December 9, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Lite Mobile App Platform for Business Applications
Capriza extends business
applications to mobility by taking the most useful business processes and
converting them into secured lightweight mobile apps, instantly and cost
Florence Street, Suite 300
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – December 9, 2013
CEOCFO: Mr. Scarlat, what was the vision when you started Capriza and where are you today?
Mr. Scarlat: The company was founded two and a half years ago. There are four founders of the company, all coming from the same background, of enterprise applications. All of us were either founders, or executives of a company called Mercury Interactive. For close to 2 decades, we have optimized performance and quality of almost any enterprise application in existence. Saw the real difficulty in running business applications for corporations.
Many companies have put a lot of time, effort and money in trying to build information systems for their businesses using technologies like SAP, Oracle or building custom purpose applications.
Suddenly, five or six years ago Apple shows up with their Smartphones and of course we see a completely new game emerge: new computing platforms for these businesses; a new form factor and a whole new way of consuming information. The big question that many businesses started asking themselves as a result was – How can all my employees, partners and customers benefit from the wealth of information systems created over the last few decades, using the ease and accessibility of the new mobile computing platforms?
It is a whole new way of doing work at work.
CEOCFO: What have you developed and understood at Capriza to provide what people might not even realize they need yet?
Mr. Scarlat: The problem we are solving is taking years of investment in IT applications and transforming it to mobile. The difficulty that comes is that, traditionally, those systems were not built for mobility. Therefore, most of the businesses are now looking at very costly and lengthy solutions by either developing it in house or outsourcing it. The problem is that most businesses don’t have the skills, time or money to undertake these expensive and multi years projects. We have said, “No, there must be a better way, a much shorter way, a much cheaper way to do that.” This is where we fit in. What does Capriza do? Think of it as simplifying and extending existing business applications to mobility. The way we do that is by picking up the most useful business tasks and effortlessly transforming them to simple to use mobile apps. For instance, approving an expense report or showing a time sheet for the employees or checking the status of an invoice; those would be very simple business tasks that require simple interaction with information systems. We take those business tasks and convert them into beautiful looking lightweight mobile applications, instantly and very cost effectively. That is what we do.
CEOCFO: Who is using your services today? Is there a common thread among the companies?
Mr. Scarlat: Our customers come from all industries; anywhere from the retail industry to the high tech industry to the financial services industry. This mobile trend actually comes across all of the industries, as you would expect. Most of them are waking up to the notion that employees are allowed to bring their own devices to work. They bring their iPhones or their Android phones and very quickly are asking for access to the information systems that were developed in the last ten to twenty years. Therefore, we are dealing a lot with a variety of lines of businesses within companies or the application owners in IT. For instance; Direct TV. They were challenged by the fact that they have close to one hundred thousand technicians in the field trying to activate their satellite based devices, in homes, for the TV network that they provide. They were proactively looking for ways to make their technicians more productive while lowering the cost of new customer activations. Alternatively, technicians would have called into the call centers and the cost would be prohibitive. Therefore, the only option was to go and develop an app for onsite customer activation, and they were seriously considering a custom built one, until they met us. They have asked us to help on this new mobile journey. Of course, we partnered up with them and in a couple of weeks were able to bring an app up, which otherwise would have taken them a year and a half to build and at a very small fraction of the cost that they would have had to do it.
In other instances we see the need to extend large packaged applications to mobility. Systems, which traditionally were internally facing. For instance SAP customers, with global and on-the-go workforce may come to us and say: “I have my sales force that would like to update the opportunities into their CRM. I need to approve certain transactions on the go and I need my partners to be able to view the orders and the shipping statuses.” So need, and use cases are coming from all types of industries.
CEOCFO: Do people understand immediately when you are talking with a potential customer or is there some skepticism?
Mr. Scarlat: They understand the need immediately but of course there is some skepticism and rightfully so. The task of actually taking an existing business application to a new mobile device is incredibly complex. Usually, people look at a very complex problem as having also the need to undertake a very complex journey ahead, to solve it. It is hard for customers to initially believe that the transition [to mobile] could be achieved much faster and at a much lower cost. Therefore, they typically like to make sure that our solution not only provides beautiful mobile experiences really fast, but also complies with their security and performance needs. It does look like magic to them and that magic they want to put to test which we encourage. We have put many incredible engineering minds to work in the past couple of years and welcome the customer curiosity. The concept is a breakthrough concept that people would like to get their hands on, and realize that indeed the benefits are tremendous on many fronts. Sometimes, even fun, as well.
