Sanjay Mirchandani is a customer-driven CEO. He has worked both sides of the table - as a CIO and CEO for technology vendors, and in senior leadership roles with a career spanning over two decades.
As the new CEO of data management software company Commvault, he is determined to deliver solutions that impact the business and lives of its customers.
In a conversation with IDG, Sanjay Mirchandani, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commvault, shares his views on the data-driven economy, the new CEO stint, and role of the CIO in the digital world.
You’ve been at the helm of Commvault for a little over three weeks. Have there been any major changes – GTM, organization structure or otherwise to add impetus to company’s business?
I am in the fourth week of my tenure at Commvault. I am doing an 80 by 60, wherein I am trying to meet 80 percent of our employees in the next 60 days or less. Therefore, I am on this whirlwind tour where I intend to meet our customers, employees and partners across all geographies - to understand who we are and what we do. This has been fabulous so far.
There are no immediate changes as of now. It is all about reinforcement for us as our enterprise customers truly trust the brand Commvault. This has been reinforced to me as well.
Secondly, we’re a company which has helped customers solve their problems around data and data management. In the last two decades, we have tried to understand the hard challenges and be one step ahead of them.
The next few days I will be spending some time with the engineering teams in Bangalore and Hyderabad in India. I can happily tell you the technology which we are building there is spectacular. Between the brand value and customers’ trust - the technology that we’re building - as a former CIO, I feel confident about the spot we are in.
However, a small structural change we’ve done, is Alan Bunte who was the COO of Commvault and Bob Hammer, the ex CEO of Commvault, we have merged these two roles. These roles have been combined; as a result both the teams will work with me.
Data is the new oil. But data management is fast turning to be the new toil for CIOs and businesses. Does Commvault makes their life simpler?
Sanjay’s Prime Takeaways on Data and Data Management
Data is the new toil for CIOs: CIOs face challenges with volume, velocity, complexity, types, heterogeneity of data. Distributed nature of data is the new vector.
Deriving value from data: Data is the real asset that flows out of that journey and CIOs today need to harness data, make use of it and unleash the value.
Dx and data monetization: Digital transformation is just a jargon unless you can truly monetize the opportunity for the organization around digital capabilities.
Data is living insurance policy: It is not about storing data, managing and keeping it safe but bringing data to life. Data is not a life insurance policy, but a living insurance policy.
We have been preparing for this since the last 20 years. The challenges that CIOs face today with volume, velocity, complexity, types, heterogeneity of data and the distributed nature of data is a new vector in the world of data. These new parameters define the data challenge for customers.
I believe we have all the capabilities to not just manage or store data for customers, but derive value out of it for them. Everything we do is about unleashing that value for our customers. We do not wish to create a cottage industry of products for the customers; instead the focus is to create a comprehensive solution or a unified data management platform to address their concerns in the modern world. If I was a CIO today, I would exactly wish for this.
It’s all about the end to end experience that includes ensuring efficiency across all stages, right from the stage when a customer has searched something, goes through the transaction and makes a support call. Net promoter’s value is the key.
With the huge volume and rapid velocity of data flow across organizations, most CIOs now have an added responsibility to monetize data and contribute to their company’s overall digital revenue. What is your take on this?
CIOs today are business strategists for their organizations and we do see this aspect spread across the globe. I believe it is a great time for CIOs and IT leaders to get to the centre of the business. Digital transformation is just a jargon which is used unless you can truly monetize the opportunity for the organization around digital capabilities.
Data is the real asset that flows out of that journey. CIOs need to harness data, make use of it and unleash the value. It is not going to be about storing data, managing it, keeping it safe. But it is about availing it and bringing data to life. We want to tell our customers to think of data not as a life insurance policy but as a living insurance policy.
Most tech vendors have cloudified (cloud versions) their solutions including Commvault. But have the organizations accepted that their data will be safe in the cloud or the new multi-cloud?
I believe it will be a multi-cloud world as it provides true application portability - allowing them to not be restricted to one type of cloud. As economics, laws of physics and innovation cycles change, we will have to go multi-cloud.
If I was a CIO today, I would wish to adopt multi-cloud that does not restrict infra to a single cloud lock-in, allows flexibility to move apps and workloads across clouds and move swiftly on the digital transformation journey.
With LOBs and CXOs enjoying more buy-in power for technology purchase besides IT teams, who is the actual buyer – CIO, CDO or maybe CFO (in case of a cloud component) at the customer end?
“In my 80 by 60 whirlwind tour, I am trying to meet 80 percent of our employees in the next 60 days or less, where I intend to meet our customers, employees and partners across all the geographies, to understand who we are and what we do.”
Depending on the size of the business, everybody from an IT practitioner to a CEO would be my customer. While we mostly talk to the CIO, the lines are blurring between business and IT departments and they are becoming one. My ultimate motive is to make the practitioner’s job peaceful and help them get their job done.
Some of our competitors speak of moving a petabyte of data, while we manage up to exabyte of data for our consumers. It’s not a science project for us; it is a critical mission for us each day.
Several CIOs do err or fail in their data management blueprint. How can they avoid typical pitfalls?
Don’t get sucked in by point solutions as it creates a cottage industry in your company. Think of data as a corporate asset and don’t let anyone and everyone decide on mission critical capabilities. Have a comprehensive approach to data and data management strategy at your organization. Think of data as the lifeblood of your business and try to make the best use of it.
Importantly, CIOs and IT leaders should never compromise with the hygiene of information or data. They should build in the hygiene at the implementation stage and not later. They should take access control, policies, GDPR requirements, and regulations seriously.
Bucket List for Modern CIOs: Commvault CEO
1. Don’t get sucked in by point solutions to implement in your infra.
2. Have a comprehensive approach to data and data management.
3. Think of data as the lifeblood of business and make the best use of it.
4. Don’t ever compromise with the hygiene of information or data.
5. Take access control, policies, GDPR needs, regulations seriously.
In the digital transformation era, does CIO term finally mean ‘Career Is Over’ or ‘Constant Is Over’?
When I became a CIO in 2008 (with an enterprise technology vendor), I got 30 odd messages from other CIO friends and I saved them all. Most of them said, “Are you crazy? Why are you doing this? Your career is over!” Today, I would like to say it was the best move I made in my career at that point. If any CIO misses this today, then they are missing the big picture because it is easier to build and deploy something than to run it.
Being a CIO, you are in the trenches with the troops when there is the end of quarter pressure, or seasonality pressure or Christmas - key season for whichever business it is. CIOs are trying to keep the lights on and keep things humming. I am proud to be a part of a company which understands this aspect of the CIO's role.
What are your success mantras to steer Commvault’s momentum in a data driven economy?
I’d say put yourself in the shoes of the customer. It’s not about the next cool feature; it’s all about the value you’re delivering. I believe one should focus on providing extra value and exceeding customer expectations. This can only be done by living their life.
And if you believe that data is the next big asset for your company, then there is no better company than Commvault to take care of it for you.