While I was at BMC Engage last week I had the opportunity to talk with Robin Purohit, Group President, about the BMC story – where it came from and where it is going in the future. As someone from the industry with more than 17 years of watching the vendor community like a hawk, it was a real pleasure to sit with one of the industry leaders and listen to his perspective on a few things.
What took so long for BMC to realise that you had the full story and that you needed to tie it all together and go after the market from an IT value standpoint to the business?
That is interesting, especially for someone who competed with BMC for many years. Ten years ago, BMC did have that story. It was the right story for its time, focusing on business service management. At that time, people felt that mature IT organisations aligned with the business and BMC had woven a story around that.
They were not able to deliver on all the promises, to be honest, but as we adapted to the new world and seized on the Now, we do have a solid thesis, and this is companywide. We are in a company that is relevant for the time we are in.agenda, this gave us a new lens to shape that next generation strategy. You have to have a thesis behind why you are bringing things together, the capabilities you need and the properties you are acquiring.
What do you see as some of the biggest hurdles for companies who are living through this digital transformation, whether it is the customer side of things and/or the way that internal IT provides that innovation that will help the business grow?
I think it is the people, first and foremost. I hear that from virtually every executive I talk to, and these are not just IT executives – this goes right through the business.
You have to start thinking differently about the business model, about the role of technology, the role of IT in supporting that journey. If you do not have enough change agents who can show the way, or have seen the way before, then it is very difficult to progress. That is why we concentrate so much on the digital workplace concept. This is a great business for us; it is growing like crazy, but the key point is that it is helping companies to put a new culture in place.
How is BMC helping organizations shepherd that transformation, are you doing anything outside the norm for a software company?
Well, to be clear, we are not a consulting company. There are consulting companies trying to do digital transformation. We are a technology company that has a clear view on how our technology can help our customer organizations achieve success. We take an advisory “what’s-in-it-for-the-customer” approach. We are not a “fly-by-we-have-the-best-technology-in-the-world” kind of company, that is just not who we are.
I think it is the attitude we bring, we want to learn what is important to you, how we can help you and how you can take it forward faster. We know we are not a consulting company; we know we are a software company, and that is a good place to be.
Are you sharing any best practices from other companies? Do you leverage those extensively in helping ‘like’ companies do similar things?
There are three levels to what we are doing, one is in the product itself, what we are always trying to do is to take the best practices that works for our customers and put these right back into the product. That is a breakthrough in knowledge management that we talked about today. That was done with Ericsson and a few others who are very much at the forefront of knowledge management.
Initially, they wanted us to build a custom solution for them and I said, “No, we are not doing that; we cannot build bespoke products for everybody, but if you want to share how you are thinking about it, then we will build it with you, then you receive the benefit of everybody using it and making it better.” That led to CIO Ops and we are very proud of that.
So, we can build on the product; we have many customer community groups that we create, both at the executive level as well as our online community, and then we have a thought leadership program that is starting to pick up speed. For example, we have a great podcast series called Digital Outliers. We have real luminaries in the digital transformation space just sharing their stories about how they are transforming their groups.
One of the things I was thinking about was the lack of physical community. You look at other organizations, which have a regional get together with their development community and others. BMC used to do this with their RUGs everywhere. You now have the ability to create apps almost on the fly; and with all the digital transformation projects occurring, do you think those types of meetings will be brought back again?
That is a great point and I have been looking at this ever since I joined. We didn’t have a catalyst to start this again, but now that we have the platforms in place, we have actually started doing that. We did a series of meetings during the summer around the Beta program for innovation suite. We are definitely starting to do those things again; ultimately, for these to be successful the people who are involved need to take over. We have taken steps in this direction and we will be and are enabling these types of things.
Do you plan on having an app store as well?
We actually have a refreshed online marketplace. It already has 200 apps available, some of those are not on the platform, some of those are extensions or add-ons for other products, but we do have our own technology marketplace. We are starting to build that into the products as well.
The products that are built and then put on the marketplace, will they be free apps or sold as add-ons?
There is a mixture of free and paid apps. The community can post things and make these available. We have a quality process being put in place and want to make sure our customers have access to the development community and partner developers’ innovative applications.
What is your key message about BMC of today?
It is actually pretty amazing to see the pace at which we are moving. Once you seize on the agenda, make the changes we have made as a company – we are then able to make the big bets for the future.
With the whole DevOps movement and cloud computing, we have taken two of our core products that account for approximately 70% of our business and transformed them. As well, we still have our traditional business and we are still doing other things, but changing direction for 70% of your business is big.
The biggest takeaway from Engage is that we are moving fast, we are opening the next chapter and, through our technology, enabling and engaging those digital innovators.
What do you see for BMC in 2017?
I think it is all about scaling. We have the best, untold story in the market at the moment. The people who see our products and see what we are doing become super excited. We need everybody to know that because I think our biggest competition is – the BMC that people remember from 2008, not the BMC that we have become. We need to scale our amazing reputation and increase our engagement with the market at all levels, from technical all the way to executive, that is what is important and that is what we are doing.
In My Opinion
As I see it, the most challenging things BMC faces are their ability to block and tackle their way through the hype of organizations jumping on and off the digital transformation bandwagon, while bridging the gap between traditional IT and the next generation of innovators. Shepherding organizations on their digital journey by enabling IT to be more connected to business value delivery requirements is critical. It seems to me that BMC has their ducks in a row. The question is, will the ducks line up? Time will tell.
Disclosure: BMC covered my flight and hotel and arranged time with key executives to discuss what was on my mind and theirs.
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