CEOCFO: What were some of the changes that you made after your offering was tested in the marketplace?
Mr. Scarlat: That is a very good question. I do not believe that there is any technical solution that comes to market and addresses the exact need with no need for iterations and improvements. Usually, you have to go through a couple or maybe three iterations, if you learn to listen carefully. Listening is, hopefully, a strength that we have in the company. We did have to fine tune and add components to our solutions. I will give you an example. We assumed most companies have already placed a secured way to access internal applications. It turns out that they don’t. We had to work very hard to develop a solution that not only extends business processes to mobility but also securely transmitting the information from within the corporate networks all the way to the mobile devices and back.
CEOCFO: Are there tasks you would like to have an app for, but just have not gotten to you yet or that are not quite right for what you are able to do or can you pretty much automate anything?
Mr. Scarlat: Of course, every solution has its market penetration philosophy or technology fit. We were focusing on all business applications with browser front ends, meaning business applications that can run in a browser. Most applications do support this by now. However, there are still around some very old systems that are not designed to run in browsers and those would not be a good candidate to mobilize. We started by addressing eighty percent of the landscape. That twenty extra percent would be some of the older technologies that have yet to transition to a browser based ones.
CEOCFO: What is one or two of the most important things that you learned from earlier experiences that are most helpful at Capriza?
Mr. Scarlat: Probably, by far, number one would be to listen to the customers. I think we have developed, over the years, within the leadership team, the ability to sit down and listen to customers and what they would really like to see in solutions we bring to market. Many of our executives have experience with startups, such as myself, as an investor and board member. Many startups are too narrowly focused or falling in love with their own beliefs or religions, without paying attention to what the customers on the other side have a need for. The capability to listen and quickly adapt a solution to what the customer needs is a key component of the way to make customers successful.
The second one, is the notion of constantly looking for breakthrough thinking or solutions that would be different than what we are seeing today. Not necessarily better, but different. You need to hire outstanding individuals in order to achieve the capability to look at problems differently than the rest of the pack, or the rest of the market.
CEOCFO: What is the competitive landscape? Are there other companies that have figured out something close to what you have?
Mr. Scarlat: Not even close. Many companies went after the developers market. The problem with that is that companies don’t have the skills, time, and affordability to pursue this path.
An overwhelmingly long list of business requests for mobility awaits them. Forrester claims that to create first app, you need 2-3 developers and 200 thousand dollars. Can you imagine a mid sized company that needs 10, 100, 1000 apps? Not to mention the infrastructure that needs to be put in place to support it.
Most competitors put the burden on companies themselves to figure out the equation. And it is a hard one to solve for most companies. Not if they come to us. We are coming in and we are saying, “We assume you don’t have years to wait, millions to spend, can’t access the skills needed, don’t want to retrain the workforce, but need to give quick and cost effective deliverables to your business leaders and users”.
This is where we come in; to take what has already been built and extend it to mobility while delighting the end users. The last time we have seen such a big transition was probably fifteen years ago with the Internet. Back then there was a shortage of Java developers, a lack of data centers “know how”, no knowledge how to scale the users access for websites nor a secured way to protect the web applications.
We should learn from our recent history. This transition is probably as big if not bigger that that one. Draws the same parallel thinking. Only, the term names are new. Now it is called Apple, IOS, Android phones or secured SaaS or cloud access.
So on one hand, the amount of energy and money spent on the previous transition left many companies with scars on their backs. But on the other hand, they know they have to pace forward, embrace the new way of consuming information otherwise they will become tomorrow’s dinosaur. Mobility is an ubiquitous need accentuated by consumer habits to start with. Therefore, there is no shortage of interest and appetite to get their hands on solutions that would enable them to make that jump into what I call this century’s greatest trend.
CEOCFO: Why pay attention to Capriza?
If you’re asking yourself, as a business leader “how do I take many years of
investment in IT applications and cost effectively extend it to mobility?”
You should talk to us. Capriza provides a very disruptive way to transition
businesses to mobility. We do it an order of magnitude faster, most cost
effective while leaning on your existing teams and applications investments.
That is the Capriza proposition.
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