Home Podcasts Episode 14

Podcast Episode 14

2022 Year Review and What’s Ahead for 2023

with Jeremiah Stone, CTO at SnapLogic

In this special episode of Automating the Enterprise, host Dayle Hall interviews Jeremiah Stone, the CTO of SnapLogic. Stone shares his thoughts on the use of AI in the enterprise and how it can help organizations automate and transform their processes. He also discusses what to expect in 2023 and how businesses can thrive in times of turbulence.

Full Transcript

Dayle Hall:

Good afternoon, good evening or good morning, wherever you are. This will be our last podcast for this first season of Automating the Enterprise. And it’s the holiday time. Wherever you are and whatever you’re celebrating, this one is going to be special for many reasons.

But first of all, as a reminder, this podcast is designed to give our organizations the insights and best practices on how to integrate, automate and transform the enterprise. But this time, this final episode of the year, we’re going to do something slightly different. Normally, I’m interviewing thought leaders and different customers and people from different backgrounds, specifically around how they’re using integration automation. But today, I have a very special guest. This is the first time we’ve done this. And it’s one of my very esteemed colleagues from SnapLogic. 

So joining us today is Jeremiah Stone, the SnapLogic CTO, who is an expert, and I’ve seen this firsthand, he is an expert in building advanced technology products and using AI to solve real business problems. Jeremiah, welcome to the podcast.

Jeremiah Stone:

It’s fantastic to be here, Dayle. Thank you very much. I’m excited to be part of this awesome series. I’m a loyal listener. So a longtime listener, first-time caller. I’m happy to be here.

Dayle Hall:

That’s great. I feel like I always wanted to be Frasier Crane, actually. Okay, so Jeremiah has had multiple leadership roles for GE, for SAP. He’s actually- as he joined our organization, he’s actually purchased an iPaaS platform in the past, which is actually a great experience for us. But there’s a few things that I’m sure- whilst our listeners can go on LinkedIn, and they can see who you are, Jeremiah, I would like to start with a few icebreakers because we want to know who the real Jeremiah is, okay? So these are my key questions to really get to know who you are, okay? So first things first, beer or wine? 

Jeremiah Stone:

Ooh, good question. Well, living in Northern California like I am, I am blessed with a wide choice of both. I love to go up to Napa with my wife and also love the local microbrewery scene. I would have to say probably, though, I’m more of a Scotch drinker, actually. So neither.

Dayle Hall:

Okay, okay. Well, I’ll follow up on that because other than the Hendrick’s martinis, I love the Scotch, too. Batman or Superman?

Jeremiah Stone:

As a child, Superman. Just the leaping tall buildings in a single bound was wonderful, X-ray vision, lasers. As an adult, Batman, mere mortal, no special powers. Hyper wealth is a special power, I suppose. But the ability to-

Dayle Hall:

Technically savvy.

Jeremiah Stone:

Yeah, technically savvy, trying to take on hard problems in a dark world, being a ray of light. I don’t know, talking about Batman speaks to me more and more as I age.

Dayle Hall:

I like that. Beach or snow?

Jeremiah Stone:

Definitely snow. I grew up in the Rockies in Colorado, and I continue to really enjoy winters with my children. We like to ski, we love to get out to play in the snow and build snow castles, that kind of thing. So absolutely, a snow person. And some of the worst times I’ve ever been sick in my life I’ve been on beach vacations. Terrible association.

Dayle Hall:

Okay, last couple. The last book you read.

Jeremiah Stone:

The last book I read, I think, was Functional Aesthetics, data visualization books.

Dayle Hall:

That couldn’t be any more CTO-ish, if you tried. But that’s a good one. That’s a good one. Okay, last two. Favorite word.

Jeremiah Stone:

Extemporaneous.

Dayle Hall:

I’m sure that is. I’ve no idea how to say it, but I’d take your word for it. And the most overused word in business.

Jeremiah Stone:

Most overused word has to be innovation.

Dayle Hall:

Okay, why do you say that?

Jeremiah Stone:

It’s a word that I think everybody has a vague idea of ideas, fantasy, dream, the spark of idea turning into something valuable. But I feel like it’s a filler word. I think that it’s a pleaser, and people tend to use it in association with their products and services, their work, to the point that it’s a shibboleth. It’s a fill-in word that- to be sort of the fill in the blank for what we aspire to do, but actual innovation that has provable, quantifiable benefit, that linkage is lost.

