Bedford, Massachusetts-based Progress is a software company that has a portfolio of solutions which includes mission-critical business application development, mobile app development, machine learning, frontend developer tooling, a serverless cloud platform and data connectors. Progress empowers over 1,700 independent software vendors (ISVs), 100,000 enterprise customers and 2 million developers in building cognitive-first applications that utilize Big Data in order to derive business insights and competitive advantages. In fact, Progress is the largest vendor in the world whose primary customer base is other software vendors. To learn more about the company, I interviewed Progress CEO and President Yogesh Gupta.
Gupta came to the US from India in the early 1980s to pursue a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. As those were the early days in artificial intelligence, he found that neither the computing power nor the amounts of data needed were available to make the technology practical at the time. So he switched to graduate work in databases and joined the corporate world after that.
His first job was with a database company called Cullinet, which was acquired by Computer Associates (now CA Technologies). Over the years, he worked in various roles at CA Technologies in product development, marketing and M&A. And he was chief technology officer (CTO) of CA Technologies for 5 years.
During that period, the company innovated and launched new products for securing and managing web and mobile infrastructures along with managing products that generated over $4 billion annually. After that, he ran the M&A practice at CA Technologies while the company acquired 18 companies for about $2 billion.
In 2007, Gupta became the CEO of FatWire, a web content management company that grew at a rapid pace and got acquired by Oracle. After that, Gupta became CEO of Kaseya, an IT management cloud software company. In two years, FatWire transitioned from under 20% subscription to over 85% in just two years under Gupta’s leadership. “I’ve led a range of organizations from start-ups to public tech companies and though I’m a technologist at heart, I blend my experiences as a developer, marketer, CTO and customer-centric CEO into a unified whole. I love mentoring entrepreneurs and I’m passionate about how technology can make life and work easier and better,” said Gupta in the interview.
Progress logo at the company office
Gupta joined Progress in October 2016 to help define the future of application development. Progress has been around for more than 35 years as it was founded in 1981. At the time of launching, Progress’ focus was to build mission-critical applications and that is still the goal today. Even though the technologies involved dramatically changed, the mission is still the same, Gupta told me.
“The 1980s were the command line era, then in the 90s and early 2000s our focus was on the GUI followed by the web. Now it’s all about the cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT), and enabling cognitive-first applications that harness Big Data for competitive advantage,” Gupta explained. “And now we are excited to embrace the future with a strategy that includes continuous investment in our core technologies, while providing everything needed to build modern applications—development tools to easily create user experiences across mobile, web, chat and all of the evolving interface types; a secure, scalable microservices-based cloud application platform; machine learning capabilities; and connectivity to any and all data sources out there. We are focused on offering our customers and partners the best technologies to build the future of their business applications.”
For business applications to be cognitive, they need to have three components: 1.) a flexible frontend to deliver adaptive user experiences across any channel 2.) a cognitive cloud with the ability to support predictive analytics and serverless backend services and 3.) universal connectivity to all data either on-premise or in the cloud. “A great example of this involves a client who had breakdown problems with their industrial washing machines, like the ones used on military bases, hotels and hospitals. Unpredictable breakdowns leading to business disruptions were becoming unacceptable,” Gupta pointed out. “Their team of data scientists worked for nine months on a model to predict which machines would fail and when. They got to about a 35% accuracy rating, which just wasn’t good enough. So, they came to us, we installed our Meta Learning solution and 48 hours later we were at 80% accuracy, giving them the insights required to identify problems before they occurred, as well as understand what they needed to do to prevent them. Cognitive predictive maintenance is a great demonstration of the power of this technology.”
What Products Does Progress Offer?
Progress’ cognitive solutions provide a series of powerful frontend development tools a serverless cloud backend, machine learning and predictive analytics capabilities to deliver a great user experience no matter the device used. Here is a breakdown of some of the cognitive products that Progress offers:
Progress Kinvey provides a serverless cloud platform to power multi-channel digital experiences and is a leading platform offering a flexible microservices and cloud-based set of application backend services.
