Digital: Disrupted: Can Technology Future Proof Your Business?

March 10, 2023

In this week’s episode, Paul sits down with Nico Avila for a conversation around the evolving role of the CTO and what challenges businesses are facing in relation to legacy technology.

Nico discusses why he thinks the looming recession is an opportunity to focus on how to improve the way companies work, and shares his take on why it’s so important for them to keep an eye toward the new technologies that will shape the future.

Digital: Disrupted is a weekly podcast sponsored by Rocket Software, in which Paul Muller dives into the unique angles of digital transformation — the human side, the industry specifics, the pros and cons, and the unknown future. Paul asks tech/business experts today’s biggest questions, from “how do you go from disrupted to disruptor?” to “how does this matter to humanity?” Subscribe to gain foresight into what’s coming and insight for how to navigate it.  

About This Week’s Guest:

Nico Avila is the CTO for North America at Globant, a company that helps clients reinvent and innovate business and tech practices to work more sustainably and efficiently using the latest tech. Follow Nico and Rocket Software on LinkedIn.

Listen to the full episode here or check out the episode transcript below.

Episode Transcript:

Paul Muller: Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of Digital Disrupted with me, your host, Paul Muller. Well, this week we're going to take a look at a problem faced by pretty much every business, whether you're small or large, and in some respects more so for the really large ones, and that would include government agencies and not-for-profits. And the problem we're talking about is figuring out what tools to use to build, or especially in the case of the big ones, to rebuild your customer’s digital experience. The problem, if I could put it as simply as I can, is that there are so many different tools and technologies out there changing so quickly. It's really hard for businesses and technologists to keep up and you've got to add to that problem, this legacy issue, the issue of decisions you've made 10 years ago, five years ago, sometimes even a year ago, that hang around long after you've decided to move on to a new technology.

I don't know if anyone remembers Macromedia Flash. I know there are businesses out there still trying to get rid of it 13 years after Steve Jobs famously penned his thoughts on flash email. So how do you go about selecting the right tools to help your people move with speed, to move with grace, to move with precision at the same time as avoiding the dead ends and next year's legacy?

Before we jump in to find out the answers, I'd love it if you could do me two favors. First, if you like what you're hearing, please do give us a thumbs up or better still live, a quick review on your podcast player. It makes a massive difference to us. It really does. Second please check out the website of today's sponsor to see why over 10 million IT professionals rely on rocket software every day to run their most critical business applications, processes, and data. With that, let's talk about the tools, platforms, and enabling technologies for a modern digital business with today's guest, Nico Avila. He's the CTO at Globant where he helps businesses navigate the world of development and delivery platforms picking the right technologies for tomorrow. Welcome to the podcast, Nico.

Nico Avila: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here, Paul.

PM: It's great to have you. How did I do with the introduction in terms of summarizing some of the problems people are facing?

NA: I think you did really great. It's a very challenging time to be dealing with change, but it's an impossible time not to be changing, but things are getting faster every day, we're having bigger challenges and it does not only reflect on the decisions that we going to take, how do we move faster, but at the same time is it going to be future proof? Right? So definitely very good examples you gave.

PM: Great. Well, hey, before we get into the topic, and I'm really interested to talk about it we do a little thing called the lightning round to off every episode to get to know our guests through a slightly quirky lens. Are you ready to do it?

NA: Sure.

PM: All right. First up, Nico, what would people say is your superpower?

NA: I think it's has enhanced vision, which is seeing through things. That's what I would call and there is nothing, I try to give it a short description, but it's really hard. I think that there is this thing about us engineers trying to see what makes things click and what's behind everything that's happening, so I'm very curious in that sense.

PM: Great superpower, the most disruptive technology of all time?

NA: That's a hard one. I wanted to say ‘the next one’ because it's always changing, but if I give a more rounded answer, I would go for email because it sits in between writing and things that got us there before, but I think it really pushed the speed at which we were communicating and communicating faster made a lot of impact on how we see the world today.

PM: I'm going to actually take your first answer, the next one. It's the best answer I think we've ever had on this show. I'm keeping that one. All right. The best quality a leader can have?

NA: I'd say curiosity quickly followed by empathy, but I think to be empathetic, you really need to be open to new ideas to be taught by your team, so curiosity is definitely an important thing to guide your curiosity.

