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July 13, 2022

E040 Dr Adam Sykes: CEO & Founder @ SwiftCase

Automation liberates human creativity, productivity and progress. Automation is a modern-day business advantage.

Dr Adam Sykes is the CEO & Founder of SwiftCase - the no code automation platform that empowers everyone to build web applications.
His Twitter: @SwiftCaseCEO
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Dr Adam Sykes 0:00
Automation helps people to get rid of the things that maybe they're the boring parts of work. Maybe they're the monotonous parts than, you know, not the productive parts of work. So everyone has a skill set that they're, you know, the things that they're really good at the things that are not so good at. And you'd much prefer to be working on the things that you've got your innate skills, you know, the things you enjoy doing the things you can add value. And a lot of the admin work just takes you away from doing the things that you you know, you can really help your customers or things you want to do in life. And that's where automation really helps to take away all that busy work. And let's let computers do that for us.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:51
Once upon a time, there were millions of businesses struggling everyday, they wasted time, effort and money on the repetitive tasks that added no value one day, the Better Automation podcast by PROCESIO came to help them find a way. Because of this, these businesses, save time, reduce costs, innovate and make better decisions because of that these businesses grow, scale and use human creativity to change this world. Hello, my name is Aziz, and I'm your host at Better Automation podcast by PROCESIO where I interview the world's top experts and share their very best ideas on how to improve automation in your business, processes, and life. My guest today is Dr. Adam Sykes. Dr. Adam is the CEO and founder of Swiftcase, the no code automation platform that empowers everyone to build web applications. Dr. Adam, how are you today?

Dr Adam Sykes 1:55
Isaiah is I'm good. Thanks really glad to be here.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 1:58
Me too. I'm honored. I'm lucky. And I'm ready to learn more from you. And let's begin with your own situation. You know, some people told me that you are so efficient at automating parts of your business and life, that you can work just a couple of hours here and there and still seem to be extraordinarily productive.

Dr Adam Sykes 2:22
Yeah, I think that's right. And I think when you get that time back, you can do even more work. It's normally my approach. But yeah, I mean, automation helps people to get rid of the things that maybe they're the boring parts of work, maybe the monotonous parts than, you know, not the productive parts of work. So everyone has a skill set that they're, you know, the things that they're really good at the things that are not so good at. And you'd much prefer to be working on the things that you've got your innate skills, you know, the things you enjoy doing the things you can add value. And a lot of the admin work just takes you away from doing the things that you you know, you can really help your customers or things you want to do in life. And that's where automation really helps to take away all that busy work. And let's let computers do that for us. Thank

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 3:14
you. And we'll get deeper psychologically to some objections that people have. And I'll begin with the first one. Some people don't know what they want. Most human beings know what they don't want. If you tell them what you don't want, they give you a big list if you tell them okay, and then what do you want? Like, I'm not sure I'm afraid of making the wrong choice here, whatever it is. So how in your situation? Did you gain clarity on what you wanted? And a level of certainty that allowed you to focus on it?

Dr Adam Sykes 3:48
Okay, that's a good question. So I suppose really, it's like anything, the more you more you sort of get involved in a subject, the more you learn, that helps you to find things that go together. So I suppose one of my skill sectors on things I enjoy is finding patterns, finding connections between different things. And I suppose, as well as automation, something that goes hand in hand with that is integration. So there's lots of tools out there, doing lots of different things that we find useful. But when we put those two things together, or three things together, you know, that really amplifies the sort of the output that you can get from from that kind of setup. And I think that's, that's where I really, that's what I enjoy doing. I enjoy making sure that things are talking, you know, correctly to each other. And that could be teams, it could be how to make your team perform better if you've got a business with with staff, or you've got clients who you're communicating with, or it also can be, you know, at the technological level of apps, and so on. So, it's all about how to make things talk together better, make things run more smoothly. I think that's the key to a lot of this kind of area.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 4:56
Thank you. That's really, really good and therefore I would like to ask you, some experts say, Look, you have been doing things in a certain way for a reason. And therefore use what you have already been doing that make it an SOP and automate that based on what you naturally have been doing, don't reinvent the wheel, while others say, Look, if you take a blank piece of paper, or whatever it is aboard on your software, and just begin from scratch, knowing that you have the power of automation and integration tools, you can design really optimized processes that don't necessarily aren't you know exactly what you have been doing. But there will be much better. And therefore, it's better to begin from scratch to look at it as a blank piece of paper to automate everything as if you haven't done it before. Which approach? Are you more of a fan of why? What's the problem with the other and tell me more?

