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Why value is the icing on top of the digital layer cake

I often find inspiration in many things, none more so than film. One particular favourite was 2004’s Layer Cake,* which sees Daniel Craig navigate his way through the murky underworld until he meets the mastermind behind the curtain, Mr Temple. In a poignant scene in a bonded warehouse, our mob boss explains to our protagonist the facts of life – which for professional reasons I can’t repeat.

However, it’s required viewing if only for the following quote: “The art of good business is being a good middleman”.

If media is just a mirror reflecting what we choose to see, then as a Project Manager I see my role to be a good middleman. I bring people together, be it to solve a problem or deliver value in some shape and form. On the one hand, I must understand the problem and on the other, I must find the right people who can solve it.

It’s in the ‘Messy Middle’** we have that connector, the Babel Fish (for you Hitchhiker fans), the conductor that brings it all together, using the synergy of the group to produce an output that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a service we bring to our customers and stakeholders that creates value for all parties.

The digital revolution

This idea of the connector as a service delivery model can, by extension, be brought into the digital world too. No doubt you have heard the term ‘API’ bounded about. “Can we connect to their open API?”, “Do you have a REST API our product can tap into?”

API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. It defines interactions between multiple software applications and is used to send and receive responses to connected systems. Often presented as the ‘glue’ that can connect disparate systems, you can see why APIs have an important part to play in our aim to deliver value that’s ‘greater than the sum of its parts’.

As you start to extend these systems out of their silos, APIs can create chained solutions that increase the benefit for all participants. The applications are positioned as links in a potential service chain which can be tailored to specific customer needs, or indeed the broader market. You can imagine API hubs connecting services and products together, extending the value chain and efficiencies that you can bring to your stakeholders and customers.

The connected and networked application model differs from the traditional software sales cycle where typically a onetime fee is charged for a single application. The buyer pays a fixed amount in advance before purchasing the software – think of the old Microsoft Windows bundles.

As many of these digital products and services have migrated into the cloud (as opposed to residing locally on your PC or server), the market has seen an evolution to the Software as a Service model, or SaaS. A fee is paid on a recurring basis and the model moves from CAPEX TO OPEX. Large fees can be spread over several months, allowing the customer to receive the value of that product or service immediately at a fraction of the cost. The customer enjoys other benefits too, such as more frequent and automatic updates, flexible pricing for multiple users and accounts, and reduced maintenance costs.

XaaS – Anything as a Service

The market is abundant with the ‘As A Service’ model, the most common being Software as a Service which now forms part of our everyday lives. Rather than trotting down to Blockbuster on a Friday evening, we subscribe to a Netflix streaming account allowing us to watch licenced content on demand. Slack, Prime Video, Spotify, Adobe Creative Cloud are other examples.

So, as software continues to eat the world, as Marc Andreessen puts it, we are seeing the SaaS model evolve and continue to grow in all directions:

SaaS – Storage as a Service, BaaS – Backend as a Service, DBaaS – Database as a Service, MaaS – Malware as a Service, DRaaS – Disaster as a Service, PaaS- Platform as a Service, IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service, IOTaas – Internet of Things as a Service…

At Ingenico, we offer several SaaS services together with PaaS (Payment as a Service) and PPaaS (Payment Platforms as a Service), all of which have been designed to help our customers realise their ambitions.

As more of these applications begin to merge using APIs, as these services join and extend our value chain’s ability to deliver value at the least possible cost, the role of the middleman remains: finding the people and services that can best meet the needs of their customers problem. But it’s no longer just about the level of the individual or team, but rather the level of applications and systems that we need to make it all happen too.

To quote Simon Sinek, “Opportunity is the finding of a new route to a known destination”.

If our ‘destination’ is to ‘add value’ for our customers, then we must learn to explore new routes, turn over more stones and look in new places. What products and services, when in combination with each other, deliver the solution and value that’s needed for our customers. How can these systems talk to each other, how can they extend to increase the value chain for the organisation? How can we best unlock efficiencies and open new avenues and what does ‘success’ look like for them?

These are some of the questions that will drive the next chapter of our story, the new facts of life.

Welcome to the Layer Cake.

**The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture
Book by Scott Belsky

*Layer Cake. The art of good business:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU6NlehkeHk&ab_channel=maderater

Stuart Ruthven

Stuart Ruthven, Project Manager / Terminal Solutions and Services GBL

Stuart Ruthven is a Project and Customer Engagement Manager in the Worldline Terminal Solutions and Services Global Business Line. Stuart has been supporting the Estate Management roadmap in the UK while delivering projects that unlock value for internal operations and Worldline customers. Stuart has 13 years’ experience in consulting, technology and start-up environments, delivering innovation and change management projects.