Meet the Agents of Transformation - Ensono
Oliver Presland, Vice President, Global Product Management, Ensono
Oliver Presland leads Ensono’s service strategy and product management organization. He focuses on envisioning and delivering new, high value managed services, whilst driving market leading hybrid IT capability that supports clients’ business transformation.
What is your current role and how much of your work is focused on transformation or innovation-led projects?
At Ensono, I manage a portfolio of managed services that include cutting edge, business critical applications and infrastructure solutions, hybrid IT from mainframe to private and public cloud, business applications such as SAP and very large commercial web properties.
We are proud to offer such a breadth of solutions, and are always looking to offer best in class technologies that – no matter where that client is in their journey – will support them in driving their digital transformation strategies and delivering real business and customer value.
As a business, how do you identify the right technologies for your clients?
We invest a significant amount of time in understanding the most pressing challenges faced by our clients, and getting out into the market and researching the right vendors and solutions. The rate of technology advancement means this is a never-ending challenge, but one we thrive on. It’s so exciting to work with companies who are genuinely developing world class solutions, and learning about new capabilities that we know our clients will benefit from.
What does it mean to you to be an Agent of Transformation?
Agents of Transformation have the critical ability to seamlessly cross the divide between business and technology. They can speak the language of the business, whether that be financials, commercials, or consumer experience whilst also being able to understand the most complex of technologies and their potential in driving change. What’s more, they can take these complex concepts and articulate them very crisply and succinctly, in a way that anyone in the business can understand and see value in. They are the bridge that connects technology with the wider business, and that bridge has never been more critical than it is today.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received on your way to becoming an Agent of Transformation?
I have been lucky enough to have a number of mentors over the years, each of which have taught me something different and helped me build a skill set which, combined with a natural aptitude for innovation and change, has really helped shape me.
The best piece of advice I have ever received is to “Never say no to an opportunity to stretch yourself”. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, the opportunity to learn something new, to appreciate someone else’s viewpoint, should never be underestimated.
Early in my career I took that advice and consciously sought out the opportunity to work on the most challenging projects, the ones that were most complex from a technical perspective, or required global travel and the need to work with people from different cultures. Of course, it was unnerving and a risk so early on in my career, but it set me up really well for the types of roles I later undertook.
What are the skills or character attributes that technologists should be focusing on in order to become Agents of Transformation and drive successful innovation projects?
I think there’s a nature/nurture piece going on here! From a nature perspective, there are those with the aptitude and natural ability to see the big picture and think long term. But there’s a lot you can do from a nurture standpoint too. There are a lot of technologists out there who, like me, have invested significant time in developing communications skills, so that they are comfortable talking to audiences from across the business about very complex technologies, or standing up on stage and presenting to their peers.
It goes without saying that in order to be able to convince people about a major transformation initiative, you have to be able to clearly communicate the benefits. But going one step further and using data to evidence your idea is critical – you can’t rely on experience alone (although it is helpful!) – and gut instinct just won’t cut it anymore.
What advice would you give someone early in their career who is looking to accelerate their journey to becoming an Agent of Transformation?
Attend events, participate in online training and find mentors and career coaches within your network. Work for companies that embrace change and drive transformation, and where – no matter the company’s size or complexity – there is the potential to move within the business to gain a unique breadth of experience.
Familiarize yourself with business terminology to put yourself on a level playing field with decision makers and budget owners. If it’s helpful, look for formalized training, but the best piece of advice I can give is to get involved in the early stages of projects when the business case is being built – this will give you excellent exposure and insight which you can carry with you in your career as a technologist.
Do you have a quote or maxim you live or work by?
“The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, ’We’ve always done it this way.’”
I used to have this pinned above my desk. It’s attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, a US Naval officer and early computer programmer, who is often referred to as the Grandmother of COBOL (a mainframe programming language). I think of it often, and it remains relevant today.
How has AppDynamics enabled you to take a more customer-centric approach to your digital services?
