2014

2014

Michael Wu, Chief Scientist, Lithium Technologies

  • Episode: 84
Michael Wu, Chief Scientist, Lithium Technologies
Michael  Wu
Chief Scientist
Lithium Technologies

Dr. Michael Wu is the Chief Scientist at Lithium Technologies. Michael received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s Biophysics graduate program, where he modeled visual processing within the human brain using math, physics, and machine learning. He is currently applying similar data-driven methodologies to investigate and understand the complex dynamics of the social web. Michael developed the Facebook Engagement Index (FEI), Community Health Index (CHI) and many predictive social analytics with actionable insights. His R&D work at Lithium won him recognition as a 2010 Influential Leader by CRM Magazine.

In addition to the purely empirical methods, Michael also leverages social principles that govern human behavior (from sociology and anthropology, to behavioral economics and psychology, etc.) to decipher the intricate human components of social interactions.

Through this combined bottom-up and top-down approach, Michael has developed a sophisticated predictive model of influence and an evaluative framework for understanding gamification. To tackle challenging open problems (i.e., the value of WOM, social ROI, or the loyalty implications of gamification, etc.), Michael collaborates with academicians to conduct research on these unsolved problems.

Michael believes in knowledge dissemination. He speaks internationally at universities, conferences, and enterprises on his findings. His research and insights have been compiled and published in The Science of Social and The Science of Social 2.

Michael was a DOE fellow during his graduate career and was awarded four years of full fellowship under the Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. During his fellowship tenure, he served at the Los Alamos National Lab conducting research in face recognition. Prior to his Ph.D., Michael received his triple major undergraduate degree in Applied Math, Physics, and Molecular & Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

Transcript

Michael:         

(00:03) Hello, welcome to episode number 84 of CXOTalk. Today we’re going to talk about data and analytics. I’m Michael Krigsman and my co-host Vala Afshar is a weary Vala today. He’s weary Vala Afshar because he was in Bali this week and he spent two days travelling in each direction and he was there for two days and he actually just got back. So he is not with us today, and so Vala, if you’re out there we’re thinking of you.

(00:43) But we are going to have a great show and we are here today joined by Michael Wu, who is the chief scientist at Lithium Technologies. Michael, how are you?

Michael:         

(00:55) I’m doing fine thank you.

Michael:         

(00:57) Well it’s great that you’re here with us and today we are going to learn about data and analytics. So let’s start by give us a sense of your personal background and tell us a little bit about Lithium and your role at what you do at Lithium.

Michael:         

(01:18) Okay, my background I would say that – well ready want to start! Shall I start like when I was born!

Michael:         

(01:30) Actually we have had people on CXOTalk start at during the time of leading up to high school and then high school and college, but how about your more recent work experience.

Michael:         

(01:44) Cool, okay. So I’m the chief scientist at Lithium and so some people call that a digital scientist but to me they are all the same. Basically we crunch numbers, test models and build models to predict things. In this case we try to understand social media, social customer behaviour on different social channels and predict their behaviour and predict their effect of their behaviour on the effects of business.

(02:20) That’s in short the focus of my research and what I do day to day consists of prototyping algorisms, writing code to thought leadership and for example participating in this show.

(02:41) So I was going to tell a little about Lithium. So Lithium is a social customer experience platform so we help big brands connect better to their customersand that’s basically our mission.

(02:56) We do that three different ways. Basically we provide a community platform that allows brands to build a community for their most passionate customers, to basically help them advocate about their product, to advocates of their products and self-support. And we also have a social media response portal which basically it’s one place where you can respond to all the conversations on social media; on Twitter, Facebook on Google Plus wherever those conversations maybe.

(03:30) Finally we have recently acquired cloud and that’s also another platform that helps brands connect to the influencers that are relevant to their brands, and basically help them scale their marketing efforts and create those medias.

Michael:         

(03:49) So you’re the chief scientist at Lithium and what does that mean and what does the chief scientist actually do.

Michael:         

(04:05) Well it’s a lot of things, so like I said a large part of it is crunching numbers, building models, and testing those models. Once we have built a model and validated that it actually works and is actually predictive, and one of my professors used to tell me you know, as a scientist you have two missions in life. One is you have to do good research to advance the field.

(04:32)Two, is that you have to essentially disseminate the knowledge and educate people. If you don’t do that basically knowledge gets shelved away on a shelf somewhere and nobody benefits from that. so that’s what I do.

Michael:         

(04:51) So as we talk about analytics a big focus of your work is creating very practical results. So why don’t we start with some examples of big data and how it’s useful and how big data can give us non-intuitive insight or understanding about what’s going on. So give us a couple of examples.

Michael:         

Michael:         

(00:03) Hello, welcome to episode number 84 of CXOTalk. Today we’re going to talk about data and analytics. I’m Michael Krigsman and my co-host Vala Afshar is a weary Vala today. He’s weary Vala Afshar because he was in Bali this week and he spent two days travelling in each direction and he was there for two days and he actually just got back. So he is not with us today, and so Vala, if you’re out there we’re thinking of you.

(00:43) But we are going to have a great show and we are here today joined by Michael Wu, who is the chief scientist at Lithium Technologies. Michael, how are you?

Michael:         

(00:55) I’m doing fine thank you.

Michael:         

(00:57) Well it’s great that you’re here with us and today we are going to learn about data and analytics. So let’s start by give us a sense of your personal background and tell us a little bit about Lithium and your role at what you do at Lithium.

Michael:         

(01:18) Okay, my background I would say that – well ready want to start! Shall I start like when I was born!

Michael:         

(01:30) Actually we have had people on CXOTalk start at during the time of leading up to high school and then high school and college, but how about your more recent work experience.

Michael:         

(01:44) Cool, okay. So I’m the chief scientist at Lithium and so some people call that a digital scientist but to me they are all the same. Basically we crunch numbers, test models and build models to predict things. In this case we try to understand social media, social customer behaviour on different social channels and predict their behaviour and predict their effect of their behaviour on the effects of business.

(02:20) