As the global pandemic began, I had just received approval on the city permits for a sizable home renovation. After getting multiple quotes that made my knees buckle and being a handy person with a passion (obsession) for tools and building things, I decided to take on most of the project myself.
Major lesson learned — I now have a deep understanding of the value of a general contractor and the knowledge, relationships, and coordination involved in pulling together the various trades throughout the course of a building project. It has been challenging as a homeowner figuring out all of the building and electrical codes and best practices, all without losing focus on my responsibilities to my family and LTI.
Interesting Steve, so what? — There are so many parallels between my home renovation project, and the platforms and services that I provide to our customers as the Head of Product for a financial services product organization. Customers want (and need) their service providers to evolve from SaaS software providers to the ‘general contractor’ for the products and services that they provide. The more people led processes, operations activities, digital solutions, and automation the product and services company can take on and manage, the less burden there is on the customer to have teams of people supporting technology and operations to manage deliverables like production support, night operations, software tables maintenance, release testing, and back office operations.
Organizations in all industries continue to face increasing cost pressure from boards/investors, regulatory requirements, cyber security and new competition — as a result the ‘as a service’ and more recently ‘as code’ models continue to gain momentum and expand in scope as organizations look for more opportunities to hand-off activities that do not differentiate or contribute directly to revenue growth and customer experience. Product and service companies that provide product platforms are very well positioned to take on more of these ‘adjacent’ services, and drive automation and efficiency — allowing customers to focus on sales, product development and customer retention.
There is a huge list of ‘as a service’ offerings that have developed over the last 20 years as cloud offerings became mainstream. Collectively, these are generally bucketed under the appropriately named acronym ‘Anything as a Service’ or (XaaS). The list is pretty intimidating and provides good reason as to why having a ‘general contractor’ is help in the coordination and delivery of some or all. As customer’s needs evolve, the continuous addition of new ancillary services allows them to focus on the differentiated aspects of their business — i.e.:
- Data-as-a-Service (DaaS)
- Testing-as-a-Service (TeaaS/TaaS)
- Security-as-a-Service (SecuaaS/SaaS)
- Business Intelligence-as-a-Service (SaaS BI/BIaaS)
- Elements of Business Process as a Service (BPaaS)
During my renovation, there were many times I had to make a decision — perform a task manually with existing tools, or spend extra money on specialty tools that would complete the job in a fraction of the time. This is directly relatable to frequent conversations I have with customers to assess the business benefits and ROI of their automation and digital experience initiatives.
There is renewed focus across all organizations to increase automation and the digital customer experience — to reduce cost and risk, improve speed and time-to-market through efficiency, work elimination, and straight through processing. To support this, you are now starting to hear more ‘as code’ services and solutions — simply meaning that things that are typically done by people are automated through ‘built-in’ automation frameworks and software tools. This is an ongoing area of focus across all of our platforms, and specifically in the active transformation project around our core platform, where we are leveraging this principle to drive native automation capabilities that streamline processes within the application that were previously done by people or macros.
It is my responsibility to continuously evolve our platforms and solutions and embrace the evolving ‘as a service’ and ‘as code’ era — and act as a general contractor to address customer challenges through new platforms and services that provide real business value through automation, cost reduction, risk mitigation, and a self-service customer experience.
My home renovation project is now mostly complete, and much like some of my day job initiatives — there was anxiety, frustration and long workdays. That said, it is extremely rewarding to look at the finished product and know that I have delivered a project that met my objectives of cost reduction, a high-quality build, and customer satisfaction (in this case my spouse) as the end result.