Brad Parks Of Morpheus Data On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Fail faster and more often: The ability to deploy small software changes hundreds of times per day compared to once a month or once a year is what makes today’s Digital leaders great. If you can experiment, learn something, and experiment again you will inevitably deliver something that customers really value and beat the competition. This is only possible if you automate processes and break projects apart into smaller logical microservices.
As a part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Parks.
Brad Parks is CMO at Morpheus Data. Morpheus Data is the leader in hybrid cloud application orchestration, helping hundreds of organizations in life science, pharmaceutical, financial services, and other industries unleash productivity and address IT operations skills gaps through their unified software platform. The Morpheus platform enables self-service provisioning of VMs, Containers, Clusters, and Application Stacks into any private or public cloud while staying within policy guardrails. For more information and to request a personalized platform demo, visit www.morpheusdata.com/demo
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up (and still live) in Denver, Colorado. Wanted to be a ski bum but after school realized job prospects were better in Tech so went into Software Engineering and IT Operations. After a decade working in IT as a practitioner I decided to move to the dark side and shape the products being built by IT technology vendors.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Not really a funny mistake but working in software development and IT means a fair amount of time troubleshooting problems which did lead me to develop a certain set of forensic discovery skills being able to analyse problems from different angles and iterate on potential solutions in a very organized way to identify which variable caused the problem. That has been a useful skill to apply to the art and science of product management and marketing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Too many to count but I am forever grateful to my parents who grew up in very modest circumstances but worked hard to get to a place where they could provide very well for my brother and I. They made sure we had a strong work ethic and an appreciation for everything we had earned.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I’ve been a fan of fantasy and science fiction since I was a little kid. I appreciate the escapism of going into a different world but also appreciate that it’s that kind of creative spirit that leads to innovation in the real world. What used to be science fiction from the mind of authors like Jules Verne is now very much real science.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
I love our origin story and it’s one of the reasons I joined the company five years ago. We were created by a group of developers who were tasked with the digital transformation of dozens of companies within a private equity portfolio; they built a platform and set of tools to fulfil that mission. They were not thinking about how to sell something or get rich… they just wanted to get their job done. Along the way they realized large enterprises were trying to undergo the same sort of digital transformation so we turned the software platform into a company.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
The most exciting thing that we see happening right now is actually with the market rather than the platform itself. When we first launched a number of years ago we would talk to senior leaders and large enterprises and they would love our product demonstration and agree that they wanted to improve the speed of their internal software development processes but they didn’t have the right people with the right skills to take advantage of the platform. Today, we see most of those same customers creating Platform Engineering teams who are charted with solving the very problem that we address.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
About a decade ago we saw a major shift in market where the power of mobile devices, high speed networks, and cloud infrastructure enabled new start-ups to come out of nowhere and challenge established competitors by out innovating them and using the power of software to meet customer needs. One of the more famous examples was Netflix who was able to completely change the nature of providing entertainment and effectively put Blockbuster out of business. ‘Digital Transformation’ is a term often applied to the change that virtually every company in every industry is now going to use internally developed software innovation to improve how they engage with customers and stay competitive.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
For a long time, technology was considered a ‘back office’ function to support business operations. Digital Transformation is really a reversal of that reality where every company is in many ways a technology company using software to deliver new customer experiences. For example hotels able to track what needs their rewards members have to then simplify a customer’s travel experience from having a favourite beverage in the room to pre-setting the ideal temperature. This is all done through software development and data analytics requiring a massive amount of automation and cloud computing; the result though is revenue for the company and a best-in-class hotel stay for the customer.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
True transformation is more about people and process than tools and technology. Those who try and code their way through transformation are having a challenge. You must eliminate organizational silos and change priorities plus improve the amount of trust between groups. While this is very much a people and process challenge, the right platform can unify the teams and streamline the work. Morpheus enables developers, security teams, IT, and finance all get what they need from hybrid cloud to help their organizations succeed.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Really doing Digital Transformation right is hard and it requires complete organizational alignment. It’s a fundamental shift, not a project and it cannot just be the job of a single team. With that in mind, here are 5 Ways a Company Can Take Digital Transformation To The Next Level:
- Embrace uncertainly: Being agile can apply to software development but also to organizations as a whole. Companies must be able to identify a minimal set of requirements with a minimum of information and then start the iteration process despite not having all the details. A problem that many companies face is the inability to move until they have all the information. In today’s world you’ll never have all the information so you need to build resiliency and rapid response into processes so you can change quickly.
- Get closer to customers: Digital Transformation is most often used as a term to describe the changes in how companies are interacting with their customers, both internal and external. If done right, internally developed software can completely transform the customer experience and often can result in new lines of business and profit centres for a company. This requires maniacal focus on customer experience from the outside in.
- Eliminate boundaries: Organizational rigidity and silos are never a good thing but they are absolutely a death sentence for any Digital Transformation initiative. Use Digital Transformation projects as an opportunity to flatten organizations and facilitate more streamlined conversations across teams. This also requires empowering people do to more at lower levels in the organization. In this way you can eliminate friction from customer to company and across teams like IT operations, security, and application development.
- Fail faster and more often: The ability to deploy small software changes hundreds of times per day compared to once a month or once a year is what makes today’s Digital leaders great. If you can experiment, learn something, and experiment again you will inevitably deliver something that customers really value and beat the competition. This is only possible if you automate processes and break projects apart into smaller logical microservices.
- Look to the fringes: Digital Transformation rarely starts at the centre or traditional cash cow for an organization. Some of the most innovative ideas come from the most unlikely of places. For those tasked with Digital Transformation it’s important to look under every rock in the organization to find new ways to interact with customers and change what value you are able to bring to those interactions.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
- Smaller cross-functional teams
- Give room to experiment
- Minimize unplanned work
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’m a firm believer that most problems in life can probably be addressed with some sort of life lesson illustrated in the movie The Princess Bride. One of my favourites comes from the character Inigo Montoya portrayed by Mandy Patinkin. Specifically, the Spanish swordsman has done the following:
- Put in the work: Inigo practiced for thousands of hours to become an expert swordsman.
- Be loyal: Inigo lives to avenge his father but also to look out for his friends.
- Be ambidextrous: “I know something you don’t know… I am not left-handed” — Inigo is able to fight with his left hand as well as his right.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Brad Parks Of Morpheus Data On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.