And so often, we use that to talk about the things we’re doing that we’re interested in, the things we’re doing that we think will please others, but we rarely do the hard work to justify usage of the word in the sense that we can derive a clear benefit from the work. And, oh, it’s apocryphal or real, but I think it was attributed to Henry Ford that says, I think- or it might have been Edison that innovation is imagination at work and delivering actual- you can put a dollar sign next to it, you can quantify it in terms of somebody’s life being better, that’s innovation to me. But far too often and certainly, in our world, innovation is often- it lacks the linkage to value.

Dayle Hall:

Right. No, that’s a really good response. We have- again, as a marketer, we use terms like innovation in so many different ways. And I do make sure that- in other words, mind share. And all these things that we talk about, you have to make sure there’s some real value behind it. And I think that’s what you’re talking about with innovation. I think people can use it as a escape valve, a catch-all kind of term. That’s a good initial segue for me because you’ve been at SnapLogic now six months, five months?

Jeremiah Stone:

Six months next week.

Dayle Hall:

Six months next week. Congratulations, six months. And talking about innovation and the things you’ve learned over the last six months talking to a lot of customers that you have, what have you really been impressed with? Referring to that word innovation, what have you been surprised about or impressed with within the first six months of the job here at SnapLogic?

Jeremiah Stone:

I think what I’m most excited about leading to the word innovation is the number of customers that I’ve spoken to or heard from who tell stories about hard things they accomplished with fewer resources, with less time, with less expertise than they thought would be needed. We were recently with customers in Europe together, actually. And I thought the conversation we had with the folks at Sarpi Veolia was really impressive to me because here’s a group of folks who were in a tough situation, they had analytics and reporting, they wanted to deliver quickly, and they didn’t have a big budget, they didn’t have a big technical team. And they decided to use SnapLogic to deliver their work. And they surprised themselves with how quickly they were able to deliver their project, and the fact that they didn’t have to hire specialized resources.

And what was exciting to me about that isn’t necessarily that it was the lower level of people investment or the higher level of delivery, and that is our dream, we want people to get there faster, so to speak, wherever there is in their own context. But what’s most exciting to me was that it was the people who owned the problem that were unblocking themselves. And I think that in our industry, we have this technological priesthood model, where if you haven’t got the computer science degree and you don’t have all of the experience writing code, etc., it’s this unobtainable, impenetrable world. And to hear from individuals who understood their business in and out, and they feel technically savvy, who doesn’t these days, but they were able to unblock themselves and meet their own goals, it’s just the- what’s really exciting about it was just seeing how powerful they seemed and felt, and they felt like they could do it.

And I just love that in the sense of the empowerment of people that take control of their own destiny and deliver what they need to do for their business. And that, to me, is, in our context, innovation. The ability for people to achieve their goals, overcome their obstacles, and reach their desired state of operations on their own without needing specialized help was really cool. 

Dayle Hall:

Yeah. I think one thing as we plan, we’re talking about the integrator that we’ve done our EMEA events, and we’re about to do our North America events. The most inspired I’ve been since I joined SnapLogic is whenever you talk to customers and you see what they’re doing, the problems that they’re solving, is incredible because- and that’s when you wake up every day and you’re answering emails, or you’re getting on Zoom calls and so on, I think sometimes you can lose sight of why we do what we do. But I think once you get out there and talk to those customers, that’s what inspires me to be better in every day with the things that I’m doing. And I know you feel pretty similar to that.

Jeremiah Stone:

I do. Sometimes in a way that is different, though. In the time that I’ve been here, I think I’m now almost into the double digits. I speak to three to five of our customers a week practically. So not during a sales call, not during a support call, really connecting with them to understand their business problems and their goals.

And I’m the new guy around here. And yet I keep uncovering really important things that people are doing using SnapLogic. And they’re important things that are of such criticality that you almost get nervous about it. You think, wow, that person not only is using us to bring two applications together into a business process or support and analytic. Their business can’t run if we don’t. And so it gets me out of bed almost out of a sense of duty, anxiety or what, but just need for us to continually be better because people rely on us and trusting us to be there for their core workloads, and that’s a big deal.

Dayle Hall:

Yeah, that’s definitely a big deal. Okay, so we’re gonna kick off with some specifics around where we are in terms of in the market, the economy, the industry that we’re in, and go through some of the things that we’ve seen and some of the predictions. So I want to kick off with, I hasten to say we’re completely through the pandemic. It still has an impact in our daily lives to some extent. But this whole move of being from the office, fully remote, and now there’s a somewhat return-to-the-office/hybrid model, and not just from a working environment and the people that we interact with, but from a application and data and IT teams perspective, what are you seeing as the shift now, if anything? Are we going back to how we were before? Is there- are you seeing some key trends coming with this now move back to more of a hybrid model with some still remote, some people back in the office? What are you seeing as how are customers, and what you’re seeing in the market, how are people managing this?

