Sunday, July 06, 2014

Seven things you should know about Alan Trefler

Seven things you should know about Alan Trefler
By Michael B. Farrell | GLOBE STAFF JULY 06, 2014

Brookline High School graduate and chess master Alan Trefler founded Pegasystems Inc. in 1983 when he was 27 years old. Today, the company is one of a handful of publicly held software companies in the Boston area worth more than $1 billion. The likes of PayPal, Cisco Systems, and Phillips use Pegasystems’ customer relations management software. Trefler, 58, put some of his business advice in a new book, “Build for Change,” to help companies prepare for the coming age of tech-savvy consumers who are more demanding than ever.

1 Joining the club of chief executives who have penned business books, Trefler explores the effect that an emerging group of consumers reared on social media will have on traditional companies.

“There’s been a big change that people haven’t fully seen, which is the transition from the Millennial generation to these new kids who, if they don't like what they see, they actually go out and try to actively kill companies. Now, with the advent of Twitter and Facebook, you’ve got people who almost think it’s their mission to bring their discontent fully into the fore.”

2 His term for this nascent generation of consumers with high standards and an eagerness to speak out and complain on social media is Generation D.

“The D stands for devouring things. They either love stuff and they want more and more of it. Or they demonize things and they really want to trash it. That’s unlike anything we’ve seen in past decades. Their comfort with technology makes it so they can do that with a scale, speed, and impact that is unprecedented.”

3 Trefler reached chess stardom when he became co-champion of the 1975 World Open Chess Championship. That experience looms large in the way he approaches business.

“In chess you recognize the pattern to get a feel for the position. A lot of providing good service is really about pattern recognition. With technology today, you cannot just understand one or two aspects about a customer. You can understand a whole collection of aspects which can make you better positioned to make them a better offer.”