Bob Davis is a CMO at Plutora. With the continuous rise of Coronavirus and the threats it entails, the cybersecurity industry has to face many challenges.
So, we sat down with Bob to discuss his position as CMO, how has remote working affected his job, and what it means for the future of the industry.
What have been the biggest changes in the cybersecurity industry since Coronavirus started?
Everything’s changed. It’s changed a lot of things.
What’s been the biggest challenge to overcome for you to be as productive as you can be?
For me? The main struggle for most people right now is communication.
I asked that because if the topic is how remote work has changed everybody’s world. I’m not a software developer but there are clever software developers who have to face whole other layers of issues to overcome, so as difficult you, me, and for us, how do I get my job done with these new different challenges.
Layer on top of that the problems of a software developer. I need more than Zoom, or Slack, or some kind of instant video messaging service, I need something much more than that.
I agree, the way we communicate has changed. So, in terms of Plutora, what do you do, and how does that change to make remote management of software development teams easier?
The value stream management market is a market area that looks to provide visibility and governance and collaboration to a software development team. Those software development teams are characterised by a lot of different functions that occur from the time somebody has an idea or a customer request to the time when that product or feature is released to the market.
There are a lot of steps. There have been evolutions to how those steps come together and so, organisations used to be just fine with releases six months. This age with mobile and web, it’s really like every month, if not more often. The Unicorns in our space, Amazon, Google, release thousands of times a day. We sell to the personas and human beings, who work in organisations that are not those unicorns. Rather they are the businesses that drive everyday life, financial, healthcare, telecommunications, utilities.
These kinds of organisations people rely on through their mobile phones, to get services and products and capabilities, they desire upgrades on their applications. Those customers want things to happen quickly. Those organisations, banks, for example, stand to lose money and lose customers.
So the battle to become an effective software company is what is being fought in these enterprises, that battle is involving the modernisation of development from the older legacy waterfall model to much more agile iterative developmental processes and as they go through that transition, teams get smaller, and the idea is that they’ll be able to iterate faster.
What that has done is that it created a whole lot of Silos. You have the team that does the deployment, the team that does the environment testing, and the acceptance testing, etc. They all have different tools, deployment may be using a product from Z-B labs or cloud bees and the planning might be using something from Atlassian like Jira.
So the data, that is informing the business on how well they are delivering software to their customers, how well they are delighting their customers, is sitting in different spots in the pipeline and the only way for companies to deal with that is to meet every week to share points, share file systems and gauge progress.
It’s really hard to have those meetings and it’s really hard to be up to speed in a communicative way and it’s particularly difficult hard in software development where all these teams rely on each for shared results. They rely on each other software deliverables.
A simple example: you have a phone, on that phone, you have a banking app, on that banking app, you can pay bills, you can deposit bills you can do a lot of things. When a new feature comes out, not only does that feature need to be built onto a mobile app, but the background infrastructure that supports that mobile app needs to be available at that same time So, in a banking app, there’s security, you need to make sure that it is delivering to you and delivering that deposit or transfer money and that is often sitting on a mainframe on a backend process somewhere, managed by a completely different set of people.
In order to release that application, those people have to be talking. When I go to test, I have to make sure all of the appropriate versions of all the software that may be sitting in different teams, is in one place, so all of that stuff has to happen.
So, it’s more than coordinating a meeting, its coordinating technology and that’s the problem as we’ve gone to a remote world how do we do that. Enter value stream management, a product that sits on top of all those individual tools, that brings all that data into one place, and gives people a series of dashboards that allow them to manage and to orchestrate and to govern and to ensure compliance.
These are all the things that these organisations depend on for their livelihood. I can’t release a banking app that doesn’t have security and compliance factors, it would be a disaster.
Do you think there has been an increase in the demand for your services due to coronavirus?
Yes. Unequivocally, it has increased. Every measure of demand has increased, whether it is education or interest. When the Pandemic hit with great rigor back in March and April when most of the world during that time was sheltering in place. Unprecedented.
Interestingly enough, the web requests for information on our sites almost doubled.
Wow, that’s a huge increase.
It’s okay. I’m home already, so I’ve got more time to do that. We signed the biggest deal of our entire history last quarter, so from a sales point of view and from an interest point of view, it’s absolutely an increase.
We’ve seen endless firms, Gartner and Forrester, people of that nature who have high degrees of influence in these audiences. In their research papers, saying value stream management is not nice to have, it’s now a must-have.
This is because the responsibilities for the process has to shift from people to technology because people are not co-located, people have difficulties matching time zones, software dependencies are multiple, when something occurs there are a lot of things that need to be communicated and if you rely on people in a world where you’re not just in an autonomous team but you are an autonomous remote teammate, it’s problematic.
If you are impacted by compliance, Gartner says the average product in an enterprise has at least three compliance umbrellas hanging over it, whether its GDRP, Hippa, or something of that nature, I have to comply traceability and make sure every process I have works the same way it does, every time and if I can’t do that I fail.
If everybody’s working from home and they are used to doing it one way and then they are going to slack me, that’s not a part of my compliance process, that’s a violation. It may work but it’s not going to map into your overall compliance plan, you’re going to get a flag on that
You’ve got to become what Gartner calls Adaptive Governance, sometimes called automated governance, where you put the notion of governance and put the checks and balances into the product, into a product that has visibility across the whole toolchain.
Why do you do that?
Because that’s the only way you can follow artifacts of work from Point A to Point B.
So Value Stream Management is an important part of everybody’s cross-platform infrastructure tools? How does it all play into the future of remote working?
The headline from my perspective is that I think now the world-wide culture of remote work is now embedded into our culture and it’s now taken on a life of its own separate to the pandemic.
The pandemic will be over and when it is over, what happens? Atlassian has just announced they have a WFH policy forever. That was just last week. They had a huge imprint in Sydney.
Nationwide insurance here in America, I believe based in the Midwest. Only notable for being a conservative area, they announced the consolidation of some of their buildings from nine buildings to four or five in Indianapolis and said their employees could work from home.
Coronavirus has pushed people where they may not have pushed.
Microsoft has said they have witnessed 2 years of digital innovation in two months due to the coronavirus. With all of that kind of data, it shows autonomous teams with autonomous teammates is real. If you layer the advances in software development and technology on top of that, which was happening prior to all of this, movements to smaller teams, with a focus on team-based working, that’s when you start to go down that path you need that governance and everything else we’ve talked about on value stream management.