In addition, Kinvey is HIPAA compliant and as part of the larger Progress Health Cloud solution provides healthcare customers with the first enterprise health cloud that fully integrates frontend, backend and data connectivity technologies into a single platform for quickly creating apps to drive patient engagement and healthcare outcomes.
“It has also been integrated with our data connectivity products so that our customers can build applications that use data from any source in their business apps,” Gupta assured.
DataRPM is a leading machine learning technology that provides anomaly detection and prediction for asset-intensive organizations to gain control over the volume of sensor data coming from every machine and asset. The automated approach reduces the time required to develop and operationalize models, making data scientists more effective.
The initial focus of DataRPM was and still is on predictive maintenance for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). And it is especially fitting to meet the needs of Progress’ large installed base in the industrial sector that is looking to minimize downtime, disruption and revenue loss due to equipment failures. “DataRPM enables these organizations to detect and predict machine failures before they occur, saving companies millions of dollars in downtime costs and part quality issues. This is a technology that is also applicable to other vertical use cases. Machine learning is a core part of our portfolio and DataRPM brought leading capabilities in this area to Progress,” Gupta affirmed.
Progress Software acquired DataRPM and Kinvey in March 2017 and June 2017, respectively. “Both these companies brought us industry-leading, best-in-class product offerings, as well as talented and experienced teams with specialized knowledge. The teams have been integrated, as have the products, to deliver valuable solutions to our customers,” Gupta noted.
Progress also offers a patented data connectivity product, which provides a single API to connect to all the data, whether on-premises or in the cloud, to build meaningful solutions that drive business results. This technology is “OEM’d” by large software companies like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, IBM and Adobe.
Gupta told me that Progress has had numerous customers that have been working with them for decades. And one customer pointed out that they have not had any downtime in 7 years, “which is just incredible!” Gupta gleefully mentioned. “That is why we have tens of thousands of organizations using our flagship Progress OpenEdge, our platform for the development of mission-critical business applications, decades later and a development community that is over 2 million strong. This mantra of ‘it just works’ has been the bar we set for any new products that we bring in or launch. We want our technology to make life easier for developers and to turn developers into superheroes within their organizations.”
When I asked Gupta who some of Progress’ customers are, he said that there are many of them that are worth showcasing. For example, NASA uses Progress’ developer tools to take the data captured from their Mars Rover missions and present it in an engaging way to the general public and other scientists for consumption. And the Green Bay Packers use Progress’ technology to create a mobile web presence that is quadrupling customer engagement. In Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, there is a company called Hello Tractor that built the mobile application for its Smart Tractor program on Progress, making it possible for farmers without access to tractors have a tractor come and till their fields -- which dramatically increases yields and the food security for the local and regional population.
In May, Progress is hosting a user conference called ProgressNEXT in Boston. At the conference, participants will be able to learn, collaborate and network with industry and technology peers. And they can interact one-on-one with the Progress team and executives.
Towards the end of the interview, I asked Gupta what some of Progress’ future company goals are. “From day one our vision has been to provide the best platform for our customers and partners to build modern business-critical applications, more easily and more rapidly. That vision continues as we help our customers move into the future of cognitive applications,” Gupta concluded. “Technology, and application development specifically, continues to change and advance rapidly. To stay ahead of the technologies our customers need, innovation is always at the core of what we do. We do this in our product roadmaps and we experiment with the newest most cutting-edge technologies in our Progress Labs. In Progress Labs we have teams working on things like chatbots, augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain, and much, much more – technologies that we know will be important to our customers in the near future."
"Innovation comes in many forms from many places, and we believe that our talented employees possess the ideas that will carry Progress and our customers into the future," said Dmitri Tcherevik, Chief Technology Officer, Progress. "With the establishment of Progress Labs, we're giving our best and brightest a unique opportunity to explore their ideas with the full support of an established technology leader, with the goal of driving new value to our customers over time."
With ideas exploring augmented, virtual reality, blockchain, edge computing for IoT, new AI-based applications and more, a multitude of new Progress Labs applications are already in hand with the next cohort underway. For more information about Progress Labs and to track the progress of future cohorts, please click here.