Gaston Milano is a CTO of GeneXus, an Uruguayan software company that focuses on simplifying software development with the pinch of automation since 1988 and is present in more than 35 countries worldwide. In his exclusive interview, Gaston discusses his business career and broad perspective as a leader and software developer. He talks about GeneXus’s growth and shares the secret sauce of success in the new normal.
1) What is GeneXus? What is the vision behind the company?
GeneXus is software that makes software. It is the first intelligent low-code platform for developing applications and systems that enable the automatic creation, development, and maintenance of programs, databases, and mission-critical applications in multiple languages and on different platforms. All applications created with GeneXus can be automatically adapted to changes in businesses, as well as to the new possibilities that technological progress brings along.
With this magic, GeneXus enables customers to make hundreds of changes to the application in a single day without worrying about programming. Hundreds of iterations of the process, optimizing the application, without having to write a single line of code. But, even though, this is good magic, what's most important is the underlying philosophy: The user has the knowledge necessary to create the best application possible, therefore, we have to focus on him/her to create the ideal model for the application.
Our company and platform have grown a lot in the three decades since our foundation, but something has remained unchanged in these 30 years: Our purpose to simplify software development, based on a unique theory and architecture in the world that respond to continuous technological evolution and enable our customers to automatically evolve software systems of any size and complexity.
2) How the tools developed by GeneXus benefits modern businesses?
For more than 30 years, GeneXus has helped companies build mission-critical software quickly, often by people with little or no coding experience.
More than 9,000 enterprises in 50 countries now rely on GeneXus to modernize mission-critical legacy systems, integrate different systems, digitally transform, and accelerate the creation of enterprise applications.
~ Gaston Milano
GeneXus remains the pioneer in the broad category referred to as the low-code platforms, helping enterprises reap the benefits of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and multi-experience applications through automatically generated code.
3) Being the CTO, what are your responsibilities?
First of all, I try to understand and conduct research on relevant technology for building mission-critical applications. I work on innovation in software construction automation using various techniques.
Leading a team of professionals and motivating a spirit of continuous growth in terms of knowledge of technology are among my main tasks.
4) GeneXus was launched in 1989 as one of the earliest software maintenance tools. How is it different from the other software companies that came into existence almost 20 years later?
The main difference with our competitors relate to:
a) The ability to evolve projects in terms of functionalities and any technology, current or future.
b) GeneXus having the greatest technological flexibility, and more languages, databases, and supported platforms than the rest.
c) As per developer-seat licensing structure, instead of an end-user-based one, which results in more competitive projects from a budget point of view.
Finally, perhaps the most remarkable thing is that we believe in high-performance small teams and associations rather than growth in the number of people. We still feel like a startup that is forging its way.
5) Tell us about your 23-year long association with GeneXus.
GeneXus and my time at University have trained me in every sense: human, administrative, and innovation. GeneXus taught me to be a builder, first of all, something that I enjoy to this day. If I am not in a construction process, I am not enjoying life.
6) What is automation? Why is it important?
Automation means automatically doing the process of building something. It is important because it allows efficient processes, in human terms automation, saves us time and quality of life, allowing us to focus on added-value activities rather than on tedious tasks that we already know how to do.
Automation is the heart of any digital transformation.
~ Gaston Milano
7) What is the future of automation in popular business?
These transformations have strong effects in regards to the experiences that customers and users have with our business. Automation is essential to enable a true transformation where time and money are saved in the medium term and at the same time experiences are significantly improved.
8) How are low-code applications making a change? What are their benefits and limitations?
Today, there is no software development team that can cope with the huge demand for app creation out there. Around the world, teams have huge backlogs of developments and maintenance tasks delayed and stocking up. If you think about it, all business sectors use software to simplify their work (banking, insurance, logistics, etc.), except the traditional software industry which keeps focusing on hand-written code.
And the truth is that it is impossible to cope with the current demand for software with just manual programming. What’s more, there aren’t enough resources today to meet the ever-increasing demand for code — and this issue is only getting worse. Here is where low-code platforms come to play a vital role. Low-code simplifies the work of the pragmatic developers, allowing them to deliver mission-critical applications in a fraction of the time of hand-written code, and often with higher quality.
9) Do you think digitization will solve many problems for the present? What are some of the major benefits of digitization?
Undoubtedly, as I said before, the channels and benefits for the UX of the users are countless.
