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theCUBE is the world’s leading live interview show covering enterprise tech, innovation and the people who imagine, create and implement the technologies that are changing our world. This year, they joined IFS in Boston for IFS World Conference 2019. Below is the transcription of an interview with IFS Chief Product Officer, Christian Pedersen. Enjoy!



theCUBE: We’re back at IFS World 2019 from the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. I’m Dave Volonte, with my co-host, Paul Gillen. You’re watching theCUBE, the leader in live tech coverage. We go out to the events, we extract the signal from the noise, get the best guest, Christian Peterson is here. He’s the chief product officer at IFS. Christian, great to see you. 

CP: All right, thank you very much. Happy to be here.

theCUBE: Your first IFS World Conference, so …

CP: Yeah, I’m happy to be here. It’s just like getting an injection of customer input and feedback in a very short amount of time So, that’s uh, that’s awesome. I really love it. 

theCUBE: Yeah, these events are great to connect with customers its one to many conversations. But, give us a sense of your background and why you were attracted to IFS. Why did you join? 

CP: Well from a background perspective, I’ve always been in the effects of business and technology and uh, you know my passion has always been what we can actually do with technology for businesses to innovate, to differentiate, to do new things to automate things. Really, really a strong believer in the promise of software. Because that’s what software is all about. I’ve started in ERP companies, I’ve been with Microsoft. Uh, for fifteen, sixteen years. Um, have been with SAP for a number of years. So I joined, I joined IFS last year, really because of the transformation and the uh, the journey I just was on and the passion that IFS has always had for the customers. And the outcomes we’ve created for customers. It’s just a perfect environment to realize the dream of providing value to customers, outcomes for customers, and leveraging technology in the process. 

theCUBE: Yeah, so see you’re a challenger, #forthechallenger. Really, really I mean you were at the giant uh, SAP and going to a smaller, not much smaller, but a smaller company, what were they doing that you thought that excited you so much? 

CP: Well the exciting thing again is the focus on the customer and the close proximity to customers in everything I.. 

theCUBE: Wouldn’t SAP, sorry to interrupt, wouldn’t SAP be the same thing though? 

CP: Let me just, let me put it this way, I went to IFS because I (intelligible) really, really brilliantly. So, is that a nice way of saying it. (laughter) 

theCUBE: (laughing) Okay. So we’re here for your keynote today you sort of laid out a roadmap, a little vision uh, talked a little bit about digital transformation. But, I wanted to talk about, the, you made a big, big emphasis on your API platform. Open APIs, embracing that, uh its been somewhat a criticism of you guys in the past. And so, maybe it’s a response to that or a response to customers, but why the platform, why, to explain it, its importance and how it fits into your roadmap going forward. 

CP: Well the API enablement is important for many different perspectives. First of all, we use API’s ourselves. To create user experiences and drive a lot of the innovation where they are merging technology and so forth. That’s one aspect of it. So just for our own, our own level of innovation and the pace at which we can innovate with, going forward on the API platform, is, is, is is dramatic. The second area is really again back to the digital transformation that customers are really driving out there um, a lot of that involves, um, really most companies becoming software companies themselves. So now we have a lot of our customers that actually have developers, they’re writing software they’re driving new offerings to their customers. And to get value out of these offerings for their customers They really need to get access to a lot of the capabilities that live inside of the IFS models. They need to get access to data, to get access to processes because, on of the keys in digital transformation regardless of what shape or form it comes in, you need data, you need massive amounts of data. And you need data from within your firewall you need data from third party, and you need structure data all structured data. And participating in that world is absolutely essential that you have that open API philosophy where you expose yourself and your own data and API. But, also so we can turn the other way and we can consume data and APIs from others so we can create similar scenarios. So it’s really about being apart of the ecosystem of, uh, of technologies and solutions that customers rely on. And that’s why we joined also, the open API foundation. 

theCUBE: You also demonstrated this morning, uh Aurena, your new customer experience platform. Talk about what that is and why it’s important. 

CP: Well, so it’s, it’s important of course again because we, um, um, we have this generational shift in people that are coming into the workforce that expect and want to work differently. And, um, if you think about how people actually work, to do and get things done today, or think about ourselves. Now, we’re no spring chickens anymore, right, we’ve been around… 

theCUBE: Speak for yourself. 

CP: We’ve seen DOS, we’ve seen DOS systems. 

theCUBE: Yeah my hand went up in the 3.1 question. 

