Here is the transcript page for episode #5. I interviewed Ali Davachi, and we had a great discussion about business challenges and the importance of having a good time on your side. We also discussed the importance of having a good team on your side, digital security, GDPR compliance, AI, leadership, RAPID methodology, and some simple, practical business philosophies that businesses should consider. It was a great time, and I enjoyed having him on the show!
Please visit the full episode page #5 – Ali Davachi – Digital Transformation, acceleration and delivering cost savings innovative business solutions for complete show information.
Transcripts may contain a few typos and can be difficult to catch minor errors sometimes.
This episode is brought to you by SURFNET CORPORATION.
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Full transcripts are below
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Rick Mazur: Hey Ali, how are you?
Ali Davachi: I’m good, Rick, how are you?
Rick Mazur: Great. So I see you’ve been at this for 25 years, huh?
Ali Davachi: Yeah, 20, 30 years. Actually. I like, don’t like to say how many actual years, but yeah, that’s a lot.
Rick Mazur: I started in technology in April of 96, so it’s about 25 years for me also. And we dealt with basic things like dial-up access and web hosting and even complex things like load balancing servers and directing traffic to the fastest server. Those things are almost a given these days with cloud computing and big companies entering the game. But back then, it was all manual and stuff. There wasn’t any school for it. But as the business grew was super crucial for someone to scale on, stay online, and implement things the right way and stuff like that. So I just wanted to ask you what type of things are companies dealing with these days that you see and how important it is to have the right team on your side to tackle those tasks?
Ali Davachi: I think you hit the hit it right on the head teams are what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter. Of course, you pick the right technology or any technology you prefer, whatever you’re going to do, but getting the right people to ensure that they’re aligned with you from a cultural perspective aligns with you from a goals perspective.
You being the entrepreneur or strategic leader within the business. And then really communicating clearly what those goals are. So I find that a lot of the disconnect and a lot of the trouble happens when you have a technology team going off on its own and a business unit or a set of business units going off in a direction.
And they’re not communicating with each other. And usually, that’s because they have a different vocabulary, and it’s not easy to map between them. So I think the most important thing is technology. Driven business or technology-enabled businesses are the people and the teams. And then from there, selecting technology, it’s a no-brainer these days.
You really can’t make a wrong decision. It’s tough to make a bad decision as accessible as technology has become.
Rick Mazur: There’s so much out there. Do you still find that? Cause we used to deal with this a lot that you would find the tech people and come in with their projects and their budgets and the kind of head honchos would be like we don’t need that or we don’t need this. Or, you have to justify it.
Sometimes they have a budget to spend. And they’ll just spend it because they have to use it. Otherwise, they won’t get it the following year, but other times we deal a lot with do we need this. Is this necessary? You still get that a lot.
Ali Davachi: we do get that occasionally. And that’s an absolute indicator of that disconnect, right? When technology asked for X, Y and said, and the business is saying, why do we need that? What is it for? What does it do? They, if the technology team came back and said based on your initiative, to achieve X.
We need to do that; then it’s an entirely different discussion than, oh, we need to secure XYZ or improve the load on XYZ. So that’s, I think communication solves a lot of that. We have clients, everything from fortune 50 down to startups. And we find as there’s a branching of those groups, right?
As they become more specialized, they forget how to talk to each other. They forget how to organize collectively, and they start getting so focused on their requirements. So we C we then coach that is typically what we do. Because a lot of times we don’t come from the technical side of the house.
We are brought in from the business side. Because they’re dissatisfied with delivery, they’re unhappy with execution, dissatisfied with something, or they’re in big trouble from a business they’re heading in the wrong direction. So they need somebody who can bridge the gap. I hate to use such a trite term, but between all the areas of the business.
And so that’s a lot of where we come from. And then when we go to those technical folks, and they’re still pushing for these, I call them feature function, RFPs. It’s. How do you turn that into goals-oriented RFPs, right? How do you show that those are requirements for you to reach the collective goals of the business and not just what you may have defined as your internal KPIs?
Yes, absolutely. We run into that problem still. You just have to change the communication and understand why everyone’s doing what they’re doing and then speak in that vocabulary versus the discrete vocabularies of each of these specific entities or divisions within an organization.
Rick Mazur: So you’re trying to groom them, so to speak, or coach them on how to work together more in harmony to accomplish the things they want to achieve without the roadblocks and stuff.
