Data and the Evolution of the Digital Transformation Journey

How can organizations accelerate the path to digital transformation? Splunk CEO, Doug Merritt, sits down with Constellation Research's Ray Wang to discuss how an organization's pathway to digital transformation can take many forms and how Splunk is bringing a data-driven, human-centric approach to the forefront of that journey.  




Ray Wang: Right. Now, what do you do with companies that just haven't done the digitization yet? How do you get them up going with that transformation effort?

Doug Merritt: That's why I think Splunk has had a really successful growth curve is we started way back where digital is native with those core tech teams. How we've helped accelerate digitization within some of these organizations is to make sure that I've got both resilient systems that secure systems. I'm gathering that data from even sparse digital signals. Most organizations have it moved to some type of front end system to at least trap sales rep activity, maybe customer support activity.

Doug Merritt: When you begin to tie in those processes with the more static data sources that would indicate customer ID and product ID, you start to bring to life what's happening on a more real time basis across the company, which begins to create that virtuous cycle and circle of, "Wow, I'm getting some really impactful business value. What else can I digitize? How do I accelerate this?" We're seeing that happen at really rapid scale across traditional organizations. Then of course the next gen online organization, we are really ideally suited for it.

Ray Wang: Yeah, that's a great point, right? As companies digitize what they're doing is they're building digital feedback loops. Every time you take an action, that action actually helps inform the back end, and the machine learning on the back end, the knowledge and the neural networks on the back end to say, "Hey, let's go test out some things." Right?

Doug Merritt: Yep.

Ray Wang: This is almost like choose your own adventure books. Remember those?

Doug Merritt: I do.

Ray Wang: Yeah. We start out, you're like, oh you started with a question, you know, page five make a choice. You'd be on page 38, come back. Those feedback loops are actually the core of these digital, all these new digital companies.

Doug Merritt: They are. It's funny because you've been talking about this for again, a decade. We've had so many conversations about how we accelerate digitization and the benefits that brings to organizations. If you really have a unlimited set of potential dimensions or surfaces in investigation across their day to day business landscape.

Ray Wang: This allows every product company become a services company, every services company to become an experienced company, and every experienced company's start looking about outcomes. So this is kind of exciting.

Doug Merritt: We are really, really excited here at Splunk. Again, the way that we're trying to craft this portfolio is, it is not Splunk, it is Splunk And. Every one of these organizations has 100s to 1,000s of different vendors, hardware, software, different cloud providers. Our orientation is how do we weave Splunk through that landscape, so you can leverage those investments that you've made and bring those to life to help accelerate this path to much more of a sense and respond constant feedback loop, ML driven next gen customer service that we all want.

Ray Wang: So you start with the fabric. That's the democratization layer. When people start thinking about what you do with that data and where that gets put into a process, a journey and experience, that's where you rely on partners. Now who are some partners that you work with closely that you really enjoy working with?

Doug Merritt: We've got a really nice, a whole set of partners from Global Systems Integrators, Accenture at the pinnacle of that. We'll be talking a little bit more in our Data-to-Everything launch about the work that Accenture's been doing. It's a global world and there's so many different systems integration firms out there. We've got really effective partnerships with all the usual top tier-

Ray Wang: Technology vendor.

Doug Merritt: ... organizations. On the systems integrator piece, we're getting much more effective on the technology piece. We just announced a partnership with Cisco where they're using Splunk as the underlying engine to power their next gen digital offerings. Their first one already is online, As part of the Cisco global price list, we are continuing to lean in with much more OEM ish type activity. CrowdStrike as an example, that's been in the news a lot lately because they're very successful-

Ray Wang: They're doing a great job, yeah.

Doug Merritt: They use Splunk at the heart of their service to make sure that the endpoint protection that they're driving within their customer base is done effectively. There's no way that we will be effective both in our core markets, much less the more line of business centric markets, without a strong ecosystem of people that are leaning in and an understanding and embracing that Data-to-Everything message.

Ray Wang: So you're basically the Switzerland of data is where you're trying to go?

Doug Merritt: That is absolutely, we have been so far, we want to continue to be that Switzerland of data. That data that makes sense to go through our index, which is much more that non-schematized investigative store. Absolutely, we want everyone to put data in there. We're doing a lot with pricing to make that an easy answer for organizations going forward.

Doug Merritt: But every data repository is built for a different use case. When we thought through our portfolio from bringing high value to streaming data, data in motion, all the way through to attacking data in multiple different data stores, our orientation was to work with what different organizations are using within the landscape. Not to try and make it a, "You must use the Splunk components. Otherwise, the end to end solution won't work for you."

Ray Wang: Oh, this is wonderful. The ability to actually take that data, apply it, put it into action. This is what you're talking about for Data-to-Everything.

Doug Merritt: Data-to-Everything.

Ray Wang: Awesome. So we talked about digital transformation in 2009 and there's been a lot of challenges and opportunities. That was only 10 years ago, right? Think about this, it's gone by fast. We're now ready because the data's there. What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities you're seeing with your clients?

Doug Merritt: It's going back to that 2009 orientation. Certainly the technology has progressed pretty remarkably. Public cloud was early, early, early, and the integrity of a lot of the new sources of data was not quite there, and the cost factor. But I think the biggest equation that I've seen, and you consult all the time, is people are slow to change. The art of the possible affects a few, but it takes others of us more time to really digest what that means. Then we're all organized in the silos, and our view is filtered by our direct team and the data that our direct team has.

Doug Merritt:I think the power of Data-to-Everything and that power of digital transformation is, as we talked about in the very beginning, is blowing up those lines. Data is flowing everywhere. Most of it is dark, most of it is untapped. Data sits in 100s to 1,000s of data lakes, puddles, ponds within organizations. Most of it is not joined and not used in a way. There's so many answers out there, but it takes people to want to drive those answers. You don't have to wait for all the train tracks to be laid to get the value. You can get it with the data that you have within your organization today.

Ray Wang: So you're taking a human centric approach to this data and this digital transformation?

Doug Merritt: Yes.

Ray Wang: Okay, makes a lot of sense.

Doug Merritt: Move the humans, move the human's forward.

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