Seagate Technology has been in the business of data for more than three decades. As a global leader in data storage solutions, the company develops products that enable people and companies to create, share, and preserve memories and information. SVP and CIO Mark Brewer has led Seagate’s IT department for nearly 20 years. His recent focus has been on building and delivering cloud apps that make the work lives of Seagate’s more than 50,000 employees better.

1. How has your role as CIO evolved over the years?

One thing that has changed a lot is the interconnectivity of everything. We are now using signaling in one place to influence a decision in another place at a scale that never existed just a few years ago. Statistical process control in the factories, deep analytics from social media data, visualization tools being fed by real-time data collection. More data is being collected, correlated and stored than ever before.

2. What was Seagate’s app landscape like before moving to the cloud?

We were managing hundreds of custom, on-premise Java applications. Maintaining them was not only cumbersome, but also expensive. Our app development desperately needed to be modernized so we could deliver apps quickly and cost effectively. And the ability to not only easily update them, but also integrate them with our back office data, was a non-negotiable.

3. Why did you choose Salesforce App Cloud for your app development?

We were already longtime Salesforce customers and benefited from having in-house expertise. In fact, the first custom apps we built were actually CRM extensions with sales and marketing. A huge bonus has been that the previous complicated application infrastructure and demanding maintenance that came with it has been eliminated. App Cloud tools replaced a number of legacy systems for a certain class of applications, and as a result, we are deploying numerous applications, faster, with less cost and better reliability than ever before. Several of our enterprise apps now live in the cloud, where they can be easily connected for external usage by clients and partners when needed. And they have modern capabilities, such as mobile and social, built right in.

4. Tell us about the apps you’ve built.

We’ve now built more than 40 apps across seven lines of business, including customer service, human resources, health and safety, manufacturing and IT. One example is our Ergonomic Assessment app. It’s multi-lingual and replaced a previously paper-based process. Users are able to do self-assessments of their ergonomic needs on the app. These forms are easily reviewed, with solutions quickly found and implemented. Another example is our SeaTime mobile and web app, where hourly U.S. employees record their timecards. It can also be used by all of Seagate’s U.S. staff to make vacation requests and get their time off approved. Plus, SeaTime is integrated with our payroll vendor.

5. How has the speed of development been?

We were able to train and onboard our staff to Salesforce App Cloud very quickly and they didn’t need a complicated skill set to be brought up to speed in an efficient manner. In fact, some of the front-end app development tasks for the simpler apps were prototyped by business analysts. Existing Java developers were also able to ramp up on the platform fast and we’ve enjoyed more coverage because a larger group is now trained on a specific technology and can thus offer support on all the applications. We have a productive environment for the IT developer because the delivery of the application is much simpler. It’s also a productivity boost for the user of these systems, as more and more of our systems have more commonality and behave in a similar fashion. We have numerous apps in process now.

6. What about integration?

The first thing we counted as a benefit of using Salesforce App Cloud is that all of our applications can rely on common data. We were able to seamlessly integrate all of our back-office data from Oracle ERP with the new apps, using Informatica. This allows for consistency and accuracy across the board, because when the data gets updated in one location, it gets updated everywhere. Full integration happens easily and things don’t get out of sync.

7. Do you have advice for other IT leaders looking to make the move to cloud app development?

One has to jump in and start using these tools and platforms. These are the future and everything is heading this direction. Get on board now.

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