Splunk is Championing Careers in IT and Cybersecurity
On this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast – The Power of Tech Education Series, I am joined by Eric Fusilero, Vice President of Global Enablement and Education at Splunk, for Part Two of the series, to talk about how Splunk is contributing to tech education and working to close the skills gap in the industry.
Our conversation covers:
- How the journey of continuous improvement enables learners to increase job satisfaction, among other benefits
- The challenges with the technological skills gap, and what Splunk is contributing to close the gap
- How Splunk is developing their products to support the trends in IT and security
- The integration of education, training and certification in the industry
- Splunk’s commitment to enabling the next generation of tech innovators
It’s a great conversation, and one you won’t want to miss. To learn more about Splunk, check out their website here.
Missed Episode One? Watch Value of Education in Tech here.
Watch Episode 3: Hear from a Peer – Dustin Eastman here.
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Daniel Newman: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the second episode of The Power of Tech Education. I’m Daniel Newman, founding partner, principal analyst at Futurum Research, CEO of the Futurum Group. Joined once again by my friend Eric Fusilero, with Splunk, to talk a little bit about technology, education, and some of the intersections that are going on, and how we’re going to keep our workforce capable, competent, and driving important innovation that will change the future, not just of tech, but of businesses in every industry. Eric, how you doing? Welcome back.
Eric Fusilero: I’m great. Thanks for having me back.
Daniel Newman: So, in this episode we’re going to talk a little bit more about your company, Splunk, but then, of course, I’m going to bring a bit of an outside perspective across the industry. We’re going to talk about championing careers in IT and cybersecurity. I imagine for you, as the enablement guy, right, as you like to say, this is a big part of how you judge your success, is the people that you are sort of helping enable, the people that go through trainings and the things that you’re facilitating as an enabler. You’re looking to see those stars rise. I think we ended the last episode talking about that, how good it feels when people move up. But yeah, so how’s that going for you?
Eric Fusilero: I think it’s going well. It’s always a continuously improved journey, if you will. But when we look at some of the surveys and reports of folks who have learned Splunk… Right? We do this annual global Splunk career survey report, which tells us a lot about that question, Daniel, right, which is, “Is it making a difference? Is it benefiting them? Are they seeing the opportunity as a result?” Right? And so what that report is showing us is we’re heading in the right direction.
There’s always more work to do. But skilling up on Splunk is leaving them with feelings of increased, let’s say, job satisfaction, right, the opportunity to add value to their company, job security, job mobility, especially in sort of the turbulent world that we live in today, as an example. And then, career advancement and, of course, sort of compensation. But the benefits of learning Splunk are just giving them a better sense of well-being, which, to be honest, makes me proud.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I think that should. Like you said, you came from a tech background. Moving into this enablement background, you’ve got to be able to measure and say, “Is what I’m doing working?” And so, as a CEO and leading a team of analysts, my proud moments are always when the students become the teachers, when the analysts in our firm become more competent, more capable, more prolific than me. And I said, my company could benefit a ton when they’re all better than me. Sometimes putting your ego aside is the hardest thing to do, though, when you’re running a group, running a team. And there’s a whole other side of this conversation, by the way, related to leadership itself and what a leader needs to do, Eric, to actually be a better enabler.
Because a lot of leaders like, “I don’t want my team to get better than me.” But I always use the sales example, is the best sales managers are never the best salespeople. And I think that’s one of those really simple to understand, is the reason they became sales managers is because they’re better at motivating people that actually are great salespeople. And oftentimes, they’re the ones that were average. Best managers of baseball teams were never the best baseball players, but they tended to understand the game really well and really knew how to drive and get performance out of those star athletes.
Eric Fusilero: Yeah.
Daniel Newman: I want to get a little bit more granular here, though, because I like all the high-level stuff. It’s very ephemeral to me, and I love playing at that altitude, Eric, but I think for our audience here, I also want to get a little bit more specific. So with an education like Splunk, it’s very prescriptive, meaning companies have very specific goals as it relates to, whether it’s ITOps or SecOps. These are the two areas that you guys really are a leader, in my opinion as an analyst. But how do you quantify the value of the Splunk education ecosystem? I know there’s a lot of jobs for Splunk. You could search it. But how do you really quantify that someone going through that process will have a better outcome?
Eric Fusilero: Yeah, I mean, how we look at it from a company perspective is really, it starts with…is the company who has invested in our technology, invested in our services – are they successful? And I realize that that has a multi-dimensional answer. Right? Success could be just growth of their own business. It could be, are they using the investment? Because there’s nothing worse than, in everyday world, you buy something and it sort of sits on the shelf. Well, that’s a wasted investment. And then are they continuing to solve problems that they expected to achieve, that someone sold them on? Right? There’s nothing worse than someone’s selling you on a vision, helping you imagine the possible, and then you end up going, “Really, did I get that?” kind of thing.
