In this special edition of the Futurum Tech Podcast – Interview Series, host Daniel Newman welcomed Doug Merritt, CEO of Splunk to discuss how data applies to everything — even in the fight against COVID-19, business continuity, and what Splunk is doing outside of the COVID-19 realm.
Looking at Data Differently
At the foundation of digital transformation is data. About five weeks ago, Splunk created a series of free dashboards hosted in the cloud that showed data about the spread of the virus and a myriad of characteristics around it. Companies can easily download these free dashboards and apply the data amassed by Splunk directly to their own data sets in order to help them make better sense of what is happening and plan accordingly.
Splunk is also working on a set of healthcare applications designed to offer better visibility to the healthcare supply chain ecosystem. Using these applications, healthcare organizations will have a better idea of bed availability, necessary PPE stock, and critical care staff and their availability.
Splunk is also working with companies in a variety of industries to fight fraud, as instances of hacking have really ramped up amid the massive distraction caused by coronavirus COVID-19. Companies have been collecting data on their networks, at endpoints, and back at data centers for other uses, but now Splunk has been able to come in and help these companies retool the data to work through these new issues. Most companies aren’t collecting new data, but by adding Splunk they are able to look at the data through a different lens to solve a different problem.
Business Continuity in the Age of COVID-19
One difficult thing many businesses are facing right now is the business of remote work, and companies very quickly moving to a completely virtual workforce — including the team at Splunk! Doug praised his team for being incredibly agile and fast tracking everything needed to get themselves, and their clients, set up so the company could continue to support their clients without much disruption. If there’s one thing that we all will learn from this pandemic, it’s the importance of agility and having the right technology in place to handle a massive, unpredictable shift in how we operate.
Doug also shared a little about his own message to his employees during this time, which focused on being calm and trying to just roll with things as they come. He has counseled his employees on the importance of taking breaks, allowing for distractions, not getting stressed by a dog barking or needing to help a child with homework. He reminds his team, and our listeners, that this is a marathon and a team sport. We all need to come together to help each other be effective and still find a balance between work and home life. If we do it right, we will all come out stronger in the end — a bold and helpful leadership message.
Data to Everything
Beyond the fight against COVID-19, Splunk is helping companies bring data to everything. The Splunk platform allows companies to take non-structured data and put it into storage format allowing the structure to emerge as you ask questions and interact with it. The problem with most data tools is you take one point of view on the data before you’ve ever interacted with it and you don’t get the full picture. Splunk allows the data to speak for itself through whatever questions or problems are thrown at it.
In the last three years, Splunk has pivoted to bring streaming data into the analysis mix. Data is flying around now rapidly, and companies are needing to analyze that data, in real-time, to make fast decisions. Splunk evolved and delivered, providing real-time streaming, real-time interrogation, and real-time contextual capabilities. Data to everything, while maybe grammatically confusing, makes perfect sense in the business world and has helped many of Splunk’s customers be successful.
Want to learn more about Splunk’s Data to Everything platform or check out the free dashboards that Splunk developed to help companies help in the fight against COVID-19? There’s also probably not a better time to learn more about why customers chose Splunk, and how they can help your company act faster and accelerate innovation, amplify the impact of your data, and scale without the stress. Listen to the full podcast here, and while you’re at it, be sure to subscribe to the Futurum Tech Podcast so that you never miss an episode.
Daniel Newman: Welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast, The Interview Series. I’m your host today, Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research and I’m really excited about this show today as I’m joined by Splunk CEO, Doug Merritt. Doug, welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast.
Doug Merritt: Thank you Daniel. Very happy to be here.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I’m so glad to have you here. Wrapping up a few days of podcast conversations. It is March of 2020, and the reason I point this out, I don’t always date my podcasts. I like to sometimes leave them in evergreen format, but we are in one of the most interesting and unprecedented times that we’ve had, not just here in America, but really around the globe. And I only point that out because podcast listeners, a lot of you subscribers, you get the show right after we release it, but sometimes you’re listening to this a month later or six months later. If you’re listening to this and say it’s September of 2020 you’re going to be hearing a little bit about what’s been going on with COVID-19 but I promise you we’re going to have Doug Merritt also talking about Splunk and some of the interesting technologies and innovations that are going on at Splunk.
