The original interview in Bulgarian was published by Investor Media Group and can be found at investor.bg
Founder and CEO at Sappience
Angel has over 12 years of experience in the domain of enterprise software and business management systems.
Driven by the innovations during the digital renaissance, Angel founded the company called Sappience. At the company, Angel is applying new approaches and business models for creating and implementing business applications. Based on Low-Code Application platforms, that are pretty unknown in the CEE region, Sappience aims to develop own product portfolio, and to develop the Low-Code concept and market, as well.
In the past, Angel was at different positions, including sales director and product manager at several international companies implementing world-class software solutions.
In 2019-2020 Angel’s interests are in the so-called Smart Apps (intelligent applications involving technologies like the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence) based on Low-Code Application platforms. This is also the direction of Sappience in this emerging market.
Investor: Mr. Georgiev, the vast knowledge of business and technology and the capabilities of various professionals nowadays are confronted with the need for rapid, high-quality, and accessible creation of applications that meet specific needs. How exactly does Sappience fit into this architecture?
Angel: Business and technology have been going hand in hand for quite some time now. What is happening right now is the so-called Digital Renaissance which predisposes to the implementation of even more technologies by the companies. It’s no longer enough for the IT professionals to know the business of specific industries and specific processes in order to be able to offer an adequate solution or product to meet specific customer requirements. In-depth know-how should be combined with the right technology to be able to implement a product or service that meets the dynamic needs of the business.
This is precisely what Sappience stands for – the ability to apply knowledge, experience, and know-how through applications, and the acceleration of digital transformation is at the heart of the company’s mission.
We have focused on the Low-Code Development concept because of the demand for speed and quality from Sappience as a company, and from the business as a whole. It is based entirely on the need to develop applications at times faster than traditional approaches and also, to provide the necessary tools to business users and developers to create quality software.
Sappience is stepping on worldwide proven Low-Code Development platforms, on which we develop our own product portfolio and also we aim to develop custom apps, together with our customers.
Investor: What are the benefits of microservices architecture in application development?
Angel: When developing applications, and in particular in the Low-Code Applications segment, microservices are in the right place. The flexibility of this architecture enables the precise positioning of applications in the various layers of the overall system, solving specific business problems.
The development and customization process are usually much shorter than the traditional one, allowing for faster integration and accordingly much faster consumption of parts of the solution, or the full solution. These factors support the growth of companies in the selected directions.
Microarchitecture typically uses lighter protocols, less computing power, allows customizations on the go, and when needed enables independent development.
Typically, microservices delivered through the Low-Code platform are a great companion to any complex project (such as CRM and / or ERP expansion) to solve specific use cases and cover business processes that would take way more resources and time if they should be implemented within the framework of the main business solution that the company uses.
Investor: The global shortage of software developers, in addition to the increased pressure on companies to upgrade their customer-centric applications, has increased the importance of Low-Code / No-Code applications over the past few years. New offerings are being introduced with AI integrations which makes the software even more intuitive. How has this changed the business environment in this area?
Angel: Low-Code / No-Code platforms for the creation of applications actually emerged even before the shortage of software developers began. And they exist precisely because of the benefits they bring: faster development and launch of software and applications to meet the needs of the business in the shortest possible time, rather than months or years.
The market limitations in the number of quality developers and architects only add to the benefits of Low-Code platforms. And that’s why more and more of them are being talked about. And more will continue to be said.
Other modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Big Data, and blockchain are at the root of the so-called SmartApps. At Sappience, we are targeting this particular segment – the creation of SmartApps business developed on the Low-Code platform. For us and our customers, this is a combination that can accelerate digital transformation and deliver exceptional competitor benefits through real innovation.
It is SmartApps with embedded AI that is one of the tools with which companies can increase the level of customer experience at every stage of their relationship.
Investor: Why is this need emerging every day and what difficulties do all the parties experience – from the developers and the companies they work for, to the customers looking for such solutions?
