Get Real


By Alan Trefler  |  September 1, 2018
Alan Trefler is Founder and CEO of Pegasystems, and a visionary and expert in the field of customer relations for over 30 years


I’ve been thinking about the feedback we’ve received from those who attended last month’s PegaWorld conference in Las Vegas. Nearly 5,000 attendees spent three days listening to success stories from companies like AflacGenworth Financial, and Liberty Global, learning about our newest technology solutions, and diving deeper into understanding what’s really possible in digital transformation. And they’ve been generous with their comments.  One of the things I’m most proud of is the emphasis on the realness of the event, as it’s a significant focus and differentiator for us, and something I spend time thinking about.

In today’s world of promises and hype, it’s tempting to jump on that bandwagon. But I believe strongly the software industry needs to be clear about what’s puffery vs. what’s real and doable. Too often, our industry is delivering quick fixes that have little long term value - "miracles” that seem to be increasing by the week - and dozens of new things that have a half-life of about two years. Sometimes the companies making those offerings themselves become obsolete, and their failed product becomes the next legacy.

These days, it seems all you need to do is utter a word like “blockchain” or “AI” and the stock market and industry go bananas. To be clear, I believe blockchain and AI are important technologies with real use cases. But as an industry, those of us developing and promoting these technologies need to be clear about what they can and can’t do, while responsibly painting the picture of what’s possible. 

This is a premise we’ve operated on for more than three decades. Our company’s stated mission is to fundamentally change the way the world builds software to create unprecedented business outcomes. And that can only be done by creating real results for our clients. If we’re not measurably improving customer engagement and operational excellence, then our mission is no more than words on a (web)page.

We know there are a lot of companies chasing digital transformation because it’s critical not just to their future success but to their long-term viability. In a world of technology chaos, they’re building chatbots, reorganizing, and setting up innovation committees because they’re being told it will bring transformation.

But real digital transformation isn’t about getting to a place, implementing a bot, or checking a bunch of boxes. It’s about developing fundamental capabilities that will help organizations be competitive and provide outstanding customer engagement -- and building these elements into the very DNA of an organization.

As an industry, we need to help our clients focus on real outcomes, asking, “What are the customer journeys the business is trying to optimize? Who are the personas they are doing that for? And what are the interfaces and systems they need to engage with?” These should be the core considerations when incubating an idea.  And the solutions need to be accessible across channels and systems, and connected to outcomes.

As an industry, we need to do better. We owe that to our clients and to their customers. Only then will we see real results that matter.


 

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