whatever that may mean. It’s a pretty broad term.

We became part of – I think one of the very first partners of VANTIQin Europe – and we’ve been working very actively, closely with VANTIQ ever since. We truly believe in the technology and had very interesting discussions with existing customers, prospects at various locations.

Blaine: Do you personally have a technical background?

Vilavanh: I’m actually very technical even though [laughter] at InfosquareI’m in charge of business development. My role is to find the right partners that will provide us with the right technologies and products that we can leverage for our customers. VANTIQ is certainly one of the most important partners today.

Blaine: Interesting. So you’re an engineer in charge of sales.

Vilavanh: Exactly.

Blaine: Maybe that’s the trick. Maybe that’s the answer. Thank you, Vilavanh. I appreciate that.

Evandro, tell us a little bit about your background. We heard all about NX2yesterday, really an amazing company. Some great videos you produced. Tell us about your personal background.

Evandro: I am 36 years old. I founded a small company when I was 17. I’ve been always working with IT, especially in financial areas. Last year, I founded NX2, a new company in developing software, performance of database software.

Blaine: Do you also have a technical engineering background?

Evandro: Yes. I have a degree in computer science. Now, I’m starting to do the commercial part, the sales. I’m learning with the team about how to do presales, but this is not new for me.

Blaine: Well thank you very much.

Vincent, tell us about your background.

Vincent: I’m also a technical guy, a hardware engineer. My background of technology is based on some hardware design. 13 years ago, I founded Longsungand have started with Sunsealast year internally. It took me some time to get accustomed to that.

Blaine: How big is Sunsea group again?

Vilavanh: About 2,000 employees now.

Blaine: So you went from your own company to being a part of a much larger organization?

Vilavanh: Actually, I’m not so related to the Longsung business now. I’m in charge of the technology, strategy, and some new products in Sunsea.

Blaine: Yeah thank you. My first question for the panel is what particularly excites you about what’s going on in technology these days and where technology and business are mixing? What excites you?

Vincent: When I founded Longsung 13 years ago, there was no such thing like IoT. Everybody was talking about machine to machine. Actually, I think [they are] the same. But, with progress of technology, a lot of things happened. I think, for IoT, the data transformation is just beginning. It’s very exciting.

Blaine: Evandro, what do you think? What particularly excites you going onto the intersection of technology and business?

Evandro: I like to solve problems and solve problems fast; to produce with velocity and to produce more avenues or sales. I want to change companies to do that. The technology is possible. This speed and velocity are so hard, so maybe it’s possible to provide these solutions for companies.

Blaine: Is there any particular technology that you find really relevant and impactful these days?

Evandro: Of course, real-time applicationsare the path for this future.

Blaine: Vilavanhh, what do you think? What do you find particularly interesting?

Vilavanh: The fact that you can nowadays address things that we weren’t able to do a few years ago. I don’t know if any of you watch sci fi movies. A few years ago, these are things that we never imagined to be possible to do. Now, we have those technologies available. Those technologies are there to be used to help businesses. I think that’s the most important thing.

Blaine: Vincent mentioned IoT a minute ago. Where do you think we are in the maturity curve of IoT. It’s been around for a few years now. Are businesses finally starting to get out of the lab and into the real world or is it still early days? What are you seeing?

Vilavanh: I think we’re still on the very early stage. We love to see companies experimenting, but we’re not quite there yet because there are a few things coming up that still need to mature. There’s much more to come in the future. That’s for sure. We’ll go again to address many more use cases, much more efficient, effective technologies.

Blaine:Yesterday, we talked about 5G and how it’s one of new technologies that will help speed up the adoption of IoT.

Any other comment?

Evandro: We believe that companies are in the early stages, in Brazil particularly. We have a great difficulty to found companies that have prepared for the new technology. They are starting, exposing their information. They are startingto call partners to do a new ecosystem. But, it’s important to see the future; to see all the new technologies, but it’s necessary to do hard work first to prepare these companies to follow this path.

