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Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt
What I like about being a Bloor analyst is hearing the inside story on what technology companies and innovators are doing from vendor spokesmen I actually trust—and with a few analysts around to ask any hard questions I overlook. Of course sometimes that means I hear things I can’t really write about—but even this does help to increase my own confidence in what I do write about.
I’m always a bit nervous about voicing opinions about a company after a public press conference where the company may have devoted a lot of resources to making itself sound plausible and into “papering over the cracks”. I’m much happier with events such as the recent CA Technologies Industry Analyst Symposium (IAS) in New York, where company spokesmen have the freedom to be honest, in return for a bit of privacy.
CA Technologies is an interesting company to me—along with IBM it has been around for most of my life in IT. I’m old enough to remember defending Microsoft to my bosses as an interesting new desktop GUI vendor that they really should start taking notice of—the rest of the IT group much preferred DESQview and, in terms of pure technology, were probably right.
CA Technologies has an ‘interesting’ history (not always in a good way) and a reputation, under some previous managements, for exploiting its customers. I knew it back then and I think those days really are well over now (although Enterpise IT people have very long memories). I was particularly impressed by the strategic directions being espoused at IAS by its new CEO, Mike Gregoire, and his focus on actually executing against this strategy, in the context of well-chosen metrics. I can’t talk about the details but doubtless CA Technologies will, in time.
Perhaps my key take-away was that CA Technologies really does recognise the tension between spending money on existing customers that like its technology and don’t cause trouble—and spending money on new customers doing new things with its technology that are harder work but generate real innovation and represent the future of the company. It makes no sense at all not to support your existing customer base, which is paying your bills and supporting your reputation, of course; but perhaps the balance should swing a bit towards new customers with ‘new build’ projects. I also suspect that Gregoire thinks that, given its R&D spend, CA Technologies should have a better reputation, outside the company, for innovation.
I see CA Technologies as being on a journey towards a good place—but it’s a journey involving cultural change, which it hasn’t completed yet. Perhaps, in the sense of continual improvement and rising maturity, it never will; that’s not a problem, of course, as finishing such a journey usually implies that the company is dead. The honesty of its executives talking to us analysts was impressive and bodes well for it managing its cultural changes and taking its customers forward to a world where delivering automated business outcomes is more important than how well your technology silo is doing its technology. This is also a world of collaboration between all stakeholders in the business automation delivery pipeline (DevOps continuous delivery) instead of constant battles between the business and an IT group that sees itself as “the policemen who say NO”.
From what I heard at IAS, where CA Technologies is going fits well with the trend that Bloor sees towards Freedom to do automated business however you want; controlled by feedback loops and protected by technologies that support Trust and Actionable Insights.