August 16, 2021
Welcome to Protocol | Enterprise, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This Monday: Unity's enterprise ambitions, Salesforce's new DEI strategy and Talkdesk shows the call center market is still hot.
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Unity is one of the most popular third-party game development platforms. And the lion's share of its revenue comes from selling advertising alongside the creations its developer community puts out in the wild.
But CEO John Riccitiello has a mission to grow the company into an enterprise software powerhouse. The strategy was a central plank of its pitch to investors before its recent public offering.
This tech is still in the early stages. The term "digital twin" has been hyped as a magic bullet to solve many of the industrial world's problems, from sustainability to virtual collaboration. But it's also not yet clear if it will become as ubiquitous as some claim.
Unity already has some fascinating customers. Hong Kong International Airport, for example, manages passenger volumes and other oversight operations using a digital twin on Unity's platform.
Some analysts have compared Unity's stock to other software heavyweights largely focused on the enterprise — like Snowflake or Okta. But others remain skeptical of its expansion strategy.
Unity has one thing in common with other providers: the direct sales model, mentioned extensively throughout the company's S-1.
Unity just showed major progress towards becoming a profitable company. And as vendors push to make the metaverse a reality for both consumers and enterprises, the market ahead for Unity and other providers is huge.
After a year and a half of living and working through a pandemic, it's no surprise that employees are sending out stress signals at record rates. According to a 2021 study by Indeed, 52% of employees today say they feel burnt out. Crisis management is one thing, but how do you permanently lower the temperature so your teams can recover sustainably?
'An easy button for privacy': Protocol's David Pierce goes deep with DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg on the company's quest to make the internet more private.
Lakshmanan was on our recent list of 10 people defining the new database landscape. Read the whole list here.
What was your first foray into the world of databases?
I built my own. It was a NoSQL document database for efficiently creating, organizing and serving weather imagery in real time. It is still used in production, and if you see radar images of continental-scale areas (such as in airports), you are probably seeing images served out of that database.
What excites you the most about the future of the industry?
Technological barriers to entry keep falling, and that expands what's possible. A key part of the real-time weather database was having to collect radar imagery in real time from [about] 140 weather radars across the continental United States, combine them in real time into a national 3D grid and then serve them to weather forecasters and air traffic controllers.
Fast forward to today. You can go out and buy a global event bus (Cloud Pub/Sub), a global consistent database (Cloud Spanner), fully managed stream analytics (Cloud Dataflow) and a serverless data warehouse (Google BigQuery). The cloud has made it easy to tap into data innovation, making formerly hard things easy. As hard things become easy, I see customers increasingly expand the scope of what they thought was viable.
What's your advice to younger technologists who want to build a career in this field?
Don't stick to one field under a mistaken notion that you have already spent several years working in some area. Grab any opportunity that affords you the chance to learn something new. If you have never done streaming or NoSQL or graph databases or machine learning, and you get an opportunity to do it, grab it.
What's your biggest career mistake or learning lesson?
Early in my research career, I was doing a bunch of small two- to three-month projects and knocking off publications one after the other. But the papers were not very novel, and had very few citations. My mentor sat me down and told me that I needed to do a few large, meaningful things instead. I've always kept that advice in mind. Do I want to do 10 talks/videos or write one book? It's the same amount of work, but the book is more meaningful and has an impact that is longer-lived. Do I make 10 incremental changes, or take longer to solve a meaningful customer problem? How meaningful some work will be in the long term is a framework that I often use to make decisions.
What's the biggest hurdle companies are going to face in becoming a data-driven enterprise?
The biggest hurdle is data culture. Technologically, the journey to becoming a data-driven enterprise is somewhat clear-cut. Many enterprises have been on this journey. However, if you build it, will your employees come? The danger is that you break down data silos, and no one takes advantage. Departments continue to classify all their data as need-to-know. Data quality remains poor. Decisions continue to be made on hunches. Accompanying your technological journey has to be a reimagining of every aspect of how your employees, suppliers and partners work, collaborate, make decisions and measure outcomes.
Thanks for reading — see you Thursday!