Could you share a bit about yourself and your career trajectory?
I didn’t take a traditional path to IT. I started off in criminal justice, but I was always intrigued by IT and computers and would try to enhance technology processes wherever I was working. This got me promoted into the actual IT department, and I have never looked back. For more than 25 years, I have been devoted to user experience and the efficiency of IT systems.
As someone who has been in the IT trenches, I know the challenges our IT teams face. From the 3 a.m. phone calls and the complaints of “it’s slow” to executive-level calls asking “Is it fixed yet?,” I can say that the biggest challenge for most issues is the lack of complete visibility across the IT estate; this lack of visibility leads to a lot of finger pointing and delays in resolving issues.
I saw firsthand how exhausting these issues were, and I wanted to find a role where I could empower IT professionals at large. I wanted to return to my original passion of helping others and finding efficiencies to improve end user experience. Coming to Lakeside Software allowed me to do that. The visibility and the assistance we can provide IT teams to make their lives better, which in turn enhances the end user experience, has kept me at Lakeside now for 13 years and counting.
Can you tell us more about Lakeside Software and your role?
Lakeside enables organizations to improve the digital employee experience (DEX). I started as a Sales Engineer helping customers transform their IT organizations into more modern proactive IT environments. Over the years, as Lakeside grew, I moved into more leadership roles. Now I lead Lakeside’s Global Solution Architects and focus on bringing global trends within IT to my team and our customers as we continue to innovate and improving users’ experiences.
We help enterprises use DEX data to uncover waste across the organization, such as unused software licenses and overprovisioned hardware. As IT evolves, we are finding that we are not just assisting IT teams; we are now expanding into other parts of the organization such as HR and Finance as they need complete visibility across the IT estate as well to ensure user experience is optimal.
What do you enjoy most about working in this industry?
By far, being able to respond to the question, “How can I help?”
Lakeside has the depth, breadth, and history of data that no other solution on the market can provide. This deep data expertise puts us in the very unique situation of being able to help in so many more ways than just responding to Level 1 IT service tickets. IT never stays the same. New technology is introduced, pandemics happen that force the way we work to completely change, evolution in processes happen — all causing IT to change and transform. What was new and shiny six months is now old and outdated now.
Again, coming from the trenches of IT, I get it. It is not fun for already-strained IT teams to get beat up when systems are down or something is not working. The result of such old-school, reactive IT is that employees get frustrated when they cannot do their jobs, and organizations become frustrated because outages can have a measurable impact on their businesses. IT is often a thankless job; it is rare to get that high five or compliment that our systems are amazing and everything is great. That is just expected from users and organizations as a whole. But, behind the scenes, IT is essential for any well-run organization, especially those invested in digital transformation projects.
Anything I can do to assist IT to make their lives better, which in turn makes users’ lives better, which, of course, makes the organization as a whole better, I am all in.
Can you shed some light on Lakeside’s DEX platform?
Lakeside’s SysTrack platform is powered by more data than any other DEX platform. Our patented technology allows SysTrack to collect 10,000 datapoints every 15 seconds on endpoints. Then, it uses our intelligent edge to process and sift through this data to provide IT and other parts of the organization the complete visibility they need to make decisions.
SysTrack is second to none. Now to be fair I am a bit biased, but when we need to solve difficult challenges, we need data – and a lot of it – to make informed decisions. If I have only a couple hundred data points every 10-15 minutes, I have a lot of holes to fill and would have to make some assumptions about what is going on. Those assumptions could cost (and have cost) organizations millions of dollars in poor decisions. From Level 1 to Level 3 support desks, desktop engineering, data center operations, HR and Finance, Lakeside has the data and visibility to help all stakeholders have the visibility to solve their challenges.
Please elaborate on Lakeside’s solutions and what differentiates them from the competition.
As I mentioned, Lakeside’s biggest differentiator is our data – more specifically, it’s our depth, breadth, and history of data for granular root cause analysis (RCA) for in-office, remote, hybrid, and offline users as well as clear visibility across the entire IT estate. We collect more data points out of the box from the most supported endpoints with our patented lightweight agent. This means IT teams can quickly support end users – often proactively and without needing to ask them questions. IT has access to a complete view on the health, performance and usage of each device.
When complex issues arise, SysTrack customers have access to the most granular data records without having to reproduce the problem; data is accessible in real-time from each device with years’ worth of historical data for immediate analysis. Additionally, SysTrack’s expansive breadth of endpoint coverage enables end-user experience monitoring for all types of end users – from traditional desktop-bound employees to healthcare clinicians sharing multi-user workstations, from retail employees with IoT devices to manufacturing facilities with disconnected IT footprints, and more.