And so looking at education, very specifically, is looking at that from the perspective of one, yes, someone sold you on the vision, but are you now able to put it into practice? Are you now able to sort of make it work for you, for your company, for the customers that you serve, for the purpose you set out to achieve, as an example? Right? And so that’s just, at a high-level view, sort of some of the things that we’re doing. And again, this sits across whether you’re trying to use Splunk from an analytics perspective, from a security perspective, from an observability perspective, or just the combination of all, which we know is something that more and more companies are realizing they need because keeping their environments, their systems safe and performant is critical to them, especially in a world where there are no more really analog experiences. They’re all digital. Right? And so in a digital world, let’s make sure that those systems are performant and safe.
Daniel Newman: Wait, no analog transformation.
Eric Fusilero: I’m not saying no analog, but it’s increasingly sort of digital in terms of those experiences. I think analog still occurs. Right? But I get your point.
Daniel Newman: I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I did see, though, that there is this very strong gravity towards humans doing things in person, which is going to be an interesting long-term impact on sort of training and the velocity and veracity of training. We always love to talk about experiences, Eric. My daughter’s studying for SATs right now. It’s like, “Do we send her to a class, where she sits in a room, or do you do an online, self-guided or semi-self-guided thing?” And learning styles are important, but also just that human sort of condition, Eric, is like, “I want to be with people.” I was told there would never be live events again during the pandemic, or then it was, “We’ll never do a regular live event.” And then I spent like 22 hours on the road, like 48 weeks at events. So it’s like, “You all lied to me. You lied to me.” Everybody actually wants to be together in person. Any quick thoughts on that before I get back to talking a little more specific?
Eric Fusilero: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. Right? I mean, it’s interesting. We have these discussions all the time, which is, is live learning go away? And it’s like, “No, live learning will never go away.” I think in some cases, there’s virtual live learning that occurs. Right? Conversations like we’re having now, as an example, that really wasn’t available earlier because the technology wasn’t there. But I think in this world that we live in, where now Zoom interactions, webcast interactions are more prevalent because of, we had to do it in COVID. Right? And that was the only way we do it. I think that changed the mindset in terms of how everything can occur.
And so now we need to be more purposeful and deliberate in terms of how we take advantage of that face-to-face time. I mean, we’ve experienced this, right, which is learners will get frustrated with, “Hey, I didn’t need to be here.” Whereas before there was no other option, now there’s other options. And so making sure that you leverage the collaboration, sort of the creativity that’s in a room, that sometimes is really difficult to do, or is done but in a very lengthy period of time, right, versus just getting in a room, hammering it out, whiteboarding stuff, looking over people’s shoulders on keyboards, and things like that and just having a conversation face-to-face, which occurs at a much more accelerated pace because there’s less lost in translation, if I use that phrase.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, and I think it’s ultimately… I use the word continuum, but I really do think it’s a continuum. And it’s sort of personality types, sociological, people’s desires to travel versus their desires to be at home, people’s feelings of safety, people’s feelings of type, learning skill, because learning is visual, and there’s auditory learning, and then there’s experiential learning. And so there’s a lot of factors. So we want to always kind of boil it down, like an SAT test… I use that as example… is the definer of someone’s aptitude. But it’s so not, because it’s one of several markers of somebody being successful. I’ll never publicly reveal my SAT score, but I would say I’ve done a lot better in life than my SAT probably would’ve indicated I was going to do. And I think there’s a lot of times that’s the case because it depends what particular skill set we need to ascribe to a certain type of role. So Scantrons have their place, but it’s not the end-all and be-all of whether or not you can be successful.
Back to our regular scheduled programming here. From a standpoint of, I know your customers, and you have a business model around people buying Splunk training. And they buy that training. That training turns into jobs and careers and opportunities and development. But Splunk as a whole has come out with some different things they’re trying to do to also show more… We’re seeing different companies. We’ve seen Amazon and Microsoft. But Splunk has a kind of a story too about how you plan to democratize education. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Eric Fusilero: Yeah. I love the term “democratize” because it’s absolutely what we’re trying to do, right, which is, again, going back to our very first conversation around, “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” Well, there’s a skill shortage. There’s a talent gap. Right? And how do you address that? You got to break up a bit your current motion in terms of how you solve for that ever-increasing problem. And so one perspective that we have is, how do we make learning more frictionless yet impactful to everyone, everywhere? Right?
And so it’s sort of the democratization point that you made. What I mean by “frictionless” is, when you look at how learning was delivered before, you have to create more modalities for it, like we were just talking about in terms of those digital experiences. You got to put it in context around time. Right? Not everyone can take four days out of the office or off the phone or whatever to sort of sit in a classroom. Cost is a factor, right, which is why we’ve sort of now offered free learning at the same time that’s also self-paced in terms of a modality. There’s language challenges, right, to make sure that you’re actually reaching folks not just in the US but across the globe, where there’s emerging opportunities.
And then the questions around access. We’ve created opportunities for folks to learn Splunk not just by coming to us, because to be honest, not everybody knows who we are yet. And so how do you put learning in the water coolers of the world, as an example, so they actually find it? And so that’s sort of the opportunities of the online providers, like a Coursera, Pluralsight as an example, and then partners across the globe who deliver learning as a business. And so, again, in order to help more folks achieve outcomes, that’s sort of the opportunity we have, which is expand the learning opportunities, make it frictionless to everyone and everywhere.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I like that. And I do agree. Like I said, what’s going to become a bit of a challenge is almost an over-availability and choice.