Ali Davachi: Yeah. Coming down from top-down, typically, this breakdown occurs because the communications from leadership aren’t clear. So you go from a single leader or a board to a set of managers. And those managers of managers each have their divisions with their vocabularies.
So the breakdown usually happens right there. And then they all issue orders and proclamations from that position, not from a place of here’s how this task applies to the global. Outcomes that we’re trying to deliver. And that is how we provide this value to the customer.
You’ll hear me talk a lot about customer value, customer-centric, customer, where the customer is. If you don’t have those things clearly articulated and clearly defined and agreed between all of your entities or owners, then can you communicate that to the people who have to execute those decisions?
You can’t. There’s going to be this dichotomy of thought, and it doesn’t come together. Do you know how yin and yang never mix? That’s because they’re entirely different sides of the same thing. So we talk to the leaders to understand what they are trying to accomplish.
What is it your customers are trying to accomplish? Why did they choose you over all the other competitors in the space? What were they? What’s the value you’re delivering now? How do we package that? And have it into the rest of the organization, whether it’s 25 people or 2,500. If everyone understands what that value is, then guess what happens?
You start to have this merging of approach and thought because they know in the back of their head that we’re doing this because we’re doing X for the customer. And that tends to weed out all the extra elements as long as you committed to that communication over and over again and alignment within everything you’re doing.
Rick Mazur: interesting. Interesting. Yeah. You touched on leadership a lot, and we’re going to get to that in a second. I wanted to shift for a second. We deal with many new companies who were thinking about starting companies or startups that have begun recently for companies that want to get to market quickly, keep costs low while benefiting from modern-day automation and things. What are some of the things they should be looking at doing in the beginning?
Ali Davachi: So you would think like a technologist, I would tell you technology, Right.
I think yes. Technology but spend as little as possible on the tech because in the end, unless you’re creating a technology product, the technology should just enable what you’re doing. So I deal with a lot of startups.
I do angel investing here and there. And the first thing I usually ask is, what’s your distribution model? How are you going to get people to buy the product, right? Your product, whatever it might be. Sort that out first; sort out how you’re going to generate revenue. And then, you can start focusing on building the Taj Mahal.
That’s what I see. A lot of people are upside down. They’re focusing on building the Taj Mahal before they have customer one. So typical to what you would read in a lean book or other. My approach is to take only what you need to build as quickly as possible to get out there and start selling.
Period. So if that means using a local company that’s willing to partner with you and take some of the load off, fine. If that means going into Amazon or going into Azure or any of the other cloud providers or even, using let’s say, blue, blue ocean, anything you can do to keep those costs as low as possible.
Technology should not be your biggest spend. If you’re spending a lot of money on technology and you’re not a technology company, you’re doing it wrong, especially initially.
Rick Mazur: Interesting.
Ali Davachi: That would be my advice.
Rick Mazur: Excellent. Okay, excellent. Do you guys deal with many digital security issues with like intrusion protection and things with your clients?
Ali Davachi: I’m a CIS SP, so security is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been architecting security platforms for 20 years. And yes, I believe that security should be thought of as a first-party citizen in any planning you’re doing, but you have to manage that against the actual risks. So, first of all, you talk about high-level reputational risk. Second, is your product or offering highly dependent on it being secure?
Make that decision first? Yes or no. If the answer is yes, you need to think about managing that data set, managing that environment, and that security envelope. But again, I think a lot of people spend way too much money on trying to prevent versus recover.
So as long as you secure the data in a way that even if you were to have a breach, the data would be useless within, in the case of a breach, and then have a recovery strategy that gets you back up and running in a secure, trusted way. Then you’re in a better place than if you had spent all your money on prevention.
Because frankly, there isn’t any amount of prevention that will keep you from being compromised if you are targeted. So I think you have to balance security. You have to keep it in mind, understand the risk, restore time and respect to restore point objectives, understand your security envelope, and make that spending decision.
Not the other way around, right? That’s an essential element I think is again, we see a lot of people overspend. In certain areas because they were scared into it, frankly, I think our industry, unfortunately, Rick is a lot of fear, right? We sell a lot of anxiety. Many people focus on that fear instead of focusing on the key elements, which is how do we enable the business?
How do we create an environment where the business can thrive without all the drag of this extra cost? Because every dollar you spend on technology is a dollar you can’t spend on sales and marketing. Right or customer service or something else
Rick Mazur: Yeah, I think a lot of it is fear because you hear them, these big companies that are, obviously they have billions, and they’re still getting hacked. They’re don’t know, weird begin or what to spend the money on. And then obviously there’s consultants and things like that for that as well.
