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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Ulf Zetterberg, CEO of Seal Software (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, Sep 7th 2014

Sramana Mitra: You say it’s broader than that. The unstructured data problem in the enterprise is a broader problem, but I believe it’s going to get solved in pieces just like the contract problem will be solved at the contract lifecycle management level. Then there are other types of unstructured data in the enterprise. There are huge amounts of social media information, which is all unstructured data that needs to be analyzed. It’s a whole different application. It’s going to be solved at the customer analytics level. All these are different applications of different heuristics. What you’re looking for in terms of managing and analyzing the unstructured data is very different.

Ulf Zetterberg: Absolutely. I didn’t mean that there’s going to be one universal tool. There’s a very large farm of data that the customer has very limited insight into today compared to the structured stack they have. If it is contract or social media, the more they get to run in to the problem, the more motivated they are, and they realize that they have to take this seriously and look at this as a large initiative. When they see what you could do around a specific use case like contracts, you give them the motivation. They start to look for other use cases of other content types with different platforms. They give them knowledge, experience, and feedback that this is worthwhile doing.

Sramana Mitra: Do you think that’s how enterprise IT works?

Ulf Zetterberg: No.

Sramana Mitra: That’s exactly right. I don’t think that’s how enterprise IT works at all.

Ulf Zetterberg: IT has been a good strength to me for so many years, but they are not driving this. This is the business users.

Sramana Mitra: But the business users are segmented and siloed. The business users have their own business functions. They’re not thinking about unstructured data. They’re thinking about solving their own business problem whether that’s in contract management, or in social media, or in some other part of the enterprise.

Ulf Zetterberg: Yes, at the same time, they have to accept that this is the world they’re operating in, but they’re also going to have this chain changes. They’re going to be the ones that don’t accept to be a victim of IT and be a victim of diversification. I see that some of the successes you have with the leading cloud providers, for instance, have disconnected that need for IT to be a vital part to solve their problem. I think that’s what’s great about being around Salesforce.

Before Salesforce, there was nobody that was starting a large CRM implementation without having IT driving that. In many cases, we see Salesforce as a large ecosystem to sell into today. IT, in that case, has some participation in the project but they’re just trying to keep up. The business sides that have these more progressive customers are not going to let IT stop them because they’re going to say, “I need this and I want this today.” That’s probably the biggest thing that has changed in the last five years.

Sramana Mitra: As you know, our primary audience is entrepreneurs. There are many different applications that you could come up with based on that general framework and there are numerous businesses out there trying to address that from different application points of view. One thing that I must call out here is that if you are trying to build a company around your technical expertise in unstructured data analysis, you have to go to market through an application area and a use case. You just can’t randomly go as an unstructured data solution.

Ulf Zetterberg: Absolutely. That’s a failure of these vendors. Customers don’t like platform anymore. Customers don’t want to be the builder. They want something that is ready to go.

Sramana Mitra: Like you said, there is so much unstructured data in the enterprise and there are so many different functions that can be powered by technology that can do interesting things with unstructured data in various parts of the business workflow. That’s vertical, horizontal. There are all kinds of interesting opportunities.

Ulf Zetterberg: I personally believe and see a lot of interesting things that are close to what we do. Automation or self-service driven application for the enterprise is very interesting. I think that’s where the business users get excited because, once again, you don’t need IT there. If you just subscribe to a service that runs what-if analysis for specific content types, allows you to manage more of your business and processes without having large IT-driven projects, that is an amazing growth area and one where the customers have a big appetite for. Automation drives productivity and keeps costs down.

Do we really need to treat all data equally? No, because all data are not equal. Can we have software that uses machine learning that have built-in analytical capability help us determine where material data is? That’s where we put our best and brightest people to work on. We make a conscious decision that maybe we’re going to miss some of the data, but the value and speed that’s added to the business is worth it. That’s where the self-service, automation, and real-time analytics play an enormous interesting part of the future of the enterprise. That’s where entrepreneurs deliver great value.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Ulf Zetterberg, CEO of Seal Software
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