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SalesTechStar Interview with Johnny Than, CEO and Principal at Appficiency Inc.

There is more demand in the market today for software-as-a-service, Johnny Than, CEO and Principal at Appficiency Inc. dives deeper into this trend in our chat:

Hi John, we’d love to hear about your biggest tech learnings over the years, your journey through the years and of course, the Appficiency platform! What inspired Appficiency?

The biggest thing I’ve learned in tech over the years is that educating and making the user an expert is the next killer app.  Software is already bigger than all of us and there is really no longer feature deprivation, but instead user knowledge deprivation is the problem to solve.

Appficiency products and services were designed with the concept that we lead with software first. That means our methodologies are specific to the software.  We have a different approach for all applications we support. 

The biggest change that Software-As-A-Service brought to the market, that not enough providers really take advantage of, is the extreme configuration capabilities of these new applications.  The right question in the 90’s was “can the software do X?” but the right question for this decade is “How much should we customize the software?”.  The answer is not simple either…it is based on a new set of variables such as how long they have had the software installed, how savvy their users are, and if there are 3rd party bolt-on products that provide more robust and flexible features…

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How have you been seeing the demand for IT consulting services change over the years?

IT Consulting used to be a ‘heavy’ service.  It was expensive and full of processes which made it difficult for the mid-market (<500M in revenue) to adopt.  Now it is accessible because of stronger software, better modularity, and most importantly, much more widespread technology skills in organizations and leaders.

As a result, software is ever larger, broader, and deeper.  And users are just overwhelmed with learning all the software applications they use in their day to day life.  Think about it, facebook, google, instagram, chrome, windows, iOS, calendars, notepads, grocery apps, phone apps, zoom and teams, the list goes on.  Just FB, Google and Microsoft alone have 100K developers…so in some ways, the average everyday consumer is trying to ‘use’ and ‘adopt’ the development that a small city of developers creates every day.

As core technologies shift and capabilities change (low code / no code tech comes into play) to suit changing business needs: how do you feel backend IT providers / consulting services will have to cope with new trends in the market?

This is the money question…there is no longer a large pay for being a pure developer, or a pure process consultant because low-code/no-code is bringing a significant amount of software development to the lay person.  Consulting is impacted because there is now customer expectation that their needs can be met by the software with less effort.  For the people that work in IT consulting they need to have numerous business skills including being technically really strong.

On a slightly different note, for the companies consuming business applications, especially ERP, they will not have less problems, but instead have upgraded problems.  For example, 20 years ago they were running around the warehouse looking for a customer return or checking a printed shipping manifest for a nearby store-bought item.  Now they are dealing with a customer that is in Canada, returning an item they bought in the US with a Canadian credit card charged in USD.  Try returning that.  On a positive note, the corporation has much more information at their fingertips and so they are making decisions and reacting to changing business environments very fast.  Days and weeks instead of months and years.

Can you talk about some of the top SaaS solutions over the last few years and how they are acting as game changers in the tech market?

The top SaaS solutions have uniformly been platforms.  Ultimately, they offer a significant functional presence which is comparable to their on-premise peers, but they add in the ability to customize many parts of the functionality.  Sometimes greater than 90% of all functionality can be customized and downright manipulated.  

Integration is no longer the issue, per se, but instead the architectural match.  Therefore, in environments where there are multiple applications, you need to understand both systems to integrate seamlessly.  Again, the trend is that the technology is no longer the mitigating factor.

This puts tremendous pressure on the business process, because leaders naturally assume people can change easily, and I would argue that humans are like software and also have their architecture, which means it is a constant tradeoff between human change problems versus technology modification problems. 

How according to you will the future of salestech and martech be impacted: a few top predictions?

Long sales processes are a thing of the past.  Why?  Because the top platforms like Netsuite and Salesforce have more features and bolt-ons than any buyer can hope to learn.  Thus, truly knowledgeable sales people that buyers can trust to understand the guts of the technology and complementary systems are going to be top advisors.  Leaner, lighter sales processes where you quickly address the people/technology/process intersection problem will naturally provide more value and lead to better conversion. 

A few thoughts on what you feel today’s sales and tech leaders need to do to drive better business outcomes?

In sales and marketing, tech leaders need to lead with problem solving and value driving second.

In services, the consultant and the firm needs to solve the problem, then go to the client to tailor it.  Blank-slate, blue-sky requirement sessions are no longer considered top of class.

Source SalesTech Star