“I wish I could say I wanted to be an astronaut or an MMA fighter…”
Every Monday morning we fire five questions at a C-suite tech industry interviewee. Today we’re pleased to be joined by BetterCloud CEO David Politis.
Biggest Challenge for your Clients?
Our clients are primarily IT and security leaders in large organisations. Their biggest challenge is managing the growing number of cloud applications employees use within their companies and keeping data within company walls.
Cloud applications have completely changed the game in the last few years. On one hand, they’ve created what we refer to today as the digital workplace. Employees have the freedom to work on their own terms from virtually anywhere. On the other, it’s given rise to a host of new security challenges.
For IT and security teams, it’s no longer about managing a homogenous environment with a single technology stack — everything has shifted to best-in-breed cloud applications. The problem is these cloud applications are built on an entirely new architecture from the old on-prem days, and require a new level of visibility in order to keep data secure.
Unfortunately, many companies are still stuck in the past and rely on traditional perimeter-based security methods to protect their data in the cloud, but it simply doesn’t work. Protecting a network or a device today is a losing battle. The only way to truly protect your data is to follow the user and manage their interactions within those applications at a granular level.
We’re getting there as an industry but we still have a long way to go. Security leaders like Okta have stepped up and solved the identity problem to control application access. But what companies need to truly protect their data is an authorisation layer that gives full visibility and control over activity within the application itself— everything from who is sharing what internally and externally down to application configuration that can lead to data exposure. This is precisely where we come in.
Technology that Excites you Most?
The tech I’m really interested in and excited by right now is IoT. I’m learning more and more about it every day, and seeing more interesting use cases. Let me give you a couple of examples. I met with a company the other day that built an IoT solution that sits inside of wheat bins and is able to measure the presence of gases in the air, changes in temperature, humidity, etc. — essentially, anything that could potentially contaminate that wheat. The technology alerts the farmer and helps them to deploy a fix within those containers before a potentially catastrophic event.
I’m also excited by IoT sensors that can be placed inside cars to help anyone operating a big lot — like rental car companies, auto dealerships, etc. — find and locate cars faster. You can also tie that back to the cars’ manufacturing dates and other data to help keep a closer eye on your inventory in terms of mileage on the cars, maintenance needed and more. ZipCar, Hertz and a few other rental car companies are already using IoT to a certain degree, especially with their keyless, self-serve systems.
IoT is interesting as a broad category and it’s something people have been talking about for years, but the use cases — like the two I mentioned above — are finally providing tangible results.
My greatest success has been building the culture here at BetterCloud — a culture built around our customers’ successes and their experience with our company and product.
We decided to take a different approach to customer experience when we built BetterCloud. I wasn’t sure if that was something we’d be able to achieve — particularly with an enterprise-focused product — but we did it. It’s something I had been striving for my entire career and here we are today — a company with thousands of happy customers and hundreds of employees who go out of their way to put the client front and center. It’s a tremendous source of pride for us.
I am also particularly proud of our approach to our own people. I have always lived by the principle “enjoy the journey and learn from it” — and it’s served us well. This principle shines throughout the company from our mentor program to how we communicate and collaborate with each other.
I think the greatest failure I’ve had in my career is the way we treated customers at my very first company. It was my first experience running a business, and I didn’t really understand or appreciate the importance of providing the best possible customer experience and really cultivating positive customer relationships. Frankly, I wasn’t getting the best coaching from our people close to the company at the time in terms of how much emphasis to put on customer experience. Ultimately, when I left that company that was the primary feedback I received from our customers. That they were unhappy with the experience. It’s stuck with me throughout my career and it’s why I was so determined to redeem myself when I founded BetterCloud.
In Another Life I’d Be…
Frankly, I wish I could say I have these really cool aspirations to be an astronaut or an MMA championship fighter, but I’m truly living my dream. Building a company and watching it grow is honestly what I’ve always wanted to do from as early as I can remember.