In this edition of FalandoTI (Talking IT) dedicated to leadership, our CEO Renato Bolzan shares his experience and addresses super pertinent questions about the world of innovation. What are the biggest challenges of digital transformation and where do companies usually fail the most? And, of course, the role of Invillia in the middle of it all: -) _
Check out the full interview [PT] with transcription below in English_
Welcome to another edition of FalandoTI. Today we have as a guest Renato Bolzan, who has a lot of experience in this market. Renato is the founder and CEO of Invillia, a tech company founded in 2003, which for the technology area is already a lot of learning.
Well, in 2003 it had already happened a lot. In fact, my relationship with the world of technology started much earlier. I studied computer science and I was lucky to get the start of Internet operations in Brazil and participate in the creation of several companies that still exist today and are very relevant in the market.
Invillia positions itself as a company that acts in the innovation process of the customers. And then we already have the famous keyword that is digital transformation. I would like to know for you, for Invillia, what is digital transformation?
This tech market loves buzzwords. Our vision of digital transformation in a very simple way is when a company is able to recreate itself, reinvent itself all the time using technology, using people, aligning its culture with what is happening in the world to be more agile, more connected in the things that are coming up, in the changes that are happening in the market and in the customers that it serves.
So it has little to do with technology, right?
Yes and no. Technology is a tool within the whole process. But it’s not just technology.
This past year has been very complicated for everyone. Tech companies managed to turn the issue around because they were fundamental in the whole process of digital transformation and adaptation to the new reality. Today what is the biggest problem that organizations have, what is the biggest difficulty when they want to approach their path of digital transformation?
This is the topic that creates the most confusion. The world has changed, we have seen many businesses disappear, others appear and others grow exponentially. And the sector that I think responded better, as you said, was IT. In some way, we see this reflected in the stock market and companies experiencing significant growth. In our case, we have always focused on this digital world. For us, it was very interesting the growth that the whole situation ended up generating for the business. But when we look at a company that is a little more traditional from the perspective of digital transformation, it struggles a lot when compared to others. And then says it must go to the digital world. But I think there are a lot of pitfalls there. The main one, which I think helps to fail many transformation projects, is when the company is trying to do it from the outside. It is simply trying to react to something. Perhaps a need for survival or a need to watch the competitor do it faster. And when we start to talk about it and see the projects that advance the most and are most successful, that’s when it starts from within the company. Because this process involves taking some risks, reinventing the company often with products that may cannibalize what exists, there are a series of very complex decisions from the business point of view that need to be made. And once taken, they need to be bought by the company and get people to support these initiatives and this will become the driving force behind the transformation process. There are many companies that may look at this from the outside and say I am going to bring someone here, a company that specializes in making the transformation, I think that does not exist. In fact, the transformation starts from the inside out. Where the company begins to realize the need to make the change because its market has changed, its consumer has changed, conditions have changed and it needs to be inspired by something to rebuild or recreate the business for that new world.
So I think that you will not agree much with that idea that with the digital transformation we did in 3 months what was not done in 3 years. In other words, there was an acceleration of the concept of digital transformation within companies. Has there been an effective acceleration but it is not possible to digitally transform a company from one day to the next?
No doubt. I think there was an acceleration, yes. We saw many customers who were in the process and maybe a little slower and when there was this situation, they accelerated a lot and had good results and are reaping the fruits. But these companies, these customers who had this good result, the need was bought from within the company, the company understood that it needed to implement that. So I do agree that many companies did in 3 months what they did not do in 3 years from the point of view of digital transformation. There were several examples.
In this process where companies usually fail the most, what is the weakest point of a company when it starts its path towards digital transformation?
I think that when the need to do this transformation process does not come from within, it is not something that is genuine in the company. In other words, it suddenly hired a supplier to do the transformation process and is waiting for him to transform the company. When a company has this expectation, it is where the projects fail the most. Because that’s not it. When you set out to do such a process you are trying to recreate the business. I joke sometimes that it’s like re-founding the company. It is forgetting what brought you there and knowing that what brought you there will not take you any further. But do this in a genuine way. And don’t get hooked. This for me is the main point of failure. The second point of failure is when companies think that the digital transformation process is pure technology. And it’s not. I would say that it is much more culture than technology. Much more culture. And culture, for you to transform a company’s culture, is something that it has to be very open to doing. Because if you don’t have that opening, the process fails. It goes to a point and fails. There were very strong movements and it became very fashionable, companies changed the dress code, employees could go to work in a T-shirt, shorts, then the office became more colorful, everyone putting post-it notes on the wall, and that was considered the process of transformation. It is even funny to think that a lot of companies bought this idea, that this was the transformation process, and in fact it is much more complex. It is not because someone is putting post-it notes on the wall and trying to say different or new things that the company is going through a transformation process. It is much more a business decision and how much you are willing to buy at risk and to change the culture and to refound the company, and to refound one two three four five times as necessary. It’s a journey. It’s not a project. A project has a beginning, middle and end. When we enter this process of transformation, it is a journey. And the journey is long. It will all depend on how deep you want to be within that recreation.
The company was created in Brazil and chose Portugal as the entry point to Europe. Brazil is a huge country, with immense business opportunities, why did Invillia look at Portugal as a business potential and what can a Brazilian tech company contribute to Europe, how you want to make a difference both in Portugal and abroad on the European market?
