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With more than half of its revenue tied to the declining mainframe market, CA Technologies may seem beholden to an ageing technology that is still being used by the world’s largest enterprises for processing huge volumes of transactions – at least from the outside.

But Martin Mackay, CA’s president and general manager in the Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) region, begs to differ. The Briton, who has been in his job for just over a year, believes the mainframe still offers unparalleled reliability even as more enterprises look to modern computing platforms to power their business.

The 41-year-old company is not standing still, however. It is in the midst of transforming itself into a provider of not only mainframe tools, but also software and services to help companies develop software in an agile and secure manner.

In an exclusive interview with Computer Weekly, Mackay talks up CA’s efforts to rally its employees around its growth strategy, the state of the mainframe market, and how companies in APJ are faring in becoming what CA calls “modern software factories”.

How is CA Technologies transforming itself to keep up with the demands of enterprise customers?

Mackay: Over the past five years, we have undergone transformation in three areas. The first is to become an organic software company built for growth – and that requires us to change the whole culture of CA. The second is to look at acquisitions that will support us in that growth. The recent ones, such as Veracode and Automic, bring key products that are complementary to our existing portfolio and can expand our market share. The final transformation is one that we talk about all the time, which is that our own customers have to undertake transformation in order to be flexible and be built for change. We have driven that transformation through our DNA, which has 10 elements, such as uncompromising integrity, focusing on customer-centricity and creating a memorable employee experience.

What that transformation means from a product strategy point of view is the concept of the application economy, where every company needs to operate as a software company and rethink its processes, culture and technology to put the customer at the heart of its business. And the way a customer interacts with a company is through software. That brings us to the idea of a modern software factory that enables organisations to drive high-quality software development through automation, be agile in the way they operate, respond to customer insights and embed security into every application.

Are companies in Asia-Pacific and Japan far from becoming software factories, especially those in industries such as manufacturing that want to focus on what they do best, rather than develop software?

Mackay: That’s a fair point. The manufacturing base in APJ is probably focusing more on using technology to automate processes and improve quality. The service industry, however, is using software to improve its competitive advantage. We recently ran a survey which found that 87% of executives in APJ are talking about software as imperative to their business transformation initiatives, and 95% are talking about software being an important growth driver.

The challenge for them is the ability to execute, with only 30% of executives happy with the progress they are making in terms of finding the talent they need, doing more with less, and overcoming legacy challenges. Some markets in APJ, such as Singapore, are more adept than others in overcoming those constraints.

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