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The CIO Perspective: 3 Insights on Delivering Tech During COVID-19

With over eight years of New York Enterprise Tech Meetup (NYETM) under our belt, bringing together the enterprise tech community of Fortune 500 execs, enterprise startups, and investors in NYC, we’re now in full swing hosting the NYETM online with our second virtual meetup earlier this week.

This month’s NYETM was moderated by Mark Settle (7x CIO, including former CIO of Okta), and included panelists Kim Huffman (VP of Global IT at Elastic) and Sylvie Veilleux (CIO of Dropbox) who discussed the impact of COVID-19 and their current enterprise technology agenda.

For both Dropbox and Elastic, shifting to a work-from-home environment was relatively natural as they’re primarily built on distributed networks and most of their workforces were remote from the start. However, in the midst of COVID-19, their budgets and priorities are increasingly shifting to technology that optimizes focus and productivity.

Here are the top takeaways from each IT leader as they navigate tech innovation during COVID-19 and continue to work with companies shaping that path:

New Investments vs. Vendor Consolidation

Companies like Dropbox have upwards of 1,000 SaaS solutions in their ecosystem. Especially during this time, enterprises are looking to consolidate vendors to ensure optimization across their portfolio. Sylvie has a simple formula for this:

“If you bring in a new vendor, kick two out.”

Managing too many vendors creates high overhead and ends up becoming one of the largest productivity drains for IT teams. These teams need to be properly trained on the same platforms, so they can most effectively collaborate with each other on projects from afar. To do this, enterprises are looking to consolidate tools with similar functionality to reduce that operational burden.

On the flip side, working from home is going to be a long-lasting trend and a significant number of people will decide not to go back to the office even after the pandemic is over. Areas that CIOs will be looking to innovate are those that transform the remote working experience, including accessibility to more compute power, security adapted for the home office, and improved virtual interactions.

A tip for startups: When trying to break into a new customer environment, product demos upfront are the best way to convey the product’s narrative (this will go a much longer way than a sales deck). Messaging a clear business case for your solution, such as enhanced productivity or improved employee engagement, will make your outreach more compelling.

Optimizing Current SaaS Platforms

With so many tools available, enterprises need better focus from an IT perspective. As more tools are brought in-house, it’s critical to optimize each — resulting in cost savings, but also better management and faster business results. To reach this optimization, Sylvie believes that:

“Not every SaaS platform needs to be managed by IT. We established a shared governance model, meaning ‘if you had the baby, you have to raise the baby.”

Utilizing IT Decision Makers

Many sales leaders tend to go directly to the CIO and while you’ll eventually need their buy-in, this likely isn’t the best first point of contact. It’s important for vendors to get buy-in from the IT decision makers within their customer’s organization and according to Kim:

“The cloud and the subscription economy model has really democratized IT to some extent…Now we have 10 different tools that do the same thing, but we really only need one. I think this is important for [vendors to] ‘land,’ but when you get to a certain growth as an organization, that ‘expand’ becomes difficult if you don’t have buy in from the functional area that’s seeing that usage.”

Without this buy-in, the “land and expand” sales approach won’t work and there will be nowhere to grow. Kim emphasized that if a vendor can help IT teams improve what they’re currently doing and bring a real, valuable case study to the table, it’s much more compelling than a top down sales approach.

See a full recording of our webinar here.

Thank you to Kira Colburn for her work on this piece.

If you’re thinking through enterprise sales during this time, check out our Work-Bench Enterprise Sales Guide: COVID-19 Edition, with top guides, resources, and advice from enterprise founders and revenue leaders.

If you’d like to talk through your GTM strategy during this time, email us here to join an Enterprise Sales Chat.




Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement. Sign up to get our digest of top content & industry news weekly:

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