In addition, our sensor engine provides 1,300 automated investigations that process, analyze, and transform our data into actionable insights. Sensors can be customized, and they can be linked to out-of-the-box or custom automated remediations for any scenario. This enables SysTrack to constantly monitor for potential issues and determine the root cause before a ticket is submitted. Our proactive IT application leverages sensors to prioritize top issues, alert SysTrack users, visualize change management and adverse impacts, analyze trends following changes or automations in the environment, and more to ensure nothing is left undetected.
What are the most common issues that clients approach you with?
Lack of visibility. You cannot solve what you cannot see. Covid-19 really highlighted this challenge when we threw our workforce out of the office and into their homes. IT no longer could see or manage what happened on a network they had zero control over or visibility. This lack of visibility was there when the users were in the office, but the challenge was easier to overcome because we could simply show up to the users’ desk and see firsthand what was happening. With remote workers, that approach is not possible. But this made IT very reactive and always in “firefighting mode.” And now that IT understands we can provide that visibility not only to remote workers but to all workers regardless of location, that insight make them more efficient and able to provide a better end user experience while shifting left to become more proactive.
Could you give us a sneak peek into the next growth phase of Lakeside?
Insight Partners made a strategic growth equity investment in Lakeside in 2020. As a leading global venture capital and private equity firm, Insights Partners invests in high-growth technology and software companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. Lakeside continues to accelerate product development roadmap and drive the expansion of our market leading platform. While I can’t offer any sneak peek, I’m excited about our product roadmap over the next six months. Be sure to check out lakesidesoftware.com this fall to see what’s new.
Lakeside has been awarded for its leadership and technology from time to time. How do you keep up with this constantly evolving landscape?
We keep up by listening to our customers and prospects to understand their needs and where the market is going. We also leverage our large partner network. From early on, we have partnered with VMware and Citrix to assist with the VDI wave. We also partnered with Microsoft on operating system migrations with XP to Windows 7 and were a Windows 10 launch partner. Plus, we partner with several global system integrators and managed service providers to understand enterprise-level challenges. We’ll be announcing more partnerships and integrations to add to this network soon.
We cannot be single threaded, and the fact that we have data and visibility that no other solution has makes us a leader. Because once you have the data out of the box, what do you want to do with it?
Can you tell us more about your work culture and what makes Lakeside’s culture unique?
We consider our founder, Mike Schumacher, to be the “father of DEX.” What that means is that he had an understanding of the need to foster a strong digital employee experience before there was such as market category nearly 25 years ago. So I would say our work culture is pioneering and empowering. I get to work with some of the greatest minds in the industry. From our forward-thinking R&D to our customer-first service, Lakeside is enriched by being a global company with 250+ professionals working across nearly 20 countries. We also celebrate the diversity of perspectives and insights of our multigenerational workforce, allowing Lakeside to marry the expertise and vision of our founders and long-time leaders in our market category with the up-to-the-minute skillset and change-making mindset of our early-career contributors. All facets enhance Lakeside Software’s corporate culture, innovation capabilities, differentiated positioning, and growth opportunities.
What movie/book has inspired you recently?
I am currently reading “The Hard Thing about Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. As I read this book, I can totally relate to the stories and challenges he describes. In fact, Horowitz’s and my career paths crossed at one organization, so I know firsthand the challenges he explains. But what I like about this book is it is not about the challenge; it is about how you overcome it. Where there is a will there is a way, and while that way may not be easy and it may come at some costs, there is a solution to every problem. I very much have that same attitude when talking to customers and prospects. By understanding their challenge, we can help provide the data and visibility to help them solve that challenge.
What is the message you want to spread with this interview?
We are all in this together. As much as we often think we are unique by the way our organizations operate, the challenges we all face are very similar. The way we approach them may be different, but the challenge is still the challenge and always has been since the beginning of IT. That is, “How do we provide our users with a better end user experience?”
Everything we do in IT is for one reason: provide the users the resources and technology they need to perform their job. It doesn’t matter the job. They are employed to do a function, and IT’s only job is to make sure they can do that efficiently and effectively with technology. Our world is continuously changing with new challenges around security, hybrid work, new technology, AI and more. We need to have visibility into our organizations to ensure we are making informed decisions, and we need to have the ability to resolve challenges faster. Data is king! Most decisions we make in life today stem from data. From buying a home or car or having a medical procedure, all stem from data points that we collect, glean insights, and make the best decision accordingly.
Geoff Hixon, Vice President of Solutions Engineering, Lakeside
Geoff is the Vice President of Solutions Engineering at Lakeside. Although he started his career in criminal justice, Geoff has since gained nearly 20 years of experience working in IT operations and advising on end-user computing challenges.
Geoff, who attended Ferris State University and Capella University, now leads a team focused on helping clients to leverage Lakeside’s vast data collection and tools to solve issues impacting employees, the workplace, and business outcomes. He worked as a systems administrator for Kenwal Steel before coming to Lakeside, where he has held multiple key roles.