36. The evolution of operations and how this impacts the Future of Work | Ananth Avva, President and COO of Pipefy


Ananth Avva | President and COO of Pipefy


In today’s podcast we have a critical conversation about the very essence of the future of work, with Ananth Avva, President and COO of Pipefy.


Ananth Avva round


Ananth Avva, President and COO of Pipefy. Pipefy is a no-code workflow automation platform that empowers citizen developers to transform the way they work. Ananth brings over 15 years of leadership and experience in the tech industry, including executive roles for Wrike, cybersecurity leader Lastline, and cloud-based contact center solution LiveOps (now Serenova). Ananth’s prior experience also includes positions at Google, Voyant Advisors, and KPMG.


[00:00:00] – Ananth Avva
How can work not be personal right? You’re spending majority of your waking hours doing that and working with individuals in a professional capacity. It’s incredibly important that folks have fun.

[00:00:19] – Doug Foulkes
Welcome to The Future of Work, the podcast that looks at, believe it or not, the future of work. It’s brought to you by WNDYR for their blog, Chaos & RocketFuel. WNDYR are productivity and human behaviour specialists whose goal is to help us humans remain relevant in an ever more technology based workplace. Check them out at WNDYR dot com. That’s WNDYR dot com. I’m Doug Foulkes, and along with WNDYR CEO Claire Haidar, we regularly meet up with industry experts and mavericks to get their take on work in the future.

Today we meet Ananth Avva, president and COO of Pipefy. Pipefy is a no code workflow automation platform that empowers citizen developers to transform the way they work, and you can find them at Pipefy dot com. That’s Pipefy dot com. Ananth brings over 15 years of demonstrated leadership and experience in the tech industry, including executive roles for enterprise work management software, organisation Wrike cybersecurity leader, Lastline and cloud based Contact Centre Solution LiveOps, which is now Serenova. Ananth’s prior experience also includes positions at Google, Voyant Advisors, and KPMG.

And if you’re already a little bit confused, please don’t be this fascinating and crucial conversation about the essence of the future of work, I must admit, it left me a little bit high and dry at times. So assuming some of you might be in the same boat, I’m going to fill you in as we go on the tricky details. So in the next 40 minutes, we will discuss the expectation of knowledge workers to become citizen developers, the evolution from RPA to iPaaS to process orchestration, the need for chief people officers to groom future operational leaders, and the implications for companies and individuals in the ever more challenging workplace.

But first, let’s find out who Ananth Avva is, Claire.

[00:02:27] – Claire Haidar
Ananth, hi. It’s so good to have you with us today.

[00:02:31] – Ananth Avva
Likewise. Great to be here Claire.

[00:02:33] – Claire Haidar
You’ve built an absolutely fascinating career path for yourself. Whether it’s been deliberate or not, I’m not sure. But there is definitely like a golden thread that runs through it, you know, starting the early days at KPMG, moving on into Google, then moving more into the equity side of things you’ve really like, woven a very clear path, and where you are right now I think you know, sort of starting maybe just before your days at Wrike, then moving into Wrike.

And now with your role as president at Pipefy, you very clearly have moved into the operational side of tech. Do you see your career in this way, or is this very much like 20/20 hindsight that’s kind of brought you to where you are today?

[00:03:19] – Ananth Avva
It’s more of a hindsight experience. I never thought I would end up in a full on operator role. I realised that as I was going through sort of my initial days at KPMG, we had a chance to take a couple of companies public. And I really enjoyed seeing how the management team came together and sort of put the package together, if you will, to present the company to the world. I think building companies is extremely challenging, but also very rewarding.

And I think when I look back at my career, what I try to do is leverage the strength of being data driven in terms of background to then derive to a position where I could be an operator. But in terms of was there a science behind it, I must confess no. It was more opportunities presented themselves and I was really fortunate to have worked with mentors who supported me through those transitions.