PM: Go back in time. Your advice to people starting their careers?

NA: Fail. I think that it's not such a drama to fail as early as you can. The most relevant things that I've learned, I've learned them in the hardest times and the toughest challenges and many times it was even though I try not to fail, even try not to screw up, I think that not having the fear of failing is going to allow you to innovate.

PM: It's easy to say, but it's hard to do.

NA: I heard somebody the other day saying that you got to teach your kids how to fail, and they made it a practice to, every weekend, get with their kids and ask what did they fail at this week? And it was about creating that loop of not being fearful. I tried doing it with my daughter. She's not giving in yet, but I really look forward to it making an attitude that she has in her life, not being afraid of trying something new.

PM: Yeah, I mean we could talk about this topic for hours. One of the seminal moments of my career I recall was when a leader I really respected came up to me after I'd finished a quarterly business review and he said to me in all of my years as a senior global sales executive, it's extremely rare for a sales leader to stand up in front of everybody and say, no, I screwed up this quarter. No one else. It was not the economy, it wasn't my customers. And he said, that's a rare thing to see in people, that ability to say, yep, I'm owning this failure and it's okay because I'm learning from it, which is the critical thing. And being comfortable to take a risk is the other side of that equation.

NA: I think society is expecting a different kind of leader these days, and I think we're learning from what's needed in time.

PM: All right, next one. The first thought that comes to mind when you think of digital innovation?

NA: Opportunity, by all means. I think that it enabled people from all around the world to be part of large trends, to be pitching in on some of the coolest technologies, and it opened up a conversation that was not happening before. And I say that from a personal matter. Growing up in Argentina, I didn't expect to be part of the world that I'm in today and without the digital world, this wouldn't have happened.

PM: Well said. Finally, if you could use technology to solve one world problem, what would it be and why? Drum roll please.

NA: I'd say learning and it's hard because it goes on. You can go on climate change, you can go on wealth distribution, but I think getting people more educated and more access enhances their chances to see the world and the opportunities that are in front of us. So I think that that will create a lot of solutions for the problems that we're dealing with.

PM: Oh, well said. So let's get into the topic of, I guess, sustaining digital transformation or kickstarting it in some cases. But before we do it just you mentioned you came from Argentina. Tell us a little bit about how you got to be a CTO guiding companies on their technology decisions.

NA: My dad was a software engineer and so I had very early access to a computer. I started coding I think in fourth grade, or something like that. And for the most part, I think everybody was sure that I was going to be a software engineer living in Argentina. I was an exchange student in Germany when I was about 16 years old and I decided that I wanted to be a philosopher or something like that because that's how life-changing experiences go. But then I got back to my hometown and my grandmother said something that was relevant for me, which is do something you feel that you're really good at. And I didn't know how good I was going to be as a philosopher, but I knew that on math I could make an impact, so I followed a safer path in that sense.

I was lucky enough that it was a time where Argentina was booming in opportunities. Lots of international companies were there. I worked for HP, I worked for Motorola, and when I joined Globant, Globant was founded in America but it had global reach, I thought that I was going to be moving to Europe because all of my family lived in Europe. So I was like, now I'm going to go with Globant and set base in Germany or something like that. But then they asked me if I wanted to spend a year in San Francisco and I was like, you know what? I can try that. It's a great life experience so I can do that. So, I worked for a banking client in San Francisco for a year, and after a year I was kind of ready to go to Europe and then they said, do you want to lead our retail teams in Chicago?

I looked at my wife and with a little bit of convincing, she agreed, and then that took us to LA to lead entertainment and hospitality in Miami. And when we were moving to New York, on the way there, she was pregnant. It was during COVID, it was winter and during the trip we were driving because we wouldn't fly during Covid with a pregnant wife and she looked at a sign as we were driving through the city and said, after New York, we should live in D.C. So we hadn't made it to New York and she was already planning our next move. There was a lot of software involved in the journey. I was lucky enough to get to see lots of companies doing great things with technology, trying on different industries, and I think that's what got me here, the opportunity to be in the frontline and see in different subcultures of the U.S. lots of ways in which technology was being used.

PM: It's interesting, as you were talking about software, my personal reaction was I remember the time, and it wasn't that long ago, when the innovation in hardware was the thing we all looked forward to and the software was kind of always lagging the hardware innovation, and now it's very much, at least to my perception, flipped on its head, hasn't it?

