Business Management

CA CEO on the importance of change

The big theme of CAWorld last year was digital transformation and how today’s companies that are ‘build to last’ are ones which are ‘built to change’. During a press Q&A session, CA CEO Mike Gregoire spoke about how times are changing, how to cope with the new future, and plenty of other topics. Here’s the highlights.


On the 4th (and 5th) industrial revolution:

“This is the fourth industrial revolution, what happened to other three? Same thing that is going to happen [to this one], the difference is it's going to happen very quickly. My parents went through the last industrial revolution, they had their whole lifetime to see it go from start to end. And this fourth industrial revolution is going to happen in 7-10 years. And then there's going to be a new one.

If you fail [to change], you get stuck in stagnant solutions and stagnant processes, and I think you suffer the fate of every company that didn't adapt to the landscape in which they operated.”

On how sales and distribution models are changing:

“If you're a software company, it affects everything you do. The notion that you're going to trade a Compact Disk full of software, charge somebody for it when all they've seen is a PowerPoint demo, and get paid maintenance on that transaction in perpetuity, that's a dead business model.

“When you take a look at our go to market, it's completely changed. The notion that you're going to have a sales professional that cold calls a customer that has no relationship with you, doesn't know who you are, you're going to try to get an appointment with them and go through that process, that's a dead sales process.

“People who buy technology are going to want to try and buy, they're already on your website, which means that the digital experience has got to be phenomenal. They have to be able to download your products, or at least test your product in their environment.

“And you have to have all the metrics running through your digital pipeline where you're understanding how that customer is using your system, and who is the buyer, and what is their preferences, and at the point which that nurtures, then you start bringing in a sales professional. We run all of that completely digital, that's a completely automated digital process so it's almost seamless going from marketing to sales.”

On cultural change:
“People like doing things the way they used to do them. And the extent that they're willing to change and understand that there is a better way of doing things, that's a leadership issue. You have to convince people that their lot in life, and their ability to do their job, and eventually get their reward for doing that job, is better if they follow this digital change and transformation.”

On leadership:
“We're seeing a very dramatic shift from command and control management styles, that has been inherent in most companies for as long as we can remember, to something that is much more open. I call it principle centred leadership, where I know the right thing to do, I have the autonomy to do the right thing. Most decisions we try to push down so that it's as close as possible to where the economic output is going to be.”

On how he wants CA to be seen in the next five or 10 years:

“We are in a unique situation because we are a very unique company, where we have an opportunity to truly be a great and meaningful software company. And it really depends on whether or not we are built to change.

“In five years from now, when you think through the business that we operate in, I hope people say, ‘That's a great software company, that's a great company that builds great software, not a company that buys companies, but one that builds great software.’”

On Google acquiring Apigee:

“I was pretty happy about it. I think for us it was helpful.

“They bought it for a special purpose. The reason why you'd buy that API technology and bring it into Google is you want to compete with AWS and Azure. I think that they are going to be occupied with tailoring that particular set of technologies inside their main use case, which leaves some open competitive space for our use case, which is how do you help all these companies that have disparate technologies not on one localized platform.

“It's a good company, it's a good technology, I think there's lots of market for all of us to play in, I think in the short and medium term, it gives us a little bit of a leg up.”

On the importance of UX:
“If you go to use a mobile app, and it takes you six seconds to load, 50% of the people that were going to use that application will abandon it, and abandon it for life. Think about the economics of that; you spent all of this time, energy, and effort to get a customer to use your application, and because you haven't thought through the user environment and the commitment you have to that customer, you've abandoned them for life. That's just crazy.”

On voice technologies:
“I think we are just really at the cusp of that next new generation of ease of use, user-centricity, and a much more seamless and easy way to interact with complex systems.

“We're already seeing it, and as we start getting more Machine Learning and more Artificial Intelligence into the user interface experience, not only are you going to be able to communicate your wants and needs directly, you're going to get anticipated wants and needs based on your previous history.”

On AI:
“I've been in this business for 28 years, I was talking about AI 20 years ago. We tend to over-hype technology and new ideas, and then get massively surprised when it hits the mainstream. I think that's going to happen with AI.”

“As we start teaching machines to think, there's going to be incredible moral, philosophical issues that we're going to have to address, and what I think is unique about Open.AI, they're attacking this at the same time they're attacking the technology.”

On Diversity, especially in STEM:

“The fact of the matter is, we're losing that battle. If you take a look at the number of students going into four year degrees for engineering that are female, it's decreased over the last couple of years. That's not good, that's wiping out a whole portion of the population that could add to the creativity of our industry.

“If you take a look at some of the liberal arts and some of the humanities, [there is] over population of diversity. If they can get into the technical world, they're going to see that it's not about sitting at a keyboard and pounding out Java code all day long. There's all kinds of ways you can participate, and if we can open up that aperture we can come up with more creative solutions, make the industry more diversified, and have more creativity. And I can't see that not being good for all of us.”

On emerging markets:

“Having visionary, smart technologists and business leaders is not limited to countries that have an awful lot of wealth. India has skipped a whole generation of technology and went directly into mobile. Companies that really aspire to get to that digital medium, they can skip generations of older, antiquated technology and improve their situation and business performance.”

On Open Source:

“I think that it's a fantastic tool and, used appropriately, can drive a great deal of economic value. The issue with Open Source is, is it ready for prime time? There's very few companies that have been able to get to any kind of scale with only an Open Source business model.”

“One of the things I would encourage people to do with Open Source is first, absolutely, go ahead and use it. But be very careful when someone says they're Open Source, and how much propriety technology is built into that Open Source solution. Because I'll think you'll be surprised.”

On the best advice he ever received:

“Be happy.”


Also read:
CA CEO: Every company will be judged by their technology


« Learning from machines: The customer service shift


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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