[00:04:20] – Claire Haidar
And I can vouch for that, you know Ananth because, you know, working together with you back in our Wrike days, it was something that I used to respect about your leadership, was how data driven you were, whether we were dealing with forecasting and growth and planning our work together, moving forward, or whether we were actually looking at challenges that arose in certain projects that we were navigating together. You always came back to the data. Another interesting thing that I picked up is that you are very multilingual.

You speak Hindi, Telugu, and French as well as English, of course. Tell us about your origins and your lineage.

[00:04:59] – Ananth Avva
Born and raised in India, came to the States at the awkward, awkward time of high school. So it wasn’t the easiest transition. But I’d say ya, very fortunate. I mean, definitely grew up in a country where, I know I’m going to be wrong on this, but it’s 26 or 27 plus languages easily, so being in a multilingual society wasn’t unusual.

[00:05:24] – Claire Haidar
So between Hindi and Telugu, is Telugu specific to your family and the region in India where you come from, or how do those two play together?

[00:05:33] – Ananth Avva
It’s very much, I would say, like modern day Italy right there. The notion of India as a country is actually a very modern one, and ironically, one that the British introduced post the occupancy. And really each state had a very unique identity, very similar to Italy. And then it got Federated post-independence. And the way I think about it is, Hindi became sort of a de facto national language and certainly with Bollywood and pop culture that much more popular, and then each region actually has their own native language.

And so the region that I’m from, which is in the south, are the native language that we spoke was Telugu. And that’s what we speak in our household. Now, my wife is from the north and she actually is Punjabi, so she actually has a different dialect, but she also speaks Hindi. So the one thing that’s sort of the common thread, I suppose, across India is at least most people are fairly proficient in Hindi.

[00:06:38] – Doug Foulkes
Ananth I want to move away, we’ve got to get to know you a little bit, which is very valuable. But I want to bring you right up to date to your current position at Pipefy. What have you found in the time that you’ve been there, in the trends that are persisting, and what can you see that Pipefy can kind of answer and attend to?

[00:07:01] – Ananth Avva
Yeah, I think the one trend that we can all agree on, certainly with the collective experience that we’ve been through over the last 12 months, is this notion of leveraging technology and the digital acceleration or digital transformation is in fact there. And it’s occurring at an incredibly fast pace, depending on the statistics that you read. An average mid-sized company, I think has over a hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty applications to stand their operations. And then as you go to the large enterprises, that’s six thousand plus applications.

We were on a call, actually, last week where we heard that statistic. And I should say we shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s always often surprising to see how many applications are really there that are running on the back end. And there is a vision that I think a lot of people have. And I’ll say it’s analogous to sort of the US where you have all these applications, but it’s very well connected. It’s federated. You know, the highway systems link everything.

The Safeway store logo that you see in one city is the same as the other city. Language is fairly consistent. And so when work gets done from one department to another department or as you go through, everyone just understands what’s happening. And there’s this collective intent and that’s how organisations move and should behave in the future. And that’s what technology in theory should do. I think the reality is very different. It might be closer to what you you were talking about Doug.

Organisations and departments are their own little fiefdoms and they have their own subcultures, their own hierarchies, and their social influences. And connecting them is not that easy. And there’s sort of this notion that every SaaS company will open itself up with simple APIs and you should be able to connect one system to another. Our experience is, number one, that’s not true. And number two, even if you can get the connection done, process orchestration matters. And when we think about Pipefy, we acknowledge that reality, which is as processes come in and out and wheel through different departments and organisations for us to scale effectively, we need enough adaptability for those departments to build their own subprocesses.

But then we have this connective tissue, like a highway that runs across all the departments and we have the right entry and exit points so we can still function as a singular organisation. So the way I would describe us is we’re sort of this system of engagement that sits on these systems of records where we’re taking unstructured and structured data to then drive effective workflows and processes across the organisation. But the way we do it is making sure that we’re respectful of sort of the quote-unquote, local traditions in each department, while at the same time ensuring that they’re connected to manage the end to end process from start to finish.