But you’ll have to bear with us because these are really trying times, anxious times, interesting times, and it’s really a great opportunity to have this conversation with someone that’s leading a company during this time. So first off, listen, Splunk’s a big company. I see the ticker running across the bottom of my CNBC screen. Publicly traded, had a lot of growth, lot of trajectory over the last year, but I always say Splunk’s the biggest company that people have never heard of. So pardon the phrase, but just for everyone out there in case they don’t know Splunk, just give us the quick background.
Doug Merritt: Yeah, it’s funny to be a two and a half billion dollar public company and even in Silicon Valley and on the soccer fields, when we were allowed to go on the soccer fields, there were tech people I’d talk to that wouldn’t know who Splunk is. The name Splunk, first of all, just for a fun backstory comes from spelunking because we are a big data analytics data platform and instead of tools that are specifically focused or targeted at helping IT personnel, technical personnel, people that run data centers, the cyber personnel and try and keep our network safe, the application development people that are cranking out cool new mobile apps and other fun things that users add, but it can be used for anything.
It can be used for manufacturing processes, for hospital and healthcare supply chain, which I’m sure we’ll talk a little bit about this podcast and spelunking came from the power of Splunk and the way that we approach data enables you to not spend an inordinate amount of time structuring the data before you get value out of the data and it is like shining a headlamp in a dark, huge cave and finding gems very quickly. It was one of the analogies that one of our first proof of concept prospects had back in 2003, 2004, when they’re starting the company.
Daniel Newman: As the founder of Futurum, I’m glad you weren’t one of those lame guys that did another Greek or Latin play on a word or something to come up with a name. So, all right enough self-deprecation for one day, but I did hear you say soccer. You play? Sorry.
Doug Merritt: No, the kids.
Daniel Newman: All right. Just checking. I still play. I still a kick around, but my kids are more serious and I’ll tell you what, amidst this craziness, I miss sports. I don’t know how many people are feeling that right now, but I really miss watching sports.
Doug Merritt: A ton and it’s one of those things that I never, I don’t watch a lot of things. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV growing up. I was a book person was one of the things my mom did. I I played sports my entire life and the background a baseball game, a basketball game, a football game, a hockey game. It’s so different. Not having it. It’s really, really odd.
Daniel Newman: It’s crazy. It’s killing me. Not being able to watch it is like making weekends feel like Mondays and then not being able to work out and go to the gym. I mean I did pick up a little bit of equipment right before we went shelter in place, but I mean I’m really dying for like a proper dead lift day or a bench day because I don’t have all the gear. So anyways, I digress. I could go on and on about that. It’s humanity right now. I think we’re in an age in this, in this particular timestamp though, Doug, where humanity sort of trumps, for lack of a better word, almost every other initiative, marketing opportunistic. I know one of the big things right now, and I’d love your take on this with COVID0-19 is the balance between companies being opportunistic and being on message. Are you hearing a little bit about that?
Doug Merritt: I am. I think our values at Splunk, it goes back to the name just being irreverent and disruptive and trying to be interesting and unique is we really work hard to be super authentic. So anything that we are talking about really for me goes back to, is it a direct application of what we do? Skills our people have, something that can be built with Splunk so that we don’t feel like we’re ambulance chasing or opportunistic given how devastating what’s happening is to all of humanity. And I think there are companies and we’ve all seen that are really good marketing companies are jumping up and down about what they can do right now, and I think the time is more focused on how do you help first and then let the deeds speak through the delivery and execution you’re doing. And those stories would be awesome stories rather than make a claim and take advantage of the opportunity.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I’ve really admired the tech community. The tech community can take some heat and as an analyst in the industry, we certainly have to look for that balance. But I would say I’ve been really proud of the tech community. What companies have been doing with offering AI modeling tools with offering super computing capabilities. Splunk, I know you guys have some things you’re doing. I’d love for you to share a little bit about that.