Eric Fusilero: Totally.
Daniel Newman: There are special skills. And that’s why I said people who have Splunk skills, there’s a very specific job opportunity. I believe we’re going to talk, actually, a little bit more about that in our third episode, so we’ll dig a little bit more into what that means. But I’m saying every kind of tech company is taking a different stab at this, “We’re going to make more available.” And then by the way, all the universities are saying like, “We will attract students.”
And so the beauty is information. It’s like, look, I got to be one of the first people to play with the new ChatGPT, 3.5, and Bing. And I’m asking it questions, and I’m like, “Write a good business description for my firm.” And you get the… It’s like, “Wow, that’s actually really good.” I called the marketing team. I’m like, “You’re fired, all of you.” But seriously, it was a process of going through and seeing a new tool. A new thing gets made available. You figure out how it could change your business. But then, you do, though. You see a Galileo, and it’s a design tool that could help you design a website in minutes just by describing what you’re trying to do. And you go, “Whoa, do I need to get rid of all my developers?” Well, the truth is, it’s probably going to mean that what you spend to have your developers do will be up here instead of down here. That’s where it should go.
Eric Fusilero: That’s right.
Daniel Newman: But having so much choice is complicated. I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten at The Cheesecake Factory.
Eric Fusilero: Oh, my God.
Daniel Newman: I can never decide what to eat there. The menu’s too big.
Eric Fusilero: That’s right.
Daniel Newman: And so for someone that wants to come up in tech, do I get a cert in AWS? Do I get a cert in Microsoft? Do I get a cert in Cisco? Do I get a cert in Splunk? These are a lot of decisions to make. So figuring out how to differentiate’s going to be a big key for you, but also for people to choose which path will get them there. And with that in mind, maybe talk about the recruitment process. This is where I’d like to end this episode, is so, people are coming up, lots of certs, lots of education. Everyone’s, “I took a LinkedIn Live on this. I took this Microsoft course. Now I got a Splunk cert in observability, and I got, got, got, got, got, got, got.”
How do recruiters anymore decide? It used to be, “What university did you go to? What degree do you have?” For a technical job, that was kind of the gateway. Then it was, “What company did you work for? Did you go to IBM? Did you go to work for a big consulting firm like Bain? Where did you go?” In this case, now they’re getting 10, 20 different choices-
Eric Fusilero: Yeah, absolutely.
Daniel Newman: – where we’re at.
Eric Fusilero: Yeah. Wow. A lot of different ways to sort of approach that question. I think, to your earlier point around the fact that there’s too much, right, too much choice, absolutely right, which is why I think guidance and direction is ever more important. I mean, just to use your analogy around Cheesecake Factory, like streaming channels, like, “What do I watch? I can’t even find something” as an example. Right? And so I think from a learning standpoint, it’s the same view because there’s so much out there. “Who do I trust? Where do I go? Is it at the right level?” et cetera.
And so to your question around, “How do companies qualify candidates?” I think there’s a lot of different ways, especially realizing that on one end, you’ve got companies who need talent, and one end, you’ve got academic institutions who are producing talent, and you’ve got this sort of gap in the middle. How do you sort of cross that chasm in many cases, especially because now the academic institution’s over here. It’s not what it may used to be. Right? You always have your tiered schools. You now have lower-tier schools who are creating 2+2 programs, as an example. And you even have talent coming straight out of two-year programs who are gaining their experience. And so I think one is always going to be looked at in terms of, one, “Do they have the knowledge?” And you can evaluate that based on, “Do they have badges? Do they have certificates? Do they have certifications?” as an example, because that’s an easy one, Daniel, to always sort of measure and tag onto. And you see it in their social media profiles, as an example.
But the piece that I think is the most important is, can they apply it? And I have many conversations with many academic institutions, and the challenge is less about the technology piece, and it’s more about the people piece, right, which is, in our world today, everything is done with people. They’re done in project teams. You’re working collectively to solve problems. And so that’s the other piece of evaluation that occurs in terms of, one, “They have the technology chops, but can they apply that technology chops in a work environment with other people?” And then you look at it in terms of, “Okay, based on the problems that the company is trying to solve, do all of those elements work together, and are they a good fit?”
Daniel Newman: Yeah, Eric, I think that’s a really good spot for us to wrap up this episode because I think, going into the final of our three parts, what I would love to do is bring in an outside view, someone that’s actually going through this. You as an established person in the technology industry and leading a function, watching this all happen. Me as an industry analyst that looks at the whole tech space and is evaluating everything from the talent wars all the way to how companies differentiate through the trainings they offer. And of course, I’m always focused on the products and services, making sure that they’re the best. But sometimes, hearing from people who have actually made a conscious choice to take a certain education path to develop their career is the best way to truly understand how efficient and effective programs like the ones we’ve been talking about are.
So with that in mind, let’s shut this one down, and let’s bring everybody back for the third episode. So, we hope you’re enjoying this. We’re going to hear from a peer about how tech and education enablement are developing careers. Thanks for tuning in to this episode. We’ll see you back for the third real soon.
Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio