Richard Bezjian has now been one of the trailblazers in the High Tech Industry for over three decades. He has worked at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) initially in the engineering design teams for computer chips. He then moved to sales and marketing for Hewlett-Packard’s largest accounts (Fortune 100) such as AT&T, GE and others.
He then founded Graphics Software, Inc. (Cambridge, MA later Mosaic), a pioneering firm which became the first software company to ship a number of first-to-market software products for IBM computers, including the well-known Business Graphics “Chartman/Chartstar”. Chartman became the best-selling graphics product for IBM. His company also invented “Integrated Software products”. He grew the company globally and its products extended over PCs, workstations, servers and networks.
Its clients extended to Fortune 500 companies as well as NASA space station. Mr. Bezjian established offices in UK and Asia, and partnerships with leading companies around the world. These included NEC, KG, KuChoi/China, Esselte/Scandinavia, and in USA with companies including Microsoft, IBM, DEC, HP, SCO, Oracle, and many others. Mr. Bezjian was one of the first US executives to establish Off-shore delivery centers and R&D centers in India, China, Brazil, Armenia, Bulgaria and other nations.
Hello, Mr. Bezjian. Energize Global Services is now a company with a veteran status in IT with more than 20 years of experience. What was the beginning of this journey like?
Certainly, I’ve been in the IT since the early days, creating successful software companies in the USA. We were creating best-selling software such as the world’s first integrated tools software, years before MS Office. We started small, but the word spread about my activities, sparking interest in launching a European division with European work culture and Western Europe time zone placement. The initial phase had its struggles, due to the global banking crisis, which slowed down our growth.
Despite the setbacks, our perseverance eventually bore fruit. We had built up a solid, good reputation, our customers were really liking and appreciating what we were doing and the market was picking up steam. The rapid changes in the market left our clients trying to catch up, and they turned to us for tailored solutions and help. So basically, we grew in tandem with our customers and the market, and the company developed a focus on certain fields – like for example financial technologies, payment space, banking, core banking, and mobile banking applications. As I say sometimes, no matter how intelligent and motivated you are, you have to be at the right place, at the right time and you should not mess up your chance.
I feel very confident to say that you are one of the biggest supporters of cloud-based data for every business. Why cloud computing is so important in 2023?
Certainly, observing emerging trends has taught me to respect their potential. There is a tendency by people to not jump on new things because they either don’t understand it or they feel they are okay with the current state of things. And this is just the human nature of not changing when they are used to something.
The challenge is to find a way to convince whole companies or organizations, with many people working inside, who all are set in their way of thinking, that something called “the cloud” is emerging and why they need to go there. First of all, there is a psychological impact – this is another expense and another shift in the way of working for the company. The unknown is always a barrier for the people. This is even more valid for financial institutions because banks in general are conservative and are hesitant to embrace the change.
In this new era of swift progress, refusing to acknowledge and adopt emerging technologies, substantiated by real-world success, would be a mistake. Remaining competitive necessitates embracing change, even when it involves venturing into uncharted territory. Businesses need to recognize the value cloud technology offers and seize its potential, given that competitors who do so gain a strategic edge. It’s about seizing opportunities in a changing landscape.
Reflecting on the origins of cloud-based technology, when did this evolution start?
Cloud technology traces back two decades and people don’t often know it. Let me tell you a story. In one of my companies, we created a tool to make websites back when the internet was new. It took off, and we even made an e-commerce version called “Web Shop” that rocked the market. We shipped a few million licenses – Hewlett-Packard bundled it with every scanner, America Online was selling it to their customers. So, in 1998, we were the first all-in-one e-commerce software. This was very new and we would go and talk to banks about e-commerce accounts and they would refuse saying they didn’t know what that was and didn’t want to deal with it.
So, we needed a data center. We created two rooms in our office in Belmont, Massachusetts and put servers inside where our clients could host their e-commerce websites built with our software. And one day we received a letter from a company, called Amazon. They intended to build a data center and they were looking for somebody with experience to participate in the tender and help them design it.
When I was reading this letter, I was thinking “Amazon? But they are booksellers”. Back then Jeff Bezos and his company were shipping these heavy, printed books from his garage. Later I found out that he was getting tired of shipping books and he wanted his customers to download the books. That way he could sell more and do it more easily. So basically, that was the beginning of what 25 years later became Amazon Web Services. So, it’s not something new. These things take time.
So, what are the main incentives for businesses to go on the cloud?
The shift towards the cloud is a gradual evolution, not an overnight occurrence. Cloud providers have these massive centers all over the world that offer scalability at lower costs.
Consider this: In the past, businesses purchased individual software solutions for various needs. The cloud, however, provides access to a range of software at a lower cost due to volume discounts negotiated with providers. The traditional model has become cost-intensive, requiring an expanded IT workforce. Nowadays, companies, regardless of their core business, are heavily reliant on the internet. They must invest significantly in IT resources, hiring specialists in various fields. This technological demand can be costly.