CP: When the three-point, did you put the mouse on the screen as well? (laughing) I’ve literally seen that. So we’ve been through that, but the people we are getting into the workforce now they have a different mentality. They are not thinking about what they do. Like, we are thinking about, “how does the system work?” “Where do I click? Where do I go next?” The intuition that people now apply to the system when they start working with them, the systems just have to reflect that intuition. It has to be intuitive, it has to be immersive as well. And the immersive part is really based on what the users see, what they do. The contextual information, the contextual intelligence they get in the context of what they do should want them to do more. Because they can, so they get dragged in and the new type of users, they just have that natural intuition, because that’s how you browse the web. You go to one place on the web, go to the next thing, You get inspired by this, you go there. And there’s no reason why the systems that you get your work done, why they shouldn’t be the exact same thing. Aurena is a huge step in that direction, together with our mobile enablement on multiple form factors and devices. 

theCUBE: So you, you mentioned you know saw everybody’s becoming a software company, every company is becoming, you’ve been in the software business for awhile you work for a software company now. You’re talking about Aurena, you’re talking about API integration, I showed you our software. My point is, software is hard. (laughs) There’s a talent war for employees, we talked about that off-camera. Um, so, as you see these companies digitally transforming, becoming software companies, Marc Andreessen’s, “software is eating the world”, Marc Benioff, “Everybody is becoming a software company,” how are they doing? And what role can you play, IFS, in terms of helping them become a software company. Because it’s, it’s so damn difficult. 

CP: Yeah, I think that the role of being a software company I think the absolute differentiation they want to create through software and differentiate the offerings or other things that they really want to do, We can’t really help them there, because they’re differentiated. Like if you’re differentiated, you can’t find something standard and use for that. But we can enable it and um, as we’re looking at it, a lot of the emerging technologies that we can enable them with to achieve it, that’s a number of things we can do. And, we are introducing a notion of an application, of application services here, where we really, enable these emerging technologies in the context of what we do. So, while you hear about technologies or augmented realities, mixed realities, artificial intelligence and robotics and IoT and artificial intelligence, all the stuff that you have, we take that and put into context of the focus industries that we focus on and the solution categories that we focus on. So EAP, enterprise asset management, service management. And in that way, our customers can focus on what they actually need to do with it, versus focus on the, on the technologies. 

theCUBE: And the API platform allows those customers to, whatever the build to integrate, to their ERP system if in fact… 

CP: That’s correct, that’s correct. And as I mentioned, we also use API’s not only on the front end of what we provide and expose all we have, but we also consume on the back end. So the way we actually consume the application services and drag them in and embed them is through API, these application services. 

theCUBE: I understand you’re working on an entirely new architecture that you will be debuting in the spring of 2020. How is that going to change the game? 

CP: We don’t really think about it as a new architecture. We think about it as a natural evolution that includes some of these things. Uh, so for instance, the introducing, uh the introduction of the application services layer that I mentioned, is more a new layer in our architecture that we introduced. So we don’t think about it as a new architecture, we’re just evolving what we have. And because of that evolution, that is something that our entire product portfolio will benefit from. Um, and, I already mentioned today how we are aligning the product portfolio from an experience perspective. We are bringing the arena experience through our FSM product to our um, PSO product, to our customer engagement product and so forth. So we are aligning that front end experience on the same design patterns, so forth, because you know, a good experience is a good user experience. 

theCUBE: You talk about Aurena bot and this, this gentleman here, who’s given us this talk, just throughout a Gartner stat at us. That, that by, I don’t know, by whatever year 2023, uh, more money will be spent on bots than mobile integration. Which is, you know, quite a prediction. Your thoughts. 

CP: Well, I, you know, there’s, there’s always all kinds of interesting predictions. I think actually, um, I actually think, um, there, amount of money may go down but I think the number of bots will go up dramatically. And, I think we will actually get to a situation where, bots will be creating bots. (laughs) Right? So, That’s when you get, when we talk about intelligent and autonomous systems, I really believe it. Because there is no reason why we should not begin to see autonomy in software. 

theCUBE: Right. 

CP: Um, we see it, uh, I use the example this morning, that we put our lives in the hands of technology every day, when you go in your car and you use adaptor to cruise to control, you’re trusting technology. Like, when you are driving your Tesla. I mean there was an example in San Francisco, uh, I think, uh, in December last year, where the police had been following a driver for 17 miles. And the car wouldn’t stop because it was driving itself, and the driver was sleeping. So, they had to, they had to, you know, call up Tesla and say like how can we manipulate this technology so the car actually stops, so the police gradually got the car to stop. And, uh, you know, finally the guy woke up and uh, he’d probably had one too many. But he claimed he wasn’t driving, so they shouldn’t charge him, but, they did. (laughter) 

theCUBE: Of course, yes. Well, bots are getting better, but I still, I still often know when I’m talking to a bot, but it’s getting better, wouldn’t you say? 

CP: Yeah, it’s getting reallly good. 

theCUBE: I know, last year I was completely fooled by a fundraising bot. But, I got a phone call from a bot that I spoke to for ninety seconds before realizing it was a bot. (laughter) So it’s, its getting pretty good. As you look at, at the technology that excites you, about what you’re bringing with your product, you talked a lot this morning about different kinds of technology and how you want to be a leader. What technologies excite you the most about the markets you are serving? 