Dr Adam Sykes 5:59
I don't like to discount any approach. So I think it's a bit of both is my answer. You need to understand what people are doing and why they've been doing it that way. Because sometimes if you start from scratch, you can miss key parts of the pattern, key parts of the puzzle, you know, a last, there might be a reason why someone's doing it, it might be a compliance issue, that your industry has specific requirements, maybe government requirements or customer requirements that you have to have certain parts of the process done in a certain way. So for example, in the past, certain legal requirements required someone to physically sign a piece of paper, because the courts wouldn't accept a document with an E signature. That's, that's changed in many places. But that would be something that if you started from a blank piece of paper and, and threw out everything that you needed to sort of take account of things like that could be could be set aside. But I think it's also very dangerous to say we've always done it this way. That's, that's how you, you don't make progress. If that's your attitude, we've always done it this way. So let's just automate what we've already got. You also miss out on opportunities. So there's a balance to be struck between making sure that you capture everything that's important from the current process, but also at the same time, ensuring that you can see opportunities from doing things in a different way.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 7:17
Thank you. And one of the things that people notice about you is your level of automation of your social media. Some people say, look, social media is not a broadcasting media, it's an interaction away, where you speak to people you comment on their work, et cetera. So how do you survive within the chaos of social media using automation, without, you know, stalling your growth?

Dr Adam Sykes 7:46
Okay, so I think with social media, I think there are aspects of it, where you, you do need to have a persona on there that's regularly putting out content. Now you, you can't be on social media 24/7, that would be not very efficient for a start. But also, you know, there's other things you've got to you've got to get done. And I think a lot of the kind of scheduling and the automation of social media is really about having a consistent approach. So especially if you're a you want to appeal to a global audience, you know, when when you're asleep, half your audience is awake and working or on social media. So automation and social media is very, very useful for making sure you've got around the clock presence, where people can see the content that you're putting out. And maybe that's just retweeting things you've done earlier manually, maybe it's just picking up a few, few things that maybe didn't get picked up the first time, but reusing content, so you might write it one way to begin with like a thread. And then that ends up being a few single tweets or the other way round. So there's opportunities to use automation to enhance what you're already doing. But I think it can't fully replace the kind of interaction that's required, because social media starts with social, it's an interactive medium, you do need to reply, you know, you do need to comment on other people's content and like things. And that's not always possible with a completely automated approach. So there's, again, there's a balance to be struck.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 9:23
Thank you. And in automation, there is this process or this concept, not only automation, but in computer science and logic and everything that garbage in garbage out. Well, when automating How do you know which processes are creating actual value and are not they're just as a ceremony or an extra work? That was a legacy from the past? What is your approach? Let's say someone does not have any automation in their business or in their social media presence or on whatever they do. How do you recommend They approached that project, where should they begin? How what should they keep in mind? What would you do if you were new and going to use what you know, to build an automation project from beginning to end?

Dr Adam Sykes 10:14
Sure. Okay. So I think the first stage of any of these kinds of projects is to meet you and make sure that you understand where you are now. So make sure you actually have a full understanding of the processes that you use, whether that's in your business, or in the social media, or the type of things you're trying to achieve. And understand whether you have got something that's repeatable, whether there's a step by step process, whether you understand where the, you know, the kind of the inputs, and the outputs are in that process. So where do you get your information from? Is that something where you could potentially put something in there to automate getting that information into a different state. And the same with the outputs? Is it something you find that you're repeatedly sending the same email to people repeatedly put in the same sort of reply to a tweet, where you've picked up a specific, like, hashtag or comment or, or piece of content. So it's finding those areas where there's opportunity. So that's like, the kind of the first stage is making sure you understand what you're currently doing. And then from there, looking at areas for opportunity, where there's repetitive processes, there's things where you use, you know, very similar responses that could potentially become a templated response. And I think once you kind of got to that point, then you can then start playing with trying things out seeing what works, I mean, a big part of automation is really is experimenting and trying things and, and seeing what looks right. And doing that on a small test, you know, test a few tweets, see how it works, or whatever your social media has a few posts, or if it's a business process, maybe just automate one area, one process. And then once you've kind of got that right, you can kind of roll that out to the rest of your rest of your account or rest of your social media channels or rest of your business processes. So that's, so it's a step by step experimentation. And when you've got the got it, right, roll it out,

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 12:18
thank you. And I love that you're speaking about data. What happens is some scientists even or experts will say, Look, when you're a small company, whatever data you have, is not enough to create patterns, you need millions of database and all that. So how, as an entrepreneur, founder or a business that doesn't have that kind of backlog of data that has been captured for a while, what would be the approach to use data in a way that is useful, yet, realize the limitations when you don't have access to tons and tons of big data,