[00:10:09] – Claire Haidar
I love what you’ve just shared there like honestly, I’ve never actually thought about a company as a country, you know, with its little fiefdoms and cultural context and everything like that, like that is genuinely a brilliant analogy, because one of the things that I always go on a rant about is how what is the most critical skills that should be taught to kids at school and particularly in college days when one’s kids actually leave school and go to college and start very earnestly preparing for the world of work, is that people aren’t taught how to work.

It’s just assumed that you know how to work. But the problem is everybody works differently and then you know, you take it to like an onboarding level inside a company. Very, very seldom do companies onboard people into their world of work and how they work. And so that’s where you get these extremely rich, siloed worlds that exist, you know, because marketing doesn’t function like finance, doesn’t function like engineering, etc. You are creating a new type of operational tick, call it a new category if you want.

And it’s just just starting to emerge. Share with us a little bit about that. And share with us why you’re excited about this.

[00:11:28] – Ananth Avva
Yeah, I think if we speak sort of the analyst language for a moment, we would be in the low code application platform space. I’d say the space itself isn’t new. There’s plenty of companies like Appian, ServiceNow, Pega Systems, that have been around for quite some time to do it. I think what has changed, though, and what is interesting now is as you get into this notion of introducing abstraction layers on top of coding, a fancy way of saying in the past, perhaps you’d have to know a programming language to get in and really be effective at building applications now with good design good UI/UX, we are arming what analysts would call citizen developers to be able to build applications themselves.

And this whole notion of low code, no code movement has taken off again. Where now with the proliferation of applications and as people become more and more specialised, in fact, there’s a fascinating MIT study that was commissioned in 2018 and just concluded this year about the future of work, and the last six months of the study happened in the midst of covid. And the reality is that even an accounts payable clerk who perhaps a decade or even 20 years ago was doing data entry work, is no longer doing that because a lot of that is automated.

Now, they’re sort of in this interesting position where they might be working directly with the CFOs office on more strategic priorities, like delaying payments to better forecasts and manage cash flow. All of a sudden now that accounts payable person is a citizen developer who has to build some custom workflows and applications to allow him or her to be effective at their job. And I think that shift has happened or certainly accelerated with covid where the expectations, I think, for knowledge workers continues to escalate.

And that this notion of low code, no code applications being essential for knowledge workers to perform their job has also accelerated. So that’s the space that I would argue we would have a leadership position in. But very specifically, within that low code, no code application platform, there’s an emerging category called citizen development automation platforms that really rely on your average, quote unquote, knowledge worker who’s a citizen developer who can build and stand up sophisticated applications to get their work done.

That’s what we’re incredibly passionate about and that’s what we’re empowering. In fact, even our mission is, to enable doers to drive change. So that’s really as simple as it is. But it’s happening at a very, very quick pace.

[00:14:30] – Doug Foulkes
Ananth, yourself and Claire could go on at a high level talking in great detail. But I’d like you to really, for the sake of myself and quite a few of our listeners to really break it down. I think one of the biggest issues when I think of, you know, SaaS products, products like yourself, I automatically bundle you in with Workato, maybe Tray, PowerAutomate and a bunch of other automated platforms. Can you just break it down for me, maybe use a use case and just show what is different about Pipefy and how is it going to be critical to businesses and clients going forward?

[00:15:09] – Ananth Avva
Yeah, absolutely. I think with any sort of emerging category, that’s going through rapid change, there’s both benefit and confusion by association, so I think what we’ve seen is sort of three or four revolutions happened. So rewinding back five, six years ago. If I had to go and describe the journey at even Wrike, we were saying, hey, we’re not just a project management platform. We’re a new way of helping knowledge workers to get work done.

And then all of a sudden this quote unquote work management category emerged and accelerated. And now it’s understood that knowledge workers need to start structuring work in a better way out of emails and slack. And so there is a whole category of work management that has sort of matriculated at this juncture. Similarly, about five years ago, there was a notion of, we shouldn’t have knowledge workers do simple things like data entry or these tasks that are fairly repetitive and homogenous.

