The September 2017 spin merger with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) transformed UK-based Micro Focus into one of the world’s largest software vendors seemingly overnight. Now that Micro Focus has settled into its position as a global leader in software, Intelligent CIO sits down with Micro Focus Chief Marketing Officer, Genefa Murphy in Dubai to discuss life after the merger, becoming their own customer and the state of digital transformation.
The September 2017 spin merger with Hewlett Packard Enterprise transformed UK-based Micro Focus into one of the world’s largest software vendors seemingly overnight. Now that Micro Focus has settled into its position as a global leader in software, Intelligent CIO sits down with Micro Focus Chief Marketing Officer, Genefa Murphy, in Dubai to discuss life after the merger, becoming its own customer and the state of Digital Transformation.
The US$8.8 billion deal has allowed Micro Focus to expand into a variety of new market domains, and leverage HPE’s past successes in hybrid IT, Big Data analytics, enterprise service management and enterprise security.
In spite of its relatively recent growth, Murphy maintains that Micro Focus has maintained its customer-focused mission – to help guide customers on their Digital Transformation journey in a way that allows them to innovate faster, take on lower risk and keep their data and infrastructure safe.
While the mission of Micro Focus has remained the same – helping customers to run and transform their business and innovate faster with lower risk – there have been some inevitable changes to their internal processes.
The quick and massive expansion of Micro Focus after the merger has put the company in a similar position to many of its customers.
Specifically, the company is scaling up rapidly, while needing to maintain the best-in-class business processes, security and infrastructure that sets it apart from its competitors.
“We went from a few 100 products in our portfolio to nearly 400. We now have approximately 5000 engineers and scan nearly 10 to 20 million lines of code daily using our Fortify security solutions,” Murphy said of life after the merger. “As part of the merger, we also had to initiate a dramatic IT transformation, from applications to infrastructure to processes and training. To manage this shift successfully, we run Micro Focus on Micro Focus.”
This is the type of full Digital Transformation that Micro Focus has been guiding its customers through for years, says Murphy. Digital Transformation as a process has been going on for more than 10 years across industries and regions. With the deep Internet penetration in the Gulf region, Murphy reports that Micro Focus customers are pushing to modernise their processes and infrastructure to meet their customers’ changing expectations.
Bridging the gap
Regionally, Micro Focus has seen an uptick in the customer expectations that are driving Digital Transformation. That, coupled with the region’s deep Internet penetration, has meant dynamic shifts in some key industries.
“Financial services is a great example of a vertical that is going through a massive transformation,” said Murphy. “There is a great deal of new competition that is challenging established banks to change their customer interactions. Even a few years ago, banking customers would go online and use Internet banking, but now they expect all of their financial services to be available on mobile and they expect their experience to be personalised.”
One of the major pitfalls of the Digital Transformation journey, says Murphy, is the tendency to want to circumvent legacy systems to implement the latest in the market. Customers, she says, try to set up a separate project entirely, going around the existing system.
“Micro Focus helps our customers to bridge the old and the new. Instead of going around legacy systems, we enable mission critical applications and data to continue to be leveraged so that customers can maximise their ROI,” said Murphy. “We enable customers to continue at speed while bridging existing and emerging technologies all while securing identities, applications and data. To be successful at Digital Transformation, you have to be able to transform while optimising your business – you can’t choose one or the other.”
Micro Focus customers looking to leverage emerging technologies to update their security have been looking to AI and Machine Learning. Rather than expanding or changing their threat surface, Murphy suggests that AI can give key insights into potential threats that may have been missed.
“AI can be a great tool for understanding threats to your data and infrastructure,” explains Murphy. Micro Focus’ acquisition of Interset earlier this year has proven that point. Interset uses user and entity behavioral analytics to provide highly intelligent and accurate cyber-threat protection through AI and Machine Learning.
“With tools such as Interset that leverage AI, customers can gain a deeper understanding of their data, as well as potential cracks in their security that they may have missed,” explains Murphy. “We need to protect data at rest, in transit and in use – AI and Machine Learning helps us to protect data in all of its states.”
Another potential pain point that Micro Focus aims to alleviate in its customer base is the recent implementation and enforcement of data and privacy protection regulations across regions. With governance laws such as the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) now in play, companies need to ensure that their data is both safe and legally compliant.
“We are focused on securing content, giving the customer the right governance frameworks, and giving them secure access to their own data,” said Murphy. “We understand first-hand that implementing something like GDPR is a matter of updating technology, people and processes. We had to implement GDPR for our own data sets, and it isn’t just a matter of protecting the data – you have to upskill your people and update your processes as well.”
As the company has been tasked with major scaling projects internally, Micro Focus is in a unique position to understand the importance of empowering their partner and customer bases. To that end the company has put renewed emphasis on training its partner ecosystem.
“We’ve now brought our partners programmes together, allowing us to have consistency with how we train and reward our partners. We’ve started certification training this year, so our partners can feel more empowered around our solutions,” said Murphy. Further, to empower the end-users and partners of Micro Focus solutions, Micro Focus has launched a digital badging programme for its customers and has plans to expand digital badging to its partners soon.
Empowering the ecosystem
With its extended reach into the partner ecosystem and access to nearly 40,000 customers, Micro Focus does its best to enable positive change in the IT industry as well. Internally, the company supports employee resource groups that encourage all different types of diversity.
“We hold events throughout the year. For example, every time we have a Micro Focus event, we have a Women in Technology luncheon,” Murphy explains. “We are now trying to amplify these activities out to our customers.”
To that end, Murphy is heading up a webinar series that will highlight accomplished women in their customer ecosystem and showcase their stories.
“More and more women are joining the IT industry and we need to amplify their successes. At Micro Focus, we are certainly making progress with a large percentage of females on our board, and our hosting of training camps and sessions that encourage women to learn from each other. The role model effect is very important as is having diversity of all kinds on our teams,” said Murphy.
When Micro Focus and HPE merged, the leading software solutions outfit was inevitably in for some transformations of its own. With scaling projects and Digital Transformation across departments necessary to keep its massive operations rolling, it is clear that Micro Focus has developed a deeper insight into the goals and potential pain points of its customers.