Dr Adam Sykes 12:57
I suppose if you want to use only your own data source, and you can't access sort of industry data. So if you can get similar data sources that you can supplement your own, with. So a lot of applications do this will help you, for example, things like MailChimp, and on other applications, they have their own data sources across all their users that you can access in order to facilitate making automations and integrations more useful, because you're basically leveraging all of their customers, anonymized data, but you still get to leverage that. So you can look out for opportunities where other people have already done the work for you and pushed it all together. But I think if you do want to do something with just your own data set, I think, really, it's suppose it's applying common sense. So you have to kind of guide the dataset and actually think where the what it's, you know, what the data is telling you make sense. If you don't feel that it makes sense of what you think should be the the outcome, then maybe consider that that's not reliable. You know, if it's saying that all your customers buy on a Friday, when you know that all your customers definitely buy on a Monday, but the data set is too small, and you've only covered Friday to Saturday, for example, that, you know, maybe have a look at how you've actually, you know, done your report and see whether it actually is something that is worth making a decision on. Sometimes you just have to wait until you've got the data and, you know, put your best guess in. So put your best guess and see if that works. And then iterate from there. As in that's if anything with with any of these techniques and technologies, it's about iteration, try something if it works, you know, keep going. If you can improve it, try something else experiment, you know, a B test things. It's all about that and if you haven't got the data now, you know, try gather more data and then and then reapply. So constantly evaluation,

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 15:02
thank you. And actually that means face and failure face and rejection face and all the negative things that so many people are afraid of. So what belief or approach do you have that makes you be open and curious about what could happen, whether something won't work, while other people will beat themselves up and take it personally, if any plan they make is not the perfect one. And therefore, that stops iteration in its tracks.

Dr Adam Sykes 15:31
I'm a great believer in you can control what you can control and you can't control what you can't control. And if you can't control something, there's no point in worrying about it. If you try something, there's lots of other variables in an experiment, you can only you can only control what you put into the system, you can't control how the public are going to react to what you've done, you can't control how your customers are going to react. And if you try something, it doesn't work out, at least now you've learned something, you know that that doesn't work, and you need to try something else. So a lot of these trials, these A B tests that effectively cost very little. And to try something else, you know, it's there's no cost to you. So try a web page. And what's it going to take to put a different piece of content on instead, the half an hour, the hour, the two hours, that's all you've lost to write another version. So I suppose keeping things in perspective as to the amount of time you've put into something versus the potential of what could happen if you try more things. And I suppose the flip side of that is if you spend so long planning, the amount of effort that you put in will be much more and you're still facing just as much risk at the end, when you actually put it out to an audience as you would have done if you've just tried more things. So I think the faster you can get things to market, the faster you can get things out there and get feedback from real people who you've got no control over their response, the better. And the more often you can do that, the better. So don't worry about what you can't control and just focus on what you can do. And go for it.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 17:08
I like that. That's very, very empowering. And can you speak now about Swift gaze? How did the idea come to be what made you decide to enter into a space where you will face competition of people or companies that already exist? What's the point of uniqueness? And how is that founder journey,

Dr Adam Sykes 17:30
I started on a completely different path to software development. So I've always been interested in computers and programming. And I wrote my first program when I was seven. So I'm one of those self taught software geeks for want of a better term. But I went off into a life and education in in science, I actually did a chemistry degree went on to do a Chemistry PhD. And my first sort of interaction with business was I needed money to fund me in my courses. So I started a business while I was doing my PhD. And I was doing all sorts of different stuff to do with computers, I was always in the background, that sort of technology aspect, and eventually got into developing software. And in 2013, I went into business with one of my customers. So one of my customers, I built a system for them. And they were like, I can see the potential here like we should, we should actually build a proper company around this. So I partnered with NEC, we started the business that ultimately built swift case. At that time, I was doing bespoke software development. So every project that was coming in is a set of requirements it was building to the customer's requirements, projects would be very lengthy, they'd be unstable, because you have to go and get project in. Once you once you finish it, you've been paid, you've got no more income from that project unless they come back. And at the same time, it's from a development point of view, you find you're doing the same things over and over again, and coming sort of full circle to where we are today. I don't like the idea that you're redoing things that take a long time, when you could just have a platform that allows you to do that in a much shorter time space. And also, in fact, could actually empower your customers to be able to do that. So rather than them giving me the requirements, me writing code, my team building this big project, we could actually put those tools in the hands of the customer. And they could convert their own requirements, make changes, do those experiments, integrate with API's integrate with various pieces of applications that are already using their business? And that's kind of how swift case evolved. So I suppose swift case was really a product that solved my problem in wanting to build software, wanting to build apps much more quickly, and ultimately lead to customers being able to build those apps themselves. And that's kind of the journey we're on today.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 20:05
Thank you. That's absolutely fantastic. And then to ask you about no code, do you believe it's here to stay, it will be part of the technological literacy of many generations to come, or at least for many decades to come? Because we cannot, you know, predict the future that long in advance that? Or is it more of a fad, or some people are excited, and then at some point, they will move on to the next thing, and only the diehard no coders will stay?

