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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Elizabeth Cholawsky, General Manager of IT Support Product Line, Citrix (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 12th 2012

Sramana Mitra: I agree with you. Service Now is an excellent company.

Elizabeth Cholawsky: Yes. We’re coming from the position of remote support as the core competency and building a constellation of IT tools around that. We come at it from two different use cases and two different parts of the tools. Service Now is interesting to us. Our remote support competitor Bomgar is doing interesting things, but it’s pure premise, and one of the trends that’s driving Citrix’s business right now is just all of cloud computing.

SM: Yes. That’s the entire point of the series. What do you think of companies like Zendesk?

EC: Zendesk is interesting, and we’ve talked a lot to Zendesk. We have an integration with them with GoToAssist. We work side by side with them.

SM: Why? What is it that Citrix has that Zendesk doesn’t have?

EC: Right now, Zendesk has the ability to track issues. That was where they started. That was the core of it. The use case that prompted the integration was somebody who was using Zendesk to track his issues but wanted to be able to do a support session from within the ticket, working on resolving it. If I hit a button, I go into a live session with an agent. That’s what we provide, the live support interaction.

We have a similar integration with Salesforce. Our own contact center is standardized on the service cloud from Salesforce.  As our agents are working in the Salesforce records, they can hit a button, do a support session with a user. All that history and information from the session gets put back into the tracking of the service cloud case. It’s a similar situation with Zendesk, the interaction between the Zendesk ticket and the live support session.

SM: Does that mean that any company in this cloud-based customer support space and does not have live sharing capability is a potential partner?

EC: Absolutely.

SM: Have you run into a company called Freshdesk? This is a 1M/1M portfolio company that competes with Zendesk.

EC: We did look at Freshdesk. I think they’re doing some nice things. We look at them as another purveyor of the tracking of the issues, definitely one of the new players on the scene that seems to be emulating a lot of the things that have made Zendesk successful.

SM: Yes. I think there’s a partnership opportunity for companies that have the tracking and servicing capabilities that want to add screen sharing or data sharing. That logic applies to Freshdesk as well.

EC: Yes, it does.

SM: Are there any other company that we haven’t talked about?

EC: There’s a number of companies that we keep on our radar for issue tracking. There’s a company out of New Zealand called Beetil that’s interesting. It’s been mentioned for the last couple of years in the Gartner Report as “watch this company.” It’s a pure software-as-a-service. One thing that Beetil has is that it’s a simplification of the ITIL [Information Technology Infrastructure Library] framework. It’s usable for customer support use cases but nice and streamlined for somebody who’s using it for an internal help desk.

SM: What about Zoho? Are you doing similar things with Zoho? It has a CRM product and has built a bunch of other stuff from that CRM core.

EC: We know about Zoho, and we’ve looked at it. We haven’t been as active in any discussions about partnerships. Zoho does a lot of free-to-paid, and that’s not the GoTo model. We do some freemium. In fact, in IT support for the mobile devices, you can do unlimited remote support of an attended session. So, we have a freemium offer, but we don’t use that as the main business driver.

SM: Zoho is a $100 million-plus company, so it has a large number of paying customers.

EC: Absolutely, but the way Zoho has put together the pieces of the puzzle seems to be consistent with the freemium-to-paid model.

SM: Yes. It looks like you want to stay with this core of remote sharing capability and sharing with the companies that do tracking and other customer support infrastructure. Is that the strategy, or do you at some point plan to acquire one of these companies?

EC: Partnering isn’t our only strategy. We always have an indirect partnering focus, but our vision is to be the essential set of integrated, cloud-based tools for IT support for people in technology. Without putting a stake in the ground, you can imagine that an issue-tracking module would be something we’d want to integrate alongside the monitoring and the remote support. With the explosion of devices and software, there’s so much complexity, so many incidents that come in that you need a tightly integrated system. It’s why Freshdesk and Zendesk have made such a big mark on the market recently. We would like to have that integrated tightly. It doesn’t preclude partnering, but there are lots of cases where somebody wants an issue-tracking system side by side with the same product that she’s already using for everything else.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Elizabeth Cholawsky, General Manager of IT Support Product Line, Citrix
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