So we should drive automation through bots. And I think back then, if everyone was talking about bots, it was sort of confusing. And it was like, oh, well, these are just dumb chat windows that pop up versus; UI path automation anywhere in Blue PRISM have showed us that you could automate task management at scale, especially those that are homogenous. So that has now come to fruition, certainly with the incredibly successful IPO of iPaaS and I suspect a few more that are going to come out here either this year or early next year.

[00:16:49] – Doug Foulkes
Sorry, it’s Doug here from the edit suite. At this point, I got a little confused. So here are a few terms that might help you out. RPA is robotic process automation or bots. IPaaS is a platform for building and deploying integrations within the cloud and between the cloud and enterprise. GUI spelled Gooey is a graphical user interface and that just allows you to interact with the tech under the surface and citizen developers, which we will go into, are individuals in companies who develop apps themselves to help streamline their jobs and jobs of others.

I hope that helps. Back to you, Ananth.

[00:17:31] – Ananth Avva
And then what happened is; OK, well, we have this sort of work management category that’s sort of structuring work. We have RPA that’s doing task management at scale and automating it. But wait a minute. Like we have all these systems, these systems of record and sometimes actions have to go from one system to another. And for these tools to work, there needs to be some sort of a connective tissue on just data transfer or actions. And that’s where I think the iPaaS were also, I think Zapier just got value that seven billion dollars plus.

Certainly I don’t think anyone’s gone public yet, per say. But you’ve always had Mulesoft, Boomi, and a few others. And in terms of other connectors or, or iPaaS connectors in general, and I think you’re going to see a whole new ecosystem come up there. The difference though that I would say is and where it’s a bit of a coopetition is, a lot of times, you know, when we go in, let’s say with a PowerAutomate, sure, you can automate a task and go from step A to step B, but then you can’t go back from B to A if there was a clarification or a change.

And to make this an illustrative example, let’s say a bot can basically scan an email, pull out the language. Let’s say you’re trying to do automatic vendor provisioning or customer provisioning or onboarding right. I scan it and I say, oh ok, Doug, like I see you. And let’s assume that we’re doing employee onboarding. We scan your offer letter and we automatically put you in. Oh, but wait a minute. There’s two Dougs.

And is this the same Doug that’s re-onboarding in the different capacities? Was it something else? But with an RPA, that whole sort of human centric automation where you need some sort of a layer of approval or review or you need to actually just see how the end-to-end processes is going to occur, like what’s the next step? Like now that we’ve provisioned Doug into our systems is it the same Doug, is that a marketing Doug is it a sales Doug? That type of view does not exist in sort of a PowerAutomate and that flexibility to drive human centric automation does not exist.

And so the way we think about ourselves is we certainly work with a lot of iPaaS connectors. We work with a lot of the bots and we work with a lot of the work management tools. But we’re at the end of the day, in the process orchestration business and we sit on top, we’re now we’re able to actually not only tell you where we are in terms of the employee onboarding step, if there’s any confusion or data duplicating exercises, we can go through that.

And then we can also map it into sort of hierarchies of what happens next. So now that you onboard into our system, what other systems do I have to onboard you on? How do I customise that onboarding experience for you where we can automate certain things, but then where we do need to have some human centric touch, we can introduce that as well. And the difference, I would say, at a technical level is most of the other sort of players like an RPA or an iPaaS connector, they don’t have a GUI that’s sitting on top.

And I don’t mean to automate a task, but a GUI to actually visualise the process from start to finish or they lack a database. And so ultimately we’re sort of this temporary system of record to say, OK, this is Doug, this is the address, this is the cost centre, this is the department that they’re going to get mapped to, etc, to avoid any confusion. And number three, business logic, which both the other two systems do have.

So if you assume for a moment that Pipefy can give you the database, the business logic, as well as give you the UI, UX and the visualisation layer like a GUI, now those three elements together have actually allowed a citizen developer to build a lightweight workflow application for employee onboarding, customer onboarding, supplier onboarding or whatever it might be. Versus just connecting one system to the other. So that’s where we really differentiate ourselves in human centric automation to then drive some of those more complex tasks that actually become processes and then become a process orchestrator versus just the task automation tools.