AppDynamics brings visibility to some of the dark corners of IT, exposing the detail in even the most challenging areas to explore. It helps IT infrastructure teams by giving them visibility of how everything in the IT stack is performing, whilst also being critical for the business application owners who are focused on developing digital services to grow revenue and improve customer experience. Often these two teams work quite independently, until of course there’s a performance issue and everyone is called to a war room and starts pointing fingers at one another, trying to ascertain where the problem (and blame!) lies. AppDynamics removes the barrier between these teams, and provides end to end visibility so that they can work together, quickly pinpoint anomalies, identify the exact root cause and then collaborate to rectify the problem before it impacts the customer.
How important is it to your organization to create engaging, seamless and personalized digital experiences to meet ever-increasing consumer demands?
It has never been more critical for businesses to deliver world class digital services to consumers, and our job at Ensono is to provide them with the tools they need to be agile and responsive to their customers. Enterprise organizations today want and need real time data about their customers. Using AppDynamics Business iQ, we are able to take the data and insight from the Application Performance Management solution and translate it for different stakeholders into tailored dashboards that bring the customer journey to life. And because things are changing all the time, we can adapt these dashboards quickly to show new data points or information, depending on the stakeholder’s needs.
What advice would you give to a technologist that is considering AppDynamics?
Spend quality time with the business application owners inside your organization to understand how they are measured, what KPIs they work to, what blind spots they have, and what data do they need but can’t get access to today. A smart solution like AppDynamics can arm you with that data and give you the visibility your stakeholders crave.
I would also strongly recommend you conduct a Proof of Value. Just by implementing the technology as part of this process for a client, we usually unearth all sorts of unknown issues that they were unaware of! These issues might not be causing an obvious outage or a performance problem, but could be consuming capacity and driving up cost. Already you have a quick win, and that’s before you see the full potential of the business insight to be gained from the software.
Do you anticipate AIOps taking a bigger role in the future?
Back in the late 1990s we talked about autonomic computing, and we’re finally seeing that vision becoming a reality. I believe AIOps is going to play a huge role moving forwards. As Artificial Intelligence capabilities are integrated with the data flows we have today, we will see a step change in efficiency, but also in the speed at which we can react to things, and the accuracy with which we can react.
As a service provider it’s going to become table stakes very quickly, so Ensono is making huge strides to get ahead of this emerging area and ensure we have new solutions and services ready for our clients.
What are the anticipated benefits of AIOps to businesses?
Agents of Transformation will be looking to AIOps to automate low value tasks – those non differentiating tasks that are traditionally quite manual or time intensive. By automating those processes, we can free up smart human beings to work on high value projects, driving innovation and transformation. It’s a huge opportunity for any technologist to work on game-changing projects and challenge themselves – it’s a very exciting time.
How are you going about ensuring that you continue to have the right skills, tools and data you need to deliver genuine transformation?
On a personal level, I invest a lot in research – as well as presenting to industry analysts, I also hold a lot of enquiries with them to learn about emerging technologies. I also like to keep on top of the technology itself by undertaking training and certifications. For example, I recently spent a few hours on an AWS certification to make sure I have the knowledge required to provide insight and value to our clients.
More broadly, I strongly believe that you have to be a student of the industry. It’s critical to understand the industry and the direction of travel, the trends and emerging technologies, and be able to make a judgement on which ones are going to have a material benefit and impact over the long term, and which are just fads.
In doing so, you put yourself in the best position to make decisions based on data, experience and instinct, and can place a bet with confidence and conviction, getting your team on board and behind the idea, before executing on it relentlessly.
Finally, as an Agent of Transformation, what sort of legacy do you want to leave?
Leaving a legacy is very important to me. In each role I have held, and every program I have been involved in, I have made it my mission to make a material difference – whether that be to improve an outcome, drive out significant cost, make someone’s job easier, or open up innovative opportunities for the business, it is my constant focus.
"The opportunity to learn something new, to appreciate someone else’s viewpoint, should never be underestimated."
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