For many, it’s very enticing if all this is done by an expert, global company that can do this for them while they focus on their main tasks without having to worry about things like downtime.
We are in a time of constant upkeeping performance. How can thousands of companies do that all the time? So, the cloud brings that significant advantage.
However, it’s crucial to note that the cloud is not the answer to everything. It has its pros and cons. To fully benefit from the cloud, integration into existing systems and the cloud dashboards is essential. This integration can be complex and raises concerns about relying on another company for critical assets, similar to a utility company. Cloud providers hold the key, and non-payment can result in service suspension.
In general, I don’t think that everything is going to go to cloud, because the cloud also has some deficiencies regarding security, data breach and none of these companies can give you 100% guarantee. They cannot even if they say they can. If there is something very confidential, we always tell our clients: let’s segregate that, keep that confidential data in your facility and move other things to cloud.
Can you tell me a little bit more about Identity Access Management – a solution you provide to the customers? Why it is important for the business?
Certainly, IAM is essential in our technology-driven world. 30-40 years ago, when I was doing electric engineering at the university in Boston and we were playing around with chips and we were programming the CPU and then developing applications, IT was still in its infancy. There weren’t even dedicated software degrees in universities; it was a time of experimentation.
Fast forward to today, where businesses rely on a multitude of software and applications from various sources. In larger companies, managing licenses for all these services can become a nightmare. You can’t simply open access to everything for everyone because it’s not cost-effective, and stopping unnecessary licenses is equally crucial.
That’s where IAM comes into play. It centralizes access control, addressing the growing need for it as companies expand their infrastructure. However, many companies lack the expertise and resources to manage this efficiently. The bigger the companies, the bigger this problem gets.
We’ve developed an IAM service with a dedicated team of experts to handle this complexity. And we do it really quickly.
Imagine this – new people come to the company, they sit at their desk, and they have a computer but they can’t do everything with it, because they don’t have access. Sometimes new employees wait for weeks and even months to be properly connected to the company infrastructure and systems. So, the employers are losing money and this just can’t happen. The new person should be up and running within no more than 3 or 4 days. So basically, this is what we are doing with the Identity Access Management.
So, it’s fair to say that Identity Access Management will cost extra money for the company, but at the same time, it saves money in the long term?
Yes, but it is not just a thing you should consider if you have money to invest, but it is a must-have. It’s a mission-critical service to be efficient.
What are the recent technology trends that will have a significant impact on the IT services and consulting landscape? For example, the AI and opportunities it provides?
Well, AI is a new area and it has been in development for a while. It started with machine learning and big data like 7 to 10 years ago. The key driving force is that we have reached the capacity of what a human person’s brain can do and how much information can be processed. So, there is that issue –humanity is reaching the limit of how much we can do or create on our own, because of the limitation of the body.
However, AI is still in its early stages. For a technology to succeed, it must pass certain filters: ease of use, capability, cost-effectiveness, and in the case of AI, legality. AI often relies on existing content, and the legal questions surrounding data usage are complex. We expect a lot of litigations in this space because the basis is going to be content that was taken and fed to the machine. So, in a way – AI is reselling existing data, but with an intermediate engine that can reconfigure some things to your prompt. And by the way – every prompt that you put inside is being used to train the AI engine as well.
AI is a journey, and we’re currently in the early adopter phase. AI is going to restructure itself and become a more globally scalable platform people can use safely. And we should not think that AI as we see it today is going to be the end game. For example, while Chat GPT can generate coherent text, it might not always provide the optimized accuracy needed. AI will give us 70-80% accuracy, but that remaining 20% will be the question.
What’s your company’s future vision?
Well, the core we have created is at the center of three continent and we basically can cover everybody in the world for all types of services, technologies, innovations, products, support and everything else. We have multiple locations and we call that Geo centers because our customers are in many parts of the world and even if they are in one place, let’s say in New York or in Silicon Valley, they have big clients in different parts of the world that need support. We make sure that our centers are specialized and deliver unique value to customers. This is a big differentiation that will continue to be one of our drivers going forward.
We’ve also focused on niche markets like financial technologies, banking, and the growing pharmaceutical and biotech sectors.
Cost-effectiveness and security are top priorities. We maintain certifications and prioritize secure coding. Let me tell you that 80% of the software in banking or other places in the world today is legacy code created about 10-15 years ago, upgraded, updated a long time now. This presents security risks.
We’re experts in modern technologies like Spring, Angular, Kubernetes, and Microservices, allowing us to build secure, scalable platforms to serve larger user bases for the decades to come.
In terms of cloud migration, we don’t say to our clients let’s take your old bicycle and just move it and put it from this garage to that garage. That doesn’t give much value. We say to them, we’re going to take your bicycle, we’re going to refurbish it, maybe create a new bicycle fit for the new world and then deploy the new one.
So, there’s migration, there’s recreating, redeveloping, something that is very important when people join with a company that can help them as a technology partner. This is our specialty.
With 600 experts globally, we have the knowledge and execution capability to be a valuable technology partner for companies in their journeys forward.