But that’s a good point. And for those of you who don’t know when I mentioned intrusion protection, it means firewalls and any attack on your network from outside users, just for those listening. What about GDPR compliance? You guys have that a lot.
Now. I know what the EU and different areas, we’re getting many questions in that regard. Do you have that with the companies, and how are you dealing with that?
Ali Davachi: So GDPR is jurisdictional governance as well as an actual governance issue around data. So when we have multinational organizations subject to GDPR, either because they have customers in those. Jurisdictions or operations in those jurisdictions, our platforms, and designs allow for that separation and segmentation.
So, for example, we have a multinational in Germany, in the US, so we have the platforms storing the data within the proper jurisdictions because there are much more issues and gray areas around the transfer of data between security envelopes or compliance envelopes. You’ll hear me use the word envelope.
Really what I’m talking about is borders, right? So when you think about borders between systems, when I talk about security, I’m saying certain parts of a system may need to be more secure than another, that secure envelope, that area would be considered an envelope or a container. It could have lots of things inside it. But, still, we’re treating that entire
suite of items, connections systems, et cetera, the data with a certain level of security versus another security envelope, which might be open to the internet, which you might have a different set of requirements there. And again, the same thing with compliance. We tend to treat everything with the highest level of compliance; simply because if we do then, we’re going to be okay; we will be giving our clients the best possible solution.
When we think about data at rest, data protection, role-based access, so you should only have access to data that you need. But yeah, GDPR. By itself does pose some challenges, particularly for legacy, right? If we have a customer coming to us and saying, Hey, we want to go into that?
Area. Then we have to start to look at how they’re storing and managing their environments before they do that.
Rick Mazur: Are you getting pushback from people, especially in the United States that kind of like they understand it, but they’re like, Hey, you know this, we don’t, we’re not worried about it or in the United States, or they take it pretty seriously.
Ali Davachi: Because they leave it to us. We need to worry about
Rick Mazur: It’s up to
Ali Davachi: It’s up to us, right? They say, basically, Hey, we know we need to do it. We don’t know how to do it. Tell us what we need to do. And we’ll help you help us get it done. That’s essentially what it is.
Rick Mazur: Okay. Oh, they hear the buzzword and see the articles, and then they come to you and say, make us compliant. And just for again for people who don’t know, it’s the general data protection regulation. It is the world’s most rigid. Pretty much privacy and security law drafted and passed by the European Union.
It imposes obligations under organizations anywhere so long as they target or collect data relating to people in the EU and effect May 2018. So as a business, you can get levied fines. If you are collecting data from your EU customers, whether you have a physical presence in the EU or not, make sure you are GDPR compliant. I want to move on for a second, and I want to clarify because people may be listening to this months or years in the future. We’re recording this in June of 2021. We’ve been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that’s wreaked havoc on many companies and forced them to pivot. Most businesses have had to operate differently to stay open online, relevant for the current needs of how end-users need to purchase. Did you personally deal with your clients? And how, if so, in helping them change their processes from online shopping e-commerce deliveries to contactless payments solutions to get prepared for the post COVID world order.
Ali Davachi: I would say all of the above. We have lots of clients that are in the B2C or B2B to C space. So that’s business to consumer or business to business, to the consumer. And so that means e-commerce or retail. One of the core tenants of our methodology is to meet customers where they are.
Don’t force them to change their behavior, to do business with you. So all the clients who have been with us for 10 or 15 years already knew that. So they knew when COVID hit that we were going to be saying, okay, even if you don’t want to be fully online, it’s time to be fully online, or you need a mobile app, or you need to figure out how to deliver an option that allows your clients to feel safe.
And what we found was a rapid move in some cases to mobile applications and online properly, I would say enabled online. Web platform, so where they might’ve only allowed someone to be like, they were just a catalog site, or they were, marginally providing information.
There was an immense amount of effort to get all that, get all those things up online. For example, scheduling even online scheduling and move to more effective conferencing. We did a lot of coaching on what an online conference looks like versus a meeting in, meeting what looks like online versus offline?
When you get everybody in a room versus everybody’s on a zoom meeting and you’ve got 30 windows on the screen, and people are on mute there; their cameras are off, so we helped get that. So we help with a lot of coaching in that space around how you can have effective meetings just from an internal.
