CTO Sessions: Imad Mouline, Everbridge

Which emerging technology are you most excited about the prospect of? “I’m most excited about the promise of IoT, Big Data and AI, combined with 5G.”

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Everbridge

Name: Imad Mouline

Company: Everbridge

Job title: CTO

Date started current role: September 2011

Location: Greater Boston Area

Imad Mouline is the chief technology officer for Everbridge. In this role, Mouline is responsible for Everbridge’s market strategy, product roadmap, innovation, and research and development. Mouline joined Everbridge in 2011, when the company acquired CloudFloor, an enterprise cloud management company where he was co-founder and CTO.

What was your first job? I’ve been fortunate enough to hold many interesting jobs throughout my life. My first paying job was assembling and stocking supermarket shelves when I was fourteen. My first corporate technology job was a QA engineering internship at Sun Microsystems, working on the Sun 386i internationalisation team.

Did you always want to work in IT? Technology has always been a passion of mine. I’ve wanted to work in this field since I was fourteen years old and was given an early edition of The World Book of Inventions. I was mesmerised by not just the innovations, but the stories behind each idea. 

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? Interestingly, the book that inspired my career also inspired my education path. The World Book mentioned MIT several times, and I knew I wanted to be part of that community.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. Actually, my first detour happened while I was in college. I worked on a Harvard Medical School project called the Brain Database, which was a multimedia information tool for neuroscience researchers, teachers, and students. It was the first time I was exposed to managing complex objects in a relational database and I was fascinated by the challenge. More importantly, it was the first time I witnessed how technology could make a monumental impact in people’s lives. In many ways, this detour was teeing me up for my future career at Everbridge where we also witness the positive impact that technology can have on people’s lives.

My next detour came after college. As much as I loved coding, I decided that I wanted to do more than just code all day. I took a job in professional services at a software company, Interleaf, which allowed me to experience real-time and real-world problem solving. I was writing code that was directly solving customer problems, and was exposed to multiple verticals, such as Telecommunications and Oil & Gas. I developed a passion for working with customers, which I also get to do daily at Everbridge.

What type of CTO are you? The type that constantly tries to balance the four CTO cardinal points: customers, industry, technology, business, and shift that balance as needed.

Which emerging technology are you most excited about the prospect of? I’m most excited about the promise of IoT, Big Data and AI, combined with 5G. The potential of the convergence of these technologies is enormous and will impact every aspect of our lives.

These are emerging technologies that we believe will make it easier to protect people, whether at the scale of an entire country or within a single building. Whether we’re trying to protect millions of people potentially impacted by inclement weather, or a lone worker in trouble inside a lab due to a hazmat spill, these technologies will help save lives.

Are there any technologies which you think are overhyped? Why? I’m a bit skeptical about the potential for widespread use of Blockchain outside of cryptocurrency. That said, I’m keeping a close eye on it. I look forward to seeing what use cases might emerge that could have a real impact on different industries.

What is one unique initiative that you’ve employed over the last 12 months that you’re really proud of? The decision to double down on the Everbridge mission: keeping people safe, and businesses running, faster. Broadening our scope while increasing our granularity. Protecting people at scale across entire countries, while also being able to protect people at a granular level within a single building.

Being able to work on technology that is saving lives on such a large scale has been life changing for me. Everbridge’s critical event management (CEM) solution helps governments and businesses protect their most critical elements – their people and assets. Our CEM technology analyses threat data, accelerating and automating how government entities and businesses communicate and react to natural disasters, active shooter threats and other critical events. It’s inspiring to see how this technology creates a positive impact on a daily basis. 

 Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? Digital transformation is at the core of everything we do. Our initiatives are completely focused on optimising the customer experience. Our customers rely on us to keep their people safe and business resilient. That is why our product, development, customer success and support efforts are all based on the cloud and other digital channels. We are continually enhancing our ability to provide an industry-leading, secure, reliable and scalable solution for critical event management and mitigation.

What is the biggest issue that you’re helping customers with at the moment? Businesses face multiple threats on a daily basis – everything from cybersecurity, natural disasters, active shooter situations and terrorism. We’re helping our customers prepare for all these critical events and potential threats. Our customers are forward-looking entities, all of whom are being proactive about their safety and business continuity strategies.

How do you align your technology use to meet business goals? We help customers align our technology around protecting their most critical assets. Number one is protecting people, whether it be employees, residents, students, or patients. You can’t put a price on human life. Number two is their assets. Three is their IT infrastructure, as many businesses now rely on technology to keep their doors open. Number four is the supply chain and five is brand reputation.

Do you have any trouble matching product/service strategy with tech strategy? It is an art and a science.  It is about listening to what customers want; understanding where we think the technology is going; trying to predict where the industry is going; understanding what the business needs really are; and putting all those things together and trying to come up with the appropriate strategy. That is the art and science… figuring out what the appropriate mix should be.

What makes an effective tech strategy? Balancing what customers want with what customers really need and being able to distinguish between the two.

What predictions do you have for the role of the CTO in the future? The only prediction I can be absolutely sure of is that this role will continually evolve. As CTOs, we have to be open to the fact that we can’t predict the future, but we can build the groundwork to prepare for it. We must be able to adapt ahead of the company, which means understanding our company’s needs and our customers’ needs before they’ve fully realised them.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Being able to work on technology that makes a difference.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Nothing. Without the failures of yesterday, the successes of today wouldn’t have happened.

What are you reading now? Dominium Mundi.

Most people don't know that I… I go through phases where I obsess for a little while about seemingly simple food-related quests. For example, what’s the best-tasting butter? What’s the perfect baguette? What’s the optimal texture of vanilla pound cake? I can’t rest until I’ve found the answer or cooked my way out of it.

In my spare time, I like to…After the last answer, is it any surprise that my answer is cooking?

Ask me to do anything but… Fill out paperwork!