Jeremiah Stone:

Broadly speaking, we’re still very much in a blended model. And that’s in Europe, that’s in the UK, that’s in Germany, that’s in France, that’s in North America as well. People have not given up bricks and mortar. They’re still- we are meeting people in offices. But in nearly every meeting I’m having with our customers in person, there are people dialed in. And there are people dialed in locally, and there are people dialed in remotely.

And so I think what I certainly am seeing is- Thomas Friedman predicted in his book about the world becoming flat, that we would see global labor markets become more and more than norm, that we would hire beyond borders. And to a certain extent that was true. But it was always standing up a new office and a new location. What I’m seeing is a lot more individual contributors widely distributed, both in countries of operation and abroad. And I think that’s going to be with us to stay, and I think that’s going to increase talent availability and individual autonomy.

I think that if the enlightened employer, I think, is increasingly looking at that global talent pool and also looking across generations, I’m certainly seeing both ends of the spectrum age-wise in the workforce and location-wise. And I think that distributed workforce will allow people who choose to work longer and will allow people at the beginning of their careers to have more flexibility in the industry they want to work in and who they want to work with without the need to relocate and be disruptive to their family lives.

And the final thing I’m seeing is definitely more elder care and kids involved. I think we now are at the point where we’re seeing pets, parents, kids stay in the background of a meeting is not as disruptive. And I think ultimately, it’s- I hope I’m optimist to the point of hallucination. But I hope this means we’re in a world where we have more equity and availability for opportunity. I do think it dramatically impacts business software, though. I think it very much impacts the types of business systems people are creating because we’ve relied for decades on the idea of the fortress model towards network security, towards creating our business.

All of us have been there that there is a special Wi-Fi network for the office, there are special Ethernet ports that you plug into in order to get access to business systems. And now we’re in a zero-trust world where people are on their home Wi-Fis, they’re on a Starbucks, they’re on the road, and we need to evolve with them. And I think we certainly are seeing that, we’re definitely seeing an uptick in our business with integration of identity and access management systems and for increasing business processes that cross the traditional enterprise boundary. And I think we’re going to see a lot more of that.

And I think the interesting thing here is, sort of a prediction down the road is, I do think that we’re going to see more cross-business integrations of data and process. We’ve always had this idea of message exchange, whether that was with EDI or other types of business systems where there would be cross-system communication. I think we’re going to see more and more of that. And we’re going to see more, let’s say, chattiness across business partners. And I think that will directly impact how we think about security as being steady-state for all integrations as we have this more heterogeneous world where you don’t have the walled fortress of your enterprise, a very thin pipe connecting to others. It’s a much richer, well connected world. But I think as with many things, our technical designs tend to mirror our social structure. And so because we’re now working across the enterprise and with our own staff in a highly distributed world, I absolutely think that we’re going to see the same thing with regard to business technology investment.

Dayle Hall:

As COVID started to hit, there was obviously a big shift to figure out the processes, look at automations and integrations as a part of people not being in the office. And a few years ago, just as COVID was hitting, one of the analysts that I talked to from one of the firms said he was amazed at how many customers he’d spoken to. After people went remote, that they thought they had automations in place. But it still came down to there were two or three people in a process in the office that were doing handovers or doing manual things that they thought they’d actually automated. And I think that was hitting customers harder and thought, well, we thought we had all this figured out.

Do you see now this- maybe not fully remote, but there’s this hybrid model? Those IT organizations, in your opinion, do they have new initiatives around now figuring out that next shift? Is that still a priority for them? Are they still trying to figure that out? Or is it now we’ve managed to figure out the remoteness, it’s just a simple step to move it back to a hybrid model? Or those initiatives, those use cases as it were, are you still seeing those in the market and customers still trying to solve those problems?

Jeremiah Stone:

Oh, absolutely. I was meeting with a company in London that produces high-frequency trading software, so quant. They provide products into financial services for quantitative trading. And they have a major initiative to automate all of their back-office processes, meaning HR, finance and so on, and to basically take the manual human touch out of those processes. And I think we’re seeing more and more of that.

And I think that, honestly, it’s not only due to the disruption in terms of people being in the office or out of the office, but simply due to labor shortages. And so we tend to think of labor shortages, and we’ve heard about them in frontline workers, whether it’s in retail or in health care, I think back office is the same labor force. And if we have, as we do worldwide, challenges with childcare or needs to take care of parents, etc., that we have a general talent shortage, and that leads to automation and that leads to continued focus on how to remove those manual processes from a quality perspective but also from a staffing availability perspective.

