Interview with Poul Nielsen, Chief Marketing Officer at Nexthink

Stefanie: Hello everyone, This is Stefanie Guzikowski. Welcome to the ITOA thought leaders series. Our guest today is Poul Nielsen, Chief Marketing Officer for Nexthink. Poul works closely with product marketing on strategy alignment and with sales for lead generation. Poul has more than 20 years of executive management experience at companies such as Altiris, Computing Edge, Computer Associates and Digital with a strong background in routes-to-market strategy for hyper-growth. During his time at Altiris, Poul served as VP of Product Strategy and Marketing and developed the concept of IT Life Cycle Management for PCs. From 2000 to 2005 Altiris grew revenues from $8 million to over $250 million with leading partners HP, Dell, IBM and Microsoft. Welcome Poul, thanks for joining us. Impressive background you have.

Poul: Thank you for having me.

Stefanie: Absolutely! So there are a lot of definitions flying around relating to analytics. What is ITOA? How do you define it?

Poul: Let's first start with analytics because there are a lot of interpretations of that and we use Wikipedia's definition. It's short and easy for people to understand and the definition is "It's the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns and data." So when we apply it to IT operations we view that as the discovery of meaningful patterns in IT operations data.

Stefanie: Excellent thank you. What trends are driving change in today's enterprises and how does it effect the IT department's maintaining control of their infrastructure?

Poul: Maybe I'll make a bold statement saying that IT departments maintaining control is a bit of a red herring, in other words it distracts from the important issue. IT departments started losing control of their infrastructure the moment they allowed end-users to connect to the Internet. I can remember back in 2004, several CIOs saying that the biggest mistake they had made was letting in the door. They thought the project would fail and today we can now understand how business leaders and end-users view IT services and their IT department and how it has forever changed. Today IT has to grapple with consumerization of IT, bring your own device, application, web service or, if you prefer, SaaS and cloud. The Internet brings a rate of change and new security threats that IT departments aren't able to stay on top of or control as they once used to. If I were to summarize it, change has outpaced the IT department's ability to maintain control. I think that this is the natural evolution of our industry.

Stefanie: That makes sense. Why must enterprises adopt IT operations analytics solutions? Why is it an absolute MUST nowadays?

Poul: Well, if you take my previous statement and you say that change has outpaced IT operations' ability to control, IT departments have to start listening to what is going on in their infrastructure and react in real-time. So IT Operations Analytics solutions let the computers listen to the data and find the interesting or unusual patterns or anomalies so IT can focus on making smarter decisions and provide better support and security.

Stefanie: Very good. So why is it so important to view your infrastructure from an end user perspective? How does ITOA help?

Poul: I'll plug Aaron Shapiro's book (Users Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business). It's end-users not customers who really determine the success of your business. In his firm's study of Fortune1000s a clear pattern emerged. The most successful companies drive sales by focusing on the business end-users instead of just the customers. So happy end-users translate into business success. We have all seen this kind of shift in power from the IT department to end-users and unhappy business end-users lead to outsourcing as some people say. End-users don't care about the 5 nines of service availability, what they care about is the quality of the IT services from the moment they log in to the time they leave and shut down their computer. So what Nexthink does is analyze every binary execution, associate network connection and the relevant and interesting events that go along with that, such as application crashes and network issues as well as if the machine has rebooted or experienced a hard reset. We also look at login durations and a whole host of interesting events that really speak to the overall experience that the end-user is seeing and can provide actionable intelligence. The reason we think people need to understand and get the perspective from the end-user, is that it is impossible for IT to measure and/or get the end-user perspective using traditional backend monitoring tools. There isn't enough information readily available and it's too hard to stitch it all together. So we want to see how IT organizations not only put end point security software on the desktops but also put analytics software to help understand the total IT infrastructure experience.

Stefanie: First there was Big Data and now there is the Internet of Things. How will this new IT phase impact the need for adopting ITOA?

Poul: Well. The Internet of Things, whether it's RFID tagging, wearables, or machine-to-machine communications, all of those things will increase the variety and the volume of real-time information that IT has to stay on top of and enhance. We believe this will drive the need for using analytics. As more things that IT departments don't control creep into the IT service portfolio, IT departments will have to turn to ITOA in order to understand what is going on.

Stefanie: So looking forward Poul. What will an enterprise IT of the future look like and how should IT teams best manage their infrastructure and assets?

Poul: In what we all now call the digital age, end-users will be free to use the wrong devices and add-on services and we will continue to see the shift in roles between end-users and customers. It's continuing to blur and it's operating in real-time. Businesses are giving more and more control to the customer. We have already seen IT departments taking on a new role - that of an IT broker, where the IT department no longer provides or controls all of the IT services but helps business end-users evaluate and utilize the best services available. This will force IT departments to measure and improve end-user's and customer's quality of service and overall experience.

Stefanie: How should IT teams best manage their infrastructure and assets?

Poul: First and foremost, if you don't measure it you cannot manage or improve it. Second, prepare to move faster than you would like. IT teams need to align with their businesses, become an IT broker and support whatever the business needs to grow revenues. IT teams need to put in place real-time solutions that can keep pace with the rate of change and new security threats. At Nexthink we believe ITOA will play a key role enabling IT's agility to support business end users.

Stefanie: Great. Thank you so much Poul. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Poul: Same here. Thank you very much.

About Poul Nielsen
As Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Nexthink, Poul has responsibility for corporate, partner, and field marketing worldwide. His mission is to cultivate and communicate Nexthink's brand equity and to lead marketing operations in support of the company's goals.

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