On the 21st episode of Enterprise Software Innovators, hosts Evan Reiser (Abnormal Security) and Saam Motamedi (Greylock Partners) talk with Carter Busse, CIO of Workato. Workato is an enterprise automation tool allowing businesses to integrate their apps and automate workflows without compromising security. Today, he shares how the company is harnessing its technology for various internal business functions, his perspective on the possibilities of AI, and the ideal role for IT within enterprise organizations.
Workato's powerful automation tools allow businesses of all sizes to streamline operations across their workflows, which frees up resources for more productive tasks. The company also uses its impressive proprietary technology internally for various applications. For example, Carter shares how the sales team is automating part of their process via automation with Workato and Gong: "We internally record all of our phone calls, and there are certain words you can have Gong flag. We can take that competitor's word from the conversation and stuff it into Salesforce for automatic competitive analysis. And we also take that data-triggered automation and then send the rep on that phone call a knowledge-based battle card for how to talk against that competitor in the future." By dogfooding, Workato is streamlining its sales functions to make its reps more efficient and effective.
Onboarding is another area where Workato is leveraging its own automation tools. For many companies, onboarding can be a place where many blockers arise since it involves many different admin and HR tasks. As Carter describes it, Workato's onboarding process is completely automated: "There is no IT involvement at all, from the time the candidates signs that offer letter to them getting in the laptop. It is completely automated; we never touch a laptop" By turning one of the biggest initial blockers in getting new employees integrated into a seamless process, Workato is setting up their employees for success before they've even started working for the company.
Like many technology executives, Carter is particularly interested in next-generation artificial intelligence developments. At Workato, the company's core technology is already integrated with AI chatbots to streamline employee interactions with IT. Carter explains: "... we're using AI with our chatbot internally to automate all your interactions with IT and then the automation after that. We're making it automate that 'Genius Bar' so there are no humans involved" He's also excited about further up-leveling of Workato's sales process, which involves personalizing SDR emails: "We're also looking at using AI internally for SDR emails. How often do you guys get SDR emails? You can make them much more personalized. 'ChatGPT, can you write a letter? Here's the background of Evan, and here's who he works for.' Actually personalize a sales pitch email with [AI]." It goes to show that even companies like Workato, who are at the bleeding edge of proprietary technology, have their ear to the ground during this explosive new wave of AI capability
As a seasoned technology executive, Carter has spent almost 30 years leading IT teams and has been through 3 IPOs, including at Salesforce, where he interviewed with Marc Benioff for the first IT position at the company. As a result, he has considerable experience in helping position his teams to be the most effective partners to the rest of the organization. He shares a fascinating anecdote about how his mindset shifted from the old 'command and control' IT organization framework to a more collaborative and trust-based approach during his time as the IT director at MobileIron: "We had a new sales ops person come in, and say, 'I need access to Salesforce.' I said, 'No, no way you can't have it.' It escalated to a shouting match in the office. It didn't look good for me. The CFO had to step in and say, 'No, we're not giving access.' A couple of weeks later, I asked, 'Hey, why did you need access?' She's like, 'Carter, you're not moving fast enough. We can help you do the low-hanging fruit.' Ever since that conversation, I've learned that the young generation coming out of school wants to own the technology, be involved, and help IT, and I'm much more open to that." Through his own experiences, Carter has seen first-hand how when IT develops a more trusting relationship with the rest of the organization, it's a win-win for both sides and an essential reminder that collaboration is crucial to success.
As the last few years have seen unprecedented change across organizations, Carter shares more best practices for IT leaders seeking to navigate an increasingly spread-out IT stack. He describes the relative chaos of 2021 and how IT has had to reel things back in: "In 2021, everybody was buying all kinds of tools, and IT was just trying to keep up. In 2022 and 2023, we got a stick now and [can] say no to things because we're all trying to save some costs in this macroeconomic environment. 2021 was tough because there were six different types of systems and six different data masters." With the dust now settled, IT leaders should recognize their role in serving business functions while simultaneously taking ownership of their expertise: "IT needs to set the architecture and realize that the business doesn't need to be part of the decision, but they need guidance in the architecture. My two years here at Workato have taught me to get IT involved in these conversations if we're choosing a new application to monitor our professional services and monetize it, so we're actually going at it together.”