by Patricia Ames
New logo, new major release. A quarter century in the BPM space. A human-centric technology. The future is gamification. It’s all too good to walk away from.
BPO Media sat down with Casewise CEO Alexandre Wentzo at the company’s 25th anniversary celebration and discussed the latest in workflow technology.
I liked hearing the story about how Casewise grew and developed over the past 25 years. You grew upon a platform of flexibility. You were the one willing to partner with companies and try new, different things that the bigger, more established players were not willing to invest the time and energy on. This flexibility made you automatically innovative, which then became a part of your culture as you developed, which is a great business story.
We are very user friendly. Compare us against SAP, a very German, engineer-driven company – their technology is very complex, it takes weeks or even months of training. Our largest French competitor has technology developed by the IT guys — it’s very IT driven. Our technology roots came from business consultants basically looking for a good output that they could utilize and communicate in an easy way, and also a sexy way. That’s how it started for us. We’ve improved over the years, of course, but we’ve kept this DNA in our company.
I can tell from the presentations today that Evolve is your new star. You’ve created a social-enabled web communication platform that allows organizations to have a 360-degree view of the Enterprise Architecture and engage in real time. How’s the launch going?
It’s great – normally it takes six to nine months to set up a platform for BPM or around a process. With Evolve, we’ve already gained 20 new clients in the first three months. In 25 years at Casewise, that’s never happened. Now in Q1 of 2014, we’ve added another 12.
Why do you think this has happened so quickly?
It’s the technology. Large enterprise clients collect massive amounts of data on a daily business. There is so much data out there, it is anarchy. The Evolve platform is able to calibrate the information, it can govern workflow and drive the information. If someone writes a comment around something that is wrong with a certain process, for example, the right people who manage this part of the process will be automatically notified, and only the correct team will need to address the issue.
The interface and templates differ based on your role. This is very unique – normally you have the same “look and feel” app for every employee. With our platform, the templates are very different and based on your areas of responsibility at the company. If you are a service tech with AT&T, your app will be completely different than, say, a business process manager at headquarters. With Evolve, you receive a summary in dashboard format and if there is something you see in there you don’t like, like a lot of issues with the testing of a certain product, you can click on that part, drill down into which process, see what is going wrong, which teams are involved, etc. Really cool.
People have been doing Business Intelligence (BI), for years. We know businesses run and make decisions on data. But what we realized is that they are formatted by people. What we have done is make it “human centric.” Why? With our new technology, we can do things like push surveys through the system and get feedback – and suddenly we have intelligence. We have BI and we have EI, which we call Enterprise Intelligence. Lots of times, a process seems to work from the data, but people can be saying it is not working very well, or could work differently or work better. Now the manager has the feedback from the people, plus the data. From that, you can really see a complete view of the company. Then the management can make a good decision.
What we are doing now is really focusing on the human being. They are the ones that will be approving or executing the task. With Evolve we are really differentiating ourselves from other BPM players.
The interface that you have developed for the managers sounds like it is very user friendly. What kind of training is involved for the user?
The technology is so well developed that you shouldn’t need any training. The interface was designed to have the ease of use of a B2C application. When you download a B2C app onto your mobile phone, if in five seconds you don’t know how to use it, you just take it off. We want the same thing for our B2B customers. They are going to access the platform – it should be straightforward. We don’t want them to have to be trained. The workforce is very diverse – it is not just technical people that need to use the platform, everyone should have access to the information.
One of our large customers is a fast food chain. We have a feature with in our solutions that allows the managers to run simulations. Say it is a Saturday morning and an employee is running late or does not show up – the manager can reference the simulation from his iPad that is very easy to use. From the simulation, they can see at what time of the day they will have issues. They can run all the data from the last few months or several years and see what the optimal staffing should be at any time of day and then they can easily make the right decision about how many additional employees to call in to be properly staffed in the right intervals.
We are moving from a project tool to a more impressionable platform. This really brings value to everyone. Evolve is at an initial stage, but there is more to come. Gamification is the next stage. Companies need a way to motivate, engage and challenge employees to keep them involved. Gamification is really going to be something very valuable – it can be used as a tool to increase productivity and engage users. Again we go back to the human-centric theme – what tools can be developed that will encourage your employees to excel?
Gamification is a complex tool – it is not plug and play. People are not really talking about it right now in the BPM space, but it is coming. We have been working with Gartner on this concept for about five years. Casewise will be a big innovator in this space because we have found a way to engage the full community.
What are your biggest challenges right now?
We’ve been going strong for 25 years, which is great, but it also means we have a lot of clients that have been with us a long time that are working with an older technology stack. When you work with huge organizations like we do, even if you have the best product on the market with the latest technology, they seem to always take five years to migrate. Not because of the technology – they know what they should do, they know how they can get more value, but they just can’t maneuver quickly enough.
