Every CEO operates differently. Each needs applications and services that suit his or her management style, the way he or she likes to work, and how he or she prefers to communicate with the organization.
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Some CEOs focus on productivity apps to organize their minds while others hone in on collaboration and project management apps to track progress and work more closely with specific departments and teams. Still others are more focused on data, leveraging business intelligence (BI) and data visualization tools to make sense of all the information the business collects and turn that data into actionable insights.
Skyhigh Networks CEO Rajiv Gupta's app arsenal includes all of the above, with a helping of social media and some wild cards thrown in. Skyhigh Networks is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) platform from which IT can configure access privileges, manage identity, and enforce endpoint security and encryption for every Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and custom Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) app that makes up an enterprise's app stack.
Gupta is a web services pioneer who has worked with cloud technology for the past 20 years, before the cloud was called "cloud." He characterizes himself as a technologist by training but an entrepreneur at heart. Gupta earned his PhD in Computer Science from the California Institute of Technology and then spent 11 years at Hewlett-Packard Labs working on client-utility computing and microprocessors. Gupta's first startup, Securent, was acquired by Cisco. He stayed on as VP and GM of the Policy Management Business Unit and helped launch Cisco's Identity Services Engine. His second startup, Confluent, was acquired by Oracle. Skyhigh Networks is the third company Gupta has founded.
The CEO, who also has more than 45 patents to his name, talked to PCMag about the eight apps he uses most often in his day-to-day operations as CEO. He also explained why he recommends each app for other multitasking executives.
Gupta's 8 Must-Have Business Apps
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Gupta's first recommended app combines a human resources (HR) directory, a curated enterprise social network, and a meeting prep tool. Accompany detects new contacts in your calendar and compiles an executive briefing in advance of the meeting, pulling in relevant data points and also creating a custom news feed for all the contacts in your network.
"My typical day involves connecting with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) across industries. There is nothing more energizing than communicating directly with customers and other practitioners," said Gupta. "I use an app called Accompany to help me keep track of news about members of my network. It keeps track of mentions in the news and even someone's latest tweets. Before I walk into a meeting, I will check Accompany to see what the person has been up to since we last spoke."
PopIn is a targeted crowdsourcing and online survey app to help executives engage employees on potential decisions, and give workers an easy line for direct feedback. Gupta said Skyhigh Networks uses PopIn to promote employee engagement across its global organization, and give the organization a more intuitive form factor than surveys to weigh in on what's going on with the company.
"One of our missions at Skyhigh is to create a culture that matters. With offices in the Bay Area, the East Coast, the UK, and India, along with a global sales team, we are always looking for tools that can connect teams across geographies," said Gupta. "PopIn is a tool that helps us with employee engagement on everything from logistics like meeting times to employees' perceptions of leadership styles and company culture. Employees can quickly, easily, and frequently provide feedback without getting bogged down in a long survey. The application also makes it easy to engage with employees periodically over time, which helps us track our progress on our goals."
On the BI front, Skyhigh Networks uses a combination of apps. Clari is a sales execution and forecasting platform that Gupta said helps transform the company's customer relationship management (CRM) data into sales insights the company can use to gain an edge.
"Clari is an app that does an excellent job of pulling actionable insights from our business' data. Clari integrates with Salesforce and analyzes the data to improve our forecasting and show us where we need to invest more resources," said Gupta. "The executive dashboard and mobile app make it easy to get a snapshot on the go. There is so much valuable data in Salesforce and Clari helps turn that data into something we can use."
4. Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power BI is one of PCMag's Editors' Choice tools for BI, giving businesses a free platform for analyzing a large collection of data sources. Skyhigh Networks uses Microsoft Power BI a bit differently than most; the company uses it as a tool for giving every employee in the organization a weekly data visualization on the company's progress.
"We consider every employee an owner of the business at Skyhigh, so we believe the whole company should have insight into the company's progress each week of the quarter," said Gupta. "We used to email out a manually-compiled weekly sales report that was not only time-intensive to compile but also only offered a narrow, static data set. Now I receive a weekly update in Power BI. I can easily drill down on different categories to get the context behind the weekly numbers.
Gupta uses Twitter the same way as many users do: for getting real-time news faster than any traditional media outlet can provide. Gupta, who is @Trustedmind on Twitter, said he's gotten even more out of the app as he's curated it to the topic about which he specifically cares: cybersecurity.
"Cybersecurity is an inherently fast-moving business," said Gupta. "News travels fast on the latest vulnerability or data breach. Twitter is a great place to read real-time analysis straight from the experts as information becomes available and to sort out the real threats from the hype. It also helps me keep up with up-and-coming companies in the cybersecurity market."
LinkedIn has evolved over the years into a business social network that can handle more long-form content. Gupta uses it to read up on trends and keep in contact with network contacts and customers.
"I've started heading straight to LinkedIn for longer-form articles on the cloud and cybersecurity industries. It has become a forum where everyone from information security professionals to security company CEOs to investors can share their practical experience," said Gupta. "This is also where I publish many of my thoughts on Skyhigh's journey to define a new category. LinkedIn is also one of my principal methods of keeping in contact with our customers and other security executives."
7. The Skyhigh Networks CASB Platform
The Skyhigh Networks CASB platform is a centralized dashboard for managing all of the cloud-connected apps and services in an enterprise. Gupta explained that, especially as it rolls out new features and capabilities, he regularly uses the platform to test out updates and gain insight into his own organization's tech usage.
"I'm a firm believer in a company 'eating its own dog food' or using their own product internally," said Gupta. "I frequently login to the Skyhigh dashboard because I am curious what applications have become popular internally. Our product dashboard provides a bird's-eye view of all the applications in use at the company. Many of our customers use the product to figure out what cloud services are in demand, and our report on the state of cloud adoption has become a popular resource for divining which applications will become the next hot companies."
Finally, Gupta pointed to social petition and support platform Change.org. Gupta first admitted he's a board member for the organization but then talked about the platform's value for him as a user. It helps hiim stay informed about what's going on in the world and what people care about.
"As a board member at Change.org, I'm very attuned to the community," said Gupta. "The home page is a pulse for social action, and users can customize the topics to find causes dear to them. It is excellent for both supporting initiatives you believe in and finding new ones."