Bringing the Best Minds Together

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Google’s Lexus RX Self-Driving Car.

Guest post by Sid Kumar (WG’09), Global Head of Customer Lifecycle Solutions at CA Technologies

Today, CA Technologies announced that we have joined the Wharton School’s Mack Institute as a corporate partner. There are many reasons that this is a natural fit for us, but chief among them is the great work its experts are doing around a fundamental question: how do I manage innovation in order to survive, compete and thrive?

The Mack Institute is a global research community and the center of a learning network for researchers, business leaders and students alike. The institute’s charter is to advance and share knowledge about the risks and rewards of innovations – how they offer new value for customers and firms. For CA Technologies, there are also great synergies between the new CA Technologies state-of-the-art Silicon Valley Technology Center and Wharton’s San Francisco campus. As a center for R&D and work with emerging technologies, the Technology Center is home to many remarkable technical and business thinkers. The Mack Institute’s Spring Conference in San Francisco affords the special opportunity to mix this CA leadership with the institute’s West Coast network of academic and industry thought leaders.

My connection with the institute kicked off last fall at the organization’s conference, “When Disruptive Technologies Meet Integrated Systems: Who Captures the Value?” The big take-away: it’s not just the IT industry that is trying to figure out how to stay competitive with innovation. The rental car business is adjusting to new entrants like Zipcar or Uber. The tightly integrated auto manufacturing industry is contending with a huge range of choices and threats, the latest from Google, which has prototyped a connected, self-driving car. Tesla threatens disruption from multiple angles; besides its electric car, it is working to overturn traditional franchise laws and sell directly to the consumer.

How does a business embrace the innovation needed for competitive advantage while, at the same time, maintaining its stable, mission critical solutions?

In high tech, one of the most persistent challenges IT leaders encounter is how to balance new and old. How does a business embrace the innovation needed for competitive advantage while, at the same time, maintaining its stable, mission critical solutions? Recent data shows that innovation-related activities are coming out on the short end. While budgets are shifting to strike more of a 50-50 balance on maintenance vs. innovation, IT priorities remain traditional activities like data security, fixing problems, etc. Fewer IT leaders report that business oriented duties such as delivering new services or driving new business initiatives are a primary IT role in their organizations.

Yet, innovation abounds. Let’s take venture capital investment activity as an indicator of the relative pace of innovation. According to the MoneyTreeTM Report, in 2013, venture capital firms invested $29.4 billion in 3,995 deals, representing a 7% increase in investment dollars and a 4% increase in number of deals over 2012. From the perspective of the established technology vendor, the struggle is how to best enable customers to take advantage of all the innovation available for their existing products right now. Essentially, this means businesses get to carve a bigger piece out of that overall IT budget for innovation instead of “keeping the lights on.”

In high tech, we can jump-start our strategies for innovation management and avoid many serious pitfalls by learning from cross-industry and academic experiences. Software is disrupting many industries and redefining business models, and our industry contributes much to the conversation. As Saikat Chaudhuri, Mack Institute Executive Director, put it, “We don’t have all the answers, but we can make the connections.” I am looking forward to the richness of these connections and sharing the insights from our collaboration with the Mack Institute.

Sid Kumar
Sid Kumar

Sid Kumar (WG’09) is a recognized thought leader in the IT industry in the area of portfolio lifecycle management and the global head of Customer Lifecycle Solutions (CLS) at CA Technologies. This organization partners with enterprises across the world and enables them to maximize the value of their enterprise software investments by leveraging an industry-leading lifecycle management approach to adopting the latest innovations. Most recently, he led worldwide operations, go-to-market strategy and business development for CA Technologies Mainframe Solutions, a $2.5 billion division. Prior to CA Technologies, Sid led technology venture capital and private equity investments and provided strategic M&A and financing advice to companies across the technology sector. Sid holds a Master of Business Administration in strategic management from the Wharton School and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Yale. Sid blogs at www.sidkumar.com and you can find him on Twitter @SidKumar, LinkedIn and Google+. In his spare time, Sid enjoys running after his two year old son, spending time with family, traveling and playing golf.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.

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