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Infrastructure, Interview

Enterprise Software and the Role of the CIO: An Interview with Mark Templeton of Workspot

By Stephen C2C | April 13, 2023

Mark Templeton spent more than twenty years at Citrix Systems before leaving in 2015. Since then, he has served as an executive and board member at numerous companies in tech and beyond. In 2020, he joined C2C partner Workspot as Chairman and Director, which soon brought him into the C2C community as a guest at in-person events hosted in collaboration with Workspot. Mark's years of experience and expertise as a leader in the IT space make his presence in our community a singular benefit to our members. To make that experience and expertise available to the rest of the C2C membership, we sat down with Mark for a wide-ranging conversation about the current enterprise software market and what software CIOs can do to help their businesses scale for long-term success.


What's the most important trend currently defining the enterprise software/services market?


We're looking at a world now, if you're a CIO, where you have to have an opinion about the things you can control and the things you can't, and how each of those contributes to the platform on which your business is built. That means you have to build systems that have the agility and flexibility and resilience to things that are out of your control, whether it's a hurricane, a flood, any of these sort of geophysical things. Having a community of like-minded individuals to rely on is also important. Groups like C2C bring together technology and cloud users from across the globe to identify the latest trends on a daily basis. 

One ongoing discussion is about how the acceleration of enterprise SaaS across every segment in enterprise computing has become the reality. I think most enterprise CIOs have embraced it at some level, but it's actually accelerating and picking up speed. What's behind this acceleration of SaaS in recent years is of course the pandemic, and evolving work styles. Another huge element is the maturing of hyperscale clouds. It's been amazing what's happened in just the last five years in terms of the number of new services and what's possible. The C2C community and team has facilitated discussions on this issue and will continue to do so as this issue gains steam.


What makes this trend so significant?


Consumerization of software is at the heart of driving and changing IT mindsets from meeting the minimum to actually going beyond and providing a consumer-like experience when it comes to enterprise computing. By adopting this "consume it yourself approach" it allows ITs energy, budget, etc. to be directed at business solutions to drive growth, reduce costs, increase velocity, protect IP, engage, retain talent, and more.


Which vendors are leading this field?


The one Google Cloud customer that's a standout to me is Equifax. I served on the board of directors of Equifax for about ten years, including through the breach, and we had all of our own data centers and infrastructure, and we really were underestimating two things: our ability to stay ahead of the hackers and the bad guys and the role of hyperscale clouds when it came to security - which still holds true for lots of IT organizations. We came to understand that our less than ten global data centers were a fraction of the footprint and attack vector size of Google Cloud. Every day Google Cloud is attacked a thousand times more than our data centers, and as a result, as we all know, seeing attacks, detecting attacks, understanding attacks is what allows you to get ahead.

We realized at Equifax we were never going to replicate that kind of a security model and competency, so we decided to go all in on Google Cloud, and not only has it created an amazing security consciousness and capability, it's also allowed the company to create new business models. Equifax has been able to build a very sizable incremental business on Google Cloud as well as really accelerate the security profile of all of the existing business, so they're definitely a leader.

Some other examples are Intel and AMD, both of whom are C2C Global partners, because compute is a core part of any hyperscale cloud. Because of the AI and ML and the need to pipeline process tremendous amounts of data collaboratively across CPUs and GPUs, all of a sudden now, the network has become the new backplane for the worldwide computer.
There are a lot of winners in the areas of enterprise SaaS and systems of record like ERP, HR, CRM, Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow, etc. One that's near and dear to my heart is the whole idea of the enterprise PC becoming a SaaS offering. That's called a Cloud PC, and there leaders in Microsoft, Amazon, and Workspot, where all of a sudden with a PC computing utility you can use appliance-like devices for access, do it anywhere, and get a PC and workstation-like experience on them. There are new leaders being minted every single day that are too numerous to list.


How should a CIO approach this trend?


I think the first big approach the CIO has to take is to drive a mindset of change and growth, and do that by rejecting the inexorable power of inertia. Inertia is the number one thing that keeps organizations from embracing change. if you don't have a CIO that's got that tone at the top, everything else becomes difficult.

CIOs must also embrace enterprise SaaS and dig in with the SaaS provider to understand how it's built, because it does matter. You have to insist on cloud-native, because so many legacy ISVs have moved to the cloud with a lift-and-shift model, and the lift-and-shift model lacks a whole bunch of the native capabilities that clouds offer, like elasticity, like being very resilient to failure, and more.

The third thing is not to adopt hybrid as a permanent state. The reason not to buy it is - - I use this example: a plug-in hybrid. It has electric engines and it has gasoline engines. All of a sudden you took an automobile that has a hundred thousand parts and now you have a hundred and twenty-five thousand parts. That's not the way to increase availability and reliability and lower costs. It's about eliminating moving parts, so that's why hybrid is a transitional tool in my opinion.

The fourth thing in terms of approach is you've got to exist on multicloud support. You have to deeply inspect the cyber characteristics, and the readiness of the offering around cyber. And then I would sort of wrap up with something I think is close to the top of the list, and that is insist on full observability and transparency. That means you've got to really look at the telemetry that the SaaS offering has so that it can feed systems and allow you to answer the kind of business questions you need to answer when you're at the C-suite table. Service levels around costs, around what systems are in greater use and what systems are in lesser use. There are just a lot of these business questions that I think today are pretty difficult for IT CIOs to answer which is why we rely on communities like C2C to connect and find answers.


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