Mike Strohl, CEO of Concord, Calif.-based solution provider Entisys, had an early front row seat to virtualization revolution nearly two decades ago, and that experience is still shaping the way he does business today.
In 1995, a year after Strohl joined Entisys as vice president of sales, he started selling software from Citrix Systems. At that stage of the game, the software wasn't yet called virtualization, but Strohl was impressed by how the technology was able to solve important needs for customers.
Since then, virtualization has evolved into a key enabling technology for cloud computing. And Entisys, which Strohl's father George founded in 1988, has grown into a $70 million company with more than 100 employees.
Strohl became CEO of Entisys in 2002, and since then has become one of the most well-known executives in the channel. But Strohl's daringly simple philosphy to leading Entisys is still the same as it was when he first joined, and is all about helping customers tackle challenges and do business more effectively.
"I enjoy the business side of technology more than anything," Strohl told ITbestofbreed.com in a recent interview. "I look for opportunities to bring in technology solutions that help customers help their businesses."
Strohl says Entisys has been solutions-oriented from the very beginning. And that means talking to customers and listening for telltale cues that show where their pain points exist.
The most effective technology solutions, according to Strohl, are ones that account for all the different needs of employees within an organization -- from IT people looking to keep networks running, to line of business owners looking to use technology to drive results and be competitive.
"Today, you have to understand how customers' businesses operate and what they are trying to accomplish, and then apply technology to it," Strohl said. "To be good at what we do, you have to get deep with the customers."
One way Strohl does this is by understanding the strategic aims of his customers' businesses before even talking about what kind of products they'll need for the job. "Instead of going in and pitching technology, we pitch a process, which ultimately lets us look at the business from a multi-year perspective," he told ITbestofbreed.com.
"Customers are starting to look for companies like ours which don't treat IT as an expense, but as a strategic opportunity to help them improve their business as a whole."
At this stage of the game, Strohl says his day-to-day management of Entisys is about applying this vision.
"My days are primarily focused on making sure I have my leaders in position to build a culture and execute on the vision I have for the company," Strohl said. "And that the teams have resources to grow and work with business partners, to help them not just sell their stuff, but to understand the value in our approach."