[00:21:50] – Claire Haidar
What you are sharing here is, I don’t think the average person on the street realises how significant this is. I want us to really just pause here. And talk very realistically about what the implications of this are. If I take off my technology hat and I pretend that I know nothing about the tape that you’re talking about and I haven’t been seeped in it for many, many years, and I’m literally just a graduate who has finished a computer science degree or graduate who has just written a whole set of CPA exams.

What you’re telling me is that it is no longer OK for me as a graduate coming into work to just be proficient at that which I studied whether it’s computer science or accounting or HR, or whatever it is I study, I actually need to have an extra skill and that is the ability to use these no code, low code applications to automate my own job. Is that correct?

[00:22:57] – Ananth Avva
Yeah, I think the way I think about it is I’m not an academic, but certainly most of the academia continues to point towards this and maybe I’ll use a good analogy. So in sort of this MIT study, or if you look at or if you hear some of the Freakonomics podcasts or some of the interesting things the economists are saying, like, let’s go 50, 60 years ago there was a doctor. And even if it’s a cardiologist, there’s a cardiologist that’s a heart doctor.

Well, today, within each one of those fields are subfields and subfields within subfields where doctors, if you go into a hospital, the amount of equipment has just proliferated because the more specialists you have, the more specific things they need to be able to execute their work. Similarly, when you think about, oh yeah, there’s an H.R. person or an accounting person or legal person. Well, not really. There’s HR business partners.

There’s talent directors, there’s H.R. operations folks. There’s benefit and compliance folks. OK, now all of a sudden you have a Karta for the stock options person. Now you have ERP some sort of an HRS system like an ADP or workday. Oh, but wait a minute. You need something for talent. Oh OK. That’s where you get a Greenhouse. You get Namely or some other recruiting tool. So now all of a sudden what you’re seeing in the workplace is what universities and education does is makes you an incredibly good specialist and very proficient from a business perspective to understand your little fiefdom.

And your little dominion. So you can be an incredibly effective, quote unquote, recruiting person, an incredibly effective accountant, where you know the debits and credits. But the problem, I think in sort of the practical world when you come into the workplace is a lot of the fundamentals that you do need to learn and that you do need to understand are going to get automated. Nobody’s sort of keying in manual journal entries and debits and credits. That would be pretty unusual.

And similarly, no recruiter is going in and keying in the name, the address, etc., because a lot of that is now being automated. So now what’s happening is you’re asked to do a higher order activity, which is to take your speciality and then translate the implications of your speciality to a larger workflow. So if you’re an accountant and you’re doing something, you’re now being asked to not just do the debits and credits, but you’re being asked to also do the analysis on, well, what does this mean for our cash flow, our earnings or is this something that you expected or is it unusual, are there technical accounting issues with this, same thing with the recruiter. The recruiter not just sitting there just hiring and just placing folks.

They’re trying to understand what are the business implications of not having this person in and where are their roles that have flexibility and where are their roles that do not have flexibility. So if you have to now translate what you do and translate it to a broader perspective, you have to understand all the connections of what you do, both from an operations perspective and a systems perspective to the bigger order of things. And I think that’s where by default, the person who is sort of that citizen developer is going to have an incredibly big competitive edge over someone who might just be a functional specialist.

And they’re good at it, but they realise that most of what they do is already being automated or done anyway. And their job now is to translate this to something else. And that’s where they’ll probably struggle is carrying out the higher order functions because they don’t know how to build that connective layer to other processes and other systems. Understand the implications of it.

[00:26:54] – Claire Haidar
So if you were talking to a set of very senior HR leaders, like chief people officers, etc., would your recommendation be that this should become a key skill that is placed on job specs and is actually hired and recruited for?

[00:27:14] – Ananth Avva
Absolutely. I think the way I would frame it is. If you like it or not, we’ve learnt that organisations need to be adaptable and they have to adapt changes very quickly, like it or not, there’s just not going to be enough developers to go around and they probably won’t be, at least not over the next sort of 50 to 100 years. And like it or not, jobs are going to get even more complex. And because each job gets more complex, you’re going to continue to have proliferation of systems and tools as you have in hospitals.

