I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Harrick of Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) to discuss current trends and future outlook within the technology industry. Along with leading IVP’s investment in AppDynamics — and being a Board Observer — Steve also led investments in notable IT companies such as Pure Storage, Sumo Logic, MySQL, Spiceworks, and several others.
Here’s a quick insight into our chat…
In your opinion, what category of technology will be most impactful to businesses in the next three to five years?
Three areas are top of mind. Security is foremost. The IT landscape changed dramatically over the last several years. Global smart phone adoption happened even faster than we expected and file sharing via Dropbox, iCloud and other services is common practice. Accordingly, the boundaries between your personal and professional life are extremely porous. Huge volumes of confidential information move among these spheres without adequate security, or checks and balances. It’s become increasingly difficult to ensure your data is safe or that your company’s data policies are enforced. All of your company’s intellectual property and hard work could be compromised without the right security tools and appropriate emergency response plans.
Next is Data Analytics. IDC recently reported that the digital universe is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 the amount of data we create and copy annually will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes. It’s essential that companies are able to store, analyze and make sense of all this information in order to make better decisions. Businesses that learn how to efficiently leverage all this information will enjoy a distinct competitive advantage; those that don’t, will quickly become dinosaurs.
And finally, Application Performance Management is becoming essential as we navigate a highly distributed and rapidly changing IT landscape. We’ve already seen how AppDynamics’ software can test, measure and monitor app performance in heterogeneous environments. The next phase involves a unified solution that continually monitors an enterprise’s entire infrastructure, including not only applications but databases, servers and network performance.
What is the next category to be ‘Ubered’?
A lot of startups come to us claiming to be the “Uber of this,” or the “Uber of that.” Uber has a remarkably compelling business model and is global in its ambitions, but it is a unique company. People shouldn’t confuse Uber’s on-demand product with a simple marketplace model that connects buyers and sellers. Marketplace models can only provide value at scale, so you have to be very cautious when evaluating small marketplace startups. That said, I believe the marketplace model makes sense for healthcare and health insurance because in that market, you have an odd confluence of fragmentation and regulation. Zenefits’ free software allows customers to navigate the highly distributed HR and benefits provider landscape. The genius of Zenefits’ business model is that the company uses software to create a marketplace and in doing so, it disrupts traditional brokers – similar to the disruption that Uber has brought to the taxi industry.
How would you describe the future role of the CIO?
CIOs are responsible for each of the areas I outlined in my first answer. But perhaps more importantly, a successful CIO must efficiently manage distributed operations, whether we’re talking about people, or processors. It is becoming increasingly expensive to scale operations in the Bay Area and that’s forcing companies to establish second and third sites to cut costs. They might locate their sales team in another state, or their manufacturing in another country. And the CIO must manage the company’s information systems, on premise or in the cloud, in a manner that is not only distributed but consistent, efficient and cost effective.
If you were not an investor, what would you be doing right now?
If I wasn’t working and my kids were suddenly in college, maybe I’d go fly fishing around the world with my wife. If I continued to work and wasn’t in VC, I would love to convince someone that I was qualified to become the president of a major research university like Stanford, Harvard or Yale. Great universities teach students responsibility and put them on a path not to memorize and repeat, but to think effectively and contribute their gifts to society. I believe it would be exciting to fashion an environment that would have a positive impact upon the leaders of tomorrow. This is an age of advancement and technology is leading the way.
Thanks again to Steve for his time and insights!