Supply Chain Q&A: “It’s All About Moving to Android” Says Globetrotting Alex Evans

From England to the Netherlands to the U.S., expat Alex Evans is both product-wise and travel-wise. Plus he commutes to Ivanti by motorcycle.

As a product expert with Ivanti, your travels frequently take you to conferences and expos, meetings / presentations with customers and prospects, product advisory councils, meetings with industry analysts and the media, etc. Where have you been recently, or where are you headed?   

Among my trips were the Interchange conference in Las Vegas in May. The Supply Chain team ran a Premium Advisory Council session with some of our key customers. From there I headed to Europe for two weeks. The first week I attended partner and SE training on our Velocity product in Amsterdam, followed by a sales meeting with our entire EMEA sales team.  The following week I’ll conducted a partner tour in Frankfurt, Paris, and London to bring them up to speed on our latest innovations. In July I’m heading to Australia for the second time this year.

Narrowing down to just one of the items in your answer to question #1, what was your purpose for being there and what did you hope to accomplish?

The Premium Advisory Council at Interchange is the one that I was most excited about—though more than two days in Vegas is enough for me. We got to share our roadmap with key customers but, more importantly, we were able to hear what our customers have planned for their next projects. Our objective was to understand what’s keeping them up at night, what problems they need to solve and, hopefully, how we can help them solve those problems. These are the kinds of meetings where the next innovations come from so they are often key to our future direction.

Which way are the industry winds blowing?

For Ivanti Supply Chain it’s all about moving to Android, and adding voice to warehouse processes. There’s a lot of investment in both of these areas, plus warehouse automation, right now. Everyone hears about the Amazon drones, but some of the things happening inside the warehouse are equally cool.

What’s your one key takeaway surrounding the future of Ivanti in the market space you’re primarily involved with? Where do you foresee both the challenges and opportunities for the company?

I think the one key takeaway is that if you’re not thinking about Android right now, you really need to start doing so immediately. The happy place that our customers have been living in for the last few years, with devices running Windows Mobile and Windows CE, is going away soon. All of these mobile operating systems will be end of life by 2020, which is not very far away in the whole scheme of things. This represents an opportunity for both Ivanti and our customers, because we can do some really cool things with our latest products that help drive warehouse efficiencies—which in turn directly impact our customers’ bottom lines.  Clearly, a customer’s wholesale migration of its OS of choice is also a hurdle. Customers need to retool and prepare for this shift, but the good news is that we already have product ready, and there are tons of Android skills on the street.

What was your professional journey like to get you where you are today? What were some of the unexpected hurdles and some of the unexpected benefits?

After I left University I moved to the Netherlands on a whim, to see if I could find a job there—because I had no idea where I wanted to live in my native England. I found a job pretty quickly, doing frontline technical support for Novell GroupWise in Rotterdam. I stayed there for six years, moving through the ranks to a senior backline engineer.

I then applied for jobs within Novell in Bracknell, England, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Provo, Utah, and I had the luxury of choosing which one I wanted. That’s how my wife and I ended up in Utah. I continued in technical support with Novell until a product management position opened up, which I grabbed with both hands. I had no experience at the role, and it was certainly a baptism of fire. I replaced two highly experienced product managers who both moved on in quick succession. This was one of the biggest challenges. It was a horribly under-funded product, competing in a highly competitive market. Having said that, the product had a massively engaged customer and partner community that ran all sorts of customer conferences, product forums, and various other outreach activities. So, as a product manager, there were tons of opportunities to have rewarding engagements with customers. Whilst there I also completed an MBA at Westminster College in Salt Lake City—hugely rewarding and very, very tiring.

I left Novell for a small Utah company where I had a dual role of product manager and trainer. In all honesty, I don’t think I’m a great trainer and it’s certainly not where my passion lies. From there I joined LANDESK, and jumped into the deep end in the Wavelink division, which was a market I had no experience in, although I had previously managed a basic MDM product at Novell.

If you were stranded on a desert island with a CD player, what are the top three music CD’s you’d want with you?

CDs?  Those are old school now. LPs are all the rage again, don’t you know? So, my three LPs? I find myself listening to a lot of Jack White, Black Keys, and dance music at the moment so I’d probably take one of each. What I wouldn’t take is anything jazz or big band because I cannot abide either one.