Chris Boorman is an industry veteran with over 20 years’ experience, at firms that include salesforce.com, Veritas, Oracle and SDL. A self-confessed believer in the power of social media to support sales and marketing, Boorman also happens to hold a doctorate in magnetism and engineering, a master’s degree in cryogenics and applications and a first class degree in physics.
Could you tell me first what an SVP of enablement really entails?
I see myself as having two really key responsibilities. One is to help the salesforce to be effective, and the other is around our brand: what are people saying, how and through which channels are they interacting with Informatica in some way?
How can I help to make the sales organisation more efficient? I need to monitor who comes to our website, obviously. We use our own master data management [MDM] product at the back-end of the website, and we are able to use that to process the lead and allocate it to the right account manager. I also need to try and make Informatica appear first for search terms that matter, and augment that with paid advertising.
How would you like Informatica to be seen by prospects and customers?
I think being a thought leader is important. Whether it’s through blogs, or tweets or other communities: you need to try and tell your story and get people to see you as a thought leader. But I don’t necessarily think you should be too corporate: people, after all people follow people.
Social is a new era – it’s about the individual. It’s about the personal brand. That’s why I want as many people as possible at Informatica to become thought leaders.
LinkedIn is about the most maintained and accurate database – so we have built communities on LinkedIn and people across the world are participating, because they are actively interested in it.
But does it actually work – do conversations on Twitter or wherever turn into prospects?
We are absolutely driving leads off social [networking]. We are seeing 35% of our leads coming off social. What I look at is how to leverage the world of social networking more effectively. But when we did an analysis we actually found that there were 220 places on the internet where people talk about Informatica. We used to spend a lot of time asking people to come to us, but that strategy has changed and now we go to them. The reason is that I believe the internet is king, and everybody goes online to uncover solutions. You have to play the game, to be part of it.
By the time someone has interacted with you, and come to your website, they are probably already 60% of the way through the process. Hopefully you’ve already been able to influence them by then.
This is a pretty torrid time for enterprise IT. We have spoken over the years when you were at Veritas, salesforce.com and so on. How would you sum up IT in 2012?
I don’t think we’ve ever seen a point in time where we have seen so many new things happening in IT; the very essence of computing is changing: where we do it, how we do it, and what we do. The move from on-premise to cloud is dramatic. I heard salesforce.com has signed a nine-figure deal and I was just, wow! So we’re basically now dealing with a hybrid environment. We didn’t ever get rid of the mainframe, so now the biggest issue is integration, and the web. We’ve moved from business transactions to interactions.
Why is Informatica still growing strongly against that backdrop, do you think?
We’ve spent 40 years doing integration because the business has ended up with silos. IT has become a hairball, a mess. You have applications that don’t know where your customer is or who they are; telcos and banks that treat customers as an account number or a phone number – who is your customer? The ‘what’ of computing is moving to interaction computing. It’s happening not just inside the firewall but beyond the firewall too.
Mobile devices are outstripping desktop devices, and by the way the iPad is the most profound, game-changing device I ever came across. The productivity, it’s changed the game. I honestly have never seen so much change. All of these changes are driving new types of data, the speed with which we need to deal with data, and of course the volumes of data are growing all the time.
Companies like [carrier and logistics firm] US Xpress use our data quality software, and built it into an iPad application. They can capture data, and then use that to optimise the fuel efficiency of their trucks. They told us it has saved them over a million dollars a year.
There’s a lot of hype around big data today – what’s your take?
I guess the question is, how can we make sense of all of this data? How can we help companies maximise the return on investment in their data and lower the cost of their data?
It’s all well and good talking about big data but what are you actually going to do with it? Data is what people need to deal with. You have the simplicity of cloud and the sophistication of on-premise. But you have to have a game plan – what is actually important to you? If you try to boil the ocean you will end up sorely disappointed.
People may be the most important asset in a business but without data organisations have a significant problem. We have talked in the industry for a while about a single version of the truth. We’re probably now looking for ‘single version of the truth squared’, if you will, because not only do you have a big data issue but you are also now grappling with a far greater variety of data.
Thanks for talking to CBR.