Blaine: What do you think this, Vincent? Where are we in the maturity of IoT?

Vincent: I think IoT is quite related the big data and also some edge computing. The problem is when we have the data, how can we use it? Now, it’s just to connect everything. I think this is not the purpose. We can use this data and all these things to make our lives better. Because of this, I think it is in still in the very early stage.

I also think that the US and China are still leading this area. From the presentation yesterday, you can see in 2020, maybe for the U.S. and China, they cover 50% of the connection. So, it is still on the way.

Blaine: Interesting. Let’s shift to a topic which we talk a lot about on VANTIQ TVwhich is human-machine collaboration: people and systems working together. AI obviously continues to be a very hot topic. There’s a lot of people writing about the end of people.

Vincent, actually, you talked about machine to machine. Where do you think the future of people working collaboratively with machines is or do you believe that the future is machine to machine and people will be out?

Vincent: I liked Marty’s idea in the first statement very much, this collaboration of human and machine. I think it’s why we are there. If there are only machines dominating the world, why are we here? I think this a great idea.

Blaine: Evandro, what do you think about AI, the predictions of the end of mankind?

Evandro: I believe that the future really will be machine and humans. I believe that all work that involves reproduce and repeat, repeat, repeat, we will replace it for machines. That’s the case. But, when you need to understand, to make some analysis, you need a human to choose the best options because the machine’s view really will only predict based on some numbers: probabilities. But the human can watch nuances, little things that I believe the machine cannot. It’s important, this collaboration.

Blaine: What do you think, Vilavanh?

Vilavanh: I think machines are just tools for us to use, make us more effective and efficient in certain tasks. But definitely, they won’t replace us… hopefully [laughter]. The collaboration part is very important. How do we make sure that we use the machines in the correct way, the most effective way?

Blaine: Well I hope you’re right so we can be here next year having another discussion. I’m sure you will be right, hopefully.

A common topic at the Global Partner Summit here has been about IT vs. OTand who should actually be driving the digital transformation of companies. Is it the responsibility of the CIO? Are they the folks that should really be running this transformation or is it the operations side? What has been your experience in trying to sell to or bring solutions to IT versus OT or the operations? Why don’t you go first, Vilavanh. What’s your thought on this topic?

Vilavanh: It’s a lot about digital transformation. It’s about how companies can not only improve themselves, but how can they create new services? How can they generate new revenue streams? IT is just a means. It’s just a tool there to support them.

Basically, we need new technologies that will help companies and businesses accomplish that; to quickly create new, real added value services at low cost, very quickly. This way, they will be able to take more risk because they will need to try out new things. There’s no guarantee that you will get success from that, but at the same time, because you are able to get the job done very quickly at low cost, you reduce the risk and then you’re more willing to try. If you don’t try, will you survive? Probably not. IT is there to support.

Blaine: But have you found, as you’ve been selling solutions into enterprises for many years now, is it possible to go around IT or is IT always there? How do you get around this challenge? Because if they’re not the right people to sell to, they still exist in the enterprise. You have to work with them, right?

Vilavanh: Sure. When you talk to a business, they’re not very interested in the technical side of things, the technology. What they want to know is when the solution will be ready, what the solution will address, and how much it is going to cost. It’s more a matter of returning investment and being competitive, especially nowadays because time is probably the most important criteria. They don’t want to delay. They want it yesterday.

IT is challenging, very much so. If you come to the business with the right solution and you tell them, “This is the solution. What you want, you can have it now or tomorrow at this price.” How will IT respond to that? Is it on covered business solution? Will they take the risk?

At the end of the day, we’re companies doing business and the goal is revenue.

Blaine: What do you think, Evandro? IT versus OT. How are you successfully selling into either side?

Evandro:We had an example. Me and Eduardo were at a telco company in Brazil. We started with the IT team. I met some people there, the manager, and started to talk about our solution, made a presentation with the technology.

