The introduction of new technologies into the marketplace and the speed at which technology is changing has never been faster than it is today. In this type of climate, the Vancouver-based tech company Bayleaf Software Inc. embraces innovation as a top priority to help it stay current and competitive.
Innovation is a value that Bayleaf addresses on more than one level. “We don’t just focus on it during downtime or slow periods; it really is core,” says Ron Guenther, chief technology officer. “Innovation is something that is embedded in all the work we do.”
with George Tomes
1. What does innovation mean to Bayleaf?
To us, innovation means improving on a daily basis. We look at our processes of delivery, and that’s where we’ve focused our efforts over the years. We’ve moved from smaller projects that were easily managed to more complex projects by improving the technology behind our delivery.
2. How does Bayleaf innovate on a day-to-day basis?
We are always evaluating. We are not looking to make huge steps forward; we are looking to move forward regularly and rhythmically.
3. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
One idea would be communicating efficiently. This entails organizing ourselves from requirements gathering through to deployment, so our team can execute efficiently and effectively.
4. Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next 5 years?
I hope to continue a positive relationship with all of our clients. I think that when you’re a service provider, you have to be on the front of the curve, and you have to listen and react and give good advice to get good results.
5. How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade?
Ten years ago, it was about technical proficiency, using a better tool set. Today, it’s all about communication. It’s a given that you’re using efficient technologies; now you have to communicate that to your team, to the client, and to the market.
Since 1993, Bayleaf has been using processes and technology to deliver solutions to its clients and to integrate those solutions into its clients’ business plans. Bayleaf’s emphasis on constant innovation, strong client relationships, and developing a sustainable advantage has kept the company ahead of the changing technology curve. Today, Bayleaf is positioned to take on larger and more complex projects, such as the new e-commerce website for the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA). “Ten years ago, technology changed every two years; now you hear about it in the mainstream news almost every day,” Guenther says.
Recognizing the current pace of changing technology, Bayleaf puts a lot of effort into evaluating the latest changes and choosing which new technologies are right for it and its clients. “We are responsible for knowing what’s happening on the edge of innovation and deciding how best to apply that to what we are working on with our clients,” says CEO George Tomes.
Communicating these possible solutions to its clients has helped foster strong, long-term relationships—another important aspect of Bayleaf’s success. “Relationships are our business,” Tomes says. “Since the beginning, the majority of our work is with return clients. We’re not big on marketing, and prefer to be farmers as opposed to hunters.”
To this end, Bayleaf relies on strong communication and delivery processes to take an active role and grasp the client’s situation. “We need to understand what our clients do and how they do it,” says Kenneth Berry, the director of application development.
By constantly refining processes and enlisting the latest technologies, Bayleaf has positioned itself to take on complex projects, including the aforementioned BCAA website. The project began when BCAA determined it wanted to use the Sitecore platform as its CMS (content management system). Bayleaf is a Sitecore implementation partner, and BCAA ultimately chose Bayleaf to head the project. “We had identified Sitecore as a very strong platform and, over the years, had developed an implementation expertise with Sitecore,” Berry says. “We were approached by the BCAA after its internal evaluation resulted in the selection of Sitecore as its desired CMS.”
BCAA wanted to simplify the technology behind its website while also improving integration with internal systems. Building on the creative look and feel developed during an earlier design phase, Bayleaf took charge. “Complex integration points between the website and internal systems were reorganized to streamline information flow,” Berry says. “Getting people to the buying point easier—that was the goal, whether it be for travel medical insurance or membership.”
As with any large corporation, there were established internal systems at BCAA, and Bayleaf rose to the challenge by successfully integrating the new front-end web experience, seen on BCAA’s website, with the back-end systems. “This is an example of what we’ve worked for,” Tomes says. “We used all of our experience to successfully deliver a large and complex project in a compressed timeline.”