NA: There are commonalities. I think the key of innovation, well, you can see that in software particularly the tempo and stability are very relevant topics, but actually when you think of what makes a Tesla a leader in their space, even though, I mean they're a software company, they're a hardware company, and what really made the difference was the ability to turn in the digital development as a core capability and bring some of those practices to other areas. So even though digital innovation is really, really relevant today, some of the practices and the things that led digital to be able to move at a faster pace and with a controlled stability that enables innovation, I think those practices are coming back to other industries and enabling the companies that are really able to deal with their strategy faster.

PM: Yeah, I mean absolutely where that intersection of infrastructure plus software and automation meets is where that's the amazing stuff happens. I guess which that's a nice segue to this conversation because I guess whether you're picking a hardware infrastructure, if you’re Elon Musk, you're betting big on batteries for example, and electric Motors. If you're a business, your employees, your customers in particular experience you now these days, as you said with Tesla, the software part of it is a really big part of what the customers are buying. It's what they're paying for. It's the differentiator in many cases between you and somebody else. It's not the bricks and mortar that makes your business, it's your process, your people, but also the underlying software is really a massive part of what that customer experience or employee experience looks like. And I guess probably is worth talking about what a CTO is and does.

But one of the most difficult things that I'd personally find when I'm working with businesses, they'll often ask me what horse should I pick in this race? And it's a really difficult question because picking winners in technology, what is going to be the next thing that you should build your company on? What's the next thing you should bake into? The DNA of the company is a tricky one because I think people think you can make a technology decision and if you change your mind you can throw it out and start new, but it's a lot as I think I mentioned in the opening a technology decision today. You might live with the consequences of that for years. Let's break the question up. First question, perhaps describe what a CTO, a chief technology officer does, and the second thing, what role do you play in helping people make those, or businesses make those, choices?

NA: Sure. I think it's changed. It's changed a lot. And then each company has a little bit of a different flavor so that you have a quick existence of a CIO, a CTO, a CMO, a CXO and CX consumer experience and chief digital officer. So every company, a little bit of a different definition. I've seen a change in the last few years where the expectation went from being a functional leader, you’ve got a chief council in some companies and lawyers report to that person and it's very strict. I'm seeing a change where technology was understood as a cost area and where it's becoming a superpower for companies, not only because it's revenue generating, but actually because it's a key to what's going on. I had a conversation with a friend a couple of months back and he put it this way, he said, my grandfather used to be the president of electricity for IBM, and there was a point where not everything was running on electricity, some things were running on gas and well, it doesn't make sense to have a chief electricity officer today because it's natural and I think that going through the logic of this is a functional leader limits the space that we have to play with for the future of the companies, technology is going to be everywhere.

I can't foresee a leader of a sales organization that will not think from the get-go on technology in 10 years. It should be happening today. You don't have Amazon saying, I'm going to create a logistics department and then maybe 10 years later I'm going to bring in technology. You don't see that happening. You don't go to the store and create a store and then maybe in five years I'll add electricity. And I think today the needs for technology need to be a kind of change and try to get all of the functions to be savvy on technology themselves. So enabling that is a really significant part of the change.

PM: That's a great description of I suppose, the changing role of the CTO to the second part of the question. What role does that function help in guiding some of the decisions we're talking about today? Because when I hear the title CTO myself, I often think to myself, this person is probably a guru. They know everything that's out there, they've seen it all and they can probably tell me exactly what the best thing is. Is that overestimating the power of a CTO? What role do you help them make in those decisions?

NA: I definitely overestimate my capacities, but I think that on the one hand it's becoming more and more important, not only to do, and this is part of a follow up from the first part, it's not only important to know tech, but it's also important know that you have to develop talent. In that sense, developing talent needs to be something of the culture of each company. In our case, it's particularly important, so it's not only we know how to build software, but actually we know how to develop talent, something that's a core capability for the company. Now, in terms of helping that happen, I think that there are three main factors of driving this change to life. For me, one is doing right. We need to build great software great solutions that enable the business. The second one is we have to guide what needs to be built.

If you're an expert on technology, you need to understand the role that it plays on the business. And the third is you need to understand how do I make those changes? Really something that's driving change on the organization. So I think that in that sense, even by to today's standards it’s impossible to know everything, but it's really important to stay up to date by all means, but then also surround yourself with people that are better in different areas than yourself and that's valid for everybody. But with tech that's changing this fast, it's even more important having that ecosystem around you that's helping you make sense of the chaos.

