Q&A with CEO Tod Weber on Software AG Government Solutions, Inc. & Managing Big Data

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Tod Weber, Software AG Government Solutions

Tod Weber is Chief Executive Officer of Software AG Government Solutions, Inc., where he manages the strategy, operations, and growth of the company. Software AG Government Solutions is a newly launched unit of Software AG USA, Inc. The company will focus on delivering solutions that leverage its industry-leading software products (webMethods, Terracotta BigMemory, CentraSite, and ARIS).

Weber was previously General Manager and Chairman within Software AG USA, and before joining Software AG USA, was a Senior Manager at Oracle, Senior Vice President of global sales and marketing at Infowave Software, Inc., and spent 13 years with Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC). He has more than 25 years of engineering, sales, and management experience in the technology industry and holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

Weber spoke with WashingtonExec about his role at Software AG Government Solutions, Inc., the financial sector and big data, international big data perceptions, federal spending cuts, data analytics, and more.

WashingtonExec:  How has your background as an aerospace engineer influenced your leadership?

Tod Weber: Engineering is deeply rooted in the practical application of knowledge to solve problems. It’s a profession built around the sound fundamentals of honesty, integrity, discipline, innovation [and]creativity.

At Software AG, I really try to leverage a lot of those same principals to make sure that my team is putting forth best-in-class technology to rapidly solve problems. We are really good at identifying those problems that we can solve and executing successful outcomes with really minimal resources. A lot of those elements are similar to what you would do in engineering a good system, if that makes sense. We really try to employ that concept of “failure is not an option” when we find a problem that we know we can fix and are well aligned to. If we can’t solve that problem we determine that very quickly upfront, and then we won’t waste the customer’s time, [or]the agency’s time in pursuing that.

WashingtonExec:  Could you please tell us a little about your work at Software AG?

Tod Weber: We have recently spun off a wholly owned subsidiary called Software AG Government Solutions, Inc. to focus on our business with the United States federal government.  I’m the CEO of that organization and we are focused on delivering solutions in the areas of integration, big data management, service-oriented architectures, and business process management

WashingtonExec:  What sector do you think is leading the way in innovations to manage big data?

Tod Weber: We have seen the financial sector move out on it very quickly.  I think that’s probably because if you look at the types of things that they are doing — whether they are trying to manage trade verifications on a stock transaction or detecting fraud – those are things that are important to that particular sector. When you look at that and think about the implications, that’s transformational to someone’s business when you turn around and can instantaneously tell if you’ve got a fraud situation. You can start to extend that into other areas. Whether that is data on the battlefield to make real-time decisions, or if someone is standing at an airport check-in and you want to know who is standing in front of you. If you can get real-time response out of that, that’s pretty powerful.
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“It was the financial sector that kind of really kicked it off for us but we are seeing it adopted in many industries at this point, including the federal government.”

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WashingtonExec: Can you describe some of Software AG’s solutions?

Tod Weber: Software AG developed a product called Ehcache. It’s used by 75 to 80 percent of the Java applications in the world. It’s a standards based cache that’s used to boost performance, and also a database to simplify scalability. The real breakthrough was extending its capabilities to process extremely large datasets at real time speeds across enterprises.  That’s what we call our  “Big Memory” solution. We’re talking about accessing tens of terabytes of data at microsecond speeds. For us, Big Memory is kind of equal to big data in real-time with analytics across multiple data sources..

WashingtonExec:  How does your company handle some of the challenges that come with that such as security or privacy concerns?

Tod Weber: That’s a common topic for a lot of folks and I think one of the most significant challenges in that area is really enforcing the security and privacy policies without impacting system performance. We see, for example, many agencies loading their entire active directory into our Terracotta Big Memory solution. I think unlike other approaches that might try to replicate the directory, and may become a bottleneck, we can eliminate that.

WashingtonExec:  What are some ways federal spending cuts might affect you?

Tod Weber: We’re in the business of helping organizations do more with less. As the government looks at tightening its belt and tightening their spending, we almost get a better receptivity to looking at some of these types of solutions that can help them change the way they do business. With just a few people, we get in there, make a big impact and improve their efficiency.  The government is not interested in massive IT undertakings at this point. I think if you have a solution that helps the government do things better, faster, cheaper, and is just a handful of people making a big impact very quickly, that puts us in a pretty good position to help the government deal with the difficult times that they are facing.

WashingtonExec: Do you see any differences in the way the government or business handles big data in the United States versus other countries?

Tod Weber: Big data is clearly a global challenge. I do believe, as usual in the IT industry, the United States is kind of on the leading edge and is a little bit more aggressive in trying to solve some of these big data challenges. I was reading a McKinsey Report recently and it looks like the United States is creating about half the world’s data right now. As a result, we are forced to find ways to deal with that explosion of the data challenge. I think we are a little more progressively and aggressively trying to solve the problem. I think there are some differences but in general we know it is a global challenge that everyone is faced with.

WashingtonExec: Do we have a large enough trained workforce for the amount of data we should be analyzing, and do we have too much data causing us to maybe miss things?

Tod Weber: The answer to this challenge is not to collect less data. We’re getting valuable data, whether it’s a predator drone flying around sensors scattered all over a major city testing for biological contaminants. I think it is like anything else that we’ve faced: it’s a challenge. We need to bring solutions and adapt, and allow ourselves to put that data to work for us.

Do we have enough folks that are trained and able to deal with this problem? That is a big challenge. It’s clearly a field that we are going to see explode in terms of talent that we need. Obviously the IT industry as a whole is going to bring some solutions to the marketplace to help expedite the analysis and make that easier for individuals to deal with. I think you are very accurate in stating that maybe there is a deficiency of talent to deal with these challenges – personnel problems as well as technology problems. It might be a good field for folks entering college to focus on.

WashingtonExec:  How would you describe your leadership style?

Tod Weber:  I think a good leader has to adapt their leadership style to the demands of the situation. There are a lot of different things that you face on a daily basis when you are out there in business. There are probably a few common elements that I would say I’ve tried to employ across the board, and for me personally, that’s leading from the front. Ensuring accountability and maintaining the highest level of integrity across the team – that’s really important to me.
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“Our reputation is very, very important. We want to make sure that we have the highest possible standards when out there solving problems for the customers.”

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WashingtonExec: What made you interested in what you do today?

Tod Weber: The first several years in my professional career as an engineer was in the aerospace industry. I was working for General Dynamics at the time on the F-22 fighter aircraft that’s out there today. It was a fantastic experience. I worked with some incredibly talented and very dedicated individuals that were committed to ensuring the United States maintained air superiority in any future conflict.  To this day, I greatly admire the work they do and I am proud to have been part of that industry.  The challenge for me was that I was working on something that wouldn’t go into production for 15 to 20 years. As I progressed in my career, I found that I really wanted to work on solving problems where I could experience more of a real-time feedback for efforts that I put in on a daily basis. The fast paced software industry provided me with that opportunity.  I made the change and have really enjoyed my career.

WashingtonExec:  What is your favorite restaurant with which to do business in Washington, D.C.?

Tod Weber: I would have to say the Capital Grille in Tysons. I love it. I think they do a fantastic job. The way they treat you in there, the food and the wait staff is fantastic.

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