At Casewise, we see that the technology is moving forward so quickly — every year there are new concepts and we can bring more value to our clients, but how do we push our older customers to jump into some of these latest technologies? It’s one of our biggest challenges.
Casewise is clearly very international – headquartered in the UK, with a French CEO, and offices in France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Bahrain, Australia, the United States and Canada. You are doing business all over the world with the world’s largest companies. Do you see a difference in the way companies adopt technology by region?
Oh yes – there are many cultural differences. When I joined Casewise 10 years ago, the UK market was already very process driven, but the European Latin markets like Spain, France and Italy weren’t operating in a process-driven fashion. The executives kept all the knowledge in their heads. It’s changed now – it has evolved. But yes, there are different speeds of adoption and ways regions approach and utilize technology – this is very true.
In the U.S., companies see new technology and capabilities and are willing to put money on the table to try them. In Europe they are much more cautious. One of the biggest reasons Casewise is expanding globally right now is to diversify to meet different adoption speeds, market conditions and technology standards. If you are global, if one region is slowing down, you can focus elsewhere. We’ve built the foundation for global expansion — the Casewise product is in 14 languages.
We outsource our user experience and performance metrics. We are becoming more international — customers are using our platform everywhere, so we really want to make sure the performance is there. An outside party is testing our performance and assessing and testing our platform to determine in a very objective way how well we are doing. I don’t want my team to tell me how we are doing, I want an independent third party. We are expecting them to push our software to 200,000 virtual end users during testing. It will be a comprehensive report on our performance and allow us to ensure the best possible product globally.
What percentage of the market does the U.S. now represent for Casewise?
The U.S. represents about 55 percent of Casewise’s revenue. In 2012 it was closer to 30 percent. The U.S. market is really growing for us. We are expecting about a 50 percent growth in 2014, and I believe that benchmark may have already been achieved for the year just in Q1. We are bringing on some very large clients; a recent new addition is Moody’s, the rating agency. The size of the contracts are much higher in the U.S. than in Europe on average.
What are you placing the most investment in this year?
There are two big themes for 2014: Innovation and development.
On the innovation side, we’ve focused a lot on Tac-Tac. I have a new team just dedicated to this one product and it is really cool. Tac-Tac is looking to tackle process to execution, but in a different space. Rather than rely on automating everything, it focuses on human centric processes. So many businesses have large distributed workforces that need to complete complex manual tasks. Getting the knowledge to the team and keeping them current is extremely difficult and with so many steps to map, building a library for them is tough. Tac-Tac looks at both ends of the problem. Gathering operating instructions, knowledge and know-how socially through a simple interface, designed to be used without training, and pushing these instructions out to the workforce’s phones and tablets. Additionally providing an integrated feedback loop, from the manual operator back into the process design. We are trying different things to find ways to bring more value to our clients.
On the development side, we are really gearing up in North America through recruiting – we grew in this region in size last year by 75 percent and this year we plan to grow an additional 50 percent.
Are you experiencing any challenges finding the right people in the U.S.?
I keep asking my HR manager “Why are they not already on board?” Finding the right people is very hard. A lot of contractors make so much money they don’t want to join a company, so it is definitely a challenge, yes. But finding good people is always hard. The state of California does not help, either. Regulation, contract law, employment — I feel like I’m in France! We are getting quite a large team in the U.S. though – we went from 4 last year to 22 now just in the U.S. and in just one year.
What are you really excited about right now?
For the last few years, we have spent a lot of time and resources around development and innovation. Our new product Evolve has been out now five or six months and is a huge success. We also know what is coming out soon and it is much more advanced even than Evolve and it incorporates the Tac-Tac platform, which is really unique. I cannot wait for our customers to see this new Tac-Tac platform. It is going to be just awesome. So, we are really excited about that.
In the software business, the market is very fragmented. There are the big players — IBM, SAP, etc. Then there are a few new small players using open source technology coming up, and then Casewise is in the middle. We’ve been around for 25 years, we are a leader but are facing these companies with billions of dollars in revenue. We’re always fighting around the BPM space and now we are about to be a part of something really unique. We now have the opportunity to become a “brand” – suddenly people will be coming to Casewise because they want to have Tac-Tac. There will be this new market.
You have the big giants and the small niche players and you are in the middle, but a leader in the market. You seem like a prime target for a buyout.
Yes, we’ve been approached many times, also by huge organizations, but we don’t want to sell. We are on the verge of some really big things – it would not make sense to sell now. Maybe 10-15 years ago – not now. We have so much innovation going on right now, such a great team. Today is too good to walk away from.
Learn more: Casewise.com
This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Workflow