Today’s ‘Day in the life’ features Mike Welts, the CMO of cloud storage provider, Wasabi. Mike reflects on what has been a monumental year for Wasabi and the global cloud storage market in general, and gives us his thoughts on what’s to come.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
While my title is Chief Marketing Officer, my role is more like a utility player or deckhand. When you’re building a company from scratch (like we did less than four years ago with Wasabi), or you’re building the company in hypergrowth mode (as we are doing now across the globe), everyone’s role constantly changes to adapt to the business’ needs, market’s conditions, and competitive opportunities.
There’s definitely a great deal of strategic thinking that goes into my role, but when you’re in hypergrowth mode you look for waves of opportunities where you can gain exponential growth. You’ll do whatever it takes in the job to make it happen. I sometimes like to call that JIT Marketing, more commonly known as Just-in-Time Marketing, with the intention of expanding reach and share as far, and fast as operationally possible.
Talk us through a typical day…
As a serial entrepreneur, I would say the only thing typical of any given day is the unpredictability and need to constantly be on the outlook for what I call momentary opportunity. Opportunities come in waves. Waves come and go. It’s my responsibility to identify those waves and turn them into wins for Wasabi.
I consider myself an optimist and believe that optimists are innovators. Every day I challenge myself and our team to not only align around strategic initiatives, but to look for opportunities of innovative disruption in our products, go-to-market strategy, business models and marketing creativity. What can we do simpler, faster, better? Sometimes I describe my day as being in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with a huge dashboard of ever-changing conditions and a windshield with a wide-open landscape of opportunity.
On the inside, the dashboard provides a constant report of data and metrics to refine your strategy, try new things and constantly adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. Outside the window, the pace of change, landscape of opportunity and market conditions cause you to be constantly on the look-out for the next opportunity wave. The windshield is our opportunity to always look forward with great optimism.
How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?
My day always begins with gratitude and reflection. I’m incredibly grateful for my family, my health and my job and I begin (and end) every day counting my blessings for the great fortunes I’ve been given. I maintain balance by focusing and acting on ways to improve myself and my contribution in the lives of those I touch. In this COVID era, I’ve found my heightened focus on my health and fitness has made me stronger and hopefully more resilient to health challenges.
COVID has also made me grow even closer to my family and reflect on how important our time together has always been, but perhaps more now than ever. And COVID has made me focus on my job in totally different ways than ever before as we’re facing new and unprecedented business and economic challenges. I’ve dived into reading a lot more books on business, innovation, health and more. I find that reading provides inner peace and typically covers the things that matter most in my life.
How has strategy changed at your company?
The markets and pandemic conditions have caused us to refine our focus even further to find new ways to achieve what were already pretty lofty goals! We entered 2020 having broken every company growth metric in 2019, and were tasked with not only doing it again but doing it bigger and better. Now that’s a big ask when you’re growing 3x year-over-year, so now toss in a pandemic, a national economic collapse, and a sudden overnight massive migration to the cloud due to reinvented IT strategies, teleworking and telelearning.
I would say yes, our strategy continues to change, evolve and fortunately, outpace 2019 despite everything. Every week in 2020 was a record week for Wasabi. We count our blessings, remain optimistic and continue to innovate in all aspects and metrics of the business. They say that you learn a lot about someone in a crisis. I’d like to say that we’ve learned a lot about ourselves in this global crisis. Instead of panicking, we decided to play offense, invest more, trust in our people, and the results continue to be record growth on every front.
How has customer behaviour (or your clients’ customer behaviour) changed during the pandemic?
There is a definite sense of urgency to migrating to the cloud now. Pre-2020, roughly 25% of businesses had migrated to the cloud and most of that was in the compute or application side of the business. Far less was in cloud data storage. Nonetheless, the global cloud storage market accounted for $57 billion in 2019 and IDC predicts that data will grow to 175 zettabytes (28 zeroes) by 2025. These are astonishing numbers on their own and were all pre-pandemic and did not take into account the pandemic’s exponential growth impact on our business.
Since COVID, we’ve found that customers are now faced with tighter budgets, developing more efficient IT data centre architecture strategies that reduce physical on-premises footprint and operational expense, and an immediate need to provide IT services for telework or telelearning environments. All three of these conditions have created a perfect storm of opportunity and waves for Wasabi to innovate, help our customers and new ways to lead the market.
What do you predict for the future?
If there’s one thing we’ve taken from 2020 it’s that our company, our customers and our people are resilient. They all share a common optimistic view and passion, and a goal to not only survive but to exit the pandemic with great hope and even greater success. Sometimes the greatest opportunities come from great challenge, difficulty and hardship. It causes us to think inward, think differently and think ahead.
I predict that we’re going to see an unprecedented rate of change in how businesses focus, innovate, evolve, respect and reward their people and provide more of a balance to the daily lives of their workers. If there’s one thing we can all take away from this year, it is how precious our time is on this planet and how balance, family and inner peace are key to survival. As a result, I predict the rate of positive change for the better will reach unprecedented levels.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
We are about to enter the greatest opportunity of our lifetime and arguably in many, many generations. As the pandemic is viewed as a generational tragedy, generational opportunity will arise to those who stay optimistic. Seize the moment to look out the windshield with eyes wide open. Play offense and invest more. Be a trusted partner to your customers in helping them to come through 2020 stronger, better and in a position to seize the pending opportunity that awaits.
Great companies double down and gain market share during downturns. As a marketer, I predict that there will never have been a greater defining moment in your career or for your company than what will occur post-pandemic. Turn this moment into a wave of momentum that takes you and your company to a place you never thought possible. It can happen. It WILL happen. Make sure it’s you in the driver’s seat and not your competition.