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Behind the scenes of the digital transformation

Interview

Behind the scenes of the digital transformation

CodeValue’s Chief Architect Alon Fliess tells CTech what he advises his clients who are simply stuck in the past

Daniel Farber-Ball | 09:24  14.06.2021

In late 2020 the American Dialect Society named Covid as Word of the Year. And while we are only six months into 2021, it seems already that there is a strong candidate for this year’s title - digital transformation. The phrase, which was once used almost exclusively by IT staff and technical officers, has grown more common, mostly due to 2020’s word - Covid.

CodeValue’s Chief Architect Alon Fliess Photo: Zara Brooks CodeValue’s Chief Architect Alon Fliess Photo: Zara Brooks CodeValue’s Chief Architect Alon Fliess Photo: Zara Brooks

“There are many reasons why the digital world is gaining speed, and how Covid helped it happen,” said Alon Fliess, Chief Architect and founder of CodeValue. “Covid accelerated already existing trends and processes, and forced companies to adopt them in order to keep up.” Fliess discussed the matter in a first-time interview with CTech, ahead of CodeValue’s 2021 Architecture Next Conference taking place online, on Tuesday, June 15. The conference’s website promises to explain to attendees “how you can implement Digital Transformation in your software systems and how you can utilize your software architecture to accomplish more.”

“When we help an organization go through digital transformation we analyze the organization, we focus on its practices, on its technologies across the board, we look at the developer’s place within the organization, we listen to complaints coming from the field, and much more,” Fliess explained. “Then, we can offer cross-organizational solutions.”

“Our approach is ‘do not tell me you need so and so developers and rather explain what are your issues and let’s discuss what solution you actually need.’ We know the technology and we can bring technological solutions but we can also analyze the problem. That’s why we have plenty of architects, about 30, and when a client approaches us we say ‘ok, let’s see what is the problem, what is the vision, where do you want to be, and let’s find the solution together.’ And that solution can be anywhere from ‘we will develop the system for you,’ to ‘we will build a joint team and work together, ' or ‘we will only advise you,’ because our end goal is to have our client standing on both feet without us after we made an impact.”

Fliess started CodeValue about a decade ago. He has been a part of the Israeli high-tech realm for more than 25 years, involved with significant software development projects for some of the biggest names in Israel and around the world. “We founded the company about 10-11 years ago as a welcoming home for developers and software architects who wish to work with skilled peers who can help them advance, as well as a services solution provider to different tech companies and other organizations,” he said.

Fliess stressed several times the importance of staying focused as a tech company and having the ability to let go of things that slow you down. “You can see today new startups pop up, three or four people take advantage of new technological abilities, utilize the cloud, build the building blocks, reach customers through social media, and they surpass experienced companies that still have a 20-year-old code, which will take months to replace,” he pointed out. “One of the hardest things I sometimes have to tell a company is ‘throw away the infrastructure you developed because Microsoft, Google, Facebook offer better things. Why are you maintaining a code you wrote 15-20 years ago that costs you time out of your actual business.’ A young startup does not make that mistake and focuses on its business.”

What other challenges do you see in today’s market?

“Today’s revelations are not like the iPhone or social media, which changed everything, they are much slower in nature. Take phones, for example, a new generation comes out with a little more memory and a new camera and you do not see an inherent change. But if you compare today’s phone to one from five years ago there are big differences, the screen, the camera, the speed. Meaning these slow changes total in a revolution but a slower one. So there is a technological challenge, organizations move to multi-cloud because they have to care for more than one cloud for various reasons. Furthermore, we are shifting towards services instead of products. Everyone prefers selling services these days because everyone wants to engage the customer and have their credit card number.”

Fliess also referred to the challenge most discussed today, the workforce. “In CodeValue we don’t only look for talent, we also build it, we teach and offer training, many of our employees are home-grown. Many companies approach us asking for help them recruit because they simply can’t find the right people.”

With a little help from my friends

One company Fliess admits he has spacial relations with is Microsoft, he spoke very highly of the way the company has carried itself in recent years under CEO Satya Nadella and was even wearing a Microsoft t-shirt on the day of this interview, “Oh yeah, it is from one of the conventions. I have plenty,” he laughed.

“We have great relations with Microsoft, and we benefit from one another. For example, a client asks Microsoft to integrate one of their products into his operation and Microsoft tells him that Code Value is the best to help him with that. Microsoft trusts I will help their customer as I proved in the past and they get a satisfied customer that uses more of their products. It can also work the other way, for example when I tell my client ‘if we will do X,Y,Z using Microsoft technology I could put you in touch with their developers and get you better information.’ We do work with other companies, but Microsoft is our closest partner,” Fliess said.

A one-man factory

The conversation with Fliess was done over video chat, but once he took down the virtual background he had in place a whole new side of him was revealed. Fliess was sitting in his office, which was filled with parts and electronics. Certain organized chaos seemed to rule the room and somehow everything was in its place. He held up a circuit he drew and built and explained it is part of a beacon finder. “If you think about it, makers represent the next revolution because they do everything, plan, code, build the circuits, print the box, it is a one-man factory,” he said proudly.

When asked if he has any tips to offer young startups and up-and-coming developers he had a few to offer. “First, focus on your goals and business, and utilize services and providers that are around you. Do not be tempted to try and develop an infrastructure that is not your main business. We live in a world where others can help you focus on your goals by providing you a service,” he said. “Second, have a fast feedback turnaround. Put out whatever you can show an audience and get feedback on. And third, code-based technology is very Darwinian, meaning we never know if what is being used today will be around tomorrow, and then you might get stuck with an infrastructure with no support or backing. But if it is something that Facebook needs, Facebook will make sure to save it, so it is important you use proven technologies.”

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