TIBCO CTO on tech changes, APIs, and data

Image courtesy of TIBCO

There was a time when money made the world go round. These days, it’s data that functions as the more valuable currency, especially as more business processes adopt digitalisation. Data is crucial in strategic planning and decision-making. It enables organisations to determine the root of problems. It is also the currency that powers different technology platforms.

Data certainly keeps today’s world turning.

One of the entities that seek to utilise data and build on its explosive growth is TIBCO Software, a California-based technology company that provides software for integrating, managing, and monitoring enterprise applications and information delivery. One of the figures spearheading TIBCO’s numerous data endeavours is Nelson Petracek, its Chief Technology Officer.

Frontier Enterprise recently discussed with Petracek the future of application programming interfaces (APIs), the influence of COVID-19 on TIBCO, technology developments, and more.

You’ve been with TIBCO Software for nearly seven years now. What have been the highlights of your time there, and what are the most significant changes you’ve seen over the years?

So many highlights! It is hard to pick one. Plus, I believe we are seeing a pace of technology change, convergence, and innovation that we have never seen before. Cloud, data-related approaches and technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), and emerging work in areas such as extended reality (XR), metaverse applications, and blockchain are all extremely exciting. I’m fortunate to be part of an organisation that provides capabilities in all of these areas, and to work with both small and large enterprises across various verticals. My job is never boring!

It is this convergence of technologies and innovation, driven by enterprise digital transformation strategies and accelerated by global events, that represent some of the most significant changes in recent years. TIBCO has adapted to these changes and is definitely different from what it was when I started, even a few short years ago.

Your book “API Success: The Journey to Digital Transformation” focused on creating and running a successful API program. What API innovations do you foresee in the next 3-5 years, and how will this change the formula for making an API successful?

APIs will continue to be an important component of how most organisations deliver data and functionality, but API interaction models will expand, as will the methods by which they are used in the enterprise. APIs are not just about “request-response” and REST (i.e. representational state transfer), nor just about exposing some form of business function. Instead, APIs need to expand – or, rather, continue to expand – to support a variety of interaction models, such as streaming and event-driven interactions, both at the edge and in the cloud. APIs should expose not just business functions, but also data and behaviours, such as logic provided by AI/ML capabilities. And APIs should become more autonomous, where decentralised, distributed, and “intelligent” agents use APIs to discover and invoke functionality in a “mesh-like” fashion to meet defined goals and constraints.

A related topic is composability, or the building of applications and systems by combining various “building blocks” in different ways to provide a set of business capabilities. Composability is becoming critical to enterprises to meet the demand for applications, and APIs are one aspect of this application development approach, as they make the discovery and build process much simpler and more accessible within the enterprise.

Digital transformation and remote work have proliferated since the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns, but they came with various cybersecurity risks. How has the pandemic influenced TIBCO’s range of products?

From our experience, COVID has accelerated most enterprise digital transformation strategies, and our product roadmaps have had to reflect this pace and focus. The ability of enterprises to quickly pivot to new business models, manage growing data volumes, provide services to customers and partners in new ways, and deal with disrupted supply chains has reinforced the importance of our product portfolio to our customers and partners, and also provided valuable feedback for our path forward.

It also triggered a number of initiatives around security, consolidation, and even mergers and acquisitions to ensure we are meeting the demands of our customers while strengthening our portfolio.

Finally, to further support our customers and partners, we initiated COVID-specific applications under our TIBCO4GOOD program, to assist with COVID tracking, visibility, analysis, and “back-to-work” practices. Our GatherSmart application, along with our Spotfire COVID-19 dashboards, are great examples of these applications.

What are some of the most exciting technology developments in TIBCO’s laboratories?

This past year has been an exciting year for TIBCO LABS, as we showcased how solutions graduate from the LABS program. Examples include:

  • TIBCO Cloud Discover: This service, available soon on TIBCO Cloud, offers customers transparency into processes from application data, using process mining techniques and a single environment for process stakeholders to perform process mining analysis, including variants discovery, inefficiencies quantification, and compliance checking. TIBCO Cloud Discover drives automation, documentation, and discovery to improve and transform core business processes.
  • TIBCO Cloud Composer: Another new TIBCO Cloud capability, Composer lets customers develop cloud solutions and applications, utilising TIBCO’s integration, analytics, and data management capabilities. The offering supports rapid application development for the cloud, combining microservices and APIs, case management, messaging, decision management, and analytics into a unified application.
  • TIBCO LABS Gallery: This addition gives every TIBCO Cloud user access to TIBCO LABS’s interactive demos and developments in IoT, blockchain, edge analytics, augmented reality, and composable apps. Gallery simplifies the ability to test LABS projects on tailored use cases, join the program, or recommend innovation projects.
  • We have also done some exciting work with Intel in the areas of IoT and computer vision through Project Air, as well as progress in XR, composable applications, graphs, and blockchain. It has been a busy year, with more to come!

TIBCO has evolved through the years since the dot-com bubble. What is the next technological frontier that the organisation aims to conquer?

Data! TIBCO is focused on solving the world’s hardest data challenges, whether it is the ability to connect to data, analyse data, or unify data. Our discussions start with data, and then gravitate towards the steps needed to help organisations reach the full potential of their data. Whether this data simply needs to be moved, or exposed to the next generation of XR applications, TIBCO is committed to helping our customers and partners on this journey.