So it wasn’t just customers, of course, because we look at employees as customers as well. So how do we make their time more efficient? How do we respect the new stresses they’re dealing with from COVID and the pandemic, home education and remote teaching and conferences all day, and no childcare.
How do you manage that? How do you teach, and how do you deal with that? And, that was part of the. The coaching and mentoring that I did for a lot of companies. We did a lot of that pro bono as well. We didn’t charge for it because we needed it; we wanted to help as many people as we could adopt these very cost-effective methods.
But not just throw them at people and say, okay, have at it, but to provide some guidelines and some structure, a little more structure. We’ve been a remote-first company for 15 plus years. So a lot of experience in our organization. Effectively, managing people without micromanaging.
Cause that’s what we saw a lot of initially was, this year, no overact to making sure people are on cameras, and it’s okay, calm down. You have good people there. They’re going to be okay. You just have to leave some time for them to get used to it and everything else.
Yeah, that was a lot of it, for sure.
Rick Mazur: Do you have any particular example of a specific company that had a hard challenge with doing that? If you have one if not, that’s okay.
Ali Davachi: I think off the top of my head, it was the retail organizations, the pure retail, and most of the smaller ones that had a hard time trying to envision when their whole operation was about to collapse. Human contact, right? When you’re a main street business or a local business, that’s primarily retail oriented.
Your value proposition is that they can talk to a human being and have a conversation. They can see you face to face, that they can build a connection. So coming up with some ideas for them was difficult, and then getting them to be okay with those ideas. So, for example, we did one locally here where we started to build some scheduling.
And then, they would still allow virtual shopping via FaceTime. That was hard. That was hard to get people to accept that it’d be just as good. But, of course, it’s not going to be just as good; that’s not what we’re trying to do here. So we had to convince them that it does just as good as not our goal.
Our goal is to let you continue communicating and engaging, and your customer wants to be remote. So how can you? Force your requirements on them. You need to understand that the idea here is they still want to engage with you, but they don’t want to do it in person. So even though you might want to do private shopping, they’re still not going to come because they want to be remote.
So how do we gap? How do we solve that? Okay.
We did face that. We just got them to use an app, and they started, as they started to try, this is another one of our tenants, one degree of change, make a little change. And see how it goes, right? So you gain some trust, you gain some momentum.
Don’t try to blow up the whole thing in one shot and start all over. Do a little bit where you think you have some momentum, get some momentum, and then you can build on that and build on that because you build some confidence, the participants build trust, and then slowly you can build into a much more enriching engaging
Rick Mazur: Good stuff. Good stuff. I want to switch now to a question that we get a lot, and it comes up in the trading world that I’m in and with businesses, and that’s this whole Bitcoin and cryptocurrency stuff. Companies are there to make money. They need to take payments besides the Bitcoin and day trading things and the volatility that’s been going on. Do you what is your overall feeling about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency? Do you feel that it’s get crushed by the government at some point? Or are your companies asking you to solve that issue? Do they want to accept that type of currency on their platforms?
Ali Davachi: so we don’t have any of our clients asking us to come up with a way to accept any crypto coins, any cryptocurrency. We have clients we’re working with for blockchain—for example, ledgers and confirmations and a security perspective and distribution. So we are working on some projects in that space, but they’re not focused on crypto payment enablement that none of them are interested in that right now.
Rick Mazur: Yeah, we hear the same thing. Many people are concerned that the federal reserve will, and I think there was talk about it that they’re going to come up with their primary, basically their digital coin that they’re going to control. And boy, I don’t know what’s going to happen to Bitcoin that gets announced.
But I, I can’t imagine that they’re going to the government’s going to let them for a too long getaway, but I don’t know. And when you talk about it worldwide, it’s going to be interesting to see. So let’s talk a bit about AI artificial intelligence in the workplace. According to a survey, nearly 30% of small and medium business owners have talked about AI and its numerous benefits to businesses.
And about 37% of them consider a lack of expertise as the major problem with adopting AI in business, wearing the pipeline. So do you think companies should be thinking about AI, if at all?
Ali Davachi: okay. So I may not give You the answer you want on this one.
Rick Mazur: You never know. You never know.
Ali Davachi: So
Rick Mazur: I’m open-minded.
Ali Davachi: I feel like AI is an overstatement at this point. , what I tend to lean towards is machine learning. AI, to me, is not here yet. And it hasn’t been here. Every machine learning through a set of algorithms created by a human being to analyze data and provide insight of some level is here.
