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George Thangadurai of HEAL Software: “Empathy for personal issues”

Empathy for personal issues: As a leader I learned that people bring personal issues to work and take work issues home. You must engage and support at a personal level and that makes a big difference in their commitment and focus. As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs I had the pleasure […]

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Empathy for personal issues: As a leader I learned that people bring personal issues to work and take work issues home. You must engage and support at a personal level and that makes a big difference in their commitment and focus.


As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs I had the pleasure of interviewing George Thangadurai, CEO of HEAL Software Inc.

George Thangadurai is currently the CEO of HEAL Software Inc., the innovator of the game-changing preventive healing software for enterprises known as HEAL, which fixes problems before they happen. He is also currently a partner in Avataar Venture Partners, a growth-stage operational fund partnering actively with brilliant B2B and SaaS startups. He is a multi-functional business leader in mobility, security, SaaS and IoT, with more than 25 years of experience in business strategy, product management, business development, start-up investments, M&A, IPO, delivery of successful products and services and leadership of diverse, high-performance global teams.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a child growing up in India, I watched the Apollo moon landings on a grainy black and white TV. I was fascinated and intrigued by the engineering that went into making this amazing accomplishment possible. That started my interest in aerospace and computers during high school. Back in those days, I used to visit campuses that had mainframe computers occupying large rooms that used punch cards and mag tapes as input and output, in comparison with today’s technology, where we have multiple orders of computing horsepower in each smartphone with touch and hi-res HD display. I later used to tinker with the early microcontroller boards that required programming in assembly language and did projects as a hobby. That, in a way, gradually led me to choose a career path within the computer field.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

During my high school and undergraduate period in India, I used to play with the microprocessor development boards from a company called Intel. Interestingly, I did my undergraduate senior year project on an Intel microprocessor development kit. After I obtained my master’s degree in computer engineering in the U.S., I got to work for Intel as my first job. It was a dream come true as I never even imagined that as an opportunity when I was doing my first project on an Intel computer.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

I led strategy and product management at Intel for almost a decade. A majority of the computers used by people and servers running the enterprise operations all over the world today are powered by Intel processors. These have completely revolutionized our personal and work lives. To see technologies that you plan, design and deliver transforming people’s lives is an amazing feeling.

Today, IT operations is a critical and central function for any enterprise. Employees, all departments and customers — including businesses and consumers — depend on it. IT operations have become increasingly complex as more and more functions become completely automated, more internal and external facing applications are onboarded and more variety of tools are used to monitor. An enterprise today — regardless of size or whether B2B or B2C — can’t afford to have any downtime as this impacts company productivity internally and transacting business externally. Providing continuous, high quality and seamless online experience is critical to any business.

I am the CEO of HEAL Software Inc., an emerging leader in artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) tools that use cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) technology to automate monitoring of critical aspects of IT infrastructure. This brings a lot of value to IT operations departments as they can get a unified picture of the overall functionality and health of their systems in an automated way. Most importantly, our technology allows detection of anomalies based on past normal behavior that can potentially lead to degradation of service or the worst-case scenario, an outage. In most cases, this not only has significant revenue impact but also has significant impact on the reputation of the company’s brand.

Especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, our technology has become even more relevant and urgent for enterprise IT to ensure no downtime for employees that work remotely, and that online transactions, compliance and quality of service are maintained.

How do you think this might change the world?

Whether it is shopping consumer items, travel bookings, government services, telehealth, banking, learning or anything else — most of our transactions are done online today and have been even more accelerated by COVID lockdowns. Today, enterprise IT has a critical and important task to ensure this runs uninterrupted 24x7x365 with acceptable response times for both customers and internal operations.

Imagine going to a shopping website, like Amazon, and it not responding, going to your bank account and receiving a “sorry try later” message or trying to book air travel and the site is too slow. We have come to expect all of these to be working and providing the consumer a positive experience. And that is where our technology becomes a key enabler.

With HEAL’s AI/ML-based technology, enterprise CIOs can support their company’s goals to accelerate their business. This enables them to grow online customers and employees, making it easier to do business, while they add more tools, processes and applications. IT has tools to monitor every aspect of the operations of a data center and these tools have only grown in complexity making it impossible to monitor all the tools simultaneously without a holistic view. Our HEAL tool with AI/ML technology allows the integration of information from all the tools making detection, prevention and healing of potential disruptions before they can cause domino effects in the IT operations possible.

With our technology, enterprises can focus on providing the best online experience, which in turn allows the world to get comfortable about embracing everyday activities online.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

A product based on artificial intelligence and machine learning technology has its advantages and pitfalls. In our use case scenario, we use this technology to process information that is extensive and in real time that humans can’t process as quickly. AI/ML becomes better with time as it learns about past behavior and looks for many signals that are out of normal range. Our tool only predicts and it’s up to IT operations to act or set up pre-determined corrective actions for healing.

