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New Ivanti CEO plans to stay close to the customer

New Ivanti CEO Jim Schaper is no stranger to the C-suite of an IT company. And he's got a plan to push the company forward.

Saying the company's best years are ahead of it, new Ivanti CEO and industry veteran Jim Schaper discussed the future of the IT industry and the firm's place in it.

The IT software company known for unified endpoint management appointed Schaper, previously Ivanti's board chairman, as its chief executive Jan. 7. He replaced longtime CEO Steve Daly, who has retired but will continue to serve on the company's board.

Schaper has more than 30 years of experience in IT, which includes founding ERP provider Infor in 2002 and serving as its chief executive until 2011. His move to Ivanti CEO could benefit IT professionals by providing a singular focus across the company's products, according to one analyst.

A little more than a week into his tenure, Schaper said his familiarity with Ivanti -- first as advisor since June and then as board chairman since September -- was an added benefit as he started in the position.

"It's a new role, but I'm not new to the company," he said. "I've been incredibly impressed by our employees, our products and the people we're able to call our customers."

'A big player'

Ivanti's market, like the rest of the IT sector, has been consolidating in recent years, Schaper said. He believes, though, that the firm is well-positioned to be a big player, noting its 2017 acquisitions of companies such as Concorde Solutions and RES Software, a digital workspace software provider.

Jim Schaper, CEO, IvantiJim Schaper

"This company has a lot of really positive assets. ... Our best years are ahead of us," Schaper said. "We're going to be a force in this business, and you're going to see significant changes."

Through those purchases, Ivanti can meet what Schaper believes is a customer-driven, continuing push for unified IT services.

"If you look across every industry ... everybody wants to do more with less. [That means] more automation and more analytics," he said. "At the end of the day, customers really want two things: integrated products that provide a more seamless approach to their problems and the ability -- on their own time and at their own pace -- to move to the cloud, if they so choose."

Schaper said the cloud is the latest disruptive technology to firmly take root, and Ivanti has been seeing some of the effects of implementation.

"We have two core businesses; one is our service management, and the other is our security end. With IT service management, more and more [customers] want to consume our products in the cloud," he said. "We're finding adoption of security in the cloud to be a little slower."

We're going to be a force in this business, and you're going to see significant changes.
Jim SchaperCEO, Ivanti

While there likely always will be some components of security that customers want to keep on premises, he said, there is some room for cloud-based security to grow as the market matures.

Schaper said he also saw further demand for unified endpoint management solutions as BYOD policies continue to gain prevalence in the workplace.

"If you go back not too many years ago, companies were supporting two devices: a laptop and a desktop," he said. "Today, it's laptops, tablets, cell phones ... there are a number of devices [companies] need to support. It's not a 'nice to have,' it's a 'need to have.'"

The customer is key

Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Mark Bowker said Ivanti's acquisitions over the years may have created confusion about the company's wares -- a problem he believes Schaper is positioned to alleviate as the Ivanti CEO.

Mark Bowker, senior analyst, ESGMark Bowker

"From a customer point of view, there has never been a super clear pathway for consumers and IT professionals to consume their services beyond a single product," Bowker said. "It's exciting for a CEO to come in and make changes -- to look across their products and look at their go-to-market strategy. [Schaper] wants to look at customer success, to engage with customers sooner and more often and stay closer to them."

IT pros, Bowker said, could see benefits from that cross-product view. For example, a common dashboard across Ivanti's product portfolio could make things more convenient for administrators, in addition to creating a more unified look and feel for the company's offerings.

"I think what [Schaper's] really focused on is integration," Bowker said.

According to Bowker, Ivanti is in a good position to attract customers who are not yet invested in the ecosystems of competitors such as Microsoft and VMware. He noted that, while there is a general understanding of unified device management, the practice has not yet been widely adopted.

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