Doug Merritt: Yeah, it’s something I’ve been really proud of our community as well. We’ve been talking about digital transformation as a society for 20 years and now you can finally see in an immediate basis how important being online and being digital is and the power, multiple different avenues of power on that including we can virtually be together even though we’re all in shelter in place, but at the foundation of so much of that digital transmission is data. Everything that’s connected to a network, everything with silicon in it, amidst a voice, a beacon, a signal. It tells you something about it and the people around it and Splunk is really good at taking a cacophonous and high volume non-structured set of data and trying to provide sense around that data.
One of the first things that we did three weeks ago, really probably five weeks ago, sorry five weeks ago. Corona was beginning to pick up, but it wasn’t clear how much of a global issue it was going to be, was a created a series of dashboards free, readily available that are hosted on our cloud that enabled people to see the spread of the virus and a whole bunch of characteristics around it.
But just as importantly, you can actually download the application and apply it directly to your data set as well. So you can bring, we’ve been a hybrid vendor forever so you can bring Splunk to your data center, to your data, if that’s where you want to play with it, where you can leverage that set of offerings up in the cloud. That’s only one of many different things we’re doing. That was really just trying to provide awareness of what’s going on with COVID, but we’ve got a set of healthcare applications that are in the works that help the entire supply chain ecosystem around healthcare get a better visibility on bed availability, critical care staff and their availability. All the PPE that’s necessary, protective equipment and what the supply chain looks like.
We are working with financial services organizations on helping them with fraud. It’s crazy how much hacking’s going on right now as people are trying to take advantage of the distraction. So there’s a lot of different angles that we are working with eCommerce providers, healthcare providers, financial institutions, telecommunications firms that have their networks and sports centers flooded right now and ultimately what’s happening across the network, what’s happening on endpoints, what’s happening back on data centers becomes a very important set of breadcrumbs to provide them the ability to actually do the work that they’re trying to do.
Daniel Newman: I love seeing the way the industry though is participating. So this is just a great example. Little things that are almost taken for granted. Capabilities of your platform that you can quickly repurpose, redeploy. Like the Dyson guy making ventilators. I mean, but it’s like something you can do and being able to retool. For tech a lot of it’s being able to retool applications, data, modeling, AI and this is what will solve this. It is, like I learned about supercomputing taking over 35,000 potential compounds down to like 88 in a matter of hours so that the medical field can start working on a very small number of potential antivirals that could provide a value in terms of helping people recover.
For your case though, like the anti-fraud and hacking, there are so many indirect economic impacts that go on right now because while people are vulnerable, you’re creating mass chaos, so the fallout economically of this thing isn’t only the direct hit, it’s all these indirect snowballs that get created and the ability to handle, manage massive volumes and ingest all this data and provide rapid feedback and prevent a different kind of outbreak is really invaluable.
Doug Merritt: Yeah, absolutely. The stories are really compelling. There’s an international investment bank that has been this very effectively in their security team to try and get that visibility on. Is there any apparent behavior that’s happening across their overall infrastructure? Like some of the others in a weekend, they went from less than 30% of their staff being worked from home to virtually 100% being worked from home. That meant provisioning equipment, getting new endpoints, set up, VPN capability and they were having amazing IT collapses and the equipment. They’re an investment bank and the IT team, who had not been a big Splunk user, turned to the security team and said, Hey, we’re having huge issues. Can you help us? And because of the data the security team was already gathering because it was all that endpoint data wasn’t network data. They could immediately help the IT team decode their issues and make sure that their population was up and running. Which is that interesting repurposing of data and that’s one again of a hundred awesome stories that we’ve been coming across the past few weeks.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, and right now it’s altruistic. It’s not about selling more of your IT ops platform. I mean in the long run….
Doug Merritt: … the data. CIO’s and CEO’s saying “Hey, you already have Splunk, here are six use cases that we think with the data source that you have, you can immediately deploy, that will help you.” I just did that to a major hospital network on the East coast to help them with patient tracking and bed tracking, equipment tracking and it’s no new data but they just hadn’t turned on those use cases yet.
Daniel Newman: That’s really promising to hear. Oh, one of the things too, I’m really interested as I talked to execs around the industry too, is their own internal approach to this. Right? With Covid19, you came to work on Friday and you left and you hopefully brought your laptop home. If you didn’t, you were really out of luck.
