The Software Whisperer promises digital healing for IT systems

Seerene has a few words for Google. The Potsdam, Germany-based enterprise is set on teaching companies how to program better, and it thinks Google could learn a thing or two from a deeper look into its software.

Its eponymous software analytics platform identifies and offers solutions for problems in code, teams and applications. With an elite client roster of Fortune 500 companies and three global locations, Seerene says it’s just getting started. CEO Oliver Muhr tells us why he believes the startups will be the next billion-dollar company.

ITPP: What problems does your software solve?
OM: Every business today depends on mission-critical software. By providing our clients with revolutionary insights and analytics into software, code and teams, companies can for the first time actively drive IT change and balance productivity and innovation, all while massively reducing risk and increasing transparency.

Specifically, Seerene can easily answer questions like “Where is the development budget going?” or “How can I improve software to drive massive efficiency gains?” We’ve found that our customers see at least 30 per cent efficiency gains per application, which is remarkable. Our software also sheds light on how to increase speed and time to value in development while at the same time reducing complexities and risk.

It solves another interesting problem: service-provider performance benchmarks. With Seerene, an enterprise can evaluate how effectively service providers are fulfilling their role, whether it’s managed services, consulting services, or development services. The company also can see what value they’re getting from the service provider. All of this information is displayed in a visual way, so it’s easy for executives, managers and developers to understand.

ITPP: Why combine business analytics with visualization?
OM: Running analysis of massive amounts of data is one thing. Making the results understandable and actionable is another. We accomplish the latter via visualization. Seerene presents data around applications, code and team performance as a cityscape. It’s easy to spot a problem when it’s a bright red skyscraper. The problem stands out quite literally because Seerene’s visualization is 3D. It enables effective management of software and real-time results.

Software systems these days are big and complex. A normal business application has hundreds of millions lines of code, so if you want to drive change throughout your organization, you need a common “language.” This language, in our case, is visualization.

ITPP: How do Business Intelligence results make a competitive difference for a company?
OM: Software is a very big market - companies spend over $1.3 trillion every year on software and software development. Seerene delivers actionable KPIs via software maps, guiding executives, managers and developers in action that dramatically improves software. This results in the significant efficiency gains (30 per cent minimum) I mentioned earlier. It also generates insights into outsourced applications, which allows businesses to drive down maintenance costs, and it helps identify code and human risks.

ITPP: Whom do you see as your main competitors and how do you differentiate?
OM: Think of us as Google Maps for software. We let clients set goals (the destination) and show progress from the whole organization towards those goals. Since we have billions of lines of code within our platform, we also offer benchmarks for clients to measure their applications against.

With Seerene, a company can see how their applications compares to their peers’ and performance predictions. Benchmarks shed light on how the application will behave in the future in terms of complexity, quality, manageability, cost, and so on.

You could say that, from a competitive perspective, we take three ingredients - static code analysis tools, dynamic application performance management (APM) apps and strategy consulting services - and cook this data into something usable. Our competitors for the most part offer only one piece of the puzzle.

ITPP: Tell us about the company background and underlying analytics
OM: The idea was born five years ago within the Hasso Plattner Institute as part of an academic research project. One of our co-founders, who is a professor at the university, led the project. The premise was: why is nobody able to look at code data and combine it with people data and visualizations to drive change across big IT organizations?

Two of our co-founders initiated and led the project back then. The goal was to develop a solution that looked at code data and combined it with people data and visualization to drive IT change at large organizations. While Seerene was still in development, large enterprises came to us to inquire about the opportunity to improve their software stack and save money by combining code and people data, and generating analytics across applications.

We help customers like SAP, Adidas, Lufthansa, ABB, SAP and Mercedes fix inefficiencies.

ITPP: How does this influence the IT budget?
OM: By mining and fusing information from various existing data sources within a corporation, Seerene Insights provides enterprises, IT services companies and regulators with the ability to make accurate forecasts and timely decisions, driving change across all software stacks, teams and technologies.

Not only does Seerene Insights show users where their IT development spending is going, but it also highlights areas in the code where they can optimize research and development dollars for more efficient allocation. Seerene Insights further allows users to assess how well external, managed services or outsourced providers are performing maintenance on an application, and how the actual service compares with what the companies are paying for.

ITPP: How can you determine that a company is wasting more than 30 per cent of its productivity?
OM: By combining code and people data, and generating analytics across applications. We look at how code is built and how developers work on code. We identify areas of bad code that are slowing teams down and require lots of development capacity - these are the ones you attack first.

Our software looks at how the code is built and how development teams work on the code. We see the same picture again and again across our customer base: a software system may have hundreds of millions of lines of code, but there are only a few areas that burn the majority of development capacity. Seerene identifies these areas and provides actionable insights to counter these inefficiencies.

ITPP: How are these results actionable? What are the next steps to actually gain 30 per cent in productivity?
OM: Once the problems are identified, our platform has workflows to set goals, help motivate the teams behind them and execute on the improvements, thereby realizing efficiency gains.

ITPP: How does it work?
OM: Seerene is a SaaS platform so there’s no hardware installation and the user can be connected within minutes. We connect to existing data sources within a corporation and fuse data about code and teams together to provide insights, analysis and predictions. We support all programming languages, including Java, C++ and ABAP.

ITPP: How does Seerene work for cloud-based software?
OM: It works in the same way. If you have access to the source code of the software, whether it runs on a machine or in the cloud, we can analyze it. Our platform can also be used to assess an application prior to the purchase of a cloud app. This comes in handy if you want to compare competitors or are involved in an M&A deal and want to do your due diligence.