This week, I have an exclusive interview with Wladimiro Bedin.
Wladimiro Bedin, after a degree in Electronics Engineering from Padova University (Italy), a research experience at KDD labs in Tokyo (Japan), an MBA at CUOA (Vicenza, Italy) and some years experience in retail business, founded in 1989 BEDIN Shop Systems, a company specialized in software design for retail stores.
After several innovative steps, his company released aKite, the first POS and in-store SaaS designed from the ground to leverage the power of a modern Cloud PaaS, already adopted by a wide range of chains.
Among several recognitions, at the 2010 Microsoft Partner Conference in Washington D.C., aKite was defined one of the best 5 Cloud services based on Azure and in 2011 received the “National Innovation Award” from the Italian Republic President.
In 2009 he co-founded EuroCloud Italy, a non-profit organization part of EuroCloud Europe.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
PARTIAL EXTRACTS AND QUOTES FROM THE EXTENSIVE DISCUSSIONS:
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Wladimiro, your outstanding contributions have significant global impact. Thank you for sharing your considerable expertise, deep accumulated insights, and wisdom with our audience.
"....We are a lean company with a long experience in software for retail store management. I saw a big opportunity from cloud computing and decided to radically transfer the company, both from a practical and a business point of view...."
You were recently invited to the World CIO Forum because of your outstanding expertise; can you share any experiences from there?
"....I was very, very surprised by the advanced development and the big attendance to the show. That was a very good experience for me...."
Can you talk about the benefits of Azure and why businesses should adopt its cloud service?
"....It is like moving software production from craftsmanship to industry, the initial investment is higher, but the deployment and delivery costs are much lower and after a certain threshold on the number of users the TCO is much lower...."
What is the future of the cloud and Azure services?
"....The cloud is the new normal and the paradigm change imposed and favoured by PaaS is being gradually metabolized. Asia has the additional advantage of Microsoft's strong presence on enterprise at the center and a good offering on hybrid cloud...."
Wladimiro, can you outline the value of aKite?
"....aKite is the first POS in the stores, SaaS designed from ground to leverage the power of a modern PaaS. It is by design scalable and open to integration with ERPs, CRMs, eCommerce and other systems...."
What sector can benefit and why?
"....After more than 20 years' experience with small independent stores and small to large chains, direct and franchised, we wanted a very general software that can be used in many sectors and different situations through simple configuration...."
What prompted the creation of this platform?
"....Traditional software for retail store management was evenly divided on cheap and limited software for most stores and expensive and complex software for chains....It is now possible to have a cloud native software service perfectly suited from a one-man company to a large corporation. This extreme scalability being one of our main goals...."
How will you measure the continuing success of the program?
"....The success measure is the adoption of the service...."
What is your global expansion program and how will it be executed?
"....We are now ready to go international and we are searching for partners abroad that can sell not only to small stores, but also to chains in much more professional and high tech process that also requires integration with central systems like ERP, CRM and so on...."
With regards to your platform can you name some of the chains or stores that you've been able to bring on?
"....Some names are known only in Italy (even if they are important) like Limoni and the Bricocenter, Kipoint from Italian Post Office. Others are more known worldwide like Vodaphone or Tim or Wind which are in the mobile phone area and many others...."
Outside of the platform that you created can you describe your most significant and influential achievements and the practical outcomes seen today and forecasted into the future?
"....We had several awards and we invested a lot in cloud computing and understanding the new paradigms of cloud computing...."
Microsoft has this huge Azure platform which is used globally and you were picked as one of the best in the world. Can you describe how that occurred?
"....We find that small and focused software developers like us operating on a niche market should concentrate on an application software and not on system engineering and maintenance of datacenter and so on. We saw that this was the future for us and we bet the company on it...."
Do you have a leadership lesson that you want to share?
"....My group is small and lean and I lead by example. I try to give the best example as possible because I feel that this is sufficient and really I don't have other leadership strategies than this...."
Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
"....Yes I agree, but of course you should allow exceptions for clearly brilliant people without high formal education...."
From your extensive speaking, travels, and work, can you share a story (perhaps something amusing, surprising, unexpected or amazing)?
"....I don't have a particular story, but I am continually astonished by how a different point of view allows you to see or not to see what is obvious to the other....It really is astonishing that what I am seeing is not seen sometimes from very competent people in the IT profession...."
You choose the topic area. What do you see as some of the top challenges facing us today and what might be your solutions?
"....A topic that I care a lot about is the transformation of enterprise IT that is now composed of silos and highly vertically integrated ERP....When an enterprise needs change deeply then some components can be changed without changing the others and then leaving the rest as it is. This can give low-cost, high efficiency and rapid evolution to IT...."
Were there any other memorable experiences you wish to share from the World CIO Forum?
"....The high interest of the people there and the enthusiasm of the volunteers who assisted us in such a different country. Also English is not known universally so it was very useful to have these volunteers helping us..."
Were there any presentations that you thought were interesting?
"....Yes, for example the presentation from the Dutch delegate responsible for government IT and the techniques he used to harmonize and give higher efficiency...."
If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....How is cloud computing possible without very high bandwidth in each office or store (in my case)?....Why are cloud-native SaaS strategic for companies and especially for retail?....Will companies ever give up their single tenant customized software for multi-tenant configured SaaS?...."
Wladimiro, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.