PM: Yeah, let's talk about that because the things as you mentioned are changing or constantly I was reading an article this week, I might have even tweeted about it where Rust has now become the programming language that everybody's now building applications on. I'd be completely transparent, had not even heard of Rust up until recently and that's obviously a relatively new technology that then you hear about things that we've had around for years that are still there. I guess what I'm trying to say is it's a rapidly moving space. It's a highly dynamic space. We've got vendors that come into existence that thrive, suppliers of technologies that thrive and are still around decades afterwards. You know, can pick the Microsoft, IBM, HP, I mean look at Java, and then you've got other technologies where the company appears and disappears because they're unable to be successful. We are going into an environment now where it's a recessionary or people are anticipating if not a recessionary environment the central banks of across the world are trying to cool inflation. So they're trying to get the opposite of inflation, which I guess is deflation, which is technically recession, right? Slow growth that means less money to go around. That also means a lot of pressure I guess to cut costs potentially. So maybe you want to talk a little bit about how the recession's impacting the way people are thinking about their digital investment decisions.

NA: For the last six months, there has been a significant position for companies and organizations on what's the CFO's agenda and that's trickling down and that's part of the monetary policy as you mentioned. It's interesting how every company is reacting in a different way. I definitely saw a trend of companies saying “you know what? I'm not going to spend one more dollar adding a feature on my e-commerce.” Like I'm not going to spend back there because my customer's not going to respond. And of course, the CFO agreed on that. But then on the other hand, sometimes we forget that it doesn't mean that there isn't an opportunity. I think on cutting costs, technology is a really important tool. There are so many processes that need to be optimized. There are so many technologies that can come to help. Of course, we can go on a segue about ChatGPT or GPT three, AI, and how that's changing processes but I would actually say that to an extent I have a fear in that sense that it's a little bit of a recipe for disaster saying, I'm not going to be spending on tech, I'm not going to be spending on changing.

I'm not going to because I have to find efficiencies. Not thinking how you’re sharpening your blade. It's a very complicated position to be at, right, because sometimes I understand being financially responsible and I think we all have to be, but sometimes it even goes to the attitude of let's not touch anything and just let it stand and be there. I think this quiet period in that sense might be the best time for companies to think about how they can improve the way in which they work. It's a really important time to improve that they are focusing on improving their tempo, that they have the stability in place so that when the market kicks off, they can really go and tackle the next iteration. Definitely. Of course there is a lot of change and companies are thinking, I need time to think the way in which they're taking it. I think in many cases technology should be the right answer.

PM: Ah, yeah, for sure. So let's talk a bit about that specifically though, because you mentioned the CFO. I deal with a lot of companies at the moment who are saying this cloud thing was great when everything was booming and we gave every business manager a credit card and they chose the SaaS platform or the PaaS platform that they wanted to build their business on. Now I'm getting a bill every month from Microsoft, from Google, from Amazon. The bill keeps getting bigger, our revenues are declining or steady because we're in this environment where we're trying to have deflation or at least tame inflation. We feel stuck because it's not like our old on-premises technology where we can just switch off spending for a period of time. We can stop Capex. We're in the worst possible situation where revenues are dropping and Opex is remaining steady and there's very little we can do to change that. Are you hearing anything from people, or organizations I should say, about what some of the impact of these as-a-service technologies are having on the financial dynamics of running technology?

NA: I think that I try in that sense, not to say I told you so, or come with that attitude, because we know the challenges that come with that. I think it's a sign of the times. The last few years were a rush to the top. I think everybody was running and everybody was trying to show as much movement as possible, not necessarily focusing on what's going to become a competitive advantage, but actually on showing movement. And many of the challenges that we see on deception of what cloud is going to bring are because companies and organizations and leaders had the wrong, were leading from the wrong premise. I think that there's some savings that cloud can give you if it’s right, but only if it feels right, there is an ability to scale and an ability to get faster somewhere that it's undeniable.