And it’s a mechanical process, like any other process. So just think about it like this for a second. You’re a business leader or your business manager, and you need some information. You need to sort out some information on a pretty regular basis. And you’re not sure. What would you? What do you have someone write a report?
Someone goes in plums the data, and writes a report. So what machine learning does is it allows, and by the way, machine learning and very in, in T typically most projects don’t deliver on its promises. It’s one of those technologies. That’s still a very bleeding edge. I still don’t. I don’t even consider it cutting edge yet.
It’s still not delivering on the promise that many of these companies are pitching, which is that it can figure out features on its own and figure out insights on its own. That’s complete BS. What it does is right now is once you have some ideas about what you’re trying to control for and what you’re trying to look at, you can drive machine learning into those data sets. It can give you. You can process all that data much quicker than I could write and then point you in the direction you might want to go.
So who’s the most important thing, or what’s the most critical part of a machine learning project. Is it your analysts? It’s whoever’s designing the actual project and the data, selecting the data, cleaning the data, and deciding what features are essential. That’s who decides what, whether you’re going to get value out of machine learning.
Algorithm. So, for example, for trading, I’ve done some automated trading and use machine learning for it, but I never take the idea of the machine learning algorithm. As gospel, I’m Val. It’s giving me ideas, and I’m valid even though they’re back-tested; I do my coding. So I backed as I’m still going to look at it and say, is that a good idea or not to take it directly, for I’m not letting any of the algorithms I’ve written myself trade now in my accounts.
Nope. No, thank you.
Rick Mazur: I day trade. I primarily do early morning till the afternoon when I start working on the podcast, and I would never let that happen either. I’m a manual sit in front of the charts type of guy. So we have it broken down into machine learning and then artificial intelligence, which is supposed to be automated machine learning. So the machine learning is there, but the ability for it to make the decisions for you we’re saying is not there yet? Do you think it will be in the future? Do you think it will ever get to that point?
Ali Davachi: yeah, I do. I think that it’s just a matter of computing power, and it’s a matter of design. But, yeah, in our lifetime, for sure. I believe that we will eventually have a genuinely autonomous thinking machine. What level will it occur? I don’t know. I think it’ll still probably be at its beginnings, doing simple things.
But the human brain is an incredible human mind, and I should say it is a fantastic thing. And what we can do in an instant still, how we can filter items and manage things and make decisions across multitudes of data sets simultaneously. And pick out that thing that doesn’t make sense. I don’t think that’s going to be maybe.
Maybe I tend to be like I said, I’m a contrarian for, even though I’ve been building technology for 30 years, I’m a contrarian when it comes to the magic. When people start talking about things magically, oh, this will solve silver bullets and magic. So usually set my spidey sense off, like really show me, let me see what it does.
Let me look at the algorithms. Let me see what you’re saying to me. And most of the time. In this early stage, it’s unless you have a huge budget. You’re still spending money to analyze heaps of data, looking for needles in a haystack. And. If you don’t have someone who knows how to organize that and then set those algorithms off and then structures the algorithms and structures the learning quote, unquote learning, then that’s where your project’s going to fall.
And a lot of AI projects fail because they think they can be automated when you need an army of data analysts and data scientists telling you what you need.
Rick Mazur: so that would be for companies that want to develop their own AI in-house. But what about platforms already in existence that companies may be able to use to work smarter or quicker? You don’t see that too much, either. Either working very
Ali Davachi: done the training, yeah. If they’ve already done the training and already have large data sets to do that training and then your data set, you’re looking for the same things they built the item to look for, then fine, go ahead and leverage that. That’s what technology should be giving you.
You shouldn’t have to know why it works to see that it works based on data alignment. But building your own data sets takes a good bit of experience to understand what you’re trying to do.
Rick Mazur: no, I agree. If you talk to guys like Elon Musk, he’s a big proponent, and again, I think it’s just a matter of time. I think everybody agrees that it will. Improve over the years and over the decades and stuff like that. But, Elan said that these AI’s are going to be thousands of times better than human brains and in the future.
And I, I don’t know when that might be in the future, but, or if he’s going to be correct, but it will be fun to watch the ride and find out. But, boy, it’s come a long way since 1995. I just can’t imagine. I forgot more stuff than I know now in technology; I sometimes think back when people mention something.
Remember when we were in your network room, and the power went out, and we had the generator going using it to run our network rooms and stuff, and it seems like it was so many years ago. We touched on. You touched on it a little bit earlier, and that’s a topic of leadership.
