At Trellis, we believe that the spectacular, human-centric experiences begin and end with, well… humans. Our world-class employees pack over a century of energy and gas experience, and many were leaders in their ﬁeld before joining our energy revolution. This blog series is meant to highlight the people that help Trellis grow, evolve, and ﬂourish. After all, people are the center of every product, every delivery, and every wonderful interaction.
Today, we’re joined by our VP of Products & Engineering, Archana Srivastava. Archana brings a wealth of experience in building and scaling product delivery organizations, as well as building complex enterprise business solutions for a wide range of industries, including energy and ﬁnancial services. She plays a unique role at Trellis in that she is where strategy, creativity, design, customer needs, and product delivery all intersect. Channeling all the requirements and needs of Trellis clients while also serving a demanding industry keeps her on her toes. She has built an incredible team, and together they are transforming the way energy companies do business.
We sat down with Archana to discuss her role at Trellis, how she envisions the future of digital transformation in energy, and what types of innovations the team is cooking up at Trellis.
1. How long have you been with Trellis?
Archana: I’ve been with Trellis since its inception. We were funded to build gas transaction management software for a large west coast energy company. One of our goals was to obtain the IP rights and eventually convert the software into a product offering. My charter was to build the software in such a manner that the transition from a custom solution to a COTS product would be possible without a major re-write, while keeping the project budget and timelines intact.
As the project evolved and we obtained the IP rights, I continued to work towards building Trellis and doing anything and everything that was needed to take the company forward. From sales, product management, engineering, quality Assurance, pricing strategy, and implementation services, I have been involved in the whole gambit of our growth strategy.
In my current role, I help drive our corporate strategy with a primary focus on Product Management and Software Engineering – “Are we building the right solution, and are we building it right?”
2. Where do you think we are in terms of digital transformation in the natural gas industry?
Archana: Digital transformation is occurring in every industry, although the pace of that transformation may vary from one industry to another. Industries ranging from banking, real estate, media, and entertainment to retail, healthcare, ﬁtness, and recreation have all evolved. The basic nature of how these industries do their business, interact with their customers, partners, and stakeholders has changed dramatically.
Looking at the energy industry itself, there are subsets of this industry that are embracing the transformation at a rapid pace, deploying drones and sensors, truly embracing machine learning and artiﬁcial intelligence, and leveraging cloud technology to optimize their businesses. There are, however, other sectors of this industry where some are still primarily using spreadsheets to conduct their business. But they are quickly realizing that they must embrace technology and evolve as a business to truly remain resilient in the future.
In our day-to-day interactions, we see clients who are excited about our cloud-based technology and SaaS software solution and are, in fact, selecting us for not only our current technology but for our future vision. There are others who are still on spreadsheets and are looking to make a change, and they are working closely with us to enable the transformation. One thing we can say is that no matter where our clients are in their digital transformation journey, they are working towards it.
3. Who are the early adopters of platforms like Trellis?
Archana: Some early adopters of Trellis were forward-looking companies — like DTE, Chevron, and BP. Back then, the SaaS landscape was still emerging in the energy space. For some of these companies, we were the ﬁrst SaaS solution in their stack, so there was learning happening on both sides. We were learning what was important for our clients’ businesses and IT teams in order for them to embrace a cloud-based solution, and our clients were learning what the cloud was and how SaaS could help pivot them towards a bigger, brighter future.
I would say that the early adopters were some of the more progressive and forward-thinking companies in the market. They really paved the way for small and mid-market gas players to dip their feet into this space. Today, we’re seeing businesses of all shapes and sizes deploying Trellis, so we’ve deﬁnitely undergone a shift from delivering primarily to those big market players to a more holistic, everyone-is-invited space. It took a little longer for the mid-market to get comfortable with SaaS, but they’re ﬁrmly in the cloud-ﬁrst corner at this point.
Also, today, many of our clients are savvy about the cloud, and they expect us to have a world-class SaaS offering. It has been an interesting and extremely positive shift.
4. Can you share a little about the architecture and modernization of the Trellis platform?
Archana: Sure! Back when we were developing the software for our initial client with the intent to obtain IP rights, we were thinking about the cloud and multi-tenancy. So, from the start, when we architected our solution, we were looking at technologies and design patterns that would enable us to be the ﬁrst cloud-based, single platform SaaS solution in the natural gas industry.
With every major release, we evaluate where we are with our underlying technologies and modernize as necessary. Our key principles and guidelines for ensuring that our underlying technology platform and architecture remain relevant and robust are quite well-deﬁned, and they help steer us daily. Having these guidelines and principles baked into our platform has helped us easily adopt the latest technical trends in the market — including machine learning and artiﬁcial intelligence solutions.
5. As larger companies with more and more complex business requirements adopt Trellis, what opportunities for growth does that provide the overall platform?
Archana: Excellent question! It has been an exciting journey to see larger companies adopt our software solution to run their complex businesses. With each new client, large or small, we learn how to improve our product and solutions. These improvements include opportunities to add new features and functionality, reporting and data extraction capabilities, as well as our capabilities around compliance and audit needs of these larger organizations.
Most importantly, we get to see some of the unmet market needs that we believe we can build to fulﬁll. We can envision a way to revolutionize the natural gas industry in an unprecedented manner. We hope to roll out some of these offerings in the coming months and years. Stay tuned!
6. How do you stay updated with the latest natural gas industry trends and challenges?
Archana: I believe our clients provide the true pulse in regard to where they see their business evolving, their current challenges, as well as the upcoming needs. As an organization, we spend a lot of time with our clients, understanding their requirements, their priorities, and their challenges. This input is vital to our overall product roadmap and direction. In addition, we have several industry experts on our staff who keep an eye on the industry trends and help further shape our product roadmap.
7. How do you stay updated with the latest technologies and software industry trends?
Archana: Technology trends are evolving faster than ever! At times, it is hard to differentiate hype from what is real; however, being a technology ﬁrm that creates industry-speciﬁc solutions, we do keep an eye on the latest technology innovations. Our mission is to evolve the business through the practical application of technology. At Trellis, we adopt technologies that have already established themselves in the industry and have been successfully adopted to production launch in one or more industries. These technologies must be widely deemed to be the “technologies of the future.”
8. What do you see as the next big step for Trellis in terms of technology, features, etc.?
Archana: Without giving anything away, we believe we can fundamentally transform the natural gas transaction management industry. Our next series of product solutions and offerings in the upcoming months and years will be geared towards that transformation. Stay tuned for more on that front; we have some very exciting and revolutionary solutions in the pipeline.
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At Trellis, people are part of our DNA. Behind every innovation, new product delivery, and new technology, there are people like Archana that make the entire project tick. Are you interested in learning more about Trellis and how our people can help you transform your energy company? Contact us.