Dayle Hall:

Yeah, we’ve talked about this. I’ve talked about this in a couple of other podcasts, but the war on talent is still there. And I think given the opportunities out there, there is still a lot that we have to figure out in terms of how to use tools and now where people are going to be based. And I actually like what you said earlier around some of the younger workers, they’ve got a lot more flexibility in their careers now to work remote. But as an enterprise, as an organization, there’s things that we have to figure out from our own processes and data to make sure that we can enable that. So I think we’re just- to some extent, we’re just scratching the surface on that. Do you-

Jeremiah Stone:

Talent won. The war for talent is over. Talent won. And now we’re dealing with that. And it’s not just our ability to staff, whether it’s local or hybrid or remote. It’s also our ability to staff between full-time or contingent workers, contractors. That’s also an increasing blend of what we’re seeing. And what that’s driving for us is a lot of focus on collaborative user experience. Now it’s more and more the norm that we expect that we’re going to have a collaborative environment to work on, whether we’re editing a document, and you can see the other person’s cursor and their name, or whether you’re collaborating with an external entity. And I think that as well is really driving the work.

And we do a lot of work with, for example, Siemens is a customer. And this is one of the areas they’re looking at us to help with, is how do we improve collaboration in the user experience for designing integrations. And that is very much tied to geographic distribution as well as the fact that they bring in business process experts to help them lean out and redesign their processes. And they want to have those people experience a very rich direct working experience and not talk about the integration, design it in PowerPoint and hand it over to somebody else, but just have the business process expert who’s helping to redesign the process to make it work better, being the tool working as well.

And I think that’s part of the same mixture as we’re now really becoming used to collaboratively working together. And you can’t- if you’re distributed geographically or you’re distributed legally from a service provider or an employer perspective, you’re not going to be sitting at a monitor looking together or looking at a projector together in the office. And so the ability to have a rich, highly productive collaborative experience, I think, is also more and more the norm with what we’re seeing in terms of knowledge work. 

Dayle Hall:

Yep. That moves us on to a good topic next or a challenging topic, which is what’s going on in and around the economy, not just in our industry but in general, the things that we’re seeing around, a slowdown of the economy, and it’s probably top of mind for everyone. And you and I, as part of the integrator, we talk a little bit about some of the findings of the research that we did, which was 1/3 of IT leaders have been forced to deprioritize or cancel tech projects because of the downturn. About 60% said they’d either planned to or already have decreased their IT budget. Almost half are planning to freeze or at least reduce some of their headcount. And again, almost 60% feel that they spend their time empowering non-IT users to be more successful. And there’s the same amount of people, about 60%, who are looking to get more from AI and automation.

So in that study, we see IT cutting projects, potentially reducing budgets, but then looking at ways of empowering the business and using different technologies to help them out during this time. So the question for you is, how do you think companies, enterprises in their IT organizations, what is it that they should be looking at to potentially get more from what they’ve already invested in so they don’t necessarily- they’re not ripping out software that they already have? And how can they actually position themselves to still support the business during the time where they may be seeing reduced budgets as many organizations are?

Jeremiah Stone:

It’s an interesting moment in time. We’re coming off of one of the largest, longest economic expansions in modern economic history, but we’re simultaneously facing extreme volatility in terms of labor availability, in terms of the cost of capital. Interest rates continue to go up. We heard from the Fed yesterday that they’re likely to look at a half basis point increase, and then that the war on inflation is not over, so capital is becoming more expensive, talent is constrained.

And yet, even as we’re seeing staff reductions, we’ve seen a lot of layoffs in the Bay Area where I’m based, we still see environments that are sitting at massive wealth. They have just been at the end of big investments in cloud technologies, big investments in talent, big investments in digitization. And it’s almost as if, as usual, in these situations, there was a perception that the good times are going to keep on rolling, we could keep hiring people, we could keep buying new technology, we could keep moving onward and upward.

And we’re sort of halfway across the river, if you will, between the systems, talent and resources that we had, the promised land we thought we were going to get t,o and now, we’re in this situation where we have constrained budget, constrained talent, and yet a lot of projects have finished, work half done, new systems have stood up. And a challenge from a leadership point of view is, how do I deliver the value that I had already committed to, dreamt of, that the business was counting on with less resource, with less time, and likely on a much more frequent review basis. And every IT leader or worker is familiar with the experience of being called on the carpet to justify your existence, to justify continuing the project. And I think that is happening everywhere right now.