But it all depends on having the right strategy. If you just lift and shift like these are my apps and I put them in the cloud and then all a sudden it's not a hyperscaler, it's not really scaling, it's the same app and now I'm paying for a compute that I had as a Capex and now I have as an Opex, it's a really bad decision. Now, if you're not willing to invest in having the craziest data center that your company can grow up. To me, then it becomes a lot better to use that flexibility that the cloud can give you. So with the part of the lack of happiness, many people are not really happy about the results that they found. I think it's a learning, this is what we should do and there is a lot of reckoning that needs to happen on how we really tackle cloud strategy that makes sense. It's undeniable that cloud is a real asset, we have to be responsible and I see a lot of cloud FinOps becoming really relevant. I need to understand the business case behind it, right? Because it's not only tech because we like it.

PM: Yeah, so FinOps you mean financial operations, is that right?

NA: Yeah. Particularly for cloud. What's the ROI? What's the right usage? When does it make sense and when doesn't it?

PM: Yeah, absolutely. Because you do have that, I used to call it the cell phone shock, right back when most of us weren't on fixed cell phone plans and you picked up your phone, you got the bill at the end of the month and the kids have been on the phone and you're like, wow, it's gone from $200 to $2,000. What happened? Right? Because it's unlimited upside in terms of cost, which is always the dangerous part. I'd mentioned legacy technologies at the beginning of this podcast and one of the challenges of picking your future technologies is that you need to anticipate that it might also be a future legacy. And you talked a bit about lifting and shifting old workloads, old apps. What are you seeing at the moment in terms of some of the priorities, the challenges, the opportunities that businesses are having in relation to legacy? What learning have you encountered in the last couple of years?

NA: I'm trying not to tie it to the future looking perspective.

PM: No, please. I mean it's no problem with you linking the two together because I mean if history doesn't teach us something, we've wasted our time.

NA: Yeah, I think one of the key things that we've seen is that it's important to have a way out of everything, and for the most part we work with companies that are focusing heavily on transforming their businesses through technology and in many cases it means building something new. It means building something from scratch. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to shut off the business that you had before. And of course, I mean desirable patterns are what I think of the Amazon pattern in the sense of you don't go to Amazon one day and it's a whole different platform. It doesn't happen every day. Something changed the bottom of there and if you manage to stay away from it for three, six months, you might notice a difference. If you go there often, you're not going to notice anything. It kept on changing and it changed in plain sight and I think that is really relevant and aspirational as something that we want to build for platforms.

It's something that you can evolve and move the particular technologies that are being used, whether when they were on Angular and then you think that it's really cool and then three months later it's like, you know what? Now we should have used Angular too and then we'll know or maybe React and it's Flutter and Rust and it becomes really hard to catch. Reality is that it's going to keep on changing. It is unavoidable, but it's going to keep on changing. We have a group that focuses on archeology and understanding the legacy code basis and trading and we call it archeology because sometimes you find a lot of bias there. Reality is that it's a practice not only in understanding what happens there, but also creating a future looking platform that you not only can keep evolving, but also keeping in mind that things are going to be moving way faster than we think that the rate of change has been accelerating every year.

One thing that I would add for instance is that it's not only important the tech itself, but refining the way that we work. And one thing that our CEO is very keen on is thinking that we have to reinvent not only our clients’ industries but our own industry. Think outside of the box, think differently. And that's why we started a couple years back, I think it's probably five, six or five, we started spending creating our own products that could help our engineers to faster development. So we have for instance, one platform and I think it just relates to this, so that's just coming out that's called Augoor. And Augoor is a code intelligence platform. It helps you document the code that you don't understand enough. It helps you understand the structure, and the relationship with your team, of the code that you have in front of you.

And something that we realized is that our teams need to learn a new code base very often. They need to adapt, they need to make sense of the code that they have in front of them so that they can make a decision and change something and be on the platform itself. It was to the point that you need to be thinking how do you change the way that you work so that you can get better at building software, get better at building solutions. And we got to be challenging ourselves every day. If, I don't know if any of these platforms that we're doing are going to be the holy grail that helps us with our engineers, but I know that whatever we try, we do have to keep on trying to improve the way that we work.

PM: Yeah, I mean I respond really positively to the phrase archeology because it does feel like that, and we need to be really clear. I mean I know organizations, I might have even mentioned it on the podcast before and we've all heard stories of it. It's like, what does that server do? And people just say, I have no idea. Let's unplug it and see who complains because it's been here 10, 20, 30 years. There is that element and that's with physical infrastructure with software. We've got banks certainly here in Australia and I know around the world where they've got COBOL that's older than me. And so it is really difficult because we talk about agility. You've mentioned agility here and it's really hard to be agile if you are afraid to switch off or change a piece of technology because you don't understand it anymore. I could probably give you a dozen examples.