Dr Adam Sykes 20:35
No, I think I think this is really the beginning of a revolution in how we look at how software is built. Because for a long time, there's been software has been a suppose an end industry with gatekeepers. So in order to build something, to build new technology, you needed developers, developers needed to do however many years of training, they needed to be able to learn all sorts of new languages, and those languages change all the time, the technologies change all the time. And the disconnect between the end user, and the software is just so far apart, and you get all sorts of issues with this, because customers say one thing, but that gets translated all the way down to the end product. And as as good as the techniques can be, in order to make sure that those requirements are fulfilled, it's not going to be the actual end user be able to build something that they've got hands on experience of that, they can really make it exactly how they want it and change it, you know, daily, hourly, you know, something doesn't work they can, and going back to the can do these experiments, you know, a software, a piece of software doesn't become a fixed item that was built three years ago, it becomes a, you know, a living, sort of creation that can be changed as the as your business changes, it can fit new business models it can work in to, to do all sorts of things it wasn't designed to do in the first place. So I think from a no COVID perspective, from giving power to the end user, I think that's massive. And I think that's going to be a big driving force, especially for for businesses who don't need to have an IT department, it's a bottleneck. You know, there's so many so many projects, they want to get off the ground, HR wants to do something, marketing wants to do something, ops want to do something. And it all has to go through one team, to giving those tools, democratizing development, giving everyone that power to build something, I think that is going to that's not going anywhere that's going to stay and simplifying the way that software can be built, it's going to be huge. But I think as well as that you've also got lots of people who are entrepreneurs, you know, they're solopreneurs, they want to build a product, they want to get something out there, they might be looking for investment, they might want to just build an MVP, they might want to put that in front of, you know, some VCs and get investment. And the fact that they now don't have to code, they can go from their idea to a product in a number of weeks, rather than needing maybe a team, maybe, you know, definitely needing to learn how to code to even get an idea on onto onto the screen. That's massive. And I mean, how many ideas have been lost, because the person had the idea had the inability to execute it. Whereas now, we're building tools that say that anyone can execute. Anyone who's got an idea can build something new, can put it out in the marketplace, can try it, and can do it in a reasonable timescale, much more reasonable cost. I mean, I don't see how that's going away. That's such a, that's a major, major advantage. And, you know, as technology becomes even more pervasive in our lives, there's just not enough people who want to do code, you know, that there's going to be more people who take it up, because there's a need, but there's not enough people to do the amount of coding that we need to do. But there's enough people who've got ideas, there's enough people who know what they want the code to do. And if they're helped with by the tools, and also, you know, in future, AI helps people to get to what they want. I think it's here to stay, it's going to make a massive impact. And it's all for the best

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 24:22
think you so much. And again about Swift case if people want to begin to use it to learn more about it, what are the best links for them to do so? And I will make sure to put some in the episode description.

Dr Adam Sykes 24:38
Okay, so the best thing to do is visit our website Swift So a UK based company, Swift goes to the same place but if you if you don't, we've got guides on there, you can get a free trial of the system, so you can try it out. But we will also I'm on Twitter SwiftKey co please feel free to get in touch drop me a message. I'll be happy to tell you more.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 25:03
Thank you so much as well as swift case for people who are on this automation journey. I highly recommend PROCESIO as well, which makes this podcast possible. PROCESIO is the modern low code, no code platform for advanced automation and creating an enterprise grade backend for your software, you can request access to a totally free account that is fully functional on And for those with higher business needs and want to use the business account, there is a very generous and exclusive 50% discount code. It's BETTER50OFF one word in capital letters more information in the episode description. Thank you, Dr. Adam. This was my privilege, my honor, and really enriching conversation about automation and reclaiming that last time that you can use to either add more value to the world or be with your family with the people you love with yourself during your hobbies which makes life really worth it then thank you again.

Dr Adam Sykes 26:09
Thank you for having me. It's been great to be here.