Doug Merritt: You were out of luck.
Daniel Newman: Not only now because you can’t actually source laptops, but also because over that weekend you were ordered shelter in place. All the nonessential businesses were shut down and arguably, Splunk’s essential, with some of the contributions you’re making, but even then some of the workforce wouldn’t be considered essential to come back into work. You guys are going to have to face continuity. You’re going to have to face the fact that your customers are going to be going through some pain. Perhaps financially. If you deal with a cruise lines, hotels, retailers, food industry, you’re going to have some customers that could feel some really be going through some trouble and it’s going to create some challenges up and down the stream for Splunk. So how are you guys handling this?
Doug Merritt: First of all, within Splunk I’m really proud of the team. While a lot of our team already can work from home because we’re a high tech organization, there’s a lot of stuff that we do on site for customers and in less than a week, one we started the shelter at home or that, Hey please don’t come to the office three weeks before the order came through in Northern California. So we were already starting to go down that pipe because we had our view based on data of what could potentially happen. But we had to take our entire delivery team and move them 99% virtual within one week. And our Head of Professional Services, Tony Pavlovich and John Sabino, our Head of Customer Success and their entire network just did an incredible team of retooling super quickly. But what you’re saying is the reality that we’re all facing, those big brand names that we’ve been all interacting with and dealing with the big cruise lines, the big hotel chains, the big airlines, those are all customers of Splunk, virtually every one of them.
And our focus right now is on them. How do we help them be as successful as they can be through this transition, because they are facing network issues. They are being hacked right now and our obligation is to them, but as we serve them, that does have an impact on us. So we’re trying to be as thoughtful as we can on our own. Our own spend, our own hiring because to serve the community around us, there’s going to be impacts on cashflow. There’s going to be impacts on whether customers actually can maintain a contract if they wind up going out of business. As sadly we’re seeing with some customers as well. So being super agile and as resilient as possible I think is going to be just mandatory for all companies. And ultimately I think we’ll all emerge stronger. And it’s these incredible tests are what make you a better company, a better person, a better family member over time. And we’re all being tested. So I’m excited about the resilience at the same time that I’m exhausted at 14 and 18 hour days staring into my computer screen because everything’s virtual.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, it is crazy. You kind of lose the appreciation of school tactic, we all learned called management by walking around, but there is a little bit of that right? The ability to kind of walk desk to desk, talk to people, have little face to face. The water cooler is not a bad thing sometimes and having that kind of engagement and that’s been one of the big struggles. It sounds like you guys had a good success story of moving to virtual, which is great because that’s not been true, and despite the fact that you’re a tech company, I talked to plenty of tech companies that did not have a seamless transition.
Now if you’re doing a lot of things on SAS applications, if you had your VDI or you had your modernized architecture of your entire applications profile, you might’ve been able to get away with it. But there were workers, I was surprised, some big tech companies, even chip companies that have a lot of workers on workstations, big high powered workstations that had laptops. They couldn’t do half their job or less. So it’s not been seamless by any means.
Doug Merritt: No, it’s not. It’s a big, big transition. And there are, as great as laptops are, mobile devices are, they can’t do all the work that massive workstations can do. No matter what, every industry is going to be caught with some portion of the population that’s just going to be a lot of work to try and recreate what they were once doing in an office setting, in a non-office setting.
Daniel Newman: And the other side of that too is that a lot of people had that balance and you know, you have some probably very talented engineers and workers on your team that come in and put in 10 strong hours for you day to day. But when they get home, they’re not like us, not like me as an entrepreneur. You as a CEO that are probably looking at our phones pretty much from the first time we opened our eyelids in the morning to the last time we close them at night.
They had that work balance and now all of a sudden, their living room and their kitchens and their family rooms and their bedrooms become their place of work. And all I know is even just when I’m home, I’m 20 feet from the kitchen to office, it’s so easy to just be like, Oh, I’m going to grab a snack, go back to work at 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM, 11:00 PM, 5:00 AM because like I said, I’m somehow working more. Even though I’m not traveling, I’m putting in an amazing number of additional hours. And again, for you and me, that’s okay. But for our workforces we have to really think about that and be conscious and compassionate.
