Why is it that so many big transformational projects at large financial companies fail to move the needle?
In his previous role as the CIO at MetLife, Gary Hoberman led large digital initiatives across silos and geographies. As the founder and CEO of Unqork, Gary has a bold vision for building financial apps of the future: no-coding required. His platform enables the people in an organization who understand the business best to develop software without any programming. His customer pipeline of some of the largest banks and insurers in the world continues to grow and he’s just off a financing round lead by Goldman Sachs.
Gary joins us to discuss the obstacles in large scale financial software development and how a no-code platform like Unqork enables what he calls the DIY Enterprise. He also shares how he’s scaling with people, new clients and products.
Why financial services companies fail to deliver value with technology
Financial services businesses fail 93 percent of the time to get any value from technology. It’s insane — the largest financial services firms spend $480 billion on technology.
Unqork is my seventh platform build at enterprise scale. What I’ve always seen is this idea that big financial firms don’t understand their competitive advantage in the marketplace. That’s the CEO’s goal. In banks and insurance companies, the CEO has to drive what’s important to the organization. It can’t be five things — it has to be two or three things.
The idea that a corporation is going to be great at code and attract the best developers and create the best software for everything is misguided. It should be incredible at something that differentiates it, while 90 to 95 percent of the technology a firm builds provides no benefit for shareholders or employees. How do you get the engineers focused on what they should be focused on?
Three generations of software development
We’ve come to the conclusion that a business never knows what it needs until after it builds something — never beforehand. We’ve gone through three generations so far. First, businesses felt like they were building a house and needed to sign off on the blueprints of where everything goes because if you need to change something later, it will be a disaster. That’s the waterfall methodology. Next, vendors promise a lot out of the box and they never fully deliver on their promises. You get like 70 percent of the way there and that leaves legacy, fragility and vendor lock-in. That’s like prefab housing.
Third generation is agile development which I’ve never seen work in any deployment in finance. The promise is interesting with agile — you and I are putting up the walls of the house together. It’s exciting and great but when it comes time to launch an MVP, the business says where’s the second floor? Where are my kids going to sleep? And technology promises to deliver it in a later release but it never comes.
The Unqork solution addresses software development
What we built with Unqork is an answer to these three generations. The answer is simple: a business will never know that the house is right for it until they walk through it. The way to avoid problems is by moving fast. Time to market is critical.
Everything needs to happen in one place and you need to enable the person who knows the business best to be able to create the solution themselves. So, we created the first DIY enterprise system which never requires writing a single line of code. We view low code as a failure. If you allow a single line of code or script to be injected, you’re basically locking it in so that all your clients are on different versions of your software.
We want to deliver any type of technology a financial services firm might need — the entire tech stack from top to bottom — without ever having to write a line of code. That’s what Unqork does.
Who did you build Unqork for?
We meet our clients, CIOs, who know their value is delivering value. It doesn’t matter who does it, they just need to deliver. They see us as an accelerant. In many cases, we’ll meet with a CEO of a Fortune 100 company and say that if your business really knows best, we literally can empower them to get to production in six to eight weeks for a project that normally takes them three to five years. Who the end user is depends on the maturity of the organization.
We tell prospects that we built Unqork with the vision of whether we’d have kicked ourselves out of the office by now. We tell prospects that we host all your most valuable data and beyond that, all your business rules of how you operate. We created the first ever single tenant instance where each customer has its own secure sandbox deliver mechanism where they own their data. There’s no commingling risk like you have with other vendors.
Current traction with customers
We have 20 customers and 72 really big name customers in the pipeline. All others we classify as confused, awaiting leadership change. We don’t have an enterprise sales team yet. If we meet someone and he says, ‘I have 10,000 developers and what are they going to do tomorrow?’, we won’t meet with them again until the leadership changes.
It’s interesting — the quality of our clients’ technology ability is kind of in relation to where they fit in our pipeline chart. So, the more capable a technologist is, the faster they see our value. The confused, awaiting leadership change people are order takers for the business and are fearful for their jobs.