EPAM: organisations must evolve their software to connect with customers

Organisations are realising that they must embrace innovative means of communicating with their customers, or face the disruptive force of new entrants into the market who will

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EPAM believes that in order for organisations to truly engage their clients, they must continually enhance their software capabilities

Customers increasingly interact with products and services directly through software, in the form of websites, mobile apps, connected products and digital experiences. As the market becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the delivery of this software presents new opportunities and challenges for B2B and B2C companies. Successful organisations are realising that software capabilities are no longer optional, and that their clients are looking for faster and more interactive digital experiences, as opposed to the traditional bricks-and-mortar experience. In the UK alone, 7,500 UK bank branches closed and 5,000 more are expected to close in the next five years, with 10,000 retail shops shutting down since 2010.

Increasingly, large organisations are turning to software development firms for help building differentiated digital products and services for their customers, and are increasingly relying on these partners to provide their core product and platform development functions. European CEO spoke with Elaina Shekhter, CMO at EPAM, a global provider of software engineering and IT consulting services, to find out more about this growing trend.

Radical shifts in established markets have redefined the rules of the game – today, software is the product and data is the
new currency

What has driven the drive to digital?
We believe that, in the new era, software enriches the brand. This concept is driving a digital transformation in companies. Due to increasing demands from mobile clients, organisations are realigning technology and business agendas to meet customer engagement requirements. EPAM views digital engagement as digital business. Digital engagement is a new paradigm, in which businesses and customers are closely linked to each other via cutting-edge technology solutions. Our focus has been on helping our clients transform their businesses and reinventing processes to meet this new reality.

In what key ways does the European market differ from the US?
The European market for digital services is more fragmented from a service provider standpoint, and more demanding from a capabilities standpoint. The reality for most companies is that Europe is not a single market in the same way that America can be. Companies in Europe have to consider cultural, geographic, linguistic and commercial preferences in each EU region in order to successfully address the increasingly digital consumer. This means that service and software providers need to have global, regional and local strategies. They also need to maintain a presence in key customer markets in order to address localised requirements, while maintaining the standards and overall strategy that are demanded by global enterprises. They have to be able to provide a much more complete and integrated offering in order to meet the complex, often time-sensitive, often unstructured business requirements of this market.

How are traditional companies changing, in terms of software?
Companies are realising that software is a strategic asset and a key differentiator, not just a nice thing to have. The increasing digital sophistication of consumers and the demand to optimise operations across the entire value chain require greater access, transparency and value from each system that either engages or services the consumer. This requires architecture that is modern in its approach to data and that is interoperable among internal and external platforms. In addition, newer technologies like wearables, the internet of things, and experience platforms require new skillsets and new team combinations, which can operate interchangeably in order to build this new generation of scalable, integrated and seamless products.

What are the reasons for this shift?
Technology has become ubiquitous, blurring the lines between the enterprise and the world at large. We have entered the age of the customer, in which the demand and velocity of information is outpaced only by a rising appetite for the next great innovation. Traditional industries, from manufacturing to retail, and even healthcare, have been largely disrupted by new entrants who face no significant barrier to entry, and are not burdened by legacy technologies, processes or thinking. These competitors have a unique opportunity to quickly scale to meet the new behaviours of todays users. In many ways, these changes are enabled exclusively by technology, as can be seen in the examples of Amazon and Uber – companies that have no stake in the product, but are service providers of the highest order.

How important is innovation for those in your industry?
The complexity of product and platform development is increasing. Therefore, the ability to keep pace requires innovation in developing breakthrough strategies, experiences and products designed to reinvent the relationship between companies and their customers. Today’s leaders are looking for more sophisticated engineering and architectural skills, and expertise in advanced solutions and technologies to enable these ambitious ideas to come to life. Innovation is absolutely key throughout the lifecycle of the solution – from conception through to development, to ensure that the platform is capable of supporting these strategies at a speed that delivers at today’s increasingly fast pace.

What is it that is bringing companies to partner with firms like EPAM?
Organisations struggle to keep up and often lack the required in-house expertise in platforms and technologies. Working with partners like EPAM, who possess deep industry knowledge and a long history in delivering these solutions for ISVs, they are able to access the required skillsets. Along with engineering expertise, EPAM also has long invested in agile development and provides an incremental delivery approach that significantly increases speed to delivery and quality for all projects.

What is it that differentiates EPAM from others in the industry?
EPAM’s differentiator is tied to our role as the developer’s developer. The past 20 years have seen technological advancement fuel the fastest pace of innovation in modern history. And, with this evolution, radical shifts in established markets have redefined the rules of the game – today, software is the product and data is the new currency. Underlying this shift, the capability to fluidly design, architect and engineer the next major software platform has been key and will continue to underpin the next wave of market disruption, ultimately defining the difference between success and failure.

Engineering is in our DNA. Since 1993, we have sat at the table with some of today’s leading technology providers and helped them imagine, design, engineer and deliver their software. 300 independent software vendors, including giants like SAP, Google and Oracle, have relied on us to help them propel the industry to new heights. While we are no longer the CTO or CIO’s best kept secret, we continue to be proud of our heritage. Today, we are more than developers; we are engineers, designers, architects, strategists and product development experts. We are ready to continue providing these differentiating services to our clients for the next 20 years.

What are the company’s ambitions for the future?
We will continue to focus on developing the skills that this software product development market requires, with a strong focus on innovation and collaborating with our clients. We are also actively working with our strategic partners to ensure that we continue to help engineer and deliver today’s leading software.