Doug Merritt: And even for you and me, we all need as humans, we need balance. I actually published a note to the entire company on Sunday night after my first full back to back, six days including Saturday of online work saying I’m learning a lot. I’m going to try this week to schedule in 10 minute breaks. We’ve got our kids at home like so many other people. A lot of people got their parents living with them all of a sudden. So there’s tons of interruptions like everyone, please be okay with the situation.
Force yourself to take breaks. Don’t worry if a dog is barking, don’t be upset if your kid comes in and grabs your leg. That we don’t panic, if you’ve got to go take half an hour and go away from meeting because somebody needs urgent care or it’s a window that you have to get to the store to get needed supplies. This is a marathon and is a team sport.
So there’s a lot that I think we’re all going to learn and I feel as well. I’ve always been an incredibly hard worker and you can’t do what you do and I do without doing that, but it is even more overwhelming than it’s ever been, because it’s so urgent and the devices are right here at our fingertips because I’m not leaving the home.
And it’s easy to work 14 hours a day and that’s okay for short periods. It’s really hard to be creative, effective, thoughtful, and right now we need a lot of thoughtful decisions. There’s a lot of cascading chains that will occur and bad decisions at the top are going to be magnified, so we’ve got to work hard and be able to be virtual but still find a way to try and strike a balance and be effective in what we do.
Daniel Newman: Well, what a great leadership message. The team probably definitely benefited from hearing that. Sometimes I think we take for granted these kinds of things. I’ve said like as being someone that was at home all the time, it was really natural for me, but for people that weren’t, this is a life change. This is a big change. And some of these people may be had hair and they’re going to look like me when this is all gone. And I don’t admire that. There’s no real fix for this either. There’s about as many drugs to fix my hair line as there are to deal with this unfortunate COVID.
Doug Merritt: COVID.
Daniel Newman: I’m going to take, you know, I don’t want to, I want to spend a little time talking about what Splunk does because it is just a great to have you on the show.
And I want to thank you again for having Splunk and Doug for coming onto the Futurum Tech Podcast here. But just DDE, talk to me a little bit about that. I was there when the messaging came out. And there’s a tie with this. Like you said, you’ve sort of subtly been weaving in the DDE story into this COVID story throughout. But talk to me about where this started, how this messaging became just ubiquitous to everything data. And then I’ll give you one more challenge. Then tie it back together to how we make it make a lot of sense to people as you’re trying to position Splunk.
Doug Merritt: I will try and rise to the challenge. So first of all, Daniel, what you were talking about with the Data Everything Messaging. That was a purposeful thing that we did in September of almost a year ago to help with that awareness problem. People have no idea who the heck Splunk is and what we actually do. And so that was our attempt at a category creation and trying to become a little bit more household name-ish on the overall value that we add to organizations. And we chose a weird sentence. I mean it doesn’t make grammatical sense. Data to everything. What the heck is that? But that was actually on purpose, trying to get people to stop and ask. What do you mean by that? Because the foundation that Splunk started with and it’s a very much broader platform and company than it was 15 years ago when we started. Was to try and find that needle in the haystack, hence the spelunking name and the breakthrough that the initial designers and founders created that I had never seen.
And I’ve been in the data realm my entire career since getting out of college. Is to find a way to take non-structured data and do not structure it as you put it into a storage format and allow the structure to emerge as you’re interacting with it and asking questions of it. And that still is a really unique set of capabilities for Splunk. Which means, that you can bring data to everything at the core. Even with that initial product that we came out with 15 plus years ago, because any data can be mingled and co-mingle and then any question can be asked of that data because you haven’t taken a point of view on that data, which is what most data tools do. You have to start with what question are you going to answer and then figure out what data do they get and then cleanse and enrich it and transform it and purify it and as soon as you do that, it’s very powerful for that question, but it’s only good for that question.