So this notion of automating some of this, I suppose what I'm hearing is we can take our legacy systems as you say, start to document them better but also use technology to build the codes to movement, which we've been talking about since fourth generation languages now for probably about 30 years. I think we've been talking about software that builds software for us but can we use computers to automate the process of creating software or at least documenting and integrating that? Are you seeing a lot of response to this idea of this opportunity or are the technologists still keen on getting on the keyboard and driving it all themselves?

NA: It's always going to be a struggle I think in that sense. And there's going to be camps. I remember a talk by Alan Key that said, optimization has a certain limit. You get into functional programming and you learn how to do functional programming and you can get better at organizing your files. And the only significant opportunity for a significant improvement is a disruption, a significant change. And that's where you see object oriented programming and something that's completely new. And you've seen that evolution in computer science happening over and over again. It's kind of funny with low-code and no-code because it's kind of coexisted side by side with what I would call traditional programming at the same time. And it didn't replace it, it didn't fulfill the premise of I'm going to replace this other thing because I think that technology on its own capabilities of the software development languages kept on evolving but I think there was space for them both.

It still makes sense. And it's funny in that sense in that reluctancy, because on the one hand you have the camp of people that are saying I'm not going to be, I don't want to be using this next technology. But as a whole, the engineer is very keen on testing new things. The software engineer should leave him alone for five minutes. He has a new plan he's trying a new methodology that they learned yesterday. Now also the challenge of that puzzle solving is relevant to the mindset. Now what I will tie it up with is that it's going to keep on changing, it's going to keep on pushing. And it's not only no-code and low-code that are making a dent in that sense, co-pilots making a dent, code intelligence platforms like Augoor are making a dent and it's moving people from thinking my values on typing to my value on puzzle solving that I like as a puzzle solver.

I feel that it is sometimes, but it's actually about solving a problem. And the real problem is happening in a business. It's happening in a consumer experience. It's happening in an employee experience. And naturally this is going to happen. Just as a simple example with the latest changes in genetic AI, something that we've done is not only go and rethink every way in which we're building software, but at the same time we built it on, we bought a low-code, no-code platform last year, but we actually went and tied it up to generative AI. So, you can say, give me an app that will send a bill to my clients and that it's going to make it in X form.

And it looks at, can we think differently about the way in which we're building software? And I think that's going to be very relevant in this sense. We built a whole system to have humans talk to computers. Everything that we're doing is having humans talk to computers. When the computer talks human, there is no real need for all of that. That's going to be a natural change that's going to be happening. And I think it's not going to be overnight. That's something that's going to keep evolving. But at the same time, we need for it to happen because it doesn't matter how many people we can have creating apps with no-code, with low-code, manually writing on paper, we need them all. We have a lot more problems in companies that can be solved because they didn't have the funding available in any year to solve all the problems that they should solve with technology. So, the more effective that we can have people resolve those problems through technology, the better that want to be making for the overall society. So, I think there is a key component and adoption that's going to be gradual. Some of the changes are really helping today but it's going to be really positive on driving adoption.

PM: It's fascinating stuff. You mentioned co-pilot. Actually I'm going to pause for a second. One of the things that occurred to me, I wrote it down as you were talking, is in people deploying technologies really need to be thinking about a decommissioning plan. The day they put that new technology in is just like they're thinking about how do I put this tech into my business? They should be writing a plan for how do I get it out? Maybe not the technology itself, but the data associated with it, the business logic. How do I make sure that the stuff that I need to remove later on so that I can be agile is done with the least disruption possible? Just the thought I had as you were talking.

NA: Yes, yes. I was going to say with a finite amount, right? And I say that as an engineer who overthinks all of the possible things that can go wrong. You don't get married thinking this is going to fail. It's by the way out of it. But definitely easing your way into that and having a plan is definitely important. Because you're an organization, you're a company and you have to find a way to stay resilient.