And so the challenge really is, how do we, as leaders, follow through, finish off and make the most out of the resources we have? And what we’re seeing quite a bit of is very creative use of existing resources that there may have been a plan to end of life or turn down systems to actually evergreen them and start to refactor them incrementally. I was reading a report from Forrester yesterday that was looking at refactoring to microservices within enterprise architecture not as a, turn down the entire system, but progressively, which percentage of your historical systems have been refactored. We work with a partner where we focus directly on integrating with mainframes in financial services. And we are continuing to invest in effectively using SnapLogic as a front door to the mainframe possibilities of data processing, data availability, etc., and yet interfacing with that mainframe as if it were a modern web application.

And so I think seeing certainly continued focus on new generations of technology, cloud native, highly conversant, highly available API-oriented systems, simultaneously coexisting with systems that may have been moved virtually to the cloud or still existing in data centers or managed service centers, and yet wanting to use those in a standard interoperable way. And that’s what we’re really seeing, is a acceptance of reality that you’re going to live in mixed blended environments, you’re going to need to continue to maybe every two weeks, every week, provide new capability to the business either in terms of new products, services or value or in terms of cost out and reduction of burn on the sustaining budget. And in that world, you need to make the most of your pre-existing heritage or legacy technology as well as continue to adopt new technology. So I think that is going to be with us, I would say, at least for the next two to three years. That’s the reality we’re going to live in.

Dayle Hall:

Yeah. We talked about the most overused words in business at the start of this podcast. And one of the terms that we hear a lot, I hear a lot, is future-proofing. And I don’t particularly like the term because it makes it seem like there’s always something you could have done to deal with a challenge in your business. And you and I have had many discussions about this already, and particularly with our boss, Gaurav, the CEO, about how you prepare for this. But when you hear the term future-proofing, does that make you prickly? Does it make you feel like someone doesn’t really know what they need to do and it’s used as a term just to challenge people? How does someone prepare, or how does an enterprise get better prepared for these changing times?

Jeremiah Stone:

So I entered the workforce, got my first job in 1998. And I was fortunate enough to work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, in a systems administration role. And I was working on technology that still required paper tape to run and program the machines, while at the same time, building what was at the time some of the first really high-performing parallel computing frameworks for weather, large-scale weather models with really high-end, bespoke fiber optic networking between the nodes. So I lived simultaneously in these worlds.

And what that experience taught me is that we tend to believe that we’re moving into frames and phases of technology development that are completely distinct, disjoint and new that will leave all of the old behind, and that the future will be very different and that we can- the best thing we can do is prepare ourselves to throw away the old jettison and jump into the new world, when in reality, our history lives with us for a very long time, much longer than we expect or anticipate. There’s likely a closet with networking gear and servers and just about every one of our listeners’ offices, whether they know it or not, still running some critical part of the business.

And so when I hear the word future-proof, what I tend to think, Dayle, is that it’s a marketing slogan for a product that will be yet another thing on the stack of the things that will live with us for a much longer time. But I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I think the idea of preparing yourself to handle volatility and unpredictability and future kinds of technology that will be different than demanding is a good idea. But I think it’s a mindset. It’s not a product. It’s not a protocol. It’s not a new piece of tech. It’s a design pattern. And it’s a way of thinking about how we architect our data and application infrastructure to be able to continuously take opportunities from new technology to improve our business.

That’s what future-proofing- I think that’s the good side. When I think about future-proofing, it is, don’t be a sucker, don’t fall for the idea that there’s something that’s going to make that hard problem go away, but do take the opportunity, I think, to learn how to continuously renovate and refactor your technology estate as it were. And future-proofing is a state of mind and not a product, in my opinion.

Dayle Hall:

I like the way of thinking about that. And I don’t think there’s anything- there is no panacea for changing times. Most of these things usually catch me by surprise. Some don’t in certain enterprises where, well, maybe have overextended themselves and then they’re nervous because maybe they haven’t hit the targets. That’s just how you run the business. But pandemics and economy slowdown, I mean, that’s being- putting yourself in a position where you can, I think you hit the nail on the head, still take advantage and have opportunities. Being in that position, I think, is important. You can’t stop some of these trends, global, macro, microeconomic challenges hitting you. You have to just make sure you’re in a good position so you can deal with it, you can’t stop them.

Jeremiah Stone:

That’s right. And I do think you can design to be able to take advantage of future technology if you understand, try to understand mega trends that are pushing the products and services that we’ll be dealing with for the next three to five years. So for example, more and more things are moving to streaming event-driven behaviors. Well, that actually drives some very important low-level architectural decisions. The ability to have a messaging and event-oriented architecture from an enterprise architecture point of view, you could say, in a sense, that is future-proofing.

The other thing, on the other hand, is if you’re streaming by default, event-oriented by default, you’re able to handle trigger-driven workloads, scheduled workloads, batch workloads, because those are just different kinds of events. But again, that comes back to design principles and how we think about designing architectures and procuring our technology is asking those more fundamental questions, is from a design and architecture point of view, does this create the most optionality for me?