So as doctors can deliver, better care, organisations can also function better. And those people who have those specialities are that much more effective in their job. So if you assume that the first three things are true and you need to then be this agile organisation that is interconnected and that embraces the speciality as opposed to saying, no, no, you have to use this ERP system to do your job. And then you have a specialist saying, well, but I can’t because what I’m being asked to do and where I can deliver the higher order activity is if I get this quote unquote specialised tool.

And here’s the ROI and they can argue for it. If you’re the organisation that resist that change, then you’re not going to be agile and flexible. And you’ll probably have a lot of challenges and shortcomings. If you are the organisation that embraces that and knows how to do that well and has the right amount of citizen developers internally, which is a necessity to make sure that you can act in a more coordinated fashion, then absolutely you need more citizen developers, not just in your own teams, but across the organisations who have a technical mindset so they can start embracing sort of all the things that we just talked about by way of execution.

[00:29:13] – Claire Haidar
You’ve mentioned this term citizen developer quite a few times, and I think it’s important for us to elaborate on that a little bit. So let’s say one of the many chief people offices that I know are going to listen to this podcast with you, listen to this and decide, OK, we need to roll out a training session in our company and build an army of citizen developers for ourselves. What does it look like? Where do they go?

How do companies go about building this function into the fibres of their existence?

[00:29:48] – Ananth Avva
I think the way to do it, in my view, is first you have to identify those people who have the awareness of, OK, I call them design thinkers. Right. So people who understand architecturally, OK, here is my HRS system and here’s my talent and talent management system and here’s my benefits system. Are these all connected? Do they have to be connected? What are the right entry and exit points? Ultimately, what’s going to be my system of record, meaning similar to a CRM?

Does everything come back to my HRS system? And that’s the source of truth. Or can the sources of truth reside in multiple levels? I would say the first thing is just embrace design thinking. And there’s plenty of design thinking course, almost like internal product managers, right. For each of the departments and organisations. If you understand design thinking, then you understand process, if you understand process, the technical aspects of how you solve for that, you can then pick, right.

So I’m not going to sit here and say, hey, Pipefy is this antidote that’s going to solve everything. We frankly do not. Right. There’s certain things that we do very well and certain things that we do not. But the beauty of it is, there’s an ecosystem of RPA. There’s an ecosystem of iPaaS connector’s, there’s an ecosystem of things like Pipefy that are much more no code, low code and then there’s classic macros and visual basics and C that’s maybe some of your C++ that some of your employees may be actually very functional and adept at.

But I think what I would argue for most sort of chief people officers to do is this notion of design thinking and helping groom sort of future operational leaders as opposed to just functional specialists who are very good at just their one thing without looking across the bay and connecting all of the different tools and processes. That is probably where I’d invest a lot of energy. And we call them citizen developers, because at the end of the day, they’re sort of building applications to stand up and move over sort of deficiencies in their organisation.

I think that’s definitely the result I would say, like the last step of the process. But I would say where we spend a lot of time with our customers is the first three to four steps of the journey. And just, well, what is your process and do you really want everything to be in your HRS system or ERP system or whatever your system of record is, or can it live elsewhere? Should it live elsewhere? What matters to you?

That’s where a lot of questions go back to the organisation where I think they have this uncomfortable proposition of, well, who’s going to answer this in the organisation and who makes these decisions is unclear. So I think that’s where there’s a lot of work that CPOs can do today to embrace that design thinking first, and then naturally, a lot of these tools will come out.

[00:33:01] – Claire Haidar
In my experience, I’ve found that people who are in operational roles and who have some shape or form to create operational efficiency and operational excellence tends to land in the hands of people who have very real particularities about very particular things. So what are some of your pet peeves in work and how is that being part of this career journey that you’ve built that has brought you to Pipefy today?

