Built for Change: Interview with Alan Trefler

Pegasystems has experienced tremendous success in recent years. The stock is up more than 100 percent in the past year, and it is tempting to think of the company as a start-up, perhaps run by a 20-something entrepreneur in the Bay Area. In fact, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company was founded by 61 year old Alan Trefler in 1983. In many ways, Pegasystems has bucked the trend of a lot of software companies. Trefler did not accept venture capital early in the company’s tenure, and in so doing, he was able to dictate the pace of growth and mature the company in a way that has been sustainable. Likewise, though the company has been on the target of acquisition planning for several companies, Trefler considers having an “exit strategy” as anathema to growing a successful company for the long term. Forbes published an interview with Alan Trefler on Sep 18. Here are some interesting quotes:

An enormously powerful aspect of our software is it is model-driven. Almost all computer software written today is agonizingly programmed by hand. The norm is that for a program to do something, you need to tell it in the computer language itself. Pega turns that on its head with our novel and unique model-driven architecture. Our customers use a set of metaphors that make sense to their business to design what they want the system to do based on how they want to engage with their customers. Pegasystems’ software then writes the software that runs. The model-driven aspect means we are more than a sales service and marketing application because our systems evolve and let our customers change how they want it to run in a way that makes sense to businesspeople.”

If you write software in a computer language like .NET or Java, you are stuck in an ancient language with a particular style and way of doing things. When working with Pega, our customers define their business systems as a set of metaphors. The metaphors are concepts like what is a service level and what does the screen look like that I want to use to engage with my customers. These business systems are not written in code, but are captured in business logic and stored in what we call a rule base. Then, our software writes the software. Our architecture gives us the ability to change what is running and constantly modernize simply by changing what we generate. 

That is the difference between having things that are archaic and hard-coded and having things that are conceptual and can be taught to operate in the latest standards. That has been core to our development work for the last decade.

Our architecture’s ability to generate from multiple targets enables us to be state of the art in several clouds. We give our customers that flexibility.”

Our independence is part of our culture and a big part of Pega’s brand promise to customers. We are committed to being there for our customers. That is tremendously important. Few mergers and acquisitions by large companies turn out well for the organizations that use their software. Our independence gives our customers the confidence to buy from us for mission critical things and tells our staff we are focused on the long-term. I would not have it any other way.

The change was inevitable because technology is now central to not only the IT function, but to the business technology function, with the keyword being business. At Pega, our vision, since our inception, was not to sell to CIOs, but to convince business people they should take more control over their businesses and create a technology base that makes that possible.

This entry was posted in BPM, Business Analytics, Products, Rule Engines and BRMS, Trends. Bookmark the permalink.

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