In his first job, Dave Link saw how even small tech disruptions can cause a major impact on businesses.
Link, founder and CEO of ScienceLogic, says he was working at a company called Compuserve, which during the early days of the internet, was one of the fastest growing and biggest online service providers.
“Over the course of the decade in which I worked there, I witnessed the colossal problems that even small disruptions to IT networks, servers or systems could cause.
“With the world already becoming increasingly reliant on technology, IT problems quickly snowballed into significant challenges. That struck me as a major problem that would only continue to grow in the future.”
He spent several more years in the IT and networking sector, and developed a deep understanding of the guts of the IT-enabled world.
“I began to develop a sense of what does and doesn’t work and realised that the tools the industry had weren’t good enough,” says Link, on his early experiences that led him to found ScienceLogic in 2003.
Today, the company is a major provider in IT operations management, providing modern IT operations with actionable insights to resolve and predict problems faster in a digital, ephemeral world.
Link, who was a recent visitor to New Zealand, observes that the key customer problem they were helping solve then remains the same.
“We have an extraordinary reliance on technology that has the potential to fail,” he states. “Only today, the technology stack is far bigger and more complicated, and user expectations are more demanding.”
He cites, for instance, how a single e-commerce website is made up of miles of code and layers upon layers of intertwined applications to manage payments, searches, databases, and more.
Furthermore, a distributed computer-network in “the cloud” likely hosts it.
“It is often built using containers, microservices, and other fleeting, ephemeral technologies so that the topology of that site is in a constant state of evolution,” he notes. “How do you enable humans to manage something so complex?”
He says from the start, their approach was to take cutting-edge data science and combine it with automation to alleviate the burden of managing this complexity.
Across the digital divide
Working with different organisations across geographies, he observes that most enterprises today can be divided into two fundamental categories: the digital-native companies and non-digital-native companies.
The digital natives are companies which started their operations in the modern digital age, like Netflix, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
“They ‘get’ technology and played a significant role in creating the expectations we now associate with the modern consumer,” he states.
The older companies were established with massive existing investments applications and infrastructure when the modern digital age began.
They have far more inertia to overcome challenges when undergoing digital transformation, he says.
Other companies, like Domino's, seized the opportunities ahead, while others like Toys R Us failed for not keeping pace with the times. “Most companies are somewhere between those two extremes,” says Link.
“This pattern is fundamentally true across geographies.”
“Even if a market as a whole is not as far along the digital transformation track, the overall landscape of that area shifts at about the same rate, with digital-native companies upsetting the status quo and traditional companies working to rapidly keep up.”
“Being the disruptor, not the disrupted is the mindset in which every entrepreneur should find himself or herself,” he says.
He says this is also the ability they try to enable with their customers.
“We are working to make IT operations teams the heroes of an organisation, knowing that digital technology is becoming more important and integral to a company day-by-day.”
“There are very few industries today that are going to be disrupted by new technology that is not built around 1s and 0s,” he points out.
“The future of industry disruption itself is digital. Companies that embrace that notion will undoubtedly perform better than those that do not.”
As for would-be technology entrepreneurs, he cautions against looking at entrepreneurship as a “get rich scheme”.
“We started ScienceLogic because we wanted to transform the way the IT industry worked and my dream hasn’t waned since that time,” he states.
"Start a company because you have a vision for how you think the world should work," he says. “See a problem and want to fix it.”
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