In an interview with Insights Success, the Chief Operating Officer of Arkadin, Mark Alexander shares the insights behind his triumphant dominance as an entrepreneur. Mark’s contemporary and innovative entrepreneurial and technological expertise has driven Arkadin’s ascension from its early stages as an audio provider to a leading provider of cloud communications and professional services today.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Mark and Insights Success:
Could you give a brief overview of your background and your role at Arkadin?
I joined the company in 2010 as the President of the Americas. I had already worked for Cloud-based businesses prior to my work at Arkadin, so I had a good knowledge of the collaboration market. That surely made my transition to Arkadin easier. From 2010 to 2018 I fully dedicated myself to the Americas region which grew from $25M of annual revenue to over $100M. We expanded into new geographic markets, launched new services, and made a number of acquisitions during this time. It was a very exciting time with a lot of successes. In April of 2018 I then took on a new assignment as Chief Operating Officer of Arkadin.
How do you diversify your tech solutions that appeal to your target audience?
Our customers buy solutions, not technologies. We provide Cloud based solutions to help customers operate their business in a more efficient manner. Whether it is holding a simple staff meeting, communicating with shareholders, launching new products, training employees or fostering employee communication – we help our customers operate more efficiently. We segment our products into Service Lines and our sales into channels based on customer size. We help our customers operate more efficiently. In that regard it’s important that we don’t just provide and deploy the technology for our customers. We help them find out what the right technology is for their specific needs. We have a whole team that helps businesses look beyond the pure technology, making sure they choose the right solution for the people they actually want to reach. We believe technology alone is worth little without the people who use it.
Describe some of the vital attributes that every tech individual should possess.
Attention to detail and a willingness to learn in a dynamic environment. It seems that technology is evolving more rapidly every year. Early in my career it was about Moores Law or a doubling of chip technology every year. Now it feels like you have an accelerated Moores Law with many more components affecting the technology revolution. So I think it is more important than ever to learn and then continually be open to more learning. Regardless of your position, whether you are selling or programming, you must understand the customer needs and be able to put them at the heart of the digital transformation. The modern workplace is not just about the technology deployed – it’s truly about the end user of the technology and that is why you should focus on people and make sure they adopt and are happy with the deployed tools.
What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that shaped your journey?
I have had the good fortune of working for and with many exceptional people. You learn from your experiences and from people. For example, the way to learn about Acquisitions is to participate in a few. Watch how other people do it successfully, ask a lot of questions, and learn from your mistakes. I often tell people you can plagiarize 98% of life by copying successful people, successful habits, etc. This leaves 2% to be creative which isn’t too bad! I think this is true for your personal and professional life. So when you want to learn about technology ask the smart people. They will tell you about the technology, what books to read, what classes to attend, and help shape your own roadmap in that area.
What were some of the primal challenges and roadblocks that you faced during the initial phase of your journey?
I have always been a very results-oriented person. I learned fairly early that success is not just about personal success at any one moment in time, but more importantly about building lasting success. The only way to do that is with good people you trust around you. For instance, a good sales person needs good support people around them, like a sales engineer, project managers, and the like. A good CEO must have a solid executive team. Realizing that your team is critical to your success, it’s not necessary for all to report to you, but you must provide leadership to all of them.
How according to you, has the role of a Tech Strategist changed over the years?
The technology choices and pace of application integration is staggering. Take a look at the collaboration space with audio conferencing, integrating with web collaboration, then video rooms, now desktop video, all while moving towards more Unified Communication solutions with telephony and desktop application integration. More choice for the customer and more opportunities for the technology service providers. It is really fun and dynamic.
A tech strategist need to comprehend the fact that, due to the ever increasing choice for customers, it gets more and more important that they have someone to guide them and help them make the right choice. Don’t rest for too long because the market waits for no one. The technologist is no longer siloed and is forced to become a consultant many times integrating best of breed solutions to meet customer requirements.
What is your advice for the emerging tech enthusiasts?
Pick an area that interests you and create your own area of expertise. Pick something that you have fun with and are naturally motivated by. Then continue to develop yourself professionally and remain flexible to evolve with your markets and technology. For sure 100% of everything comes to an end at some point. Continue to ride your wave and see where it takes you.