Creating Customer-Centric Strategies and Services — Customer data contains information that helps businesses make decisions, improve operational efficiency, and/or generate additional revenues. Most companies collect mountains of data but don’t use the right tools and strategies for analyzing the data while honoring consumer privacy. Companies can use digital transformation to create customer-centric strategies, provide more relevant content and services based on the customer data and the metrics collected securely while valuing and protecting customer data.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fay Arjomandi, CEO and Founder of mimik Technology, a pioneering Hybrid edgeCloud company.
Fay Arjomandi is the CEO and Founder of mimik Technology. She is a serial entrepreneur and renowned leader in the tech industry and has been named “the edge women of the year” in 2020 and was named one of the most influential women business leaders in Silicon Valley in 2014. She has also received the distinguished Business in Vancouver’s 2006 “Top 40 Under 40″.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up in the turmoil of the Islamic revolution in Iran, the devastating war with Iraq, and finally had to escape Iran right after high school. Since then I’ve lived, studied, and worked in many countries in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, and the US. I enrolled in Concordia University (School of Gina Cody Engineering and Computer Science) when I was 22 years old and finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering in two and a half years as I thought I was too old for university and had to work harder to complete the degree faster.
After graduation, I worked at a software company in Vancouver, where I came up with an idea to start a company to solve the mobile workforce management application development and therefore started L3 Technology with a few other people in my rental house’s living room in 1998. Unfortunately, though, we hit the internet bubble crash and the unfortunate event of 9/11 the 2001 market crash. Yet, we managed to sell the IP to seed my next company Mobidia, a wireless protocol optimization company that later got acquired by App Annie.
I started mimik under the code name Disternet (Distributed Internet) in 2009 to create a distributed edge cloud platform to decentralize the Internet which was formally shaped in 2014 under the name mimik. Today, I’m the CEO and board member of mimik and an advisor to several companies.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
In 1999, when I started my first company, I learned that I could get R&D grants from the Canadian government. I applied for a grant and was visited by one of the representatives for a meeting at my office which was the living room of my rental property (the first floor of a house), which I had turned into an office without the owner’s consent! When the government rep came for the meeting, he ended up sitting at the counter of the fireplace to see my presentation on my desktop.
The presentation went fairly well. I had made us coffee as we agreed on the next steps, but he only had a sip of his black coffee. He said he had to leave and didn’t have time to finish his coffee. I poured a cup for myself after he left. As soon as I took a sip, I had to spit it out as it was so unbelievably bitter. The moral of the story is that you should always test your products before offering them to your customers.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Many good people helped me throughout my journey, I also had experiences working with the wrong people. So you could say both good and bad people have helped me grow and get to where I am today.
Having good friends that you can trust and rely on for advice and help is very important. I can’t point to a single person but more than anyone, the mimik team helped me get where I am today and each in their own unique way. Worth mentioning that I’ve been working together with some of the team members across more than one company so they’re part of where I am and are my family.
One person that I always mention is Linda MacDonald who used to work at Concordia University’s admission office. After my assessment interview, she told me that I don’t meet all the criteria but she would give me the opportunity to enroll and it was up to me to make something out of it. I don’t think that I let her down and not only am I grateful for the opportunity but this has also influenced me to pay forward in my daily life. If I see someone with potential, I give them the opportunity and the rest is up to them.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
It’s tough to point to one but I enjoy reading and listening to Judi Krishnamurti (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiddu_Krishnamurti). I love the fact that he said he had no allegiance to any nationality, caste, religion, or ideology, spent his life traveling the world, speaking to large and small groups, as well as individuals. He didn’t want to be called a teacher, leader, Guru and that he was simply a seeker. He answered every question by first dissecting it and looking at it from different angles and then giving his views and at times saying that he did not know the answer. My favorite quote from him if I recall correctly was that “there is no room for beliefs where there is truth”.
As for the movie, first of all, I’m a documentary buff. To name a few recent documentaries I enjoyed “Hitlers’ Evil Circle”, “Social Dilemma” and “Bully” on Netflix. Social Dilemma raises a real issue on how the click-through ad business model has led to social and political polarization and division rather than personalization and unity.
The Hitlers’ evil circle was quite a sad and eye-opening documentary that showed how a group of miss-fit, narcissists, and psychopaths managed to create the holocaust and world war II and how misinformation and propaganda were a major tool to wreak havoc on the planet. At the same time, it depicted how neighbors can turn against one another overnight by propaganda and misinformation and how vigilant we need to be to prevent misinformation and propaganda especially now with the explosion of social media. As for Bully, it’s a harsh reality of what kids go through and unfortunately how cyber-bullying has become a tool that fuels isolation and teen suicide. We should all speak-up and stand against bullying at every level.
As for movies: some classics on totalitarian future societies like 1984, Blade Runner, disponían science fiction like Black Mirror, and movies on women’s struggles or leadership such as Caliphate, Unorthodox, The Honorable Women, Black Earth Rising, and one of my all-time favorites Capernaum. On the lighter side, I recently enjoyed “we can be a hero” which talks about nurturing the culture of collaboration and teamwork.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
At mimik, we genuinely believe in safeguarding people’s data and are convinced data would be the fuel for the next industrial revolution. Our aim is also to ensure people receive their fair share of the benefits generated by the next industrial revolution. We identified that decentralization of cloud was essential for this and have put all our efforts to make it happen at a time where many people believed we were crazy to talk about data privacy let alone data monetization for their rightful owners.
