Leadership Insight: Eran Yaniv, CEO and Founder Perfecto

Financial services were early movers in recognising the potential of mobile and digital transformation, but how are they maintaining the quality of their apps? Eran Yaniv, CEO and Founder of continuous testing and monitoring platform Perfecto, tells QA Financial about the company’s experience with financial services and outlines plans for significant investment

For many of us, stepping into a bank branch has become a rare, or maybe non-existent, occasion. Digital banking is now the norm for most people, and banking applications have become an integral part to driving a bank’s business. While financial services may not be the most technologically advanced, they were certainly the most advanced in seeing the potential of mobile and digital transformation.

And this is where Boston-based, privately-held, Perfecto comes in. Since 2006, Perfecto has helped organisations deliver high quality digital experiences to customers by offering its Continuous Quality Lab, a cloud-based test lab, comprising real devices and real end-user conditions. Over recent years, the company has expanded the Lab’s capabilities to include continuous testing across web, desktop and IoT applications.

Eran Yaniv, CEO and Founder of Perfecto, told QA Financial that the company started in mobile after identifying a gap in the market, and originally focused on providing its services to the telecoms sector. But this soon changed as smartphones gained popularity in the 2000s and mobile applications became an important part of a company’s revenue generation, particularly in the banking sector.

“We soon realised that we should be working with banks which were developing free applications for their customers. These apps were driving a lot of business in the back end – it was clear that this was where the big business was,” explained Yaniv. And today, banks make up the majority of Perfecto’s customer base.

In this interview, Yaniv talks about gaining market share in the financial services sector, the challenges of settling cloud security concerns amongst its financial customers, and outlines plans for major external investment as the company heads into 2018.

Q. Who are Perfecto’s financial services clients?

Although not the most technologically advanced, financial services were some of the early movers in developing mobile applications, and today they represent our biggest customer segment.

Our customers range from financial services providers like Rabobank and Tangerine, to payments platform operator PayPal. In fact, our client portfolio consists of seven out of ten of the world’s biggest banks, as well as five of the biggest North American insurance companies, and we have customers spending seven-digit figures with us, annually.

Because Perfecto has been so successful in working with financial services, when we look at penetrating new geographical markets, we find this sector a great place to start.

Perfecto’s solutions are now used to test applications across web, IoT and desktop, as well as mobile. 70% of our business is made up of working on consumer-facing applications, and 30% involves internal business applications, like HR, tax and project management systems, with some cross-over in between.

Financial services do make up the majority of our customer base, but our services are applied across a number of markets, including automotive and retail.

Q. What are the main challenges your financial customers face when developing and testing applications for mobile devices?

In terms of developing mobile applications, challenges are similar across all verticals. But when it comes to financial services, a common challenge is making sure that any legacy systems that are in place are tested as part of the end-to-end cycle.

Another challenge we have encountered when setting up robust, large-scale labs in the cloud for financial services is the amount of security concerns this can raise. Persuading banks to move data offsite and onto a cloud platform did raise concerns in the beginning, but Perfecto identified this fairly early on and has gained vast amounts of intelligence and experience over the years. We take security very seriously and have the relevant security measures and appropriate certifications in place to settle these concerns.

Competitive pressure within the financial services market is also something that all banks are currently facing. Not only are large traditional banks developing and releasing applications at a faster and faster rate, but new challenger, digital banks are popping up across the market.

When it comes to application testing, there are also external factors that arise that are out of a bank’s control. And in fact, the entire nature of testing has changed. It’s no longer good enough to just test an application on various devices – applications need to be tested in a number of real life environments and scenarios.

Perfecto’s cloud-based platform is ideally placed for this type of testing. For example, an application can be tested in the event that network signal is lost, a device is low on memory, the device is shaking, or in a specific location.

Q. Who do you see as your main competitors in the mobile testing space? What is Perfecto’s technology edge?

Large cloud providers do stand as a form of competition for us, but when you look at Perfecto’s product offering, I would say there are very few direct competitors for us. We offer the complete solution for QA teams, that is, we offer the lab in the cloud where we can create different environments that enable developers to create robust scripting based on the OpenSource standard. We offer execution and integration tools, analytics that provide good insight into the quality of the application and the quality of the testing set up for continuous improvement. Other software companies will tend to focus on either the development side or the testing side – rarely both.

Because Perfecto is so experienced in the mobile world, we ensure that our test environments are updated with the latest mobile updates ahead of time. For example, our customers will not be waiting in line for the latest iPhone device or operating system. Perfecto’s platform will be kitted out with the relevant updates ahead of release so its customers can plan ahead and start testing immediately in both the mobile and the desktop domains.

Q. What changes have you seen over the last few years in mobile technology? What do you anticipate will be the next “big thing” in mobile technology?

In 2017, audio technology and audio interaction became a big player in the market – not only in mobile applications but across desktop too. Perfecto’s platform supports various use cases of voice activated testing, but we anticipate this to be more pervasive as we head into 2018.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also making waves across the industry – the capability of systems to adopt and learn. AI has huge potential in the testing domain too. As we head further into the new year, Perfecto will be increasing its investment in analytics as we aim to incorporate AI into our analytics tools in order to provide business insights.

Q: What were the drivers behind offering cloud-based services rather than an off-the-shelf product?

The first thing to point out is that everybody is moving to the cloud.

Perfecto has always offered cloud-based solutions and services. The idea arose from my time working at Comverse developing an instant messaging service for AT&T. There, all of the development was done in Israel and when the time came to deploy in the USA we found that nothing really worked well – there were issues related to network behaviour and device firmware. We needed to test remotely in a network in order to reach devices that were in the USA. This was the idea behind our remote cloud-based solution.

My past experience has meant that we have developed cloud-based solutions from the very beginning.

Q: What does the future hold for Perfecto?

I love the future – it’s exciting.

The market is not yet mature, but it is certainly moving very fast towards us and I can see that big players are dwindling and going away. As enterprises refactor how they deliver software to go faster with DevOps, a market disruption has occurred in that quality is now built into every stage of development. And this is creating a need for a new market leader. The market is calling for a new gorilla, and with a few smart moves, we can earn that role.

During 2017, we strengthened our executive team to prepare the company for exploring growth and investment options, and the Board has taken steps to ready the team for significantly scaling company growth.

We plan to continue to broaden our offerings and invest in new technologies such as the ever-growing need for scale and digital engagement through whatever means – whether it be audio, video or gestures. We will also continue, and even increase, investment in analytics itself and as a part of incorporating AI in our technology.

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