But, after meeting, it doesn’t happen that often. They postpone the POC. These sales don’t continue. In another opportunity with the same company, we met the director for digital transformation, the manager. They worked with the business, the operational team. They presented the solution and we have a new park next week because they saw the benefits.

The best part is the technology team will participate on the spot because the manager asked them to. In our experience, it is very important to involve business, the OT, first. IT will be included, in our experience.

Blaine: It’s inevitable. So, you can’t totally take IT, but they’re not the place to start. Vincent, do you agree with his philosophy that we hear from Vilavanh and Evandro?

Vincent: I highly agree about that. In China, in the past several years enterprises, factories, or companies are very anxious about the transformation because in China, there are huge companies like Tencent or Alibaba. It will change a lot. A lot of small businesses can now survive. When a small company is anxious about where they can go, there’s a very, very strong drive for them to change.

IoT and also data transformation of different business is quite fragmented. When we try to sell something to the customer, I think first, you should be very familiar about the business itself so you can give good advice. I think it is very hard to talk to just the IT guy because maybe he is just a part of the company and maybe is nervous. IT not so important in the whole business.

Blaine: Very interesting. Well, agreement from the whole panel that the place to start is on the operations or business side. So, there you go. I think that’s a pretty good confirmation of that. Thank you for that.

Yesterday, our guest speaker, Raz Heiferman, gave a great presentation about digital transformation and he introduced us to a new term: agilification. It’s really about how a company is able to be as agile as they need to be to really embrace and benefit from digital transformation.

Are you seeing a challenge that companies are not agile enough, or maybe on the operational side, they’re starting to realize they need to become more agile? What do you think about the agility of companies? Are they ready to be flexible enough and nimble enough to really embrace digital transformation?

Vincent: I think for many of the companies, they are not so ready for that. I think the best part of VANTIQ is it helps the customer view that. VANTIQ also provides freedom for the customer and also for us to think about, to focus on our business itself.

For many customers when we talk with them, they want to be agile, but they don’t know where to begin. The frame of VANTIQ, when we show them this frame, they are very happy because it helps us and the customer to have a simple language to think together, to work together.

Blaine: Interesting. What is the core of that language? Is it talking about real-time applications? What is the language?

Vincent: It’s not only real time. When people think about things, they focus on their business flow itself and the framework of VANTIQ helps them to think logically and it helps a lot.

Blaine: Interesting. Thank you, Vincent!

All right, Evandro. Back on the topic of agilification. Are the businesses you’re talking to agile enough to be able to embrace these new ways of doing business and new technologies that they require?

Evandro: I really believe that all companies will be inside the vortex. At this agile vortex, they really need to start now to learn because it’s impossible [to start later]. Now, in the future, they need to be agile. That’s my opinion.

Blaine: And are they agile? Are you seeing them yet?

Evandro: No. Not yet, but they are starting to learn to enter in this new area.

Blaine: What are you seeing, Vilavanh? I know you work with some very large, multinational companies. Are they agile do you feel? Are they getting more agile, or are they as slow as dinosaurs?

Vilavanh: Agility is a nice buzz word nowadays. Everyone tries to be agile. The reality is most of them are not because of reasons that were mentioned in the last few days. Some countries think that because they introduced some agile project like SCRUM, they are agile. But, they are not. Agility is not about using the right technology. It is a different way of thinking.It is also about the willingness to test risk and have the structure to support that.

That’s why VANTIQ is so important as a platform as a technology because as opposed a lot of other technology platforms, it’s business oriented. VANTIQ is there to help companies create business values. We’re not talking about technology. It’s a great technology. It’s a great platform for an impressive set of capabilities. But the most important thing is that we provide companies with the ability to create new services very quickly. That’s one piece of the equation. That’s one element that will actually help companies become more agile.

Blaine: So, speed and agility are tied together in an important way.

Vilavanh: Speed, of course because time to market has never been as important as it is right now. But, you also need to have the ability to adapt quickly to any changes.