The initial use case our founders had was, when a system goes down, it’s a complex event, it’s an unknown event. It’s an unexpected event because you’ve got a lot of monitors and alerts and mechanisms on most IT systems to keep them up and running. Therefore, if we really want to help answer the, how do we figure out, root cause analysis, what went wrong. We’re going to have to take a very different approach to the way that we think about data. So from there, over the past 10 years, we’ve expanded dramatically that’s kind of our best to gate of late because you just dumping ugly raw data and allowing investigations to happen. But structured data is really important for different use cases and different problems. So we’ve augmented our core data to our capability with the ability to transform and enrich data and store it in much more of a normal format. So you can do continuous monitoring, alerting and remediation and other activities, whether it’s on a manufacturing floor back on a cyber center.
The big shift that we’ve been making the past three years is, now how do you start to bring streaming data to that? Not data at rest that’s sitting in some data storage vehicle, but data that’s flying all around the world across networks. How do you interrogate that data in the same way that Splunk has for data at rest? So you can actually do near real time or almost real time interrogation, alerting remediation of data as well. And as we looked at that broad portfolio of whether it’s data that’s just happening or whether it’s data that’s five years old. You can access every stage and lifecycle of that data and get value of that data. And that for us is bringing data to every question, to every decision and to every action that ultimately companies need in this highly digitized world.
Daniel Newman: But if you wanted to flip it around and actually, because I agree with you and actually you said this so I’m going to say it back just because you said it first. But DTE or Data to Everything was one of the best and most confusing messages I’d ever had, because I love it because I love data and I love the idea of using it for everything. But I concurrently was trying to kind of understand, all right, how does this differ from an ERP? How does this differ from your sales force administration? How does this differ from your AI and your ML modeling? How does this differ from your right, all your databases, right? And all the softwares that people typically would think about, which was exactly how you first explained it. Sort of that predefined question data. sales force administration takes data with a certain intent, gives you certain things.
What’s my pipeline? What’s my likeliness to close ERP is going to look at orders. You’re sort of saying when you look at the aggregation growth and an exponential scale of data, there’s a lot of insights that that data actually is going to off put that you have no idea that you’re actually looking for and information that you can garner. So there’s a pretty powerful story in that. Now I got to ask you, you’re six months into this campaign?
Doug Merritt: Yeah.
Daniel Newman: How is the market? Do you feel the market’s responding? Is it getting it? Is it helping with what it set out to do?
Doug Merritt: Yeah, it surprised me how receptive people have been to the messaging. It takes years for that category work to actually land, and for people to really understand. And a ton of repeat messaging on our part for people to digest and really internalize it. But I’m really impressed with how much momentum we’ve gotten and the conversations we’ve started to have, because the reaction that you had, the reaction that I had looking at Splunk eight years ago, nine years ago, was, well we got, there’s so many data tools out there. Why, what’s Splunk? Why do you need one different tool? And when people really start to ask that, when they get that provocation, what the heck this data and everything mean? And then you start talking about that very discreet set of data that a sales force is spitting out or an SAP is spitting out. That’s interesting. But what about all the context around that data?
What was happening the three seconds before that transaction was booked and the three seconds after? And how do you marry both that structured data that we can grab from a sales force system or SAP system with all that non-structure contextual data. So you can really have these fascinating insights that are the key to bringing data to everything. I almost look at it as we’re trying to drive down the road today with the existing data approaches with a blacked out screen in our windshield and then looking out like every minute and a half, which is more or less those transactional systems. And what we’re trying to do is provide that real time streaming, real time interrogation, real time contextual capability that makes the blur of someone running into the road actually have meaning and relevant. If it’s a paper object then who cares if it’s a child or a human or a dog, you would care. It’s really important to have the context around those transactional bits.
Daniel Newman: I’ve tracked your earnings. I’ve watched the company’s growth and I will say Doug, that based on customer, new customer acquisition, people are getting it. The company’s growing. It’s got hundreds of new customers quarter in and you’ve also shifted your business model to new consumption models, which not only is going to make a lot of your customers happy. Of course there’s always going to be the outliers that wouldn’t probably still want to buy office licenses. But most people are going to prefer this. It also makes your shareholders really happy, which again there is a value in having supportive shareholders in recurring, annualized recurring revenue. So the uptake is there. I think I always say when you’re a tech company, if you don’t put a device in people’s hands, it’s often hard to be known. You know, I laughed because one of my customers, I advise a company called Qualcomm, they make some of the most important innovations and technologies that power that device in your hand.
