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GRC & Me, Episode 14: Karry Kleeman on "The Value of SaaS in GRC"

Karry Kleeman, Chief Revenue Officer at LogicGate, has 30+ years of leadership experience in enterprise software. In this episode of GRC & Me, Karry gives insight into how and why Software as a Service (SaaS) is disrupting the GRC industry, and where the market is headed. He also talks about why he starts a rock band at every company he joins.

GRC & Me, Episode 14: Karry Kleeman on

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Karry Kleeman: There's a number of players providing solutions, but only a small number of true winners that will emerge to set this new standard for usability and effectiveness, combined with affordability. It's really a great time to be in GRC.

Host Megan Phee: Hi, I'm Megan Phee, and this is GRC & Me, where we interview industry thought leaders in governance, risk and compliance on hot topics, industry-specific challenges, trends and more. Learn about your methods, solutions and outlook in this space.

My guest today is Karry Kleeman, Chief Revenue Officer at LogicGate. Karry has over 30 years of experience in global enterprise software sales, and today Karry and I talk about the value of a software as a service delivery model for GRC, what's exciting about GRC today, and we end with a discussion on how he fosters a positive culture by starting a rock band at every company he joins, whereby he assures that he won't be quitting his day job anytime soon. And now my conversation with Karry.

Thank you, Karry, for joining us today on another episode of GRC & Me.

KK: Thanks, Megan. Great to be here.

MP: So let's start off. Will you share with the listeners a little bit more about your sales background?

KK: Yeah, for sure. I started my career in sales during my college years, and my primary motivation was to defray some of the costs. That's code language for I needed money. At first I sold advertising time for a media company, and then I hit pay dirt when I joined IBM while I was still in college. I was a lead generation specialist and I also sold IBM's lower end product line, things like personal computers and PC-related products. I really enjoyed that. I found out I was pretty good at it, and it helped me get through college, get my degree, and get ready for the journey. The experience working at IBM not only set the tone for a career in sales, but it cemented the kind of job I wanted, which was a sales job with a technology company.

MP: So is that background, is that what led you eventually to SpringCM, which is now DocuSign?

KK: Yeah, for sure. I had a great experience prior to that with a start-up company that moved from zero in revenue to about a hundred million dollars in revenue, and went through fast growth, to IPO, to global expansion, and I got to be a part of all of those phases. And then you fast forward the tape a few more years than I care to admit to, and just prior to joining the LogicGate team here, about a year ago, I was on the executive team at Chicago based start-up called SpringCM, which is now a DocuSign company. As the Chief Revenue Officer for SpringCM, I was part of the team that led the acquisition of SpringCM by DocuSign after growing the company's revenue pretty dramatically and building a global footprint of about 675 customers and 190 employees.

MP: Fantastic. Now I know you worked at SpringCM, which is now DocuSign, on that contract management, the buy-side contract management, and also vendor management. Was that your first foray into this GRC type of experience? Is that what led you to kind of be interested in moving into a company that serves as more of that GRC market?

KK: We were adjacent to governance risk and compliance through this contract management and vendor management use case. It opened my eyes a little bit to the challenges and the opportunities to operationalize not only contract management and vendor management, but things that were going on around risk in doing business with third parties and procurement kinds of applications. And in fact, during the interview process here at LogicGate, I was able to talk to a couple of customers that were really, really adept in understanding the difference between coming at the buy-side contract management and procurement side of the house from a GRC perspective versus a contract management perspective. Certainly opened my eyes.

MP: So Karry, you've enjoyed particular success in the software as a service space. Tell us a little bit more about the emergence of software as a service, as a business model, in your lifetime, and how you originally got involved with it.

KK: Yeah, cool. Software as a service has grown rapidly. Something like 80% of all applications for businesses will be SaaS in a year or so. It's really pretty amazing when you think about it. There are some great SaaS companies to be admired and great examples to be followed. In fact, there's no shortage of ambition here at LogicGate. We believe that we will disrupt the GRC space by providing the simplest and most effective SaaS platform that can help companies undertake certain measures, because the regulations say that they should, and if the rules aren't followed, there could be fines and penalties and reputational harm. And on the positive side, good compliance just manifestly means good business. And SaaS has been able to overtake so many industries so quickly, because like the overall subscription economy that we live in, it provides a reduced time to utility or benefit, far lower costs, a pay-as-you-go model, and rapid iteration on changes, updates and improvements in the process and in the technology.

MP: So Karry, why is GRC a perfect fit for a software as a service delivery model? And most importantly, what is it about that software as a service delivery model that's allowing start-ups like LogicGate to really make headway?

KK: Well first of all, Megan, I think the real winners here are customers, those who are making investments in managing risk and compliance. Risk and compliance needs change so fast that the technology has to be flexible enough to keep up. People and processes change. And before companies like LogicGate, routine change orders required trained personnel and complicated adjustments, and it affects the company's ability to be innovative and responsive, makes them too slow or even unresponsive. The giants in this market didn't really grow up in a SaaS business model. They were what is referred to as an on-premise or on-prem model with kind of a late nineties code base. And those legacy GR players have done really very little to do the things in their product and in their business model to provide adaptability and an excellent customer experience. We've got an opportunity to change that here at LogicGate and in the governance risk and compliance market.

MP: Great. What else would you say, Karry, is exciting about risk and compliance, or GRC, today?

KK: Yeah, the market is really wide open for a company to set the pace for the rest of the pack and for the industry. It's a very fragmented competitive landscape with a few, as I said earlier, large expensive solution providers that have been widely panned by customers as rigid and too costly. So that presents really the perfect conditions for disruption, sort of the perfect storm. Customers demand a simpler user experience. They demand almost a point solution implementation curve, and a lot closer to a point solution price than a really monolithic system at a really expensive price.

MP: I think you're right on. I think the market is demanding more of these GRC providers. LogicGate is fitting into a sweet spot there that is really carving out a path that hasn't been there before. Where else do you see the market going in the future?

KK: I think the need for GRC is only getting stronger. There's a number of players providing solutions, but only a small number of true winners in the current sort of group of companies in our space, including LogicGate, that will emerge to set this new standard for usability and effectiveness, combined with affordability. It's really a great time to be in GRC.

MP: Awesome. And finally, if you are following us on LinkedIn, you might've seen a post that Karry had, a little bit about an element that he does to instill a positive culture at every company that he goes to. And really it was an article on LinkedIn talking about how he starts a rock band, and he has started one at LogicGate. So we'd love to talk a little bit more about that. Tell us why you do this at every company you go to and what does it mean to you?

KK: Yeah, thanks for asking me that question. I love this question. The short story here is why not? I like to find something fun and unique to do in the context of the work environment, and I love music and pop culture, as do so many others. And I'm really just trying to create an opportunity for my coworkers to express themselves in a different way, and to kind of bring their full selves to work. It ends up being a lot of fun to do these kinds of things. And although our band, which is called Logic and the Goats, has the ability to be pretty good, we're not going to be quitting our day jobs, I promise you.

MP: Absolutely awesome. Well, thank you so much, Karry, for joining us on another episode of GRC & Me.

KK: Great to be here. Thanks.