And I’ve heard that there’s a lack of leadership in many companies from many people. Even those making tons of money and employ many employees will say that the companies could be doing so much better. If they were managed better, the employee, it was managed better. Are there things companies can put in place on a technological level or a platform that could improve some of these areas?
Anything that you can think of off the top of your head.
Ali Davachi: I think for access to information is always going to make, so my management, let me just back up a second my management philosophy is to provide as much autonomy as possible to my people to my teams, give them all the information they need, because with all those minds working on a problem or set of issues they are far a lot more likely to come up with the correct answer than I am as a single individual. So I view my role as an enabler for my teams. My job is to make their job as easy as possible. So, if you’re thinking about technology, whatever technology I can put in place would allow them to remove low-value activities or low-value thought.
Like for example, we write a lot of code. And so we have in our SDLC and our software development life cycle, we have security checks, and we have security scanning, and we have code scanning, and we have all these things that used to have to be done by human write. So linters remember in the old days we had linters and stuff like that running and Yeah—the old days. So I’m dating myself. So now.
Rick Mazur: I know.
Ali Davachi: We have all these tools that as they do check-ins, as they run builds, they’re doing all that work and then giving them a report says, oh, you know what? This piece of code over here has a possible buffer overflow, or this code over here, or these variables aren’t used, you should clean that up.
And so they don’t have to worry about that low-level zero value. Instead, from a developer’s perspective, they can think they can focus on thinking about the creative stuff, how to architect something, how to make it work, how to make it go faster, and make it more reliable. So yes, those tools agree a hundred percent on the flip side. But, as I’ve said, many people out there think micromanagement of people is the correct answer.
Now I’m not going to say out of the blue that they’re wrong. Maybe they feel that’s what they need to do, and they’ve been successfully doing it. So they take that to the next level with the technology, and they create these platforms and these systems that are overburdensome. So they ask that you spend more time filling in things on the platform and not worrying about what you’re going to, what you’re going to be told, then you do getting productive work done. So the answer is yes and no. So if you’re enabling your people to be autonomous and get the stuff done and you’re trusting them, and they can do the work.
Great. If you’re putting more systems after systems, because you want to be hierarchical, top-down, control-oriented. Stop, please stop. Stop. That is not how you manage people, especially in today’s world. Think about your employees; if you’re not doing think about your employee pool.
If you’re in a technology-driven business or a knowledge-driven business, you can hire anybody in the world, and they could be up and running in a day. That’s your competition. Now, your employment competition is not just the guy down the street or the guy in the same city within commuting distance.
Your employees can get online and find someone in Boulder like us who will not annoy the crap out of them wherever they want to do
So that’s, I think that’s the key. That’s a key differentiator in today’s world because you have to respect the people you’re hiring. Want to do the right
You can’t be the opposite anymore, right.
You can’t be distrustful of the folks you’re hiring. If you are, you need to either go work for someone or stop hiring those. So say the people you’re hiring or let someone else do the hiring because you’re no good at it.
Rick Mazur: Yeah, I’m not trying to say the companies don’t try, obviously it’s just it’s, I just think better communication and more tracking of accountability. And as you mentioned, alignment between departments and all that kind of stuff will help overall, and something that they should be focusing on a little more; in some cases, What is the rapid methodology?
Ali Davachi: so it’s 20. It was 20 years, essentially. It’s the way I think about turnarounds and how I was approaching them. And, multiple people started saying, listen, you need to. Put this down in writing or so other people can learn how to use it. And it’s an approach.
It doesn’t replace lean. It doesn’t replace six Sigma or any other process-oriented methodology, but it’s a framework that people can wrap themselves around how to get to decisions. Companies are not making decisions when businesses or projects aren’t working or things aren’t moving forward.
So rapid, which stands for research, analyze, plan, implement and decide. So those are the five phases of the rapid process we’ll do: a rapid assessment, which will include the first two steps. And then, we’ll provide a project plan based on the rapid assessment results. These results will consist of a bunch of gap analysis around human capital product sets, usage, general gap analysis within the organization’s customer values, and we’ll put together a “Hey, here’s where you are.”
Here’s where you need to be. Here are some projects we think you need to execute to get to where you need to be. And then we have this flywheel between plan implement and decide, which is at every milestone or every element within the implementation. We’re forcing decisions. You can’t move forward without deciding because we want to have a decision-oriented culture.
