MarTech Interview Series with Zvi Guterman, Founder and CEO, CloudShare

Zvi Guterman, Founder & CEO, CloudShare

“In marketing, change comes quick — whether it’s advancements in AI or requirements such as GDPR — so you have to be smart and nimble.”

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What galvanized you to start CloudShare?

I’ve been drawn to technology since I can remember. I created CloudShare because I saw an opportunity. Previously, at other companies, I had difficulties creating IT labs. The solutions were labor-intensive and automation fell short. I wanted something that would let me select different configurations, and with the click of a mouse, it would be provisioned.

I felt more focus was needed on the applications. Sales POCs, demos, training and testing, customer support — make these easy to create and powerful and a company could excel. So, I realized I was really looking for a cloud solution, software as a service. I compare it to the database world. Initial developments revolutionized data science, but it was applications such as ERP and CRM that really got my attention.

What is CloudShare and how is it different from other IT companies? What do you bring to the table?

We help companies drive revenue, efficiency and quality with cloud solutions for training, sales enablement, sandboxing and customer support. We’re unique because we focus on applying virtual IT labs to specific user needs. We speak the language of verticals and automate workflows, allowing users to do what they need to do and not worry about what happens behind the scenes.

Take IT training for a customer such as Palo Alto Networks. They might conduct 60 courses a week for students worldwide. We automate processes so instructors can concentrate on the teaching experience. We provide advanced capabilities — such as multi-step courses and real-time interaction — so students get what they need when they need it. This could entail 5,000 virtual machines and we ensure that environment is ready to go. So, performance, scale and reliability set us apart, too.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in IT and Big Data Operations for 2018-2020… anything that will have the biggest impact?

The maturation of virtual labs has enabled proven providers to rise to the top, so you’re going to see consolidation. Leaders will be taking technology to the next level — Virtual Reality is showing up in web applications, which is exciting. The big cloud vendors — AWS, Microsoft and Google — will continue to lead but be challenged by IBM and global companies such as Deutsche Telekom. Even so, specialty providers will have niches where bigger providers aren’t geared to compete.

How do you prepare for the highly disruptive IT-driven Marketing Technology ecosystem?

We’re practical and move fast. We constantly try new things but don’t experiment for too long. If ease-of-use is an issue and if the benefits aren’t quickly apparent, we move on. In marketing, change comes quick — whether it’s advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) or requirements such as GDPR — so you have to be smart and nimble.

What is the State of ‘Intelligent Automation’ for IT business teams? How do you empower organizations to automate better with CloudShare infrastructure?

We take a manual function and automate time-consuming processes and workflows, enabling the few to do much more. Let’s say you have 300 sales engineers that need to learn a new product version. Previously, you’d fly them to a kick-off meeting, which was costly and would take months to arrange. Now, you can do it virtually, which is less expensive and can be done in a day or two.

As for the salespeople, they can then easily conduct virtual demos for participants — no matter where they are or how many — follow up with a link to product trial, even monitor behavior to ensure a user experiences the full product. This technology is all about empowerment.

What are the core tenets of your business development model?  How does CloudShare value digital transformation journeys for businesses?

Until recently, development was primarily direct sales. Now, we’re building out our community of partners, service providers and other players with mutual synergies. We’re also partnering and working well with learning management systems to make the virtual training programs more curated. Our customers are confident in our solution, we can scale, and the outside interest is there.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

Salesforce and Pardot.

How often do you measure the performance of your Marketing Analytics and Sales Reporting?

Constantly, but more specifically, we’re measuring our data on a weekly and quarterly basis. As a company, we make all our decisions based on data. This is essential for all organizations — you need to know where you stand in order to make the right decisions.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

I keep abreast of our partners, customers and competitors. With the cloud becoming mainstream, and our software-as-a-service alignment, I keep tabs on all tiers of providers. But I’m most impressed with Zoom; they came late to a very established market and took it by storm.

Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign?

We did one I enjoyed a while ago. The target was sales engineers and managers. It was a competition in which we asked people to tweet photos of setups they needed to carry while traveling for demos and POCs. Our hook was you can accomplish the same thing over the cloud with a lot less hassle and cost. Unfortunately, marketing metrics showed it wasn’t something that generated leads, but I don’t regret giving it a try — it did cause a buzz and we had some fun.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

Marketing is one of the first places you see AI applications. We monitor and test early, but if a solution isn’t simple and the benefits aren’t quickly apparent, we move on.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I hope by example. We are a team of geeks, I’m no exception, and we take pride in sharing what works. We are big on trying new things, failing fast and embracing change when it makes sense.

One word that best describes how you work.

Passionate. I love what I do.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Email is the first. I enjoy automation so Slack and Zapier.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Three years ago, we were growing fast and I decided to hire an executive assistant, who I would really call my chief of staff. I needed someone used to international hours, pressure and demanding people. I wondered what profession possessed these qualities? I got a resume from someone who had worked for airlines and found my answer. They know how to prioritize, and personally, it’s helped me realized that if I have to ask myself if I have time do something, I don’t.

What are you currently reading?

I enjoy history and recently finished a biography on Benjamin Netanyahu. I listen to a lot of podcasts about innovation, start-ups and sales, with a particular focus on the Cloud.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Go with your passion. My first startup was not a huge success. I had the idea for CloudShare and wondered if I should pursue it or do something less risky, such as academics. I approached a mentor for advice, a CEO of a public company, and we met at 11:00 pm in an airport. After ten minutes he stopped me and said, “Go with your passion.” CloudShare was and is my passion.

Something you do better than others — the secret of your success?

We’re all unique, but I don’t feel I’m so different than others. What I am trying to do professionally is find the right balance between business needs and technology that answers problems. I think that is the key for companies to succeed and hope I stay true to that.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

Bill Gates. Go big or go home, right?

Thank you, Zvi ! Hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

I’ve spent 20 years building extraordinary teams in organizations as large as the Israeli Defense Forces and as small as a startup taking its first steps. As a serial entrepreneur and business leader, my focus is finding the optimal balance between technology, market needs and costs.

Today, I am the founder and CEO of CloudShare. We help software organizations grow revenue and accelerate success by making it easy to replicate complex on-premises IT environments in the cloud, whether for training, proofs of concept & demos, or sandboxing for support and testing. Our customers include leading software and cybersecurity companies such as Palo Alto Networks, Atlassian, ForgeRock, Sophos, Dell and HP.

Prior to CloudShare, I founded and served as CTO of Safend, an endpoint security solution acquired by Wave Systems (WAVX). I was also a board member and mentor at Qlika, a big-data platform for AdWords optimization, which was acquired by The Priceline Group (PCLN).

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CloudShare is dedicated to bringing real value to both business and IT professionals, making it simple and intuitive for you to enjoy elastic scalability, infinite reach, and increased productivity through the cloud, without worrying about the details, because those – are on us. We enable on-premise apps and solutions to use the cloud unchanged, providing an intuitive user experience and creating turnkey solutions to support software companies’ business life cycle from R&D to training, sales enablement and support.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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