And that’s future-proofing really, is if you- what open cone of possibility does any given investment give you. And I definitely, unfortunately, have spoken to a few customers, I won’t name names, that are in the process of having to unwind investments that they made because it was the hot thing at the time, but it was a very narrow application of technology that wasn’t flexible or able to adapt to new requirements, new needs, changes to deal with the external- extended enterprise with business partners, with distributed employees, but it seemed like just the thing at the time. And it’s incumbent upon those of us who build, operate, buy end-of-life technology to consider the sustainability from a long-term ownership perspective and re-applicability of the technology we buy as we do so.

Dayle Hall:

Interesting. So moving on now. We talked about hybrid work, we’re going from remote to hybrid work. Let’s talk about hybrid as it relates to the enterprise and as it relates to on-prem legacy systems and the move to cloud and so on. When you think of the opportunities ahead, and again, I think one of the reasons you and I are both at SnapLogic is because we see it as a massive opportunity around not just APIM and data integration, but app-to-app integration. And when you talk to some of our customers or prospects, where do you feel that transition is moving from on-prem to cloud or to hybrid? Have people fully embraced it? Are we still in its infancy on the journey? Where do you think we are from that move to cloud, the hybrid situation? And what are you seeing in and around the market?

Jeremiah Stone:

I think about this a lot. And I have the opportunity to speak to customers across all industries and geographies that we operate in. And I think that we- basically, the early adopters have largely moved, still have some trailing assets. And now the bulk of companies operating globally are now really trying to accelerate the move to cloud, not only from an IT cost arbitrage perspective, so it’s just cheaper and easier to run because of the promises of cloud, somebody else being responsible for care and feeding, maintenance, etc., not only because of the opportunity to move from CapEx to OpEx and change the balance sheet impact, but also because of the benefits that cloud-native technology offer in terms of picking and choosing specific capabilities for critical projects or critical staff.

So I definitely think we’re seeing acceleration in the movement to both cloud-native applications as well as cloud data warehousing and analytics. So very much an acceleration in that realm. But I still see a lot of maintenance and support and sustaining of existing infrastructure as well. And so I’d say we’re still in the early days of the major move. Most forecasts I’m seeing out of private equity, venture capital and analysts are in alignment with that perception. I haven’t seen any contrarian data to indicate that there’s a slowdown in cloud adoption. But I also have not seen anything to indicate that we’re past the sort of middle or center of the work.

I was at AWS re:Invent last week. And the kind of interesting takeaway for me from re:Invent was that Amazon and AWS are still in early days of getting their own technology to work well with itself. And I think most of those announcements that were rolled out where we’re talking about how the different services can be interoperable, can be more usable, and that’s indicative of still a relatively early evolving technology stack. So I think we still have time to go there. And I think we are entering more hybrid, if you will, between legacy and new investments, and the need to keep those systems operating well together and keep rolling forward.

Yeah, you can think about this as in, metaphorically, like renovating a home. When we make investments in our homes, you may upgrade the kitchen, you may add a new bathroom. I put it in a heat pump, hot water heater last year, and it’s phenomenal. It’s great. It’s incredibly efficient, it’s quiet. But I had to do some electricity upgrading to handle that. I had to make sure it was the venting. And I think technology is much the same way. There are very specific targeted investments to deliver value, to deliver efficiency. And it alters a subset of the larger landscape and offers opportunities to refactor and improve the landscape, but it’s not a wholesale rip and replace move into a new environment.

And so there’s this continuous need to harmonize the existing and the new, to look at high-valued opportunities, to renovate and add a new capability to the system, and then use that effort to improve the hygiene and structure. You mentioned API management, we’re seeing a lot of customers right now looking to wrap their arms around hundreds, if not thousands, of individual application programming interfaces, APIs or endpoints, within their systems and put them in a single consolidated space.

Speaking to one of our customers, who is a healthcare payer, so in the health insurance space, and they related that, well, because they bought companies, they’ve done parallel investment, various work, they have probably five different ways to get the core data of a customer, of a patient. They have four different ways to find out what the claims were for that individual. And they’re looking to harmonize those. And they’re doing that through- if there’s an upgrade in a given portion of the system, they look to wrap those systems with a standard API management layer, pipe all the existing APIs into there and then continuously organize and straighten up.

Your house gets cleaner when you move room to room, if you pick stuff up, and you organize it. And that’s what I’m seeing a lot of people doing. They’re looking at multiplicative investments where they can add new capability, add new efficiency, add improvements to their business and clean up their landscape as they go.

