6 Feb, 2022 | 3 min read

On the Future of Digital Innovation

  • Sanjiva Weerawarana
  • Founder & CEO - WSO2

WSO2 passed many key milestones in 2021: by year-end, we had over 700 customers in nearly 90 countries, our annual recurring revenue (ARR) grew 31% to reach $63.3 million, and we achieved a net dollar retention (NDR) of 109%. We also expanded the team from 550 to over 900 employees in less than two years and hired several key senior leaders. We added 65-plus channel partners across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions; saw an 80% increase in original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partners; and acquired Platformer — an innovator of an enterprise-grade, cloud-native application platform for Kubernetes. To cap it all off, we secured $90 million in financing from Goldman Sachs.

Novel times call for new inventions

While these achievements were incredible, the team and I see 2022 as the year where we deliver new capabilities to generate more value to our customers and realize our vision of becoming a cloud-first company. This is the driving force behind our obsession to keep on improving and what keeps us motivated every day.

Today, digital experiences have emerged as a strategic lever to unlock top-line growth and a powerful new wellspring of competitive advantage. The technologies used for interacting with applications have evolved as well — from mainframes to desktop computers to web and mobile apps to Metaverse and Web3 apps in the future. Whether making retail purchases, ordering food, or booking flight tickets, consumers now demand well-designed, personal, and memorable digital experiences from all their business interactions.

To build a competitive advantage, these experiences have to be carefully tailored to customer preferences. As such, out-of-the-box solutions are not viable options and businesses must build and customize digital experiences on their own. Within this context, all companies are software companies, all employees are developers, and all applications are integrations. However, this has brought on a number of problems.

  • The pandemic has accelerated enterprise digital initiatives by years. To meet demand, companies now need more employees to contribute to software development and delivery. They have to be world class as everything is on the Internet and the cyber risks are global. However, there is a developer shortage and it is challenging for a non-tech company to hire and retain highly skilled talent.
  • Delivering digital experiences is complicated, time consuming, and expensive. It is not just about writing a program and deploying it. It also involves having the right tools and capabilities to manage versions, perform updates, and respond to business challenges (or opportunities) faster than the competition.

This is why we made our own mind-shift. Over the past 16 years, we have delivered infrastructure technologies (such as WSO2 API Manager and WSO2 Identity Server) that have been typically used by technically savvy businesses, who then use these to create their own platforms. However, even these enterprises often find it challenging to build such platforms on their own. But, what if we could offload responsibilities from our customers to manage security, scalability, availability, and performance? What if we could also provide the platforms ourselves?

While we remain resolute in our commitment to enhancing our existing offerings, we wanted to solve these problems by creating cloud-native digital experience engineering platforms that help enterprises to accelerate digital initiatives and deliver great digital experiences to their customers.

We are addressing these challenges with our Choreo and Asgardeo solutions, both of which significantly lower the skills, time, and cost barriers to delivering new and secure digital experiences. Moreover, Ballerina, our ground-breaking programming language that just released its GA version, has the potential to become an industry standard for creating next-generation, cloud-native enterprise applications.

We must provide long-term value to our customers

“The most radical and transformative of inventions are often those that empower others to unleash their creativity – to pursue their dreams.” — Jeff Bezos, 2011 Letter to Shareholders

WSO2 has always been a platform company and it has been an extension of my goals to create technologies that others can build upon. This ethos is in the company’s DNA. We have focused on creating developer tools, experiences, runtimes, and systems that help people to build applications. Our vision has not changed, but it has evolved in terms of how it will be realized and the problems we aim to solve.

Choreo and Asgardeo let developers create cloud-native applications without having to worry about the complexities of cloud-native computing. With features and capabilities that support low-code development, IAM, DevOps, API management, observability, business analytics, version management, dependency management, configuration management, and more, almost any developer can use our platforms to rapidly deliver world-class digital experiences.

We want to give as much real value to our customers as possible — more than providing an ESB, API management solution, or IAM offering — and it has taken us a long time to understand and identify the experiences we want to deliver. To put this into perspective, we started working on Ballerina almost six years ago and Choreo and Asgardeo about four years ago.

We are ready to blast off into the future, and I am excited to be on the cusp of releasing GA versions for both platforms during this quarter. It brings me great joy to get to work with a group of people who contribute their talent, time, and passion to realizing our vision of becoming a cloud-first company. While I feel very good about what we have accomplished so far, I am even more energized about what we are about to do.