CP: I tell you what excites me the most is to work through the different levels of, of, uh, digital transformation that I talked about. I’m excited about the reflection between businesses and technology. I’m excited about the reflections between people and experiences, and I’m excited about the reflections between automation and efficiency. We have a lot of technology at our hands, That can help us achieve these different things. But, at the end of the day, it’s the outcomes that matter. The technologies are exciting and you know, I can get super geeky about a lot of different technologies. But if it doesn’t relate to any, any, not technical vision of product, but any business vision you have on what you actually want to do with it as a business, then I think it becomes dangerous. But, of course, we have our geek sessions, where we geek out on all these different things. But, we try to separate that from when we actually, uh, you know, designing and building things directly into the product. But we need the geek sessions to get inspired. And understand what is available, so we can put it in the context of what our customers need today and also what they’ll be needing in the future. 

theCUBE: Since you have some decent observation space and digital transformation, I want to ask a question. Uh, uh, our partner ETR, they have a data platform. And I was down in New York last week just talking to them and, one of the theories is, is so spending is starting to slow down a little bit overall on the macro. One of the theories is that digital transformation in the last two years, there’s been a lot of experimentation. So a lot of try and, you know, everything. And now they’re going into the production with, with what they, what they feel will deliver business value. And two things are happening in their premise. One is, they’re narrowing down the focus on new technologies and make, making bets for all the disruptive technologies. The other is, a lot of the legacy stuff, they are pulling out. Saying, “okay, we’re moving on.” Um, are you seeing that, are you seeing this sort of… That, the bell weathers anyway going heavy now into production with digital transformation. What are you seeing? 

CP: I think its a progression. 

theCUBE: Uh-huh. 

CP: I think it’s scenario-based. I don’t see, I don’t see companies making like, an all-out bet from one day to another. 

theCUBE: Just mixed. 

CP: It’s mixed and I think you need to take a cautious approach because, you know, you don’t, you… When you’re in the technology world, you don’t always get it right in the first go, we certainly don’t get it right, the first time all the time, right? So, oftentimes its important to get something out there. Learn from it, innovate, fail fast sometimes. Um, the worst thing you can do is not acknowledge when you have made a mistake, And I think that is a risk that some companies also, bear with digital transformation is… If you need to adjust what you, what you thought was the right thing to do, make the adjustment as quickly as possible. 

theCUBE: You talked in your keynote about tailoring solutions and I want to understand your philosophy. How dogmatic are you, uh, uh, about, uh, not making customizations versus allowing your customers to make those, those tailored? And, and how do you manage that from a, you know cloud and SaaS delivery, evergreen, I think you call it standpoint? 

CP: We, we, absolutely believe that customers should have solutions that match exactly what they need and so forth. We also heard from stage today that, a good philosophy, I really subscribe to that philosophy, that if you’re doing things that, you know, is not really differentiating you as a company or something just use a standard process. Why do something custom if it doesn’t mean anything. Then you can adjust your processes to that. But if you have things that really differentiate you as a company, you obviously want to have the technology that supports that. And since that is differentiated, you’re not likely to have a standard package file. So in that process, what we need to enable is, we need to enable these scenarios where you can extend, uh, we call it extend on the inside, extend on the outside, but you can achieve what you want but, do it in a way where, you do it in a declarative way. Not by creating or modifying code. So instead we want to make sure that our, the code that we have, that is part of the standard product, can actually interpret declarative code. And that means when we have upgrades and all that stuff, we upgrade the core but the declarative code that the customer has that is, specific to them, remains there and stays there. 

theCUBE: And that’s why the API platform is critical. Right. You said no product will be announced or shipped without API enablement, period the end. 

CP: That’s correct. We can not because we can not create a use of front end to anything that doesn’t, that isn’t API enabled. So, it’s very simple. 

theCUBE: That’s a modern architecture. I am curious about you said that one of the reasons that you’re at IFS is because it’s so customer focused. What is it that this company does differently from companies you’ve worked at in the past, that exemplifies that customer focus? 

CP: I think it goes deep um, not only into the culture but also how we actually have people in, all the way into the individual development teams. Um, I’ve been in other software companies and the development teams you have developers, you have QA’s, you have, you know…testers, you have, you know… Programming just to write the specifications, so forth. We actually have industry solution specialists embedded into the development teams. So, we are, we are, probably our own, you know, worst critic um, and of course then working hand and hand with customers in their processes is essential. But again, if we don’t provide the out…if we don’t provide the value and the output from what we create for our customers, then it’s worth nothing. And that’s really the philosophy. If we do not provide value, technology means nothing. 

theCUBE: So the intersection of domain expertise and software development. Uh Christian, the last question is sort of, what do you hope to get out of this event? Things that you hope to, to take away, or learn or convey to your customers? 

CP: Well I always, I always, look to get feedback. I’m a sucker for feedback and input and learning. Uh, so first of all, I can’t wait to walk the expo floor here and really see what all our partners are bringing to the table of innovation. Because they’re doing amazing things, so I always enjoy spending a few hours on the, on the expo floor. In the process, get to meet a lot of people, uh and then during the sessions if we can or I’ll always end any presentation with an email address. Any, anybody, any customer, any partner will always be able to email me, uh directly, and I, you know… Sometimes a little hard to keep up, but I will respond to every single request. 

theCUBE: Feedback is a gift. Christian, thanks so much for coming on theCUBE, it was great to see ya. Thank you. 

CP: Alright, thank you very much. 

theCUBE: Alright, thank you for watching everybody. Keep it right there, we’ll be back with our next guest. We’re at IFS World, Boston. You’re watching theCUBE.

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