PM: Look, it's the one phrase that will get me in a, well, there's several phrases, but in a boardroom or in a meeting that'll get me very animated is if somebody uses the word future-proof I throw a whiteboard eraser at them, because I'm like, that phrase doesn't even make any sense. You know what I mean? It's like, oh, if we do this we'll future-proof the business, and as I say, I'll throw something at them because it's like that is just the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Because you should be thinking about the decommissioning plan. You should be thinking about how to get this thing back out because it will be replaced by something. There is categorically no doubt that it will be replaced. And if you are not thinking about how do I ensure that, as I say, the business logic and the data are probably the only two things people really care about, unless you can think about how do we extricate that out and replace it with something else from the day we start, we are building ourselves potentially into a situation where we'll have to carry that legacy forward because no one will know how this little black box works and that'll become a problem for the business.

My thoughts, my experience, I guess I've just seen too many legacy systems.

NA: Totally agree. I think there is an evolution that's natural in organizations and that we sometimes think of today on apps. We don't think of what's going to be happening in the organization and the so underlying software organization that software architecture that follows it.

PM: Yeah. Now I've got very keen, I'm a bit of a tech nerd as you probably figured out. I remember when virtualization was a really big thing. Oh wow, what, 20 years ago. Then we moved from virtualization to microservices then we went from microservices now to serverless and lambda and things and these sorts of related entities. That's just one example of, well, I'm just curious actually what are you seeing as some of the cutting edge technologies or some of the, give me your picks if you like. What's exciting you at the moment as a technologist where you look and say there's some really interesting stuff going on here. Because I think one of the other problems with the tech world is we've got 7 billion people on the planet all innovating in different ways and there's always something interesting going on somewhere. I mean maybe your customers or you yourself or there's some technologies that are exciting right now.

NA: I would say again, the next one, right? Let me see, there is so much going on and I was reflecting just yesterday about the fact that today everybody's talking about generative AI, but that hype's going to die, that's going to die out in three months. And because six months ago we were talking about metaverse and everything was going to be happening in the metaverse. And 12 months ago we were talking about NFTs. And NFTs were the only thing that mattered in the world. And I can't guess what's going to be the next one. There are a couple candidates, but reality is that there's going to be a new one. And I see a very big struggle in organizations and technology leaders not succumbing to this because it gets to the point that they're like, you know what? I'm not going to do anything about generative AI or ChatGPT because it's going to die out.

And they're getting to that place. We think about the hype on microservices and it took a long time. It didn't take three months to die out. And even when it took years, people still got it wrong. I've seen too many companies that we go through and say, I have to do microservices, and why? because the CIO said so, why? because we have to separate code. And no, it's because you want to give the ability for each part of the company to innovate at its own pace. You're separating so that not everybody moves at the speed of the slowest. And I think in that sense there are patterns of technology that are sometimes misunderstood in the transformational effect that they got. Some of the tech that just went over the hype, it's still going to be there. Like NFTs, blockchain solves trust and it's got different things in which it can be not necessarily that good to be, but it's a really relevant tool into the future.

Solving trust is going to become more and more important even though some, I might not necessarily go to a restaurant in Metaverse, I don't see a future where people don't only use virtual or augmented reality, and plains of existence just the same way that we got LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram. And there are different versions of us we're going to have that we're going to be earning money in these different dimensions and that's going to happen like it or not. And the same thing is happening with generative AI today. It's going to be like somebody might get afraid of what ChatGPT responded to a question, but the value that it has in enabling us to get closer and doing part of the heavy lifting so that humans can focus on the high value other portion of the job is really relevant.

So I'm not sure if it's going to be robotic, if it's going to be hyper-connectivity, if it's going to be 5G but there will be a lot of things that are going to be coming in front of us over and over again and the speed of change for that is going to be hard. I think that the most appealing things for this are when these technologies start pairing together. So we're using VR and 3D experiences that we use creating games. We're using them to create digital twins that can be used for clinical trials or for trainings. You jump over an industry, you go to different place and you find that these things that were happening are relevant. We're using robotics not only to resolve labor that's very labor intensive and things that are going to be dangerous for people, but actually even there are some times where you have a build and just testing the credit cards is going to take you a couple of weeks and you can do it in two, six hours if you put a robot, do the testing.

