Leading global investment firm, Vista Equity Partners, recently held its Best Practices Sharing Summit for product and technology leadership across its portfolio of companies. With more than $95 billion in assets under management, the firm exclusively invests in enterprise software, data and technology-enabled organizations. ShareFile®, a business unit of Cloud Software Group, joined the Vista portfolio last year as part of the acquisition of Citrix Systems. At the helm of what’s next for the ShareFile product is David Le Strat, Senior Vice President of Product & Technology.
Though it took longer for David to hop down to Miami Beach than traveling to his team in Bangalore, he made it to the Summit. Two canceled flights later out of his Raleigh home base, he was elbow to elbow with top leadership from 40+ companies from the Vista portfolio. The closed door, family-meeting style sessions spanned several days and were full of data and insights that usually require lawyers and NDAs for this kind of access.
No clever hashtags or selfie photo booth, the event was all brass tax, providing a behind-the-scenes look at how the sausage is made versus the sizzle & pizzazz that many industry events rely on as a draw. One of the advantages of being in the Vista family is the exposure to an array of best practices and the ability to network at the top level. Discussions at the Summit centered around changes in the economy and
necessary strategies to accelerate delivery while managing risks. Attendees reaped the benefits of this significant level of transparency and saw how to win firsthand from their peers.
For David, the Summit provided an opportunity to pressure-check ShareFile’s framework, gauge what’s on the horizon at a macro level, and validate strategy and operational processes. He shared some key takeaways from the Summit that are useful for all of us to keep in mind in today’s ever changing environment:
1. AI will disrupt.
While it may sound cliche to say that AI will disrupt, many technology organizations struggle to adapt to transformational changes in the technology landscape. ChatGPT is the AI equivalent of the iPhone launch in the mobile industry (remember Nokia and Blackberry), it shows how incredibly disruptive AI can be and is forcing many to scramble to respond and reposition themselves. Artificial intelligence (AI) will change the way we all do business - directly and indirectly.
That said, this has also created a pretty magical marketing moment with a spotlight of attention from a plethora of press. What we should all be thinking about is how to approach these changes and how to drive innovation more effectively.
David’s take? Start small and stay focused. Plan to iterate as you gain learnings and seek improvement throughout the process.
2. Focus is key.
Speaking of focus, no business can (or should) do everything. Generally, it doesn’t end well (cue unmet goals, employee burnout & confused customers). Focus is essential and should be the thread that runs through every organization. Be clear on what you will do - and maybe even more importantly - what you won’t do.
This allows a business to maximize resources and understand the full organizational impact of changes that arise. Prioritize strategic decisions to best align with the goals of the business and serve customers better.
3. Optimize for impact.
Driving growth and accelerating on delivery is a core focus for ShareFile, as is the case for many businesses. Top of mind for leaders like David is validating that we’re organized in the most optimal way.
The ShareFile Product & Technology function is organized as team-based where we focus on driving alignment through our goal setting process. There is shared ownership of outcomes and over communication is prioritized to prevent silos and misalignment.
Well-formed, cross-functional teams are key building blocks to a team-based organization. They bring together product management, user experience design, solution delivery, product marketing, product development and site reliability engineers (SREs) as a fully functioning unit accountable for delivery and outcomes.
A cross-functional, highly collaborative, facts-based approach to strategy planning and process sets us up to deliver the best product for our customers. This allows us to accelerate for customer delivery and experience, and maximize the impact for them.
Overall, David left the Summit feeling confident that we can deliver a superior experience in the ShareFile product, and that we have the right strategy and processes in place to serve our customers better.