VMware CEO: Why we built the ‘Green Berets’ for CX

Pat Gelsinger lifts the lid on how the virtualisation and cloud company tackles the non-technology components of digital transformation

Technology is in reality the first 20 per cent of digital transformation

Pat Gelsinger, VMware

“If I walk into a big New York bank, the first thing I get asked is, who else is using it? What have they done?”  

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger talks about some of the conversations that take place when the company’s teams talk to customers about deploying its technologies as part of digital transformation.

“Getting the technology [right] feels like the first 90 per cent, but in reality it is the first 20 per cent of digital transformation,” Gelsinger last week told journalists at the VMworld in Las Vegas.

“We always fixate on that because we are technologists,” adds Gelsinger, who was the first chief technology officer at Intel.

“But then, the people, process adoption and being able to really productionalise it at that scale, how do you operationalise it — all of these have become the real issues,” he adds.

Special forces in action

As a result, he says, VMware has built a group that focuses on these issues.

“We call them the customer success team, but they really are the special forces of our customer engagement,” the CEO says.

“It is like the Green Berets, the Marines,” he adds.

Gelsinger says this group comprises some of the company’s architects with the most customer technical experience.

VMware approaches the issue by getting early customer proof points.

“What we find is there is probably a repeated pattern for new technology or new area in the marketplace,” he says.

“We focus on getting customer scale in production, and then figure out what are the issues associated with it, and then go replicate that with references to other customers.”

He says sometimes they go to a customer, they tell them the first thing they have to do is to be ready to reorganise.

“It is a little bit of Catch 22,” and leads to “really interesting conversations”.

Pat Gelsinger at VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas
Pat Gelsinger at VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas

We call them the customer success team, the special forces of our customer engagement

The philanthropic platform

Another area the CEO is proud of is VMware’s approach to philanthropy.

He says in most companies, executives decide 90 per cent of where to put their charitable efforts. VMware is the opposite, with 90 per cent of the recipients being decided by employees.

He says VMware also allows its employees to take one to three months’ leave to work for a charitable cause.

“That combination has taken the conversation of technology for good and VMware’s force for good to a whole new level.”

For Gelsinger, some causes have been personal. In July this year, he climbed Mt Kilimanjaro with other VMware colleagues to raise money to build schools for Kenyan girls.

He also points out VMware technologies are running Mercy Ships. This organisation operates hospital ships in developing nations.

Gelsinger says he wants to be present when the next generation Mercy Ships are completed in 2020.

The dialogue for tech for good is one I challenge my peers

Pat Gelsinger, VMware

The CEO extends VMware’s advocacy further.

“The dialogue for tech for good is one I challenge my peers,” says Gelsinger, when he meets with his counterparts in other technology organisations.

In the technology sphere, Gelsinger sees further growth in VMWare’s  Cloud Provider Programme, whose revenue grew 30 per cent over the past year.

Cloud providers are increasingly relying on VMware technology as a base for building their services, he states.

“I feel extremely good on where we are, and I believe in many of these areas, we are just getting started.”

An area he sees VMware having greater traction in the near future is 5G.

The 5G world will be a highly virtualised environment, he says.

He believes the start of 2020 will see 5G applications that can scale dramatically.

“If we are at a sporting event, I am calling this the national anthem period of the game,” he says.

“The game has not started, but we are kicking the ball around and warming up. That is where we are in 5G.”

“We want to be the platform of choice as people build their NFV [network functions virtualisation] infrastructure,” he adds.

He says six of the largest telcos in Europe are on the VMware NFV  platform.

“We feel good about this momentum,” he says. “We are taking these technologies and products we have curated for the last 10 years and applying that to the problem.”

Divina Paredes attended VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas as a guest of VMware.

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Tags strategycloud computingvirtualisationbig dataPat GelsingerCustomer ExperienceIoTceo and cio5Gvmware ceoCIOS and the boardnot for profitCTO to CEOleadershipMercy Ships

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