And if you ask the average 15-year-old who Qualcomm is, they have no idea. But they would have no idea that their smartphone would not work at all if Qualcomm didn’t exist. So being Splunk and being that cool technology that’s breaking rules, it’s not a bad thing. And it sounds like that’s really what you’re doing is you’re sort of breaking the rules as to what data can do and now it’s just a matter of letting the world know about it. But it sounds like a lot of the people that have to know about it already do.
Doug Merritt: By the way, Qualcomm is a great customer of ours. We love supporting Qualcomm and I think there’s a lot of nobility in being the BAS SAP. The magic that makes stuff happen, but it’s not always the thing that people actually know and understand. And I think for us as Splunk, we love that. It’s a very blue collar company and culture where we’re so proud to roll up our sleeves and actually do that invisible work that makes all these different organizations successful. You touched on something that’s interesting, when I look back at what am I most proud of with Splunk over the past six, seven years? Is we took an amazing company with an amazing product and went through a series of simultaneous transformations. When all the core indicators were, why would you ever take all that energy and do that and risk the business by changing the business model by radically transforming the product portfolio and breadth.
By recoding everything so it works natively in a cloud environment. By changing the go to market motion so you can actually do enterprise wide engagements and not just departmental. But without that, I don’t think that we would have gotten to where we are with a very different feel of an organization, without skipping a beat somehow on revenue growth and the targets that we have set for the investors and for ourselves internally. But that double duty of being willing to make hard, hard decisions and facing those before you hit the wall and you have no choice and finding a way through those multiple knot holes is something that I’m excited to find a way to tell a better story about over time, because it’s a good lesson for trying to anticipate what’s happened, what’s going to happen and do it before it’s a mandate. And most of us only do it when we were forced to do it.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, it gave me a chance to reflect on something, but that’s a great point in referring back to leadership here is my sixth book. I’ve written seven and my sixth book was called Futureproof and it was the seven key pillars for digital transformation success. And the fourth pillar was about leadership. And we actually talk about it specifically risk-taking and rule breaking. It’s a balance of humanity and empathy and being willing to break the rules. And you know, even we talk about the CEO of Southwest Airlines at the time, right after 9/11 when every airline was shedding employees, trying to make the quarters, trying to survive. And Southwest didn’t fire a single employee, didn’t lay off anybody and the street thought they were crazy. It was a crazy decision at the time.
And the point was, kind of like you were talking about, changing the business model, bending the rules, running into the wall really fast and still making that decision though, because you knew it was right. And almost every time we found companies that were really transforming successfully though, there was at least one or two of those pivotal moments where they did exactly what every advisor in the planet, every person like me that writes and talks to the street would have said not to do and they did it anyway and they emerged better for it.
Doug Merritt: For me, that’s the hallmark of leadership. It’s easy to have character and integrity when you’re rolling in riches. It’s really hard when you are now faced with a shortage, and to exhibit that character and integrity. It actually costs you something and that’s when I think character and integrity and other traits we love to talk about actually emerge. And it’s hard because going with the crowd and taking the safe route is, seems so tempting, but it man, when you are not in front of the crowd, it winds up being pretty painful most of the time.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, it’s great. And I just read an interesting quote from a soccer coach, a gentleman named Anson Dorrance and circle this back to soccer and sports since we talked about that earlier, but he said, “The sign of a champion is someone that’s bent over in the corner dripping in sweat and nobody’s watching.” And it’s just kind of a nice parallel to the fact of giving when you have nothing to give and working hard when nobody’s watching. And so just a fascinating set of stories. Doug Merritt, CEO of Splunk. Thank you so much for coming on the Futurum Tech Podcast.
Doug Merritt: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be here.
Daniel Newman: For everybody out there. Go ahead and click that subscribe button, check out the show notes, we’ll give you a link to Splunk. You can learn more about Data to Everything, more about the company, more about what the company’s doing to help with COVID-19. I hope you really enjoyed the show. Tune into all of our other interviews, talk to a lot of fascinating executives throughout the industry. For now for this show, for Daniel Newman for Futurum Research. I’m signing off, but thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you later.
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