Catch Duncan Hewett, VP – Software, IBM Asia Pacific in a conversation with Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst & Group CEO, Greyhound Research on Greyhound Research’s knowledge sharing series ONTrigger.
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Sanchit Vir Gogia: It’s fascinating the new IBM you know you got the Twitter relationship the Facebook relationship and the Apple relationship, you bought Softlayer and then Blue Box then you got IBM Verse coming out and the other end you bought MaaS 360 and Fibre Link. Which sought of sweetly fits into the entire security landscape as well. But tell me with IBM is it sought of synergy where in your able to tie all this together as a solution and go to a client?
Duncan Hewett: Absolutely! I mean that’s actually what we do. That is our mantra how do we help clients solve issues and bring strengths to each of the components. So in one project you have Softlayer sitting underneath and in another project it’s around helping put mobile capability across the workforce. You have to think about security. You have to think from where that data comes from. As well as mobile development. If you look at our acquisition strategy, in the last 6-7 years we have acquired people that bring SaaS (Software as a Service) capabilities or bring development or bring infrastructure in a whole different way because the issue is client struggling to solve and we have the ability to scale on that across the world.
SVG: Interesting. Yes, scalability is not the critical problems everybody’s facing. I was just speaking to a CIO of a bank yesterday. They are looking to expand the entire API’s just from internally facing to more externally facing with partners and ultimately, customers. There problem is actually two folded. It’s scalability and it’s actually security. So how do you define what data actually goes out and how do you define roles and how do you define those processes and logics in the new age world is actually a tough one quite honestly.
DH: Yes, Well in this way you can see on the business side when I sat recently with the group executive of retail for one of the banks. Very large bank. Tens of thousands of staff. He is driving the mobile project.
SVG: So there is a buy in from the business?
DH: Yes. I too was part was sitting at the table with him because he has got the vision. He has actually connected his marketing in terms of multiple segments with his mobile development around multiple segments of applications to go after different segments. As you change a marketing program you change the mobile application and monitoring the client experience. It really is synergistic from line business driving the vision because he ceases his growth to his business.
In some countries the average age is 29 years old. They are going to buy white goods, cars. We are sitting here in Bangalore so they are lot of cars on the road. (laughs)
SVG: Little too much I would say. (laughs)
SVG: Interesting. We spoke about the changing ecosystem of IBM globally but there are lots of these new age partners, new age channels within Asia which are very specific to a country or a region sometimes.
Now, talk to me little bit about how are you really changing the ecosystem within Asia which is very specifically nature to Asia like can be born in the cloud ISV’s can be new age cloud integrators for that effect as well. Tell me little bit about what you doing sought of target that space better?
DH: It’s from both ends for us. At the top end, we are changing our relationship with the system integrators because clients are looking for outcomes, they are looking for depths, they are looking for people who can bring multiple components together. This is changing our relationship across a number of the integrators to help clients for their outcomes.
At the same time, particularly, Bluemix has opened up a whole different set of discussions born on the cloud developments. Where we run in garage stations, we are exposing them; we have hack-a-thons. The city example on the patterns that one city, you know selection process. The first patterns are read down the list with three New York University students. That’s a new born on the cloud. They are still in university who built an application about sharing restaurant bills and how to manage that so just an innovative idea being brought to a new ecosystem.
We are investing time and effort to expose. What we are saying is, there is an ecosystem of people who are born on the cloud who are looking for to deliver innovation. Part of a real firm is an enterprise grade platform that runs on the same architecture that exists in the large enterprises. So that makes us appealing not only on scalability but in terms of matching an ability for them to grow in the future.
SVG: Very interesting. So one of the things that come to my mind very often is the way that CIOs and other broader IT decision makers, the way they look at vendors must also change because you know there is cloud, there is mobility, there is API’s being opened up.
Now if you would of sought of give a three point of advice to decision makers who are ultimately judging you probably from a different old lens and judging a new IBM or the new age of the vendor. How should they be changing their benchmarking techniques or the way they look at you in the new age today?
DH: Actually. The advice I would give CIOs is, It’s a completely vendor to CIO advice (Laughs), CIOs please take no offence. I think one of the challenges is they have to make a line of business requirements so much faster and have to engage so that decision process that has to happen earlier so the parallel challenge if you are on a component by decision process and you really looking to benchmark every single component, that is difficult. I actually think it takes a long period of time. So looking at what have I run today, where do I want to remain, what standards am I going to maintain and leveraging those standards and how do I benefit from larger vendors from a portfolio perspective.
SVG: Which is the expands and the dept both right?
DH: Correct! Because particularly where you are going to use multiple components across different divisions across different projects. Then there are opportunities to manage that as a portfolio.
In conclusion, can you point me to lets say three to five things in terms of changes that we can sought of expect in APAC under your leadership.
DH: It’s been an amazing ride in Asia Pacific. I have actually had the pleasure of quite a period of time to see the changes. What I have seen is much more maturity in clients and projects, more maturity in running their operation and actually much more business focused discussion and I actually look forth in continuing. It is change you can see the level of professionalism coming up in our clients and coming up in our people which changes the night with a discussion and gets much more focused on the outcome.
SVG: So it is all about outcomes now?
Duncan: It is definitely shifting towards outcomes and how to be successful together in a project.
SVG: It is interesting when you speak of outcomes. So do you often get the question of how much percentage discount you are going to give me, Duncan? (laughs)
DH: Absolutely! (laughs) It’s embedded in the Asia Pacific psyche.
SVG: I know it is. We all want to get a good bet for us right? But how do you go beyond that conversation. How do you sought of add value to that in these conversations?
DH: It is interesting. I would tell you its most frustrating. I get 76% discount from so and so vendors so why can’t I have 76% from you. It’s a frustrating question. You get your passbook for this finger and our passbook why will they be the same.
SVG: The reason I ask you is because I completely agree with you as that’s not the lens how you should be looking at your project from, but having said that, that’s how Asia is.
DH: Actually Asia is changing. It’s generally changing. We are actually seeing much more business cases; it is about what they will save me in terms of operating cost, how much risk is in this. Where you have done it before, who else have you done it with, what partner can work with me to make this successful. I genuinely am seeing a size shift in Asia Pacific skill. Still a big variety. I mean there really is a full spectrum in Asia.
SVG: So you value add by helping your customers with a business case.
DH: Yes, and understand the problem. What problem we actually trying to solve and do you actually need all the technology. There was a wave a couple of years ago that gave me unlimited licensing and unfortunately a number of those clients now have no control and they have ended up with software spread across the organization. There are two things you have to support it over time and it’s not just about the software cost, it’s around on what hardware it’s been installed on and the operational people to support it.
SVG: The complexity is really high.
DH: Yes. That piece, that’s a maturity thing if you give me unlimited licensing I can’t have a problem. But actually it creates a different set of problems. We genuinely started see organizations realize that, some of them after effect but more are now looking and saying what I actually need to solve that problem.
SVG: Very interesting. Duncan it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much for your time and good luck for the remaining 2015.
DH: Thank you Sanchit.
SVG: Thank you very much for watching. I hope this has been helpful.