We don’t want a fear-based culture. And what we find is that decisions typically get trumped by fear. And so, another one of our concepts is fear as fuel. So use fear. As inputs into your decision as another research element, your instincts and intuition feed fear, right? When you’re trying to make a decision sometimes.
And if you dive into that and say, why am I afraid? What makes me fearful of making this decision is to use those elements as inputs into that decision. And then you move, you make a better decision, and you’ll make a decision instead of a non-decision, right? So by not deciding, you’re choosing not to settle.
A little bit of a circularity there, but that’s what you’re doing. And therefore, You’re paralyzing yourself and whatever project or whatever implementation you’re within. And so that can’t the business can’t move forward. So that, that thing can’t move forward. And when you have a whole culture that’s afraid of making decisions or not making decisions in a company, guess where you’re going to be.
You’re on a glide path to death, right? Others that make decisions better will win, and you will ultimately lose your customers and your business. So you have to drive decisions. And, if you’re in an organization and you’re frustrated and feel like, oh my God, why aren’t we getting anywhere 99% of the time you’re not making decisions.
Rick Mazur: Interesting. If you would, I see that you have several pretty simple philosophies yet to the point in practical, and I just want to run through them quickly. You could comment on them if you’d like. The first is leveraging common core technology, optimized process elements, and custom elements to maintain complete alignment with your existing preferred business practice.
Ali Davachi: We need to rewrite that’s too many words. The idea there is composition.
Rick Mazur: what you
Ali Davachi: So we have built all of our software. I’ve architected all of our software to be composition-oriented. So if you think about a bucket full of Legos and you dump it on the floor, You can take any two Legos and plug them into each other, and it works.
So that’s the general concept of our composition architecture. We build all our tools on top of our tools. So when you want to modify, for example, a what we call a. An e-business management platform does everything about accounting warehousing inventory, purchasing customer relationships, and everything except accounting.
But now you have something that you do unique that is your secret sauce as a business. So we cover 70 to 80% of every business process within the platform. Now we build you plugins, or you can create the plugins, and we publish the API APIs. Whoever wants to do it can do it. And then, you can plug that functionality into our platform without losing it.
Updates and innovations that we might come up with of our core platform. So the core or the kernel of the system is designed to be enhanced through this plugin architecture. And that’s what we call composition and maintenance of your special sauce, essentially of your uniqueness and mapping to your customer value.
Rick Mazur: So the businesses can customize the platform?
Ali Davachi: Correct?
Rick Mazur: If they’re using the APIs, if they have their programming team write those plugins or you have teams as well that you can, they can outsource through you to get those tasks done as well,
Ali Davachi: correct?
Rick Mazur: if they don’t have anybody. Okay. Great.
That’s awesome. That’s great. What about limit the friction caused by process overhead.
Ali Davachi: so that’s on the consulting side. What we do is we look, we constantly challenge. It’s always the way we’ve done it, especially when we get involved. The first thing I like to call it, corporate mythology. I want to dig into the corporate mythology, and I want to understand, are you still within the same, remember that envelope idea?
Are you still in the same compliance envelope or regulatory envelope that created all these processes, or if you’ve never been in a regulatory or compliance envelope, let’s look at all these processes and understand, listen, business changes, right? If you’d longer, you’ve been in business, the more likely it is you’re carrying old overhead.
In via, okay. Extra process, which creates friction. And so, at the end of the day, if you’re creating conflict for no reason, let’s just get rid of it. So those are the first things we’ll attack. We’ll say, justify this. Why are you doing this way? Why are you making so-and-so do X or Y or Z? Let’s get rid of it.
There’s no reason you don’t need it anymore. It’s maybe you did that when you were all writing on hand ledgers or using Excel to manage your accounting or whatever it might be, but today you don’t need that anymore. So it’s making sure that. Everything you do has a reason. And that reason ultimately is helping deliver a great experience to your customer.
And if you can’t map it to that, then you shouldn’t be doing it anymore. Get rid of it.
Rick Mazur: This next one is my favorite. And that is the repeatable process to instill incremental innovation methodology. I think, especially from the small businesses when they’re starting, everybody wants to do it themself. Everybody is the best at doing it. Nobody can do the job better than them. And I fell into that loophole, a rat race a long time ago, myself with some businesses that we’ve all been there, probably.
But I can’t repeat how important it is to have repeatable processes in your businesses and offload that work. If the job only has to be done once, maybe that’s fine. But if you do the job multiple times, it seems you have a similar philosophy in that regard?
