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2017 09-07-ray-wijewardene

The IESL Ray Wijewardene Memorial Lecture "Nobody to Leader: Achieving Global Leadership with Software" I gave on September 7th, 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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2017 09-07-ray-wijewardene

  1. 1. Nobody to Leader: Achieving Global Leadership with Software Sanjiva Weerawarana, Ph.D. Founder, CEO and Chief Architect, WSO2 Lt. Col., IT Advisor, Sri Lanka Army Ray Wijewardene Memorial Lecture, September 7th, 2017
  2. 2. Ray
  3. 3. By the end of this talk .. .. you should believe that: • Software is eating the world • Software allows anyone anywhere to compete • Some people are doing it already • Entrepreneurs refuse to let things be • Making excuses is inexcusable • Unfortunately, everything I say today applies globally and not just to Sri Lanka
  4. 4. SOFTWARE IS EATING THE WORLD
  5. 5. Software is eating the world • Essay by Marc Andreessen in the Wall Street Journal in 2011
  6. 6. Automotive Old New
  7. 7. All Transport • Self navigating vehicles – Planes, trains and automobiles • Intelligent traffic routing • Self maintaining
  8. 8. Hotels Old New
  9. 9. Healthcare
  10. 10. Legal
  11. 11. Crime / War
  12. 12. Oldest profession …
  13. 13. Virtual Reality = Reality? • Tourism? • Entertainment? • Education?
  14. 14. Politics • Not yet  (imagine if we could export politicians? WOW!)
  15. 15. (Or elephants)
  16. 16. SOFTWARE AND COMPETING GLOBALLY
  17. 17. What software do you use? • Gmail, Yahoo mail, Outlook • Office – Word, PowerPoint, Excel • Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram • Adobe • Windows / MacOS / Linux • iOS / Android • Salesforce? Netsuite? Oracle?
  18. 18. Where does it come from?
  19. 19. Where does it come from?
  20. 20. Why do you use “foreign” software? • We all want best global brands • Localization is common with machine learning – E.g. Google voice recognition now supports Sinhalese! – (Tamil has been supported for a while) • Good software doesn’t need local support or training • “Cheaper” not a good answer to “Free”
  21. 21. Software is Global, not Local • Selling by information asymmetry is over • Selling globally doesn’t require physical presence • Local cannot be protected with barriers – (Unless you manage access to the global Internet; e.g. China) – No barriers to entry for anyone to any market • Regional concept is meaningless
  22. 22. DID YOU KNOW?
  23. 23. • 2 million users in 190 countries – Largest markets: US, UK, Germany, India • Profitable and growing for last 5 years • 100% made in Sri Lanka – Team of 20 people – ZERO direct sales • Registered in Australia, raised $300k Chandika Jayasundara
  24. 24. 4Axis Solutions • 13 million downloads of Drawing Desk – Casual drawing product – 10,000 downloads a day – Top rated app for iPad in US/UK stores • Started in 2012 as 3rd year students at Univ of Moratuwa IT faculty; now 14 people • No funding, profitable • Registered in Singapore Dumindu Harsha
  25. 25. Paraqum Technologies • Hardware programmed in software • Started in 2013 to promote electronic product development • World class performance hardware for HEVC and DPI • 30 engineers, no funding • Registered in Sri Lanka Dr. Ajith Pasqual
  26. 26. AdroitLogic • Enterprise middleware – ESB and Integration • Profitable, no investment taken • Customers including Walmart, SGX and Kuoni • 26 people Asankha Perera
  27. 27. • 400 enterprise customers in 31 countries – 9 in Sri Lanka • 485 full time employees, 448 in Sri Lanka – All product design, development and innovation from Sri Lanka • Raised $40+M, about to be profitable • Registered in US
  28. 28. There are others in Sri Lanka • My apologies for not mentioning you.
  29. 29. What is common about these? • Passion, passion, passion about the problem • ZERO concept of local or regional market • Razor focus on quality • Want to win the market, not be a “player” • Energy to keep going despite challenges • Belief that we are not second class • Only one of them was founded by a “young” person 
  30. 30. ENTREPRENEURS
  31. 31. Life is full of problems Question is, what do you do with them? • Complain • Ignore • Do something
  32. 32. Learn to see problems • Note them when you experience them • Observe others experiencing them • Predict problems that will come in the future because of some other change
