CA Technologies CEO: Doing what the customer needs

William McCracken took over as chief executive officer of CA Technologies close to two years ago and in that time has engineered a series of organizational changes and acquisitions aimed at improving the company's perception among buyers and broadening its reach into new areas of technology and new customer segments. Among those acquisitions were the deals for authentication vendor Arcot (August 2010), application testing company Interactive TKO (ITKO; June 2011) and management-as-a-service provider Nimsoft (March 2010). As part of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, McCracken spoke at the recent CA World conference to IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant about how the concept of 'business service innovation' is driving CA's business. He also discussed how CA is working to improve the customer experience, CA's unique position in a crowded management market and the company's strategy for making mobile and cloud easier to handle for IT shops. You may also be interested to read our companion interview with Nimsoft CEO Chris O'Malley.

You took over as CEO in January 2010. What were your goals then, and what have you accomplished?

One was to put this company back in a leadership position in the industry that it had the ability to hold. Also, to reward our shareholders, because many of them have been with us for some time. They've held steady with us, although they get frustrated at times because we've been through different situations that have delayed the kind of results we've wanted to get. The third one is probably a little bit more personal to me. I've told our 14,000 employees that I'd like to leave a company behind that when somebody asks you where you work and you say CA Technologies, they say 'Wow, boy I wish I could; I hear that is a great place to work.'

Q: How are you doing on those goals?

From the industry side, I think we've come a long way. Then, when you read about cloud computing, you didn't read about CA. Now, it's pretty hard to read about cloud computing without reading about CA. And we're extending that with the things we talked about this week [at CA World] with our strategy around model, assemble, automate, assure and secure. That's taking hold in the industry. We have acquired and built the technology that has allowed us to take that position. If you want to be a leader, you have to be there first. So you've got to make a decision: do I want to buy this or build this? Which gets it better, and which gets it faster? We've spent about $1.8 billion on acquiring companies during that period of time. We put a portfolio of companies together and then we built connectors across all of that, and we're continuing to do that. We've come a long way on that.

We're seeing significant change in customer attitudes about us. That's not because of them, that's because of us. One of the four corporate goals we set for ourselves was to delight our customers every day. In fact, we for a long time had that on the screen when everybody signed on in the morning around the world. "Delight a customer today." We tried to change the attitude about who we are and who our customers are, and how important they are to us.

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