Ali Davachi: Absolutely. And that goes again into our total, what we call total commerce or an end-to-end business management tool. We’ve built in all those business processes over 20 plus years of business in many different areas with customers in many different verticals. Whenever we found something that made sense or was unique, we embedded it in the platform.
So you get the benefit of all of that. So you don’t have to come up with all those, what I call again, low-value processes. So why should you be focused on what you do? It’s the best focus on why you exist, not on how to move data from A to B or how to manage X and Y. The tools are all on the platform already. We’re not telling you to morph. A critical differentiator between us and most other ERP or business management platforms is we are not asking you to homogenize yourself into our way of doing things. Or, thinking what we’re saying is we’ve already thought through 80 plus percent of business process, and it’s optimized, so use it, but keep what’s unique about you through our plugin and our extension system, right? So you can extend where it makes sense and where again, you’re delivering superior value to the customer. Let the system do all the rest of the stuff that doesn’t matter. Do you care how picking a ticket gets picked?
It gets printed and completed the best possible way. No. Do you need to code that? No, we already do that. So those are the
Rick Mazur: got it all for him.
Ali Davachi: that’s what we mean. We’re, we’ve built-in, A large part of just about every kind of business. So if you buy something or create something, store it, or it’s digital, market up and sell it. So we have every process you can imagine handled already.
You have to add your secret sauce.
Rick Mazur: And you touched on it earlier in the interview about focusing on quick incremental testing, measurement and adjustment, try things. Don’t go all-in on one thing until you kind of do what you have to do with the minimum that you have to do to get the job done. And if you’re in doubt, your platform probably already has a lot of tools for them as well,
which is good.
Ali Davachi: Yeah.
Rick Mazur: What about keeping technology focused on business outcomes?
Ali Davachi: that is the most important one in my mind. As I said earlier, I think what happens is technology ends up running the show. As a business gets bigger, we’ll hear things like; I have to ask the tech guys if we can do that. And the first time I say that I’m like a hero. I can’t, and I just can’t understand.
Why would you ask them? If you can do something, what does that have to do? You, do they have a P and L, right? Are they responsible for knowing they’re reliable? Did Sarah say to you every time you ask that question, they should say yes, we can do that? Not no, it’ll take six months, which is what we hear, especially in the bigger businesses. We have some vast customers, primarily because they got sick and tired of hearing. That’ll be six months, or that’ll be 12 months. Oh no, we can’t do that. There’s no way we can do that. If you hear that from anybody, whether it’s your technology partner, it’s your technology team. You need to start thinking about your priorities and how you’ve structured your business. You’ve given far too much control to technology. Technology should serve the business. The business should never serve technology, period. There is
Rick Mazur: I couldn’t agree more.
Ali Davachi: So please.
Rick Mazur: on it in the beginning. And I, on purpose, circled back to it for one of the last questions because it is essential. A lot of companies waste a lot of time and a lot of money not following those principles. So you have a website realware.com?
Ali Davachi: Yes.
Rick Mazur: Is that where most people can go to get more information about what you’re offering.
Ali Davachi: Yeah, it’s a good starting point. I would say that if you have any interest or you should definitely reach out to us via the website, or you can email me directly my email address answer everything so
Rick Mazur: Yeah, we’ll put all those links and everything like that in the episode page has show notes and everything like that. And do you have any new services or anything that you’re offering coming down the pipeline?
Ali Davachi: so that’s a great question, Rick, but we’re not ready to announce it yet. We have something coming in. We have something coming out in June, which I think will be another disruptive approach to scale up businesses. But that’ll be launching in June, July, August, sometime in that frame. And then we’ll be more able to speak about these specifics there, but keep an eye on that.
I think everyone will be surprised to see what we have there
Rick Mazur: Yeah. If you want to send me information when it comes out, maybe at some point you can come back on, and we can talk about it and how businesses can utilize it and stuff like that.
Ali Davachi: I would love to.
Rick Mazur: Okay. Check out a realware.com checkout Allie Davachi at LinkedIn. You can find him there and on Twitter as well.
And again, we’ll put all the links on the episode page, and so you guys can check it out. If anybody’s in need, I urge you to go there, and you can get a lot of good information, and the good stuff is taken care of for your business. It’s been great. Your advice has been very informative. Anything else before we part?
Ali Davachi: Nope. Thank you very much. I appreciate the time. It’s been a great conversation. Thanks.
Rick Mazur: all right, you got it. Have a great day, and we’ll be in touch soon.
Ali Davachi: Thank