The biggest benefit for anyone is time savings. This saving of time can involve something very profound. For example, timely and proper medical care can save a life. The delivery of a product can be relevant in someone's life. In addition to time, digitization allows us to avoid contacts, it is no longer just saving time, it is taking care of ourselves and avoiding unnecessary interactions.
10) You have been taking lectures at the Universidad de la Empresa for more than 8 years. Why does a CTO of a leading tech company spend so much time educating youngsters? And how do you manage to take out this time from your packed schedule?
I firmly believe one of the greatest sources for learning is young people, my 3 children, students, and the new generations.
Being close to them is, from my point of view, all that is good in the world, surely I should be even spending more time. Many times, to investigate means often asking the right questions, and many times my students were a source of inspiration to ask questions that I would not have asked.
Teaching makes me wear a “white belt” over and over again in subjects that perhaps otherwise I would not have been exposed to. Putting myself in a position where I am uncomfortable, is what I think makes me a better professional, and not to mention that in human terms it is a great experience.
11) What are the current trends in mobile technology development which you would like to share with your audience?
In the mobile field, there are a set of trends such as 5G, ML on devices, Augmented Reality that will allow us to use apps for things not previously thought of.
When it comes to building mobile applications, I think Super Apps-Mini-Apps will be a trend at some point in the years to come.
12) How did GeneXus tackle the pandemic and the lockdown? What has changed since then?
On March 13th, 2020, the first four coronavirus cases appeared in Uruguay, where GeneXus is headquartered. A group of us from the private sector started thinking about how we should help the government in this fight. We came up with the idea of developing an app that could
avoid two grave dangers:
1) An explosive spread of the virus among the population.
2) The collapse of the health system and communication channels with the population. Two days later, the government gave the green light, and in 1 week we had Coronavirus UY readily available for the general population to download at the stores. The app, developed using GeneXus low-code, provides a secure self-assessment mechanism for COVID-19 without overloading phone lines and avoiding the movements of people, which is intended to improve care for those who suspect they have COVID-19. It also includes features such as drive-through testing to reduce the possibility of infection, and even offers telemedicine for those who test positive. The system optimizes communication between the population and health care providers by assisting citizens who require a medical evaluation. The app was also the first in Latin America and the fourth in the world to integrate the Exposure Notification technology developed by Google and Apple. The success of this app, and how it helped to keep Covid-19 at bay in Uruguay, only goes to prove the great role that low-code tools have to play at present. GeneXus 17 Live (English) - YouTube
13) What do you observe when you see young tech-entrepreneurs trying to make it big in today’s world? How is the current scenario different from when you started your career?
I love it. It’s the only way forward, to populate the world with new, fresh ideas. The world is hungry for them. Naturally, there are much more opportunities now than when I was growing up.
Technology and software especially, have democratized opportunities throughout the world and have made it more collaborative.
~ Gaston Milano
They have leveled the scales. Nowadays, we all have more or less the same access to information and knowledge, whether you are in Uruguay, the United States or India and people are working together to solve common issues. This opens unimaginable possibilities.
14) What is in the future for GeneXus?
Lots of interesting things! We are currently working on the release of new web and mobile generators. We continue to innovate in AI, security, integrations, APIs, and future-proofing. We are also collaborating with other big tech companies for strategic alliances.
15) What tips will you give to young entrepreneurs in 2021?
Dream big, test quickly, fail fast, correct, and try again. And that no matter what the current technology trend is, the secret sauce is always people.
- Gaston shares GeneXus's aim is to simplify software development based on a unique theory and architecture in the world that respond to continuous technological evolution and enable our customers to automatically evolve software systems of any size and complexity.
- Gaston believes in high-performance small teams and associations rather than growth in the number of people.
- Low-code applications simplify the work of the pragmatic developers, allowing them to deliver mission-critical applications in a fraction of the time of hand-written code, and often with higher quality.
- 5G, ML on devices, Augmented Reality is the current trend in mobile technology development.
- GeneXus is working on the release of new web and mobile generators. They continue to innovate in AI, security, integrations, APIs, and future-proofing. Milano also talked about future collaboration opportunities with other big tech companies for strategic alliances.
- Gaston revealed, “Dream big, test quickly, fail fast, correct, and try again.”
Thank you Gaston for taking the time to talk to us.
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