[00:33:32] – Ananth Avva
That’s an interesting question. I would say if there’s a pet peeve that I have, it’s the, you send a message, Slack or email or otherwise, and you don’t get a response, and then you’re not quite sure what happened to it. So I always tell my team, say, if someone sends a message right, whether it be a customer or an internal communicator, whatever it might be, they took the time to write the message and send it over your way. Just respond and say, hey, I can’t get to it or we’re going to get to it, but not sure when or we’re going to get to it but, you know, I’ll come back to you in a week or so.

Just acknowledgment of receipt and then sort of a plan of action after, I think is hugely important because otherwise the person who sent it just gets frustrated and they keep escalating and dunning you. And then you’re sort of on the other side just getting frustrated of why is this person keep dunning me on the same request and just, I think it just doesn’t create a good work experience.

I think you said something interesting, which is like operational leaders and operational excellence. Ironically, I feel it’s the opposite, the ones who are very fluid and who have the ability to adapt very, very easily to the situation at hand. Those are the ones that seem to thrive very well, meaning folks who are not very rigid and stuck to a certain way of things, but who are willing to understand outcomes and what the business needs and then adapt to it.

They’re the ones who actually do very well long term, because the likelihood that you stay in a certain job for more than two years, I think statistically keeps dropping. And you have to almost accept as most operational leaders would. Yeah, it’s going to change, either the situation is going to change for you because there’s some exogenous event that has forced your organisation to operate differently or you yourself are going to do your adventure for two to three years and then you’re going to look for your next gig.

Either way, you look at it. The only constant thing that seems to be there is the great, the only constant thing in life is change. So if you accept that premise for a moment, I think having very rigid views or hierarchies without understanding the implications of the business outcomes probably are going to be a disservice for you long term. I think understanding frameworks is important and understanding best practises is important. So you have a reference point to then adapt to the existing businesses needs or the existing situations need.

So I think rigidity almost plays against you. You almost have to be, as Bruce Lee said, you have to be like water. You have to be very fluid and adapt to what comes your way.

[00:36:31] – Claire Haidar
It’s a very, very valid point. And I think, again bringing it back to those core skills that companies should be hiring for and training for internally is that fluid thinking. And you can be fluid, as you say, if you understand frameworks, if you understand how to go back up to the why, and ask the questions around relevance.

[00:36:56] – Ananth Avva
Yeah. And I think that’s where the design thinking is so critical.

[00:37:01] – Claire Haidar
Ananth your personal values, according to which you would live your daily life. What are they and how do you live them out in your current role at Pipefy?

[00:37:13] – Ananth Avva
I believe that you have to be a student forever and you have to constantly learn and certainly in a professional capacity. I’m one of those people who is very fortunate to manage an amazing group of individuals with a wide array of talents, and I feel my job is to keep pushing them to change. I think, and push them in a comfortable way. Certainly, covid has brought its own challenges where personal and professional lives continue to get intertwined and some people are able to take on a challenge, and this is the right time.

And other people, this is the worst time because they’re suffering with anxiety, sort of support at home, or other changes that they need. And they actually need more professional understanding then a professional push. So I always felt people who coach me, it’s the ones who are very tough, but at the same time understanding. And they want the best for you and your organisation. Those are the best to work with.

So I always feel like that notion of continuous learning that I feel is hugely important for us as human beings. That’s definitely translated very well professionally. The other thing, though, that I would say that I’m embracing more and more of is, sometimes like, you know, just enjoy life. Smell the roses and celebrate the highs and ensure that you see what you’re doing is sort of coming to bear. And certainly having a son that’s two and a half years old now, that opens up different elements of it’s also important to, quote unquote, have fun.

I’m incredibly fortunate, I would say, where that’s actually one of the values that we have here at Pipefy, is to have fun. It sounds super obvious, but ultimately, if you’re going to spend what used to be eight hours or nine hours for an average person, now it’s coming to 10 to 11 hours in the world of post covid. How can it not be personal? How can work not be personal? You’re spending majority of your waking hours doing that and working with individuals in a professional capacity.

It’s incredibly important that folks have fun and they’re not struggling and they’re not grinding it out day in and day out. I think that that second value is also hugely important as I think about my professional career.

[00:39:50] – Claire Haidar
Be a student and have fun.