As such, this technology requires learning and calibration so that the tool reduces false predictions. AI should be used to supplement human intelligence and not replace it, as there are subjective, qualitative aspects in addition to quantitative and logical aspects of any issue.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Our first product for IT operations was an application monitoring tool called application performance management (APM.) This was a new category a decade ago and enabled IT operators to monitor various mission critical applications. Depending on the type of enterprise, these could be less than 10 applications to greater than 100 applications, used both for internal functions and external customers, that had to be monitored. However, these were only useful as a reactive approach, fixing the disruption after it happened. APM tools provided the history of monitoring data for IT to the root cause of the problem. But the damage had already been done.

The tipping point happened when our engineers noticed that with all the monitoring information being collected, there was both historical and real-time data that could be used to build predictive models. Using AI/ML technology we saw we could learn and model the behavior of different applications and infrastructure components at different months, weeks, days, hours and even minutes. In real time, the product can then look for trends in any monitored signal that can cause a problem in the future. Through early detection and prediction we can take proactive remedial actions.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

A product for AIOps is an emerging category of tools for enterprises. It is still in the early stages of proving its preventive foresight, situational awareness and autonomous remedial actions. What we need is to have proving ground with a few deployments in different categories of enterprises, big to small, across different vertical segments, different regions, etc. so that the technology can be fine tuned to be flexible, robust and reliable. With proven use cases demonstrating that customers realized benefits — including saving time and money — I am confident that this will lead to widespread adoption quickly.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

The technology is targeted at enterprise IT and so we publicize by engaging with industry thought leaders, talking about it in CxO forums, webinars, events and more. We also partner with well-known IT solution providers who expose our technology to their enterprise customers. In addition, we have branded our product using this technology as HEAL™ and so there is a brand marketing campaign also.

We engage with reputed industry analysts to understand their insights and trends in this emerging AIOps segment, get their feedback on our tool and gain advocacy.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

While I started my career as an engineer with my first job in the U.S. at Intel Corporation and grew up the technical ranks, the strategic and product-level decisions were made from the management side of the company. I decided that I wanted to be part of setting the strategy and product roadmap for the company, which was then a key enabler for the internet wave. I did not have a marketing or management degree, nor the necessary experience required for a role in strategy and product management. However, the Intel executive leading this function had seen my work as an engineer and I asked if I could join his team and switch to the management side. Usually, Intel supports its employees earning their MBA while working to make such a switch. But this executive, who became my manager, believed in me, and allowed me to learn on the job starting a successful management career that led me to where I am now.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Not directly, though I am proud of the company that I worked for 20+ years, Intel, whose products were key enablers to bringing internet access all over the world. I am an advisor in a non-profit organization, advisor to many start-ups and hope to spend more time in the near future making a difference in society by tapping into my experience.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

I was fortunate enough to have visited more than 40 countries through both professional and personal opportunities, including family vacations. I spent considerable time in a few countries appreciating their strong traditions and rich cultures. Here are a few things I learned:

Acknowledge your weaknesses first: I lived in Israel for four years as an expat and this is one of their guiding principles as a country.

Lead from the front and ensure your team is rallying behind you: I learned this the hard way when I led a team for the first time.

Strategy is destiny: Management guru and ex-Intel CEO, Andy Grove, emphasized strategy as the key to both company and professional success.

Know the depth before you jump into the water: With an eagerness to win a new opportunity, you say yes to the customer without understanding the next level of details. You end up with cost over-runs and delays making it a lose-lose for both sides.

Empathy for personal issues: As a leader I learned that people bring personal issues to work and take work issues home. You must engage and support at a personal level and that makes a big difference in their commitment and focus.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would not say I am a person of great influence, but definitely want to be part of a movement. One area that I feel passionate about is the access to connectivity and learning devices (PCs, tablets) that is accessible to all children, especially in countries that are poor, war-ravaged, have religious or cultural driven bias against girls’ education or child labor. The internet has democratized information for all, but it is critical to make it accessible to all school-going children anywhere. While there are other movements that I can think of — women’s small business, clean water, child labor, vaccinations etc., this is much closer to my area of experience and network.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Passionately pursue your goals in life with perseverance, determination and hard work. You will achieve them. This has been true in my life as well as those role models I look up to.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Instead of keeping up with the rapid rate of change, IT operations is struggling with disruption, waste, complexity and silos. Yesterday’s break-and-fix model does not work anymore. HEAL Software is driving the paradigm shift from reactive to preventive with the industry’s first preventive healing software for AIOps. Join us for this exciting and rewarding journey.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can follow me personally on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/GeorgeThangadurai. They can also follow HEAL Software Inc. on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/healsoftwareai/, as well as Avataar Ventures: www.linkedin.com/company/avataarvc.

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