What Tech Companies Can Learn from Unison’s Vision of “Applied Innovation”
Unison’s vision is to “power the business of government” for its Federal agency customers and industry partners.” We sat down with our own Michael Gozycki, a Managing Director who focuses on the technology sector, after we partnered with Unison to distill lessons for other technology companies. Our conversation is below and lightly edited for style.
Mike, congratulations on the exciting partnership with Unison, a leading software provider to the Federal Government. We’re helping Unison reach this vision of “Applied Innovation.” Could you help other technology management teams understand the critical components of Applied Innovation? In other words, what can other technology companies learn from this vision?
Unison’s key objective is to help their customers navigate highly complex processes and meet the compliance requirements, across the Federal government’s procurement, supply chain, and contract management functions. These processes in the Federal government are governed by a collection of regulations that are constantly changing and evolving. Unison’s vision, which you outlined at the beginning of our conversation, helps to drive efficiency and transparency while ensuring compliance and fidelity of process. A logical extension of this vision is Unison’s concept of “Applied Innovation” which marries deep domain expertise with the latest technologies that enable government employees to be more efficient, productive and save time. Unison has introduced artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotic process automation technologies to streamline often repetitive processes for their customers.
The lessons for other technology companies are three-fold. First, your vision needs to include a problem statement and a summary of what specific tasks customers will be able to achieve more efficiently and effectively. Second, your product roadmap should reflect an intimate understanding of your customers’ processes. Finally, you should aim to have an action-oriented point of view on the concept of innovation. In all, the bottom-line is that specificity usually wins out over vagueness. Unison has successfully translated a vision and the concept of innovation into tangible results and outcomes for its customers.
This partnership underscores our commitment to investing in and building industry-specific technology companies. Can you explain why it’s important that growth stage technology companies develop an industry focus?
I go back to the power of specificity and how that allows technology companies to solve problems and provide benefits to customers in a competitive world. It’s a philosophy and an approach that we try to apply here at Carlyle. While I’m a software investor, I have the unique ability to walk down the hallway and tap into the experience and expertise of my colleagues who spend all of their time investing in industries such as healthcare, energy, financial services, industrials, or aerospace & defense. I can, in turn, help technology companies further understand the nuances and specific needs of customers in one of these “power alley” industries for Carlyle. We try to find investment opportunities that allow us to tap into this sector expertise in a manner that makes us uniquely positioned to conduct our due diligence and then deploy Carlyle’s institutional resources to create value over the course of our investment. And that same framework works for growth stage tech companies – tap into sector knowledge and drive value.
Any final takeaways you can share from driving this partnership that you think will be helpful for technology company executives?
Partnership is the right word. We don’t run companies. We back strong management teams and seek opportunities to deliver Carlyle’s global resources as a force multiplier to support the growth strategies of our management teams. We’ve known Unison’s team for more than 15 years dating back to Carlyle’s prior successful ownership of Unison from 2005-2010. Given we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, having a partner you can trust – be it a management team you know well or a global investment partner – is critical. We’re extraordinarily excited to partner again with Reid Jackson and the Unison team, we expect to deploy additional capital behind the team as they pursue acquisitions, and look forward to the next several years.
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