Hybrid edgeCloudtechnology moves most of the processing to the application where data is originated instead of sending everything to servers in data centers. You start from edge to compute the workload and move to public or private cloud as per application logic and demands. In other words, you take an edge->in versus a cloud->out approach. As a result, consumers and enterprises can take control of their data and enterprises also benefit from increased efficiency and reduced cost and latency.
mimik has pioneered Hybrid edgeCloud computing to enable any computing device to act as a cloud server to help application developers unlock the next generation of apps for the hyper-connected world. With mimik’s platform, companies can launch applications faster while drastically reducing infrastructure cost and latency, while increasing security and data privacy
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
We work on new exciting projects every day. In our first phase of development, we built our platform and we are now working with our partners on multiple exciting projects in health, mining, automotive, ed-tech, fintech, ag-tech, gaming. All these applications will help consumers and enterprises to manage their daily lives and businesses and will help accelerate digital transformation. They will also help reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level, what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is about the automation of business processes using technologies such as edge cloud, AI, machine learning, robotics, and Distributed ledger, etc. The outcome is a hyper-connected system enabling efficient communication and collaboration among interconnected company units and departments.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
I believe almost all companies, regardless of the vertical industry, can benefit from digital transformation. In order to adapt and stay competitive and become leaders of digital transformation, companies must have the right tools for providing valuable solutions, products, and services in a fast and efficient manner and ensure that their workforce is skilled in the digital age practices.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
There are multiple examples — We helped one of our customers in the health and wellness sector by providing better data privacy for their sensitive data and also helped them reduce the cost of their cloud by 90%. We helped another customer to “edgifi” their solution for car OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and enable direct communication between cars and smart cities which they’re now in the process of offering to car OEMs. We also worked with one of our partners to build severe capability into their 4G base station and provided coverage and services in areas with no cloud connectivity.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
Yes, most companies struggle with digital transformation. First with their overall strategy and where to start, how to measure the benefits, and building teams to manage their digital platforms. They’re also fearful of the cost of designing, building, and maintaining their applications and integrating them to other essential services, protecting data privacy and security.
We engage with our customers at an early stage to help them develop their strategy and to help them grow their digital capabilities organically. With this approach, our customers don’t have to spend millions of dollars upfront without any clarity on the end results.
Some of the challenges we help our customers overcome includes –
- Addressing Deployment Issues through Hybrid edgeCloud Platform — We help our customers and partners increase the speed and efficiency of application delivery. mimik’s Hybrid edgeCloud technology is a common platform that unites development, operations, security, QA to embrace DevOps independent of infrastructure, network, operating system, and application technology.
- Modernizing the Application Delivery for the Hyper Digital Era — Many business applications are legacy applications that were not designed for the Hyper digital era. mimik technology can increase delivery speed by modernizing existing applications to adapt to the markets and customers’ evolving needs. Hybrid edgeCloud Platform helps our customers and partners remove dependencies on the underlying infrastructures while building applications that are portable from far edge, on-premise infrastructure to the cloud. Developers can also take advantage of the Platform’s automation capabilities and DevOps practices to simplify existing applications’ migration to the new digital era.
- Developing New Applications to Address New Business Opportunities — At mimik, we help our customers turn ideas into services and products quickly and efficiently and increase the speed of developing new applications to address new business opportunities.
- mimik’s edgecloud-native approach to building new applications is a step toward accelerating the path from idea to innovative applications with support from service-based architecture, API integrations, containerized services, DevOps and automation practices, and tools.
- mimik’s Hybrid edgeCloud Platform provides tools and processes that support innovation and experimentation across the organization.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Creating Customer-Centric Strategies and Services — Customer data contains information that helps businesses make decisions, improve operational efficiency, and/or generate additional revenues. Most companies collect mountains of data but don’t use the right tools and strategies for analyzing the data while honoring consumer privacy. Companies can use digital transformation to create customer-centric strategies, provide more relevant content and services based on the customer data and the metrics collected securely while valuing and protecting customer data.
- Creating a Collaborative and Dynamic Digital Environment — For the company to stay competitive and digitally relevant, the combined digital tools will enable the organization to adapt to the evolving business needs and the rapid changes. The company leaders need to have a clear understanding of the tools and foster an environment where all the team members value digital learning and upskilling consistently.
- Increased Agility and Productivity — As a software company moving to new markets and vertical industries and improving our business strategies, we have increased agility by adopting more efficient workflow, innovation, and adaptation practices.
- Efficient Resource Management — Digital transformation affects every unit of a company and can lead to efficiency and increased collaboration, consistency, and innovation across departments. At mimik, we consolidate information and resources and bring company resources to one place. The team members have all the necessary tools to form agile teams and tackle evolving challenges iteratively without hindering the progress in other tasks and projects.
- Increased Profits — To stay competitive and increase profitability, the collaboration between technology and business processes is a must. The digital transformation of business processes will increase efficiency, productivity, and better decision-making, facilitating market penetration, nurturing the customer base, providing better customer satisfaction, and increasing profits.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
The technology specialists prefer to work in an environment where they feel inspired and challenged. In my opinion, companies should have a well-defined innovation strategy and roadmap, and a governance process that will reduce resistance to change and the ability to adapt to the rapid pace of change. Focus on well-defined problems and solutions and invest in projects and campaigns that can deliver a return on investment in a set time frame to counter the risks of losing the competitive advantage and the collaborative spirit among team members.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
By Krishnamurti: Understand the whole of life
“You must understand the whole of life, not just one part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, why you must sing, dance and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.”
Similarly, I think; life is the rainbow. It’s only beautiful when all the colors exist and only magical when your inner self shines on a rainy day.
No two feelings or rainbows are the same. Acknowledge & embrace your feelings, without them is like living life color blind. Face and enjoy the emotions that it brings because it’s only through them that you understand your true self and be empowered to take on new challenges.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can also contact our developer team through GitHub and StackOverflow.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!