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CIO Perspectives: Q&A with Doug Harr, CIO of Splunk

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Editor’s Note: In this first in a series of articles on CIO perspectives, Doug Harr, CIO of Splunk, discusses best practices in implementing SaaS solutions and advice for tech vendors when dealing with CIOs.

SandHill.com: How do you think your company’s IT portfolio will change in the next decade?

Doug Harr: At Splunk our IT Business applications are provisioned via cloud services – SaaS solutions such as Salesforce.com for CRM, NetSuite for Financials, Ultimate Software for HRIS and many others. During the next decade the functionality we are covering via services will continue to grow at a normal pace as the company grows.

What will be a bigger change is the expected consolidation of the number of cloud vendors we are working with. I suspect this will be cut in half at least. It’s likely we would end up with two broader solutions, such as Salesforce and NetSuite, covering 90 percent of the footprint, with fewer point solutions. This should be a natural part of the vendors continuing to expand the breadth of their solutions while making the fringe components increasingly feature rich. One example is we would expect Salesforce to offer in the future the kind of marketing automation capability we currently get from Eloqua.

SandHill.com: What are some of your lessons learned and best practices around implementing SaaS solutions?

Doug Harr: Implementing SaaS solutions is not unlike implementing on-premise business applications. One difference is that some SaaS players have more limited ability to customize the solution for very specific use cases. Not all players have followed the best practices now proven, which allow you to configure your application deeply with workflow, UI changes and the like. Salesforce is an example of a highly configurable application that has set the bar for the market.

Some best practices to consider are to spend time on cloud integration, user access and cloud monitoring up front, or as early as possible in your adoption cycle. We are doing this at Splunk, looking to leaders like Informatica for integration and OKTA for web single-signon in order to provide these foundational capabilities.

Once you have the foundation, it’s important to take the time and energy you save by using cloud services and plow it into advancing the best use of those applications, working closely with the business to create auditable, reportable processes. Taking some of that time to address the Big Data challenge inside your organization is another place to spend some of that capital. We’re using our own product at Splunk on the inside to do just that.

SandHill.com: What is your advice for large tech vendors when dealing with CIOs?

Doug Harr: Make your pitch short and sweet. Six slides is enough! Really, I think this is now and always will be a business built on relationships, on trust, and on a vendor’s ability to provide a compelling solution with world-class customer service. That’s what we focus on here at Splunk.

SandHill.com: What is the last interesting book you read?

Doug Harr: I enjoyed “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience,” by Carmine Gallo. It’s a great study of the technique Steve and others have used to great effect when making presentations, including the “rule of 3″ sparing use of text, and other tips. Should be required reading for anyone hoping to take their game up a notch during public presentations.

Doug Harr is the chief information officer at Splunk. He is responsible for the strategic use of technology at the company. Doug and his team serve Splunk’s information technology needs using private and public cloud solutions while managing web functionality and global facilities. Doug oversees an internal Splunk implementation to deliver web analytics, application management, security and operational intelligence for the company at large. He previously led IT organizations at companies such as Ingres Corporation, Portal Software and Hewlett Packard. He is engaged in the CISE CIO consortium, lectures at several local universities and is a faculty member for the CIO Executive Development Program at San Francisco State University. His blog is located at http://blogs.splunk.com/cio-blog.

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