John Merakovsky is CEO of IR, a global provider of experience management solutions for unified communications, contact centers and payments. With 25 years of experience in technology and digital organizations, including Experian and Seek Ltd., Merakovsky know first-hand the challenges and opportunities found in driving growth in a fast-moving digital business landscape.
Chief Executive asked Merakovsky about managing growth in the rapidly-evolving tech space, the characteristics he looks for in leaders within his organization and what he’s most excited about in the year ahead as CEO.
On driving growth at IR
Now in its 30th year, IR has been able to deliver record growth because our know-how and products are in higher demand than ever before; we enable companies to successfully adapt to the unprecedented rate of change brought on by digital transformation and the revolution in payments. Many of the world’s largest enterprises and IT service providers rely on IR to optimize their IT operations by helping them to manage complex communications and payment systems. Growth has been driven by the increasing business reliance on these systems, which has given IR the opportunity to continually innovative to create new solutions to solve problems for existing and new customers.
Increasingly, customers demand solutions that simplify the complexity of their technology environments. Solutions that provide descriptive information about what happened must evolve into prescriptive and intelligent solutions about what will happen and what should I do about it? The huge volume of customer data generated in communications and transactions markets in which IR operates supports the demand for these services. Data analytics allows us to build predictive models using aggregate customer data sets. The cloud is a natural place from which to deliver these services as it offers elastic services to meet the varying demands. To capitalize on these growth opportunities, we have significantly increased our rate of R&D.
“We are currently living in an age of unprecedented technological innovation.”
The common traits he looks for in leaders
There are several core traits that I require in my leaders; intelligence and a willingness to learn and adapt; honesty and integrity and the willingness to engage in good faith conversations in situations of conflict; self-awareness and the emotional maturity to listen and accept feedback and grow; driven by purpose that is more than money, I need leaders that are on a personal journey of self-actualization that is aligned to the purpose of the business. In other words, we need to share a common goal in what we are trying to build, and that success is a major motivator for them. The work ethic and passion will come from that alignment of purpose.
How his leadership style evolved over the years
My natural disposition and interests lie in the longer-term strategic questions, but I have learned that short-term success is a must if you want to win in the long-term. That means I’ve had to develop operational discipline to ensure we meet our short-term goals, balanced with the investment needs of the future. I have learned to use my accumulated experience to make faster and better decisions. I’m finding that this means I sometimes arrive at decisions intuitively whilst thinking in the background. I’ve always been a developer of people, but I have learned to have higher expectations of my own leaders and how to give them real-time constructive feedback. And done in a supportive way, this leads to their faster growth as professionals. Living and working in different countries has really helped, as there are significant differences in how cultures handle feedback and communication, particularly as it’s impacted by the power distance index between individuals.
Why unified communications is the best-kept secret when it comes to driving business though digital transformation
According to technology research firm Nemertes, digital transformation initiatives are already underway at nearly 70 percent of businesses. However, to be successful they need to ensure that the underlying unified communication technologies have a solid foundation. Even the best designed systems and processes fail if they cannot communicate effectively. Nemertes also found that successful digital companies are investing 72 percent more in unified communications technologies than unsuccessful companies.
I find it surprising that many large enterprises have not yet invested in the management solutions to give them full visibility into their communications infrastructure. The shift away from dedicated phone systems to enterprise VOIP, whether on-premises or in the cloud, can deliver significant savings but you can’t compromise quality and undermine business communication. Similarly, in payments, transaction volumes and rates are significantly on the rise, which puts the underlying infrastructure under significant pressure. Latency, dropped transactions and down-time have a direct and significant cost to the customer.
What he’s most excited about in the year ahead as CEO
We are currently living in an age of unprecedented technological innovation. Whilst the personal computer and the internet each started off new waves of innovation, the advances in computing power, along with mobility and higher internet speeds has sent innovation into overdrive. We are quickly adopting new ways of communicating and conducting business. Whole industries are being disrupted, elevating the topic of digital transformation to every CEO and Boardroom.
Many new enabling technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, chatbots and blockchain have huge potential that has yet to be realized. The explosion of data that will result from these technologies also creates new ways to provide value. I am personally excited by the possibilities that this presents IR as we strive to help our customers manage the complexities of new technologies and ensure their success.