Merck CIO An Influencer in the Tech Startup Scene

Digital Technology

Digital TechnologyThe tech industry used to consist of buyers and sellers. Today, buying and selling are coupled with operations and development. Build, deploy, and let technology and your networks move and grow fast. That’s called digital enterprising.

Most players in the IT industry are just figuring out how to get around this process, while Merck’s CIO Clark Golestani already has it down pat.

“Most people think that to do this stuff you have to increase IT spending,” Golestani said in an interview with Business Insider. He, however, disagrees with this, saying he thinks he “found the model for IT organization.”

Digital Is Life

Operations-Development requires radical steps for IT departments to handle. Diane Greene, Google’s cloud computing head, says she has never encountered a setting in which the customer is also a partner. She points out that in digital enterprising, that’s exactly the dynamics. To a certain degree, your customer also has a hand in the process.

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff says he noticed this fast change of pace, especially among clients who began venturing into the digital domain. And, they have all the reason to shift to digital. Analysts and prominent industry players, including former Cisco CEO John Chambers, predicted 40% of companies won’t make it as digital enterprises. They will be out of business over the next decade.

Merck In The Startup Scene

Golestani won’t let Merck become one of those companies. The pharmaceutical giant has a 2,000-employee IT group, and the long-time CIO came up with a way for them to work with over 5,000 third-party tech suppliers. Names like Oracle and Microsoft, as well as a number of startups, are some of the organizations they are working with.

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Golestani and the Merck team are insiders of several tech VCs, after Merck received access to a number of startups. The pharmaceutical company’s IT staffers continue to look for startups in and out of the U.S., and they help the up and coming businesses write code and fix products, among other tasks. The staffers also develop tech in-house, which Merck then turns into a new startup.

Merck comes up with a new startup for every technology that they need but cannot find. As such, Golestani is first to know about virtually all the new technologies in the works for his company or the industry. If there’s no such tech, he’ll make it happen.

Golestani invests a lot of time seeking out and forming relationships with startups. “We constantly engage with all the venture capitals out there,” he describes his process. “We are constantly looking at their portfolio companies, quite often when they are stealth and unannounced.”

If he encounters outstanding companies, “We’ll stay with them and we push the envelop on those technologies and help them scale up.”

“Like A Delicate Plant”

He claims his approach is unlike the way most large enterprises treat small companies. While many of them think a large contract will “anchor” a startup, Golestani thinks the opposite is often true.

“It’s almost like a delicate plant, it needs to be watered and tended to, you’ve got to show it a lot of a love if you want it to grow into a tree someday. The same thing happens with startups,” he says.