Unqork CEO - ‘Agile has failed’

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez August 13, 2019
Gary Hoberman, CEO and founder of low-code platform Unqork, explains why agile doesn’t work and how his platform is replacing vendors such as SAP in large companies.

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Unqork is an up and coming low-code/no-code New York City start-up, which was founded by CEO Gary Hoberman back in 2017. Hoberman brings credibility to the business because of his background in high profile roles, such as the CIO of financial services giant MetLife, and because the company has bagged Goldman Sachs as both a customer and an investor. 

However, sitting down with Hoberman recently in New York City, I was struck by how bullish his comments were about the existing state-of-play amongst companies developing technology. 

He breaks down the world of software development for business into four distinct phases. Firstly, there was in-house waterfall projects. Secondly, there were vendors that claimed they could build you everything you needed into one package/stack. Thirdly, the phase we are in now, is agile. And finally, there’s no-code/low code (Unqork’s proposition). 

Hoberman claims that the previous three phases have failed because there is a breakdown between the ‘idea’ and then the ‘design/build’. In other words, you think you know what you want until you actually get it. On agile, which has been touted globally as the answer to failed waterfall projects, and allowing for a more user-centred approach, Hoberman said: 

The reality of agile is that it works for very small deliverables and nothing else. It fails miserably. It fails because business doesn’t know what it needs until it’s in production. There’s always a backlog and it’s always ‘coming’. Also, once they see what’s in production, the problem is time to market. If we use the ‘building a house’ analogy - if they need to move the window to get the exact right lighting, the barrier to moving that window is code.

Hoberman said that he and his team have built a platform that they’re calling the fourth generation of software development, which enables companies to build anything they “could ever imagine” - front office, back office and middle office. He explains: 

You could build anything you can imagine without me needing to write a single line of code or generate code, because we think that's also legacy. So the idea is to stop writing code, stop legacy. 90% of what any company does today, we could confidently do on Unqork without a single change today, without a single line of code. The last 10% is where 100% of their engineers should be building. Right

I would say that that last 10% is purely APIs, interfaces that engineers are building that are unique to them. For example, a new way to create customer risk. A new model for a bank. A new product they’re creating. Where it’s going to be a competitive advantage for them.

Unqork believes that 90% of what a business done can be carried out using common components - or a library of templates - that are reusable across the organisation, requiring ‘no code’. Hoberman says that the company’s goal is pretty simple, in that it wants to be the “only technology left in any company”.

Bold claims

Hoberman’s pitch is backed up by some pretty impressive customer stories. For example, Goldman Sachs, a company that doesn’t use much outside software, are actually training their business users on how to build their own applications using Unqork - becoming a system of record for the investment bank. Having used the technology, Goldman Sachs also decided to invest $22 million in Unqork. Equally, Hoberman shared that the company has replaced SAP in some Fortune 100 companies. 

Unqork also argues that just because it’s building applications using reusable components, doesn’t mean that this results in a reduced focus on user needs. Instead, Hoberman argues, because fully functioning systems can be built quickly and easily, it’s much easier to run tests on users. He claims that often agile projects just build a pretty front end for user testing and ignore the back-end, whereas Unqork has all of that built into the platform. He said: 

So we teach them how to use Unqork, we have no professional services, right? Right. So we're not like coming in and saying: “Here, use this, and by the way, we’re charging for your time”. 

So our goal is to make them self sufficient. So they're still building applications, but they're using Unqork to create the applications. They're delivering value faster, more products, more speed. 

Today, 93% of IT projects fail. There’s about a 7% chance of success. We will make it 100% chance of success. So they're going to deliver more value faster. And it's a new way to build applications. We’ve probably certified 100 or 200 people outside of our company.

Interestingly, Hoberman adds that Unqork is different from other no-code/low-code companies in that they’re not getting buy-in with developers. It’s actually the C-suite where it gets traction. He said: 

Low code is focused on developers. How do I make the developer more effective? But developers like to write code. So we're selling to the C-suite. We're meeting with boards, and the boards are calling the COO and saying “go meet with these guys”.

So it's a very different top down model. We are declaring war on companies that make money through inefficiencies.

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