Kit Colbert, CTO of VMware, speaks about viewing innovation through a different lens at VMware Explore 2022.

Sep 02 2022

VMware Explore 2022: Driving Innovation in a Multicloud World

Now that many organizations have moved data, apps and workloads to the cloud, opportunities for innovation abound.

As multicloud operations become increasingly common for organizations of all sizes and industries, many of them have been able to realize benefits such as lower costs and gains in flexibility, agility and scalability. These advantages hold great potential for organizations on the lookout for chances to innovate and modernize.

VMware has long been at the forefront of tech innovation, and speakers at VMware Explore 2022 said they expect that to continue. VMware CTO Kit Colbert shared his vision of a customer-centric approach to innovation during a keynote presentation at this year’s San Francisco event.

With a nod to the new and enhanced products unveiled at the opening keynote, Colbert said, “We debuted a lot of the innovations that are essentially ready for prime time, with some of our major product announcements and so forth. But the reality is that innovation is in our blood. And for all the stuff that we announced — and even the stuff we’re talking about here in this session — there’s 10 times, 100 times more things that are happening back at the office.”

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Innovating Beyond Core Technology to Meet Business Needs

Colbert stressed that VMware is listening to its customers and attempting to drive innovation that will meet their needs. “As we see these digital transformation initiatives, these cloud initiatives, application modernization initiatives, what we find from a survey that we did just recently is that almost half of the customers and businesses that we surveyed are trying to do all three of these things at once: cloud migration, multicloud management and cognitive application development.”

“The reality is that the expectations on IT teams, on technical teams, are growing larger than ever. And I think that’s because the business needs are driving that,” he said. “We need to interact digitally, we need to be able to move quicker.”

Colbert encouraged IT leaders to view innovation through a broader lens. “It’s not just some core, really hard technology, like, let’s say, a hypervisor,” he said. “Instead, it’s also things like, how do you actually consume it, this notion of adoptability. You look at things like VMware Cloud Foundation, and the whole premise of that is how we deliver that technology, how you get compute, storage and networking, virtualization and automation.”

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Other opportunities for innovation exist with trust, security and sovereignty, and Colbert singled out environmental, social, and governance initiatives as an area ripe for innovation. “You used to have this term called corporate social responsibility. And that term was kind of about doing good for the world, being nice and giving back and all that stuff. It was a generosity,” Colbert said.

The key difference with ESG initiatives, Colbert said, is that these efforts aren’t just about doing the “right” thing: “I mean, yes, it is good for the world. But it’s actually a business imperative. I'm hearing from more and more customers who have sustainability requirements coming from their board, coming from investors, their supply chains. We’re seeing more and more around this.”

Should Your Organization Be Leveraging Blockchain and Web3?

In a separate session, Colbert joined Chainalysis Chief Product Officer Pratima Arora in a conversation moderated by CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and former New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. The three traded thoughts on Web3’s potential.

Pogue began by saying a central problem is that no one really knows what Web3 is. He offered several possible definitions for Web3, such as “the internet owned by the builders and users.”

“Critics believe that Web3 is little more than a rebranding effort for crypto with the aim of shedding some of the industry's cultural political baggage,” he said. “Others believe it’s a dystopian vision of a pay-to-play internet, in which every activity and social interaction becomes a financial instrument to be bought and sold.”

Kit Colbert
The reality is that the expectations on IT teams, on technical teams, are growing larger than ever.”

Kit Colbert CTO, VMware

Ultimately, Arora said, the first definition is probably closest to the truth, but the connection to crypto is understandable. “If you think about blockchain, it is literally an underlying technology that powers all these different things,” she said.

Colbert agreed. “Once you can program something and can do anything with it, it opens the floodgates of innovation,” he said. “I think that crypto is certainly part of it in terms of ownership. Aspects of blockchain can be used in many different ways. And I think that’s also where we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface on how can we leverage this very open technology for all sorts of different possibilities?”

Innovation That Supports the Employee Experience

IT leaders frequently cite a need for innovation when seeking to improve the customer experience, but it can also enhance the user experience for employees. In a separate session at VMware Explore, Shankar Iyer, senior vice president and general manager of end-user computing at VMware, spoke with Brandon Tolbert, vice president of human resources for FedEx Express, about an app the company developed to assist with recruiting and to measure employee satisfaction.

Iyer explained that FedEx approached VMware looking for help in developing a next-generation recruiting app: “We worked with them on engineering and deploying that application. Once it was deployed, they were not only able to reach out and attract more talent, they were also able to engage with their own employee base to make sure that they were happy and things were moving forward.”

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“We want to start at the first contact with us, all the way through the lifecycle of the employee, through the rest of their life, and have touchpoints along the way,” Tolbert explained. They were able to build an app that interacts with candidates upon their first experiences with the company and stays in touch throughout the application process. The app yielded benefits for existing employees, as well.

“As they become an employee, they go into a different state. They get messaging about their benefits, they get messaging about opportunities for growth within the company, and all these things as they go through,” Tolbert said. “The great part about this is that it has that behavioral science piece to it, so that they’re leading their own journey through this, and it’s not one size fits all. The employee gets to build their own experience as they go. And then, the second piece, which really excites me, is the drip survey, which is coming back to the business and letting us know how things are going.”

Tolbert also spoke about the impact of the app within FedEx: “Imagine the power that we could capture there with every employee having that type of dedication and engagement within the business. The safety of our employees is going to improve, our service will improve to our customers, our profitability and efficiencies will all improve because we have a workforce who is truly engaged and feels like they are home.”

Keep this page bookmarked for articles from the event, and follow us on Twitter at @BizTechMagazine and the official conference Twitter feed, @VMwareExplore.

Photography by Joe Kuehne

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