  33. 33. Become a visionary • Close your eyes and see a future that doesn’t yet exist – Render it in detail • Can you see a path from here to there? • Learn to tell that story • Can you convince others to follow you down the path?
  34. 34. Do something: education is key • To see and make a path you need to have tools – knowledge and continuous education • Not just about (or even) formal education – No one can ever stop learning • Landing a rocket back vertically is hard, but not that hard if you know the science of it
  35. 35. Age is not key • Focus on “entrepreneurship education”, “ideation”, etc. targeting 20-somethings is silly – Trying to replicate Mark Zuckerberg is foolish; the next one will happen without your (or my) help • What does it take to solve hard problems? – Knowledge and experience – Young and foolish • Your entrepreneurial age is not how long you’ve lived
  36. 36. Example: My Father • Funded in 2012, award received in 2016 Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kamal Fernando
  37. 37. Example: Ray • Everything I remember seeing about Ray was with him having white hair
  38. 38. MY ADVICE (BUT REMEMBER HOW MUCH YOU PAID FOR IT)
  39. 39. To consumers No one uses Creately or 4Axis because its made in Sri Lanka. So: • Demand the best • Don’t accept 2nd class because its local • Push local to be the best
  40. 40. To enterprises • Give the new guy a chance – Prakash Iyer, CTO of @Road/Trimble • Don’t require big revenues before you trust a local business – use your judgement • Buy based on current needs not RFPs – Quote from local company to WSO2 some years ago: “your product was fine but other one had more buttons” • Don’t discriminate against local businesses – Leave your ego at the door
  41. 41. To government • Where are the companies I mentioned registered? – 4AxisSolutions – Singapore – AdroitLogic – Singapore – Creately – Australia – Paraqum – Sri Lanka  – WSO2 – US • Why??
  42. 42. To government • Policy consistency – Taxes – annual revision to national tax policy is an utter joke • Make it easier to do business – Intellectual creative workers need to be easily hired and fired • Establish reasonable and non-discriminatory corruption • Get the hell out of the way – Software doesn’t need your approval or help; thanks!
  43. 43. To entrepreneurs • Stop making excuses, or stop calling yourself an entrepreneur • Think big, then think bigger • Think global domination, market leader • Share your opportunity with your team – E.g: ~30% of WSO2 is owned by employees
  44. 44. To entrepreneurs • Leverage Sri Lanka’s experiences for global application – E.g. Travel, security, garbage, corruption
  45. 45. To investors • Don’t focus only on 20-somethings • Demand world domination thinking • Risk more to solve big problems which can give bigger return – Older entrepreneurs have more at risk and can’t manage with no real salary • Don’t take 30% of company for peanuts
  46. 46. To “industry” • Stop focusing on $1B, $2B, …, $5B revenue – Only applies to selling people, um, “services” • Stop focusing on “xx people employed in IT” – % of Sri Lankans in IT more than India even now! • Software companies generate value massively disproportional to revenue – Between 5-20x revenue • Celebrate failure • Learn from Israel, not India
  47. 47. To IESL • “Software engineers are not engineers” – Um, really?
  48. 48. CONCLUSION
  49. 49. Software opportunity is real • And its massive • People numbers don’t matter; tiny Sri Lanka can take on the world – And are doing a tiny teeny bit • We do have one intrinsic advantage – Young (20-something) people who are willing to sacrifice weekends to learn – But need to learn to solve problems, not just be accountants, managers, marketers or lawyers – And need to remember that ALs is not the make-or- break in life
  50. 50. Software and international politics • Software dependency is loss of national independence • In the last war, we couldn’t buy weapons without meeting their conditions – Welcome to international politics • In the next war, if we are dependent on external services we can be “shut down” easily
  51. 51. Future of software .. • Today’s software – Connecting people, applications and devices • Programming genes (e.g. CRISPR) • Programming nano scale .. is the future of the world.
  52. 52. Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

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