Only a decade ago, open source was met with a mix of skepticism and misunderstanding. Today it dominates the digital landscape. For Red Hat Chief Strategist Todd Wilson, it’s a change that brings a collaborative force to the table and drives innovation, and one that holds promise for the public sector.

Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson, Chief Strategist, Red Hat Canada
A self-described evangelist for open source, Wilson joined ITWC CMO Fawn Annan for an August 2021 installment of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed to showcase strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of marketing and technology. The conversation focused on leveraging the CMO function to gain pre-sales opportunities in the public sector.

Reducing Complexity

In enumerating the advantages of Red Hat OpenShift, a Kubernetes container platform built for an open hybrid cloud strategy, Wilson described it as a response to the complications of modern systems. “Cloud services have brought new opportunities to move faster, but that speed has also brought on a lot more complexity,” he said. “We’re finding that there’s just a general heavy weight in order to manage all of this infrastructure and all of the solutions that people are gathering together.”

OpenShift, he explained, sits on top of existing infrastructure, whether cloud infrastructures or data centers, and abstracts away a lot of that complexity so teams developing apps can more easily manage large scale data sets. “And you can take advantage of the speed of delivering to a Kubernetes container environment and all of that scale at a fairly modest barrier to entry,” he said, responding to a question from Annan about how large an organization would have to be to merit an investment.

Saving Time and Money

As for the preferred size of organizations, he said OpenShift is viable as soon as an organization has more than three or four teams creating services in the cloud and using on-prem infrastructure. “You’re going to have a mountain of little bits and bobs to manage,” he explained, “and if you don’t have a platform dedicated to managing those, you’re going to spend too much time and too much effort on the wrong thing.”

Wilson interfaces with Red Hat clients in three main ways, first to ensure they understand the scope of Red Hat offerings, next in helping them take advantage of Red Hat’s range of tools, and finally, as a company ambassador at conferences and other speaking engagements. “I look at marketing as storytelling,” he said, “and because I’ve been on the delivery side, I can help the marketing teams draw pictures that will really resonate with folks.”

According to Wilson, there is no perfect customer, but one stand-out is the customer taking on a transformation effort at scale. For the most part, he said, these are large enterprises that recognize the need for major change and go on to complete dramatic transformations and save hundreds of millions of dollars. “When you bring those stories to the table and look at those big customers, you can paint a picture that people in the public sector can see themselves in.”

Empowering Internal Change Agents

In Wilson’s opinion, the public sector needs to provide its internal change agents with something like a marketing toolkit for promoting the innovations they are trying to drive. “What we tend to see in the public sector is that there are small pockets of awesomeness going on all over the place, but they don’t connect well,” he said. “They don’t talk to each other and there aren’t really good channels between them to connect the dots for people.”

Summarizing the key points of his chat with Annan, Wilson returned to the power of storytelling. “The amount of work that we have to do is ever increasing,” he said, “Without a really strong automation story, folks are going to be struggling in the future. This isn’t about a product pitch. This is about solving problems. If salespeople and marketers bring that spirit to everything they’re doing, we’ll all be successful.”

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