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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Paul Zolfaghari, President of MicroStrategy (Part 7)

Posted on Friday, May 16th 2014

Sramana Mitra: What is your corporate incubation strategy? How do you drive innovation in your company?

Paul Zolfaghari: I think our innovation strategy comes down across a couple of different vectors. We’re very interested in seeing what trends are in the industry. What are the leading visionaries talking about and thinking about? We certainly listen to our deep and very impressive customer base. Honestly, if you get the chance to talk to a Netflix, American Express, or Citibank, you’re bringing together the collective wisdom of trillions of dollars of GDP. That’s a good sample set for us to get from.

Third is, we consider ourselves a very innovative company and we’re led by a CEO who has been a visionary in the space for the better part of the past 20 years, and who continues to drive innovation from the perspective of where we think the market is going.

If you think about our position, we have the ability to have insights from literally the world’s leading companies in every industry. Who would you want to know more about the chip industry if not Intel? They’re a customer of ours. If you want to know more about the credit card industry, then there’s AMEX. If you want to know what’s going on in the banking industry, Citibank. For us, we are very fortunate that we can get insights about what people are looking for and what they want because we got a strong and representative customer base.

Sramana Mitra: Is the grassroots innovation a part of your strategy? Right now, at least in our work with a lot of corporations, there’s surprisingly a high level of interest these days in engaging the entire employee base in some sort of corporate innovation program. Do you have anything in that area?

Paul Zolfaghari: We do. In fact, we just completed a big hack-a-thon of our own. We had hundreds of people participate in China and United States. We really encourage that innovation. Honestly, if you’re led by a CEO who is a product person, then he’s always looking for product people and the superiority and the prominence of the product. We are a true technology company in that sense. We put extraordinary interest and focus on the product. We certainly encourage, build, and develop what I think is that innovative spirit from the ground up. As a company, we’re very high in terms of what we invest back into the company from an R&D perspective. We invest more than $100 million in R&D. That’s off of a $575 million base. It’s a pretty substantial investment.

Sramana Mitra: Thank you for your time, Paul!

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Paul Zolfaghari, President of MicroStrategy
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