Careers: Interviews
Vivek Thomas: President Maximizer Software, Top-Ranking Global Executive

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP, FGITCA has an exclusive interview with Vivek Thomas.

Vivek ThomasAs President, Thomas is responsible for the strategic and operational management of Maximizer Software Inc. and its subsidiaries that represent Maximizer CRM globally. Thomas joined Maximizer Software in 2002 as Director of Sales (Americas), and within four years was promoted to Vice President, Sales (Americas), then Managing Director, EMEA, where he was responsible for 14% CAGR revenue growth in two years, with a significant growth in profitability.

An industry veteran with more than 18 years of experience, Thomas brings global management and business development experience to the role, having lived and worked in North America, UK, France, South Africa and the Middle East. Prior to Maximizer Software, Thomas held senior management positions with CRM vendor, Frontrange Solutions, in addition to Business Objects and Sony Corporation.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
http://blogs.technet.com/b/cdnitmanagers/

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:37: How is CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology changing and what does the business owner need to be aware of?
"....CRM was originally built as a data repository for contacts. Over the years it has evolved into a collaborative application that is at the core of any businesses custom engagement model...."

:01:21: How has the amount of IT resources needed to support a CRM solution changed during the last 10 years?
"....It has changed in two large ways: on one hand, there's a significant reduction in hardware costs, but on the other hand, development in things like Open Source and web applications have made things like cloud computing possible, and cloud computing has changed the way business or software licensing works and that has made it easier to deploy across organizations...."

:02:32: Where do you see this heading in the future?
"....Almost all major players are in the business of selling cheaper storage, so we're going to see an explosion of data and also a corresponding need to store, retrieve and analyze this data....There's an expectation with Gen Y of being always on and always connected. The challenge for us as a software development organization is to make sure we have applications that will allow for this shift in culture and the need to consume data whenever, wherever...."

:04:16: What trends are you seeing with deployment? Is the movement towards the cloud (SaaS) becoming the default choice?
"....Undoubted SaaS or cloud has changed the conventional licensing model. It really fosters an engagement strategy around easy-to-use, always being on, paying for what I consume and the relevance of the GUI to whatever I want to do at that particular moment in time...."

:05:37: What should CIOs be considering when they are tasked with evaluating a CRM solution?
"....Understanding what the business direction is in terms of customer acquisition strategy, customer management strategy and customer development strategy. Those are continually changing and will continually evolve...."

:07:15: How has the growth of social media influenced the direction of CRM technology?
"....Fundamentally social media has increased the amount of content available to a prospect or customer when making a buying decision....As a CRM practitioner, business needs to incorporate such content using whatever medium in its strategy of customer acquisition, retention and development. As a CRM vendor it's important for us to allow these mediums and technologies to be integrated into the CRM process...."

:08:38: Most solutions are available through mobile devices as well. Do you see this trend growing and how?
"....The smartphone and any associated media web app is the most influential shift in this day and age...."

:10:00: Does this create new challenges for data security; what are they and how can they be resolved?
"....Something that is on most CIOs minds is how to deal with the size of data and the security around that data....The good news is there is significant communication happening between government regulators (both nationally and internationally), software developers and device manufacturing organizations on these issues, so it's being dealt with right now...."

:11:56: Are there barriers to entry for smaller organizations? What sort of IT infrastructure and resources do you see in place as a minimum for smaller businesses?
"....The good news is there aren't any barriers to entry for smaller organizations. The cost of infrastructure, the advent of virtualization, web technologies, device technologies; these are things that have all come down from a price perspective and as a result anybody should be able to do this...."

:13:25: Vivek talks about his major prior roles and some shareable lessons he has learned from these roles.
"....The walls are coming down; it used to be geographic distances were a reason for different models and different ways of communicating and conducting commerce. That has now flattened considerably....It takes time to do things. The human brain and philosophy takes a little bit longer than technology allows us to adapt to these things....In general, there are more good people on this planet than bad...."

:15:58: Can you extend the last question to your current role and share some lessons?
"....Current role as President of Maximizer Software. Lessons: Most people want good in their thinking....Spend more time being positive than being negative....Things take time....I'm impressed with the way business in general has responded to the current economic challenge...."

:18:14: Please share your deep insights regarding discussions that are occurring on the emerging technologies, CIOs versus CTOs and including the following areas: technology to grow revenue vs technology to increase efficiencies, the impact of business driving the technology decisions, technology perspectives from the customer's point of view and on the CIO side whether they becoming the Chief Innovation Officers.
"....The single loudest thing is that business is now squarely driving technology. It used to be that technology was driving business, but I feel overall we've come back to the customer and the customer relationship is king, in decision-making on every single thing we should do from a technology perspective....With respect to the CIO being the Chief Innovation Officer, I think there is some truth to that....Whoever holds the role of CIO or backend infrastructure systems in an organization is really being called upon for his expertise and perspective when customer engagement strategies are being created...."

:22:55: Please share your views on Governance/Board insights, a candid discussion on what the board is really thinking on areas such as: the board's top 3 concerns as it relates to the integration of technology and business, who do board members rely on within the organization, what are some of the aspects of deploying an IT governance program, innovation and its impact on the organization's future success, and preparing the work force for the future.
"....Deploying an IT governance program is always a challenge, business continuity and data security is always a concern, sharing of information is important too....It never is easy to deploy an IT governance program. Most people view it as Big Brother coming down to watch what they're doing, and my personal experience has been that it is better to get a consensus within an organization of the value for a governance program before rolling it out...."

:27:38: What are some of the disruptive technologies and how will they have impact?
"....The explosion of data caused by mobile and mobile devices....Software applications, things like Open Source, web apps and the reliance on the web in general....Larger organizations are stepping back and finding new revenue streams promoting a referral type model and that's going to change things as well....The need to be able to search, report and analyze asynchronous or non-relational data is also something that will disrupt the way people behave and interact in the world of commerce...."

:30:08: What specific challenges and opportunities should IT practitioners and businesses embrace today and into the future?
"....The majority of the innovations are going to be around data...."

:32:32: What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and recognized non-licensing based credentials?
[See www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council,  http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
"....I think that all industries, bar none, are heavily dependent upon computing from an operational, analytical or a compliancy perspective. To not have standards that are at par with any other industry or profession is probably a risk....I think additional work needs to be done to let people know that when they are dealing with an IT professional, a software vendor or a computing professional that he/she has been processed through a model like a Chartered Accountant or a doctor, so that there is some level of standard, ethics and professionalism being brought to the role...."

:35:27: From his extensive speaking, travels, and work, Vivek shares some stories (amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing).
"....It was an interesting experience to know that while I'm asleep there were a bunch of people down under the earth searching for gold...."

:39:50: If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask, and then what would be your answer?
"...What role does your industry seek to play in the evolution of this computing model?...."

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