Much as I really enjoy this kind of interaction, time and travel constraints don't give me a lot of opportunity to do it as often as I'd like
However, I'm really glad I made the trip this time -- it was special on many levels.
The Story of CoreLogic
I was there at the personal invitation of Evan Jafa, the CIO of CoreLogic. Sure, they're a great customer, but there's much more to it than that.
If you ever get a chance to meet Evan you should -- he's about as smart, personable and passionate as they come. And, as CIO, he's signed up for a unique and fascinating mission -- to transform a somewhat traditional IT function into a nimble and progressive external service provider.
First American has always been a successful financial services firm, but saw an opportunity to do more of what they do for others in their industry. The new external entity -- CoreLogic -- will be formally announced on June 2, and there's excitement in the air.
They'll be selling "information products" to a rather wide swath of the financial and mortgage industry. Right away, it's pretty clear that speed, value-add and customization becomes more important than just being the cheapest guys in town.
As a student of various service provider business models, I had some strong opinions as to what they had to get good at, and fast. And those new core competencies weren't necessarily the same as the ones they needed in the previous model.
Typically, my formula for these is to understand the broader agenda at play, and do what I can to help it along. This was no exception.
The Big Concerns
As CIO -- and now business leader -- Evan's got a lot to think about.
But to listen to him, it's less about the technology -- it keeps coming back to his people. He knows that to be successful as an external service provider, he's going to need new skills. New behaviors and mindsets. New processes. And new ways of thinking about old problems.
So, I used my material around the structural changes that were going on in IT (you can see the basic outline here), and did what I could to apply it to the likely focus areas that would matter to them, and -- most importantly -- how their perspective would need to change as they morphed from the relative safety of internal IT to the competitive world.
I spent 20 minutes or so on material -- deep, rich stuff -- and then opened it up for questions. And there were lots of those.
We talked about technology first. And then we got to new capabilities. And the processes that would be needed. And finally the types of skills and roles to support those processes. Before I knew it, the time was gone, and it was time to wrap up.
Did We Accomplish The Mission?
I think so. In many respects, my primary role for being there was to help provide some context for the journey they all were embarking on, and why their management was doing the right thing at the right time. Evan told me it went a long way to accomplishing his goals.
That being said, there's plenty more he expects from us.
For starters, he'll need storage -- and lots of it -- so we've got to get him the latest-greatest stuff, and deliver it with a consumption model that matches his business model. Going farther, an important part of his model is competing through speed and agility -- more in the sense of "how quickly can I react to a new customer request?" -- and we want to build him a private cloud to support those fast reaction times.
Security and compliance can either be a big headache, or a wonderful business opportunity for this model -- so we've got to get busy and create some scenarios for his team to consider. And as data management technologies morph quickly in the next few years, we've got to make sure he can exploit these newer capabilities without disrupting his existing business.
He's also starting to get very focused on his application development environment, and with good reason
A lot of his model's unique IP gets captured in applications -- and there's a lot of them. His team has to get very good at quickly banging out new apps using the latest tools, and doing so in such a way that makes them cloud-ready. The good news? They're already taking a close look at the SpringSource stack. Good choice.
And, during the conversation, I picked up a shiny new word -- cloudification: the transformation of technology and processes to a cloud model.
One concern that Evan doesn't have is his data center.
He's got one of the slickest I've ever seen -- and the entire facility is mounted on giant rubber bushings, completely isolated from the subframe -- after all, we're in earthquake country. You've got to see it to believe it. He's also got a nice customer briefing room setup that's adjacent to the data center floor, and the NOC. Very professionally done.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some of his team -- he's got a critical mass of bright, passionate people to help him move forward.
What I Liked
First, the CoreLogic team has the same laser focus as most of the industry-specific service providers I meet. Evan knows what CoreLogic has to offer, who wants it, and how much they'll pay for it. That's refreshing.
Second, his enthusiasm and passion to go do this is palpable -- almost contagious. I saw it rubbing off on other people on his team. It's hard not to want to be part of the fun.
Third, he knew enough about me to just wind me up and let me do my thing. That can be risky on occasion :-)
And, finally, I really like the idea that they want to partner with EMC on multiple levels -- and not just as a storage vendor who answers the latest RFP.
Thanks for the trust, folks. We're excited too. And we'll do everything in our power to help you each and every day. That includes traveling cross-country to support an important team meeting, if that's what you need.
The Road Ahead
You might think CoreLogic's situation is somewhat unique. It's not.
Right now, I've got about a dozen large IT organizations that are starting to make this same journey.
For each, the circumstances are roughly the same: an information-intensive business realizes that their core competencies and expertise is needed by others in their industry. They recognize the opportunity, and organize for success.
And, if they can get a team together like CoreLogic has, it looks like nothing will stop them.