Dayle Hall:

Yeah. The opportunity, I think, is obviously- is there from that perspective. But one of the opportunities, I’ve talked to a lot of people on this podcast, and I know you have this definitely in your career background, is this artificial intelligence opportunity. And I’m a little bit reticent because I see so much AI washing around the industry and people use it because it’s definitely still a hot buzzword and people- to go back to your point about using innovation as a term without having to back it up, I feel like there’s a lot of that with AI.

When you hear the term AI and when you think of the opportunity for- in our daily lives or in our businesses, where do you think the next wave of opportunity comes from artificial intelligence? And let’s start with just broad impact, and then let’s go a little bit deeper and talk about within the space, the SnapLogic place, around app and data and APIM. But let’s start broad, what do you think about when you hear that term AI and the opportunity?

Jeremiah Stone:

It’s an area of passion for me, it’s an area I’m excited about. My background is in mathematics and computer science. So my first job, as I mentioned, was in building large-scale predictive models. Back then, we just called it applied math. But yeah, now we have more exciting terms.

I think that we’re still in the age of hype and the expectations have not been realized, what artificial intelligence could deliver. I think there’s been massive, billions and billions of dollars burned up and destroyed in terms of shareholder value and in terms of investments on the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning, whether it’s in consumer or enterprise software.

I don’t think the expectation and the hope was wrong. I think that we have failed to really apply the technology. But that’s changing. And what I’m saying is, it’s a classic metaphor, different analyst firms have different terms for it. But the way this tends to play out is you have this incredible hype and excitement about a given technology that only doesn’t deliver and basically says, oh, that was a failure, and you move away. Meanwhile, people start to apply it, and it starts to be accretive and improved, and we’re seeing that.

Most of us use an AI-based application on a daily basis, and we probably don’t even think about it or know it. So for example, your spam filters in your email are driven by artificial intelligence. Your navigation systems, if you use Google Maps, or Waze, or what have you, to get from point A to point B to manage the commute, you’re using artificial intelligence. You’re able to put on adaptive heating and thermostats, those kinds of things. And so this is where we start to see the- where I think we will feel artificial intelligence is- it’s actually a design problem. And it’s not a core technology problem. The design problem is, how do you make important decisions, processes and activities better in a very natural, ambient way. And I think that’s where we start to see the value of artificial intelligence.

I met with a service provider customer of ours two days ago. And they have a service whereby they are providing AI-enabled guidance back to their customers on managing their supply chains. And the way they do that is they use SnapLogic to integrate in with their customers’ supply chain management and ERP systems. And then they provide an opportunity list of ways to lean up the supply chain, cut existing stock, both direct and indirect spend, so both spend that is focused on product as well as how they operate their facilities and handle business incidentals. There are large-scale predictive algorithms inside of that product, but they never show up on the interface. It’s a dashboard. It’s a dashboard of opportunities to manage the spend.

And that’s what I think we will see is that it will be a much more efficient, capable, better decisions, more optimization in the processes we operate, but in a less visible way than I think we expected. We sort of expected, whether it was how or could the computer from Star Trek or something to be what we thought of as artificial intelligence, when in fact, it’s much more subtle and ambient in our lives. And I think that’s a good thing, ultimately. And that’s what we’ll start to do.

So I do think we’ll feel the impact. I think the impact will be hard to quantify because it will look like radically accelerated incremental improvement, but it won’t be. It’ll actually be a step change improvement, but it’ll be happening through systems that we take for granted.

Dayle Hall:

Yeah. I think if we get to the point where we have within our- what was the Will Smith movie as well? I, Robot, where they’re all going to attack us. I mean, look, there’s definitely some fear that’s sensationalized, and I get that. But one of the things that I hear a lot, and we can talk about this in the context of SnapLogic, and I’ve heard this for 10 years we’ve been talking about artificial intelligence, is it’s going to take people’s jobs. It means people are going to get laid off because of what it does. And there is a little bit of that as it relates to things like- even RPA is a category. But my opinion has always been, it should free up the opportunity to be more- the people that have capabilities, they can be more creative. They can actually solve bigger problems because some of the mundane stuff can be done through an AI kind of model or automation model. Do you still hear that when you talk to customers and prospects? Is there still some kind of reticence because they- is that still in the market, or is that going away?

Jeremiah Stone:

I don’t hear from customers. Mostly I hear from customers actually the opposite of that labor availability problems, not that they’re worried about technological unemployment. I think technological unemployment is real. I think that it is happening. I think Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have done probably the best work in this domain with the work they’ve done around the Second Machine Age and the research they’ve done.

