There is now a new urgency to digitalisation strategies: Guru Venkatachalam, VP & CTO, VMware Asia Pacific & Japan

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March 29, 2021 2:00 AM

The focus will be on delivering the right experience to customers irrespective of their location. Now that customers have seen that such a proposition is possible, we can expect them to demand the same as a default.

GURU VENKATACHALAM, VP & CTO, VMware Asia Pacific & JapanGURU VENKATACHALAM, VP & CTO, VMware Asia Pacific & Japan

Technology is no longer a back-office function. It is now a critical business driver, ensuring resilience and growth across an organisation. The CIO and CTO today have a seat in the boardroom. They play an important part in deciding business strategy and future roadmap. “We are seeing more CIOs or software minded leaders taking on the CEO role in recent years across industries,” says Guru Venkatachalam, VP & CTO, VMware Asia Pacific & Japan. “This is perhaps the best time to be in the tech industry,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:

What is your primary focus as CTO?
Accelerating digital transformation continues to be the top priority for every organisation across sectors. The role of CTO is to drive delivery of technology solutions aligned to business priorities and long-term objectives of the organisation. As a CTO, my primary focus will be to connect with customer CXO teams and help our teams map the right solutions and platforms for their specific requirements. I have an outside view of technology and technology implementation which I believe will be invaluable in my new role at VMware where I aim to be the “voice of customer” and help us deliver the best to every customer.

What does VMware’s product roadmap look like?
VMware’s product roadmap is rooted in innovation. Our product roadmap has been created with customer requirements at its core. Every innovation and new product exist not only because there is a demand for that solution, but also because we predict a need for it emerging in the near future.
Right now, given the disruption caused by the pandemic, secure remote working and hybrid working models leveraging cloud functionality are top of mind for every CIO across sectors. Digital workspaces, networks, intrinsic security, modernised applications, multi-cloud strategies are therefore an integral part of our product roadmap.

Going forward, how will technology impact our lives?
The focus will be on delivering the right experience to customers irrespective of their location. Now that customers have seen that such a proposition is possible, we can expect them to demand the same as a default. The scale at which customers will demand and the speed at which they will expect results will see a significant change. Ensuring that we meet all expectations securely will be our primary responsibility. This is not new, CIOs across verticals have been engaging with business stakeholders to drive this tech-powered transformation for a while. However, in the last 12 months, things have moved faster than ever before. There is now a new urgency to digitisation strategies and the board is expecting the CIOs to accelerate the pace of transformation significantly.

How is VMware responding to the changing tech and business needs of their customers?
From core virtualisation to software-defined data centre, multi/hybrid-cloud solutions to modernised apps and digital workspaces, VMware has led the way helping drive tech powered transformation. Our vision on being able to support ‘Any App, Any Device across Any Cloud’ is something every customer needs. A customer can choose to work on the private cloud or choose from our public cloud partners like Azure, AWS or Google or any of our VMware Cloud partners. They can decide how to distribute workloads across their hybrid or multi-cloud infrastructure, and we will help them manage all workloads seamlessly with a key or a tool designed for this purpose. This is VMware’s unique proposition – delivering the freedom of choice by not forcing the customer to go down only on one path.

What are the issues giving CIOs sleepless nights. How can VMware help them?
When engaging with CIOs, my priority is to deliver solutions that can meet the customer and business stakeholder demands around availability, scale, speed, and security. First, in the short term, CIOs must continue to secure and facilitate a highly distributed IT infrastructure as work remains remote or hybrid. They must consider critical elements like security, reliability, scalability, and flexibility. For a CIO, it is crucial to focus on not just the solutions but also on maximising ROI.

People and skillsets are other key areas. CIOs must rethink whether they have the right environment in place – an agile learning culture, so that people can be upskilled. So, it is not only about the technology but whether we have the right processes, right methodology or the culture or ecosystem in place where people learn. I see it as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

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