Three questions for John Swainson, CEO, Computer Associates (CA)

Lastweek I had the opportunity sit down with John Swainson, CEO of CA Inc.,to discuss pretty much anything related to enterprise IT. I’ll bepublishing a more in-depth version of our interview soon onComputerWorld Canada, but here’s a sneak peak at some of the highlights:

ComputerWorld Canada: CA has put a big focus onenterprise clients for its software, but as a Canadian you know thatthis country is largely made up of small and medium enterprises. Howwell does your strategy translate?

John Swainson: To some degree, smaller ormedium-sized businesses are going to outsource a lot of this capabilityto others. Network management is a good case in point. Largeenterprises may choose to aggregate bandwidth and do their own networkmanagement. In other cases, people are going to turn to Bell and Telusand say, “I want you to manage this for me, and this is the servicelevel I expect.” I actually see that more of the demand for smaller andmedium business will go on the service providers than businessesthemselves. And that’s our approach. We’re not trying to sell complexor sophisticated tools to companies that don’t want complex orsophisticated tools. We would sell it more to Rogers, Bell, whateverand let them provide the service levels. And frankly, that’s how Ithink utility will evolve over time. I think that for small businessesand perhaps medium-sized businesses too, they will see serviceproviders provide more and more of the IT infrastructure for them. Andit will be the largest computing users – the banks, the governmentagencies, people like that — who will retain their large ITdepartments, because they are doing things that are unique anddifferent and need to be customized to their service model.

CWC: You came to CA when the company was in turmoil. To what extent have you managed to turn things around?

JS: I think we’ve done a good job of stabilizingthe business and restoring our credibility with customers. My dialoguewith customers now is very different than it was four and half yearsago when I joined the firm. I think we have the same challenges nowthat any other company has in our space – not unique and differentones, but those challenges are being relevant in a rapidly evolvingmarketplace and making sure we can add value at a time when peopleplace a premium on a fast payback. We have all the same issues thateveryone else has, but the good news is we don’t’ have any uniqueissues of our own.

CWC: How would you describe the culture you have at CA today?

JS: Cultures are something that take a logn time tochange. I’m not sure how to answer that, except to say that theorganization that we’ve build and are building at CA is a verydifferent organization than what we had five years ago. It’s anorganization that I hope is based on trust, that’s based onperformance, that’s based on people that all want to be focused on thisset of customers and set of customer problems, and that believe in whatthe company is doing. We’ve had dramatic change in terms of themanagement ranks and personnel ranks of the company, and we now have aposition where we have low attrition, high morale, high focus on whatwe’re doing. And we have to keep that going.

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