And all of that for me goes on to building technology, different arms of technology joining together to get people in the kind of jobs that they feel more compelled to do. And I say that because there's been so much discussion about how these technologies and disruptions are going to get people out of the jobs. And I see a lot of companies that are not able to find people to do the job that needs to get done because the next generation doesn't want to do it. You don't want be running around a park checking if the trash cans, I mean a park, a hotel, any public space and checking if the trash cans are full. You need an IOT solution that's going to be helping you know which ones need to be replaced. So you need a tenth of the people doing that. And guess what? People don't want to be doing that kind of job. So companies are going to be forced to tackle these technologies, not only to fulfill the desires of the customers of the future, but also of the employees of the future.

PM: Really, really well said. There's this tremendous amount of technology, technological capability as you say, we always need to be thinking about the next one but most importantly, we need to get things done for the business. That's the thing that's important right now, whether the business is government, public sector or private enterprise, we focus a lot on the technology, but the reality is that people need to combine those pieces of technology together to create a solution. How we build these solutions is as important, if not more important, at least in my opinion as the technology itself. So the behaviors and the organizational principles. So I was fortunate enough to collaborate and contribute to the first edition of the Phoenix Project with Gene Kim which talked a lot about DevOps principles and the way we build software. There's been a lot of, well there's been talk for the last 20 years about Agile. Is there a set of, I guess maybe just reflect on how technologists can help lead that process and how important it is to organize people in the right way and then we'll wrap up.

NA: I'm thinking if it's two types of technologies or maybe it's the same one, I'm thinking there is a lot of technology that we've built to help us do the job and when we looked at the basics of even DevOps and going more into the CI/CD pipelines, you get a lot of tech that was built to help you do it. And I think that those building blocks are becoming really, really relevant. I think that there are a lot of tools. There really is. Luckily there is a lot of effort that's been spent on creating the building blocks that help us get there, that help us get there faster. And I think definitely see a huge change on people from understanding I need to code everything, so I need to integrate pieces and pieces and it goes from the tools that we use to do test automation.

It goes to the tools that we use to do integration analysis. Of course lots of technologies that still rely on coding per se, but for me it's a shining light because it's what people are taking solutions that are helping them break the problem into pieces and simplify their work. I think there will be some things that will be harder to migrate to less involve coding manual coding tasks. I think the tech is picking up on the low-code, no-code enough that there will be points and I see that on people's perspectives. I see them saying it's not worth me going and coding something. So really the evolution of these other technologies together with the change in mentality and people seeing the fact that they can leverage as many building blocks as possible are going to help make it more popular and that's going to lead to being able to deploy more solutions factor for all organizations. So I think that the tools themselves are improving in a way that that's contributing to people changing the way in which they perceive that problem needs to be solved.

PM: Nice answer with that. If people are interested in learning more about what you do or looking for a crystal ball into the future of technology, where can they go to learn more?

NA: Definitely go to I think that there are a lot of insightful people in the company that are sharing their content on or our social media. We're going to find people that have a lot better ideas than I have myself. So, I think definitely going on to the whole community is the way to go.

PM: Fabulous stuff. Alright, well the last question. The show sponsor Rocket Software has a set of values that they talk about on their website. They talk about empathy, humanity, trust and love, the things that matter to them. What matters to you right now?

NA: Being kind. I think that in the last couple of years there's been a huge connection and I love the values from Rocket when I read them, by the way. I think it's complimentary when we look at kindness, I think it speaks to how to work for our planet and make sure that we are using as much sustainable energy as we can and have a plan to improve on that. We are looking at how we're contributing with our societies training our teams making sure that we have in technology, we have too much of a male representation in many of the places that we work. We've done scholarships for making sure that we have a 50% women participation in that sense because we think that it's relevant for our society. But then also being kind to each one of us, our employees and our clients. I think that that connecting with humanity became really relevant in the last couple years in the public eye, but it's been always something that we've wanted.

PM: Amazing. Well, thank you Nico, and thank you again to Rocket Software for bringing us another episode of Digital: Disrupted and thank you all for being so kind enough. There you go, Nico reference there to tune in. If you like what you've heard. Do give us a thumbs up on Apple, iTunes, Spotify, wherever you happen to be listening. You can also reach out to me on the Twitter @Xthestreams or our show sponsor Rocket Software @Rocket. If you've got any questions for our guests or ideas for topics you want to hear covered on future episodes of the pod. With that, we'll see you all next week. You won't see us because it's a podcast, but stay disruptive everyone.