[00:39:55] – Doug Foulkes
Very very good advice. Ananth we are coming to the end of our time together, the time has flown by. Thank you so much. It may be time for one or two quick questions. I want to sort of keep it quite broad and quite open. What do you believe any blind spots that people should be really considering seriously and I am talking really in regards to the future of work and the future of business operations?

[00:40:18] – Ananth Avva
Yeah, I think the blind spot that I feel a lot of people have is there’s this notion of consolidation of tools and collapsing the tech stack. My role prior to coming here at Pipefy was in cybersecurity and I’ve heard this theme come up so many times now, granted, that came more from a security lens, a cybersecurity lens. And certainly as we’re seeing, cyber security is paramount. I think it’s a flawed assumption. I do think you’ll actually see proliferation of tools, not consolidation, because as you see more and more and more specialists emerge in the world, they will need their own tools to be effective and to bring to bear the amazing talents that they have.

So I actually think we’ll continue to see the proliferation. And I would say the modern hospital is a phenomenal example of that happening, real world. That’s not to say that there’s a bunch of legacy stack that needs to be turned off and then modernised. But this notion that new tools won’t come up and sort of the core systems will take care of everything. It’s an extremely flawed assumption, in my view.

[00:41:33] – Doug Foulkes
That’s interesting you would of thought, going forward with more technology, everything would be sort of, come closer and closer together like the design of new cars, they all start looking the same. But actually, as you need more specialisation, the tools must go that way as well.

[00:41:48] – Ananth Avva
I think all of us want simplicity and we want consolidation, but they’re not necessarily one and the same.

[00:41:56] – Doug Foulkes
If you’re talking to people that are actually entering the workspace at the moment, how does a solution like Pipefy change their careers and the skills that will be deemed essential?

[00:42:08] – Ananth Avva
It goes back to our mission, which is, we enable doers to drive change and we take that quite seriously. So a lot of times what I feel happens is the issues are actually happening at the front lines and, a lot of people get frustrated to say, well, you know, this could be done so much better only if we have dot dot dot and there’s resistance that come in in one or two forms, maybe more. But the most common one that we see is change management, which is, I would say, a very higher order problem to solve where that requires not a technical change, but rather a cultural or a mindshift change.

And I don’t expect the person coming straight out of school to be able to tackle that problem. But I think what we also see, especially for the more simple things where work can get easier and again, we can go back to being students and also having fun at the same time, is the little annoying things that occupy most of your time but produce a little value. I think RPA and iPaaS Connectors have done a tremendous job in moving us forward in that direction.

But the second you come to a process or some sort of a human centric automation, if you’re the person who can solve that and bring in like a technical layer, whether it be Pipefy or other local application platforms and actually change the execution velocity of your team so they’re not bogged down in the day to day grind. You’re going to be a hero and you’re going to be celebrated as sort of this technical evangelist who solved, again, a simple problem, but a problem that affected a lot of people and took away a lot of time.

I really believe that if you can embrace the technical aspects and understand what this low code movement means and the application of these low code movements and just the sheer breadth of problems that it solves, you’re going to be a natural hero and a leader because you’re going to emerge as that person who can then take those technical skills and then drive the change management skills that are required for organisations of the twenty second century.

[00:44:29] – Claire Haidar
Thank you for taking the time to do this with us today. It’s an area that really excites me, but I’m in the trenches, so I understand why I’m excited. I just, I really do want to evangelise it broader outside of the people who are currently in the trenches, because I think it’s a game changer and it is the future of work.

[00:44:52] – Ananth Avva
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Doug and Claire, for having me. I would love to do this again.

[00:44:58] – Doug Foulkes
Ananth I’m sure we’ll be chatting to you again soon. So that’s the essence of the future of work for knowledge workers and companies right there. We really hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast if you have. We look forward to inviting you back sometime soon. Just a reminder, for more information about WNDYR and the integration services that they supply, you can visit their website. That’s WNDYR dot com. And so, as always, from the Doug Foulkes and Chaos & RocketFuel, stay safe and we’ll see you soon.

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