I think where we’ll see most technological unemployment is in heavy industry. And that will just be continued automation and change of both white-collar and blue-collar job loss in manufacturing, in particular. We don’t tend to see as much of that in Europe and in North America because the impacts of that technological unemployment are happening where the factories are, and we’ve moved a lot of that production off seas. We just saw yesterday a big rollout by Tesla with their Semi. Certainly, if autonomous driving is realized, it’ll start in places like dockyards, they’ll start in places we don’t see. And we’ve already seen it. If you’ve seen things happening inside Amazon warehouses or other warehouses, you definitely see increased automation and robotics in those spaces. But I think most of the places where you have technological unemployment are places that most people in the IT industry don’t see. And that’s happening in more manual and service industry contexts.

In terms of our contexts, you face up to the fact that high tech knowledge workers in many ways have been highly unproductive in the first place, right? So there’s this sort of belief, the zero sum game belief that if you made technology work much more productive, you would put people out of a job, when in fact, the amount of work to be done has been maybe orders of magnitude and the amount of work that we’ve been able to accomplish. And so by creating a lot more productivity, I think you’re still going to have to deal with that.

And I think the large-scale models, whether you look at like a GitHub Copilot or the other efforts underway under programming synthesis or creation of code with artificial intelligence, the algorithms don’t know how to design a system, they don’t know how to orchestrate the system. Developing a function called developing the code is not the same as systems design architecture, or just the fundamental difficult analytical thinking in order to build a capable and functional system. And most of the generative model work that we see has easily gone awry and doesn’t produce good output.

There’s definitely promise. There’s good work happening. I’m excited about the generative work that we see from large-scale language models. But I think the productivity that it delivers is something we need desperately. And we need to drive that productivity. In many ways, it’s the realization of productivity that hasn’t arrived in terms of the third industrial revolution with digitization. I think it’s actually arriving and that’s how it will arrive.

Dayle Hall:

Yeah. Some of the podcasts that I’ve done recently, we’ve got into the diversity within AI and AI ethics. And I think that- when we come back for this Season 2, which we will do a Season 2 of this podcast, but I’d love to- that’s something that I’d like to explore more with you and with others around, not just the use of AI, but how you help to take out bias, take out some of that inherent- that if you look at the data, if there’s bias in there, how do you identify it, so you at least know where it is in the model, and that whole concept of AI ethics. I think that’s something that I feel- again, I’m not as tech savvy as you, but I feel like we’re just scratching the surface on those discussions.

Jeremiah Stone:

Absolutely, absolutely. I think we’re still very much in the gee whiz phase of AI and ML in business software, and we’re moving from the, could you build a model that would help to- can you build and train the right model in this context to do the job in a way that you’re proud of and happy with. And what most people don’t realize is that AI and machine learning is incredibly dependent upon the information that’s used to train the model. And that is the key, absolutely, the key that we are able to create the datasets that are required in order to deliver model performance that we would want.

Dayle Hall:

Yeah. Jeremiah, first of all, I get to have these conversations with you all the time, so it’s very easy for me to feel smarter by interacting with you. I want to thank you so much for being part of this podcast. I hope we can take another session, maybe towards the end of the next season, to catch up on some of these topics. I’d love to hear more around what your thoughts are around putting some of this technology around automation and AI and into our products and where SnapLogic is going. But I think for today, I think we’ve definitely covered a lot of topics. I appreciate you being part of the podcast. Thanks for the insights.

Jeremiah Stone:

Very exciting to be here. I really love talking with you about this. This is at the core of what I’m excited about. I would love to do a follow-up and focused discussion around how AI and machine learning is impacting integration. We fundamentally believe that integration can be learned, that it can be coded, it can be learned and it can be automated.

And it is really an exciting time. The current state of the economy, the bigger world is chaotic, it’s challenging, it’s difficult. But for people who want to see other people work better together, see business processes work more efficiently to drive your business with data and making good decisions, it’s a great time to be in this industry. And it’s super exciting. And I’m certainly loving every minute that I have, leaping out of bed in the morning to help our customers and drive our work forward. And it’s a really exciting time.

Hey, thanks for the opportunity to get on here and discuss everything we’re doing and everything we’re seeing.

Dayle Hall:

That’s a great image thinking of you leaping out of bed every morning to help our customers. Perfect close.

To all our listeners out there, thank you for being part of this podcast, for listening, for tuning in. Hope you’ve got some great insights not just from today, but from this current season and series. We will be back sometime in the New Year with our Season 2. Until then, to everyone out there, happy holidays, thank you for listening, and we’ll see you on the next one.

Jeremiah Stone:

Thank you, Dayle. Talk to you soon.

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