I was mentioning before that companies need to try new things. Some new services will fail. Some will become very successful. But, we can’t predict the lifetime of the new services. We no longer make long-term IT investments as we used to do in the past. Services have a very short lifetime nowadays. You need to make as much profit as you can while the service is still relevant. But, nowadays, if you take too much time to complete a project, it’s already obsolete by the time it goes live. So, agility is about speed, the ability to adapt, launch new services.

Evandro: I want to complement some information for agility. We saw in Brazil some big companies like banks are trying to be agile.

They follow the same method, the same process, the old process. If you want to sign, you don’t use paper. Now, you sign electronically. But, do you need the signing? I don’t know because they are not really digital transformation in this case. They are only tools. I understand that they will need to create the business.

Blaine: Thank you for that.

I didn’t warn our guests that I was going to ask this question. So, get ready for one. I ask it of all our guests on VANTIQ TV. It’s always one of my favorite parts of the conversation to ask what area of technology or business or maybe technology and business that you would like to call bullshit on. [Laughter] There’s an area where everyone is saying X and you say Y; where you think the market is wrong. What is something where you think the gurus are wrong and you actually feel a different way? Who wants to go first?

Vilavanh: I’m very happy to mention blockchain! [Laughter]

Blaine: Tell us why you’re calling BS on blockchain.

Vilavanh: To me, at the end of the day, blockchain is just a distributed database. It’s a funny thing. Blockchain is a huge buzz word. If anything, it’s one of the very first times in history that we have a technology but we don’t know what you do with it. Companies are investing a humongous amount of money trying to figure out what to do with it. It’s a bit weird.

Blaine: Okay. Blockchain. First panel BS. What have you got for us, Evandro? What is an area where your think we just don’t have it right; the market is not thinking about it correctly?

Evandro: Virtual reality. They sell it like, “You will see all the things in virtual reality.” I don’t believe that because they have some points that it’s interesting, but this is a technology that I don’t know if it really increases value in exploration and experience.

Blaine: Okay so we just eliminated half of the VC investments in Silicon Valley now: blockchain and virtual reality. [Laughter].

Vincent, what have you got for us?

Vincent: I think the idea of “connect everything” is totally bullshit.

Blaine: Okay. Tell us more about that.

Vincent: Here’s a story where I visited Cambridge this July. I talked to a very important professor which studied human history. When I talked with one of the professors as he took out his handset, I think maybe the same ode as I showed everybody yesterday. That handset is powered off. He told me he didn’t want to be traced, to be connected. I think many people still hold that idea, “Why will we connect everything? We need to freedom.”

Blaine: Interesting. So, the challenge of freedom vs. always being on, always be connected.

Vincent: Yes. Also, it’s related to our second question. Our purpose or calling is not machine related. Maybe you well spend all your life to find this.

Blaine: Very, very philosophical. Thank you, Vincent.

Maybe we’ll wrap it up with some final tips or suggestions you might have for a business or technology leader that’s trying to drive this kind of transformation in their business. Any final thoughts for us, Vilavanh?

Vilavanh: I would say we now have the right tools and technologies to help us spearhead digital transformation. We need to take that opportunity to do it. VANTIQ is a great platform for that. We give the ability to companies to write new things with minimal risk. We are reducing cost and reducing time so it’s a fantastic time.

Blaine: So, take advantage of the time. It’s now. Thank you, Vilavanh.

Evandro, some tips or suggestions for the business leader.

Evandro: For the business leader, keep an open mind for new things, but you don’t need to forget the simple. Your customer needs to buy your product or services because you solve a problem for this customer. You can use a lot of technologies. You can change your process. Be open minded to change your process. There is no magic. It is hard work always.

Blaine: Undoubtedly. Vincent, some final tips or thoughts for business leaders.

Vincent: I liked the saying yesterday: you have to learn how to serve. Everything will faster. If you want to survive in this accelerated world, you have to be agile and accept new things, but focus on the real; what a business needs itself, not just thinking about everything technically.

Blaine: Yes. Thank you.

Panel, that was really interesting. Some great advice today. Let’s give our panel a round of applause.