Embarcadero Chat: Malcolm and Atanas speak about ANZ Opportunities

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Malcolm Groves is the Managing Partner of Code Partners, who is the primary distributor for Embarcadero in Australia, New Zealand (ANZ) and parts of APAC. Code Partners works with many resellers and direct customers to deliver the latest products and solutions from Embarcadero. Malcolm brings many years of experience with Delphi and C++Builder, along with deep expertise in enterprise application solutions architectures.

Atanas Popov is the General Manager of Embarcadero. Embarcadero is dedicated to building the best developer tools with focus on Fast Development. It’s flagship product RAD Studio is recognized for support for Delphi and C++ and has delivered many well-known applications around the world. Embarcadero recently release RAD Studio 10.2 (aka Tokyo release).

ATANAS: ANZ has been a historical stronghold for Delphi and C++Builder. We have seen the numbers in the region improve, yet when I speak with customers, I sense a hesitation. What do you think is the main cause of that?

MALCOLM: There are some obvious trends that have not been kind to Delphi. Large competitors have spent many millions to drive their agendas. Open source trends have hurt paid software in general. But also, some of the changes of ownership of Code Gear and general noise around the company have not helped. I realize that this is changing, but these processes are slow and customers have to believe that there is a strong commitment to continue to improve the product.

ATANAS: In the last 12 months we have had four minor and major releases. Just last week, we release RAD Studio 10.2, which is a big milestone with many improvements and includes the long awaited Linux support. We have received excellent reviews for the progress to date. However, we are not a huge company and sharing these good news is not always easy, especially when we service customers in so many countries. I believe that this is one of our big challenges ahead.

MALCOLM: What are your plans to improve communications and make them even more locally relevant? In Australia, we frequently get bundled in with the rest of the English speaking countries and customers could question the relevancy of the messages.

ATANAS: We have had excellent success with new channels, such as Facebook that have significant reach globally. Our followers last year grew from 15K to over a 100K today. We also are trying to do more EDMs with relevant, engaging content, but sometimes it is tough to keep the volume balanced. We do sell software and promotions drive demand. Of course, we always rely on local partners to help. I think that we are unique that way. We love our partners and try to make sure that they help our agenda, but in a way that makes it locally relevant. I hope that Code Partners, working with other thought leaders in your regions, such as MVPs, and other resellers can help us carry the positive messages, and they are many.

MALCOLM: It takes time to develop that voice and we will work on it. I hope some of the recent events help. What gets you excited about the future?

ATANAS: Let me answer with a little story… I recently chatted with a friend who collaborated with me on a few start-ups. He is a wonderful technologist and into all the new trends. He was showing me an app that he was building for a major Pharma company to help their sales reps. It was a beautiful app using the latest tech. He was using three offshore developers to build. His budget was about $50K. He was netting about $10K for himself after all was done. I looked at the app and said, you know what, you can build this with FMX with one developer and the whole will cost you $10K. It will not only work on iPads, but also on Android and even Windows. BTW changes are much easier, as you only update the forms, and believe me Pharma companies have changes. Of course at that point I was selling a bit, but that is what gets me excited. I think that the idea of fast cross-platform development is so relevant. I don’t want to get into the native debate, but the point is that we have real value to offer – that is exciting!

BTW it was kind of the same with the RAD Server retail system. I loved the video, but what was best was that it was truly transformative to a business. In generated a lot of value. I think that people are so focused on cheap off-shore development that they forget that with some of the new tools, you can do amazing things more efficiently on-shore.

MALCOLM: That was the Foresiight video, that’s one of my favourites for a bunch of reasons. Prior to the project, management were questioning whether RAD Studio was the right platform to take them into the cloud and onto mobile. It had served them well in the decade or more previously, but did they need to rewrite in something else? Their team of developers convinced them to let them try RAD Studio in conjunction with RAD Server and, as you say, it completely transformed their view of their system. Their existing developers could quickly implement a cloud-based system with a REST API, which they then easily built a web front-end for. Their management went from questioning their investment to hiring more RAD Studio developers and making big plans for the future. I bet they are happy they didn’t go down the rewrite path.

ATANAS: One question that we always have and we never have enough answers is good client success stories. What are some of your favorite ones in ANZ?

MALCOLM: There are plenty, but unfortunately many companies are not comfortable sharing their names. We were just in at one of the major banks in Australia, one of the Big 4 as we refer to them, and they had a Delphi application with Interbase on the back end that, over the years, has become completely critical to their insurance business. They are updating to the latest RAD Studio and Interbase because as they told us, if this system is unavailable, they have no insurance business. This is a common story with financial services companies, governments, and other large companies in ANZ, major organisations with critical systems built in RAD Studio.