Angel: Let’s start with the customers. Let me split the demand for new technologies into two types: demand generated by a dynamically changing market and one driven by the pursuit of innovation (process, product, etc.).
In the first case, the need for new solutions results from the business environment: emerging competition, economic environment, and forecasts changing requirements of end-users and customers, even internal organizational factors (for example, the increasing number of Generation “Y” representatives in middle and high management companies.)
In the second scenario, we are talking about companies looking for and using new technologies to innovate in the creation and realization of their products and services. They create new products, processes, and business models. And the challenge for them is that they can’t do these things with old approaches, tools, and technologies.
Whichever of the two scenarios we put on the table, it itself creates a huge need for new technologies and innovative products, and accordingly resources (time, people, and finances) to bring the innovation to life. And we live in an environment where not only one of the above scenarios is on the table, but both at the same time.
This entails other difficulties and challenges: the rise in customer demand for new applications and systems leads to higher prices for programming services and software solutions in general and can lead to lower quality.
The latter is due to the fact that IT companies are trying to expand massively and to increase the number of developers, creating new developers, i.e. training young people from a starting point or retraining other positions as programmers. And this is not a bad thing at all, but it brings with it a period of diminished quality at a macro level, in the period of development of these people from junior to senior level. And customer demand remains so high and they want quality and optimum price.
Investor: Why is Low-Code Development a good alternative? When did it appear and why is it becoming more popular?
Angel: The shortest answer is: because Low-Code platforms meet the challenges of the market we have talked about so far in the best way and can regulate the balance between supply and demand.
The longer answer implies that we will go deeper into what problems these platforms solve. Let’s start with the speed of development: through low-code platforms, innovative applications and systems can be developed in weeks instead of months. This also corresponds to the needs of the business to rapidly innovate or to launch a new product or service on the market.
Another perspective of low-code development is to solve the problem of a limited number of programmers – the low-code concept is intended to enable business people to create applications without the need for programming knowledge and skillset. They are so-called Citizen Developers. With the help of business process modeling, drag and drop functionalities, connectors, and an easy-to-create user interface, they can build web and mobile applications.
This actually increases the number of people who can create software applications and we are no longer limited only by the role of the programmer. But let’s not exclude this role from the overall picture. Low-Code Development also targets experienced developers, giving them the tools to develop applications faster. And this reflects directly on the speed that the market is looking for. Even with us at Sappience, the need for traditional programming skills over the full set of skills required to create an application is about 25%.
Another reason Low-Code applications to be a good alternative is the myriad of integrations and connectors that platforms have to CORE systems and cloud services, including ERP, CRM, CMS, ML, AI, Big Data, etc.
All of this leads to unprecedented good values of the Time-to-Value indicator, for developing, implementing, and running an application. This factor is extremely important for customers and at Sappience developing our own product portfolio, we can also treat us as a customer of ourselves.
Investor: What are the roles of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data in this new direction of programming? How do they help develop mobile and web applications?
Angel: These two technological areas are at the heart of smart applications (SmartApps). With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, based on huge amounts of information, incredible business applications can be realized. The opportunities they offer, such as behavioral algorithms, guided search, predictability, and suggestions for preventative actions, human-device interactions, can now transform business processes, companies, and entire industries. Low-Code platforms are a tool that makes these innovations much more accessible to businesses.
In most cases, the innovative idea of how we can make even better use of the big data that we have, or how we can extend the lifecycle of products and machines, or how to produce with less waste, comes from business people. And the role of SmartApps, based on the Low-Code concept, enables these people to lead the innovation process.
After all, the point of interaction between the user and the SmartApp will most often be his or her mobile device. For better or worse, the smartphone (or tablet) has become an integral part of our lives and a semi-natural extension of our hands. However, Sappience focuses on making technologies help people, not the other way around.
Artificial intelligence and big data can be completely intertwined in different layers of a web or mobile application, but in fact, the creator and user of that application are human and the app reflects the logic, intelligence, and vast imagination of the human mind.