Invillia started exporting services in 2017, it was our first experience of making the company cross the borders of Brazil. The first project was for the Netherlands. We are still there today, exporting from Portugal to the Netherlands. And we believe that a company that runs in the Invillia segment has to have a bigger view than the country where it is located. Today when you talk about transformation, innovation, technology, it is much more global than regional. And Brazil in terms of technology and the digital world is a very interesting reference in the world. Brazil has gone a long way in recent years. It has shown good companies coming out of there and going to the stock market, turning into unicorns. And we live it in our day to day. And we began to feel that in Europe many regions still lacked some level of service that in Brazil we had already achieved. And when we started looking at the internationalization process and even because we already had a European client, we decided to start in Europe. It is normal for a Brazilian company in this segment when it is going to internationalize starting in the USA, for example. The most natural route is this. But as we already had a foot here, with a client here, we decided to start in Europe and understand this process a little more. Invillia is a company in the process of transformation all the time, it reinvents itself at all times, and began to realize that the path through Europe was a viable and interesting one. And when we started looking at the issue of tech talent, which is the great Achilles heel of companies today and the great limiter of growth for many companies, we started to realize that there were places that had good engineers, good IT professionals and that these professionals have already started to move. And then we understood that Portugal would be a central point of these movements. In the model in which we operate, it does not matter where people live. We have employees in more than 150 cities in the world, in several countries, like Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Mozambique, Paraguay, Mexico, Chile, and these people move around, they want to have the experience of living in another country, to know other cultures that for the business in which we operate it is fantastic because this multiculturalism, this experience in a more global environment, helps us to deliver a much better solution to the customer, and Portugal was at the center of this.
Let’s go to something very practical, how does Invillia help companies?
Invillia helps companies to think about the innovations they are building. Thinking about the products, the digital services they are producing. We are able to support these companies from conception to continuous evolution. It is a company that acts from end to end within this type of solution. And it is only specialized in this type of client and solution.
Today, what is the typical customer of your company?
There are many customers in the financial segment, we have a lot of FinTechs. There are many delivery service companies, involving logistics. There are insurance companies, retail companies, several segments. But all of these customers have one thing in common: they either operate 100% in the digital world or they are corporations that are in a mature process of transformation.
When Invillia approaches a customer, who is the interlocutor? Is it the CTO, CIO, CEO, business executive, technology executive, who bridges the gap between the company and Invillia?
This question is very interesting and has a lot to do with the transformation process. It was common in this type of IT company to have the CIO as an interlocutor. And the CIO in the classic figure was that person who transformed, who executed a plan that business people devised. Today a company that is digital and that is in a process of transformation no longer has that characteristic. It has the IT staff taking care of the infrastructure to make things work, but the IT manager/director already has another dimension. He is in a group that defines the product, that defines the business, that defines the strategy. So our interlocutor ends up being this C-level. And not just the technology representative. Today you see many companies that have the role of technology and product in the same director. Which makes a lot of sense. Before it was the marketing director with the IT director, not today. Today you start to see it a little more mixed up and it ends up flowing better. When you enter such a client to do this, it is a journey of transformation, it is a journey of creation. And a journey is not a project, it is something that has no limit, has no end.
Nowadays, what is the metric that companies use the most in the relationship with Invillia? Return on investment? Impact on the business?
When a customer comes to us, he wants us to participate in a journey to build a new product, a service or even a product that already exists. And this journey is supported by several metrics defined by the company that is operating the business. When we enter the client, we end up being part of these metrics. And when he is successful in the product or service he is building, it is our success and it is the measure of the return he has on the investment he is making with us. This is the biggest one. But there are several others that are much more from day to day, like productivity, creation, value delivery. But the biggest metric is the success of the business plan.
How do you see the near future?
From the point of view of this tech market, I think that companies have to think a lot about how they relate to people. With the customer everything is clear, if you are not yet in the digital world, you will be or will disappear, you have no other alternative. Now I think there is a question of how these companies are relating to people, the big change is there. The tech market is a bubble within what we are seeing in the world. The companies are in a dispute for the best professionals. And these professionals are choosing the companies where they will work. They have to show them that, in addition to being a good job, they offer an adequate remuneration, a career challenge, an alignment with the life goals of those professionals. This for traditional companies, which have older management models, is a major dilemma. For example, I need to grant remote work to my employees, but how do I do it, how do I measure it? The relationship of trust has changed. For you to do this, the person has to trust the company and the company has to trust the person. And you have to measure in other ways, other than how many hours you worked today. I think the big challenge is to understand what will be the reconfiguration of this relationship between the employee and the company. And the companies that manage to have a more open culture, more trust, more proximity, even at a distance, are the companies that will be able to perform better. And that is not just about technology. People began to question themselves a lot about what matters to them. The pandemic has started to show some of these things. I have many friends who have stopped living in big cities, who are already planning to live in another country, who are looking to live near their parents. So how do you reconcile this professional life with these personal issues? I think this is the big challenge for companies going forward.
You at Invillia must have this agility with your employees, but is it still difficult to retain your talents?
At Invillia, we have been practicing this more open culture, which we call connected work, for some good years. In fact, it was in 2017 when we started to apply this model. Pre-pandemic 60% of the operation was already distributed and post-pandemic grew to 100%, but it was natural because we already had this culture. The company was built on that mentality and it helps us a lot. It is a very interesting tool to retain talent, to seek talent anywhere in the world, but it is a constant game of making progress, of continually improving. How I attract more, how I retain more. That is the great challenge of tech companies, to be a company that people really want to be part of. By salary, by challenges, by how the company thinks, by the type of client it works with, how it works. So this set helps us a lot to be very successful in this aspect.