However I also love the smaller stories. People who’ve seen an opportunity and built very successful businesses out of targeting a niche. Medical Systems, POS and Retail systems, manufacturing, you name it. It’s not that common in our industry that the same set of tools are used from hobbyists all the way up to Fortune 100 enterprises, so there’s something special about RAD Studio.     

ATANAS: It is a reality that it is tough to see good case studies of apps built with our tools. People just don’t want to share. When we first launched our Cool Apps contest, we got a submission from Password One, which is a software that is quite popular in the US and I happened to know. It is a new Silicon Valley type of start-up and one would have never expected it. And they were leveraging more VCL where, as I think that FMX opportunity is even greater with mobile. I was speaking at a customer meeting in a major European country and one of the guys told me, our whole presidency runs on FMX, and we use beacons in innovative ways, etc. Pretty crazy, and exciting…

MALCOLM: So what do we need to do more in ANZ? Academics?

ATANAS: I think that you already have some good efforts in this area. We will continue to expand it in FY18. The starter edition are a very easy way to start and we have free textbooks for Delphi. I think that especially in C++, schools are really underutilizing C++Builder, which is probably the best GUI development tool out there. For example in Taiwan, 50% of universities leverage C++Builder. Again, we will make our tools more affordable (aka Free), but we are a smaller company, so having a huge effort in Academics is not trivial. Making our tools easily accessible is a good first step.

MALCOLM: Yeah, it is tough. We’re also dealing with a legacy of having had more restrictive policies in the past, so some people who’ve maybe tried before, assume that we won’t be able to do anything. Where we’ve found out about a school or college who had a need, we’ve had good success with the new offerings.

My favorite is probably the Gardens School in Auckland, New Zealand. We worked with the Aoraki Project, which is an initiative to get 10-13 year olds building apps that their schools can use. Seeing the video of all these kids so excited about what they were building in RAD Studio put a huge smile on my face. Whether they grow up to be in IT or not, they’ll at least know that they don’t have to be passive consumers of technology, but can actually create it themselves. That’s hugely empowering.   

Education is not a revenue opportunity, it’s even more important than that. It’s about nurturing the future of the products.

ATANAS: I want to return the question. What gets you excited about the future?

MALCOLM: Definitely RAD Server. There are so many Client/Server applications out there, often critically important to the businesses that use them, and RAD Server is hands-down the easiest way to move those applications forward into a cloud-based model. This is exactly the Foresiight story we talked about earlier, and we’re now helping several companies do exactly the same thing.

Often the alternative is to rewrite in some other language, which is a bad business decision on so many levels. You’re taking a codebase which has had years, if not decades, of investment, both in features and also bug fixes, and you’re going to throw it away and start again. I’ve seen a lot of customers attempt this over the years, only to come back to their exiting codebase as the new one is buggy, slow, has less features and their customers don’t like it. RAD Server means you don’t have to throw that away, you take that investment with you.

The projects we’re working on at the moment are with companies who recognize not just the value of keeping their investment and revitalizing their application, but also who see this as a way to revitalize their business model. Several are moving to a subscription model and are seeing financial opportunities in that annuity revenue stream.

I could go on and on about RAD Server. It has the potential to open so many doors for an application, both technically and also business-wise. I’ve seen it happen at multiple companies now. I get excited just talking about it ☺

ATANAS: You are right, we did not speak about your favorite subject, RAD Server. The new release gives it multi-tenancy, which should be a pretty big deal. Now ISVs can save money by re-platforming on Linux and putting more customers together. I think that this is pretty awesome!

MALCOLM: What should our customers expect in 2017?

ATANAS: We have our published Roadmap, which will be updated for the following six months shortly. There is a lot on the IDE UX and Productivity front. FMX will get even better, especially Android. C++Builder is going to catchup with C++17 standards and much more. Of course, quality is paramount and it will get better. There will be a lot more value added through Getit for update subscription customers with components, free templates, etc. We will have some more capabilities to connect seamlessly to applications, such as SAP, SFDC, Net Suite, and much more. It is a busy time. We will have a better Web capability.

MALCOLM: This sounds very promising. Thank you!

ATANAS: I appreciate the opportunity! I hope that we can continue to deliver for our customers in ANZ and everywhere in the world. These are good times for Embarcadero and especially Delphi. We are celebrating our 20th anniversary and are currently top 10 in TIOBE, actually #9. People get surprised to see us ahead of many trendy names, such as Ruby, etc. There will be a lot more good surprises in the future.


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Gold User, No rank,
Atanas Popov is the General Manager of Embarcadero Technologies. He is responsible for creating and executing the company's global business strategy. He is a passionate technologist with deep experience in product development, marketing and sales. Prior to IDERA & Embarcadero, Atanas led the Media business at Acxiom. He was a portfolio CEO for several Versata/Trilogy companies and co-fouded two technology start-ups in Healthcare and Ad tech. Atanas brings over 10 years in management consulting experience from Deloitte.


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