Smart Business Magazine March Corporate Profile

Rivers Agile Founder Ben Wilson on the role of technology in the pandemic

Through the pandemic, Rivers Agile Founder and CEO Ben Wilson has heard business owners say they need visibility to navigate through the disruption. Many leaders have lost the ability to stay ahead of their business, often falling into a reactionary mode. It’s not an optimal way to operate.

That has led the conversation around to technology. However, in conversations Wilson has had, he finds technology might be a stand-in for the real issue.

“It’s access to this data that business leaders need to resume the proactive leadership role that has led to their success,” Wilson says.

Not long ago, it was palatable for data to live in disparate systems so long as they could be manually compiled later. As most workforces are now leaner, manual compilation from employees isn’t an option. As a result, Rivers Agile is seeing a lot of integration work, new initiatives for data management and also making more information available to mid-level managerial roles.

“Predictability is key,” Wilson says. “Even if it’s negative, business owners can pivot as necessary.
We’re seeing a lot of initiatives centered around getting more data to leaders so they can make better decisions.”

Insight through technology

AI and machine learning are still, in the minds of some, practically science fiction. But in reality, that technology has become more accessible, applicable and affordable, and it’s helping companies today be faster and make better decisions. Machine learning, for example, is being applied to understand and possibly predict customer churn, view new buying trends, and predict changes in operating expenses.

Recent reports show that more than 50 percent of businesses have already deployed machine learning within their business. And this past year has proven that even great leaders need technology to gain clarity.
Further, many organizations, including Rivers Agile, learned of technology gaps within their organization. These gaps were exposed by the business reaction to the pandemic. And already there’s been a swell in new technology initiatives all aimed at filling these gaps and running a better business.

Still, for all the complexity that might seem embedded within AI and machine learning, Wilson says the software developers, testers, researchers, strategists and innovators at Rivers Agile are seeing a return to simplicity.

“There’s a trend toward straight- forward strategy that invests more heavily in quality,” he says. “Any spend is overanalyzed at this point of the pandemic. What once was a race to see how much can be done in any given time is now carved into smaller efforts with a focus on finishing, and finishing well.”

Builders of innovation

But technology and software solutions don’t just appear and make businesses better. These are organizational initiatives that require effective implementation. That means finding the right solutions provider.

Wilson says finding the right solutions provider starts by considering the role you want from that provider. They could lead the charge for your organization, or simply execute the vision you have defined. Then there’s pure engineering capability. It’s important that companies do their due diligence in this regard. Look at their track record and check references.

It’s also important to consider business acumen — whether the vendor takes the time to truly understand your industry and business, how it makes money, loses money, or introduces risk. And determine whether the provider is good at even the most basic things, such as doing business.

“Gone are the days where you hire the cheapest or the most bespoke vendor,” Wilson says. “Partner with someone who cares, understands your vision, and has a reputation for delivery.”

To that end, Wilson has built an “engineering first” culture at Rivers Agile. It’s a mindset that affects all parts of the software engineering, quality assurance and project management business.

“We ask, ‘How can we help solve your problem?’” Wilson says. “It’s easy to allow influences like client
demands, internal conflict or market trends impact the solution. But we can’t let that shift our focus from iterative delivery, asset reusability and scalability. We are builders of innovation and our work must stand alone in the end.”

Let’s work together

During these unprecedented times, Rivers Agile is here to help your business adapt. Whether it’s stabilizing your engineering output, protecting your project delivery or scaling your technology to meet demand – we can help you meet the challenge. Learn more about how we’re engineering solutions. Reach out to our experienced team to start the conversation.

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