Interview with Beyondsoft CEO, Ben Wang
We recently sat down with Ben Wang, CEO of Beyondsoft. Here, we are pleased to share the highlights of the interview, including everything from the birth of the company to working in Seattle, as well as our company’s culture. Beyondsoft’s continual success in the IT industry is based on three tenants: focusing on customer needs, technology, and developing our people. Investing in all three simultaneously is a successful formula. The company’s ability to keep pace with tech trends has led to continuous success. In order to better understand its future, I would like to understand its past to track the process of progression.
You and three others started Beyondsoft in 1995, and took it public in 2012. How did the company originally start?
We started with four founders in Beijing. Few companies were trying to become service providers at that time. Many companies did not have the infrastructure to move into China. We were the first to launch there and operate in the U.S. We started off by helping companies move into the country to operate. They needed help in localizing their products from English to Chinese. Our first client was Microsoft for Windows 95. After that, we received more and more calls.
The Harvard Business School twice published Beyondsoft success stories. What was your journey like from there to where you are today?
The studies focused on two things: people management and strategy. When the market crashed, we had to figure out how to make the company continue. Knowing that we could not rely on the financial markets, we focused on cash flow and customer satisfaction. We are so good to our clients that they stayed with us. Also, by only accepting qualified clients, and developing smart relationships with financial resources, we moved forward. It took three years to go public, but strategy was key. Check out the above mentioned Harvard Business School articles about Beyondsoft here and here.
What is Beyondsoft’s strategy to stay relevant in the global market today?
Technology is evolving more rapidly than ever, and the IT market is going to grow. Size is important in this industry. Behavior of the enterprise client has changed. While a large business, we still have to have key differentiators. Because of that, Beyondsoft is investing in new technologies to continue to support our customers’ needs, as well as be at the forefront of the next wave of opportunities. From our own market research and extensive conversations with our clients, last year we started to invest heavily in cloud services, as well as business intelligence––two areas set for the most exponential growth. This will allow us to navigate our customer relationships during the long haul.
Why have you made such significant investments in the cloud space?
The global SaaS market is projected to grow $67B in 2018. Cloud applications will account for 90% of worldwide mobile data traffic by 2019, compared to 81% at the end of last year. We decided to invest in the two biggest players: AWS and Microsoft Azure. The “Everything as a Service” era has come, and certain verticals will disrupt traditional business models. Customers will move to the cloud, period. We have seen the benefit as a company firsthand, so we are ready to serve our clients the same way. Three years ago, it was “What and Why?” Today it is “How can you help me?” Timing is key. If you are too early, you do not survive.
Why have you made such significant investments in business intelligence and data analysis?
By 2019, the business intelligence industry is set to be worth $20B. Research shows that 85% of top businesses use data to make many types of business decisions. Companies with data make it five times faster than if they do not. We have the ability to help current and future clients do everything from predict trends to assess programs in place to improve business functions, three years before the predicted tipping point.
What are some of the top challenges you see in terms of building the new capabilities?
The biggest challenge is the people on the team. We have to defend the strategy and the roadmap. Successful execution relies on the people we select in the team.
How is Beyondsoft attracting the top talent to join this new journey?
In the beginning, we simply shared our vision and our challenges. It is not just about money; people here are looking for challenges and a place to contribute. We are looking for people who want to build, take risks, and own challenges.
You moved to Seattle last year. What do you feel the city offers the company in terms of being the corporate U.S. headquarters?
The size of the city is perfect––not too big, and not too small. Because we have a strong workforce and talent pool, especially in the cloud area, Seattle is an ideal location.
In terms of internal culture, how is the company supporting talent development?
Beyondsoft helps its people grow. We started with four people, and we are now over 8,000. We value people since we are service providers. In that, we considered how we could get the best talent to work for us and how we could provide for them once they joined our team. We have several programs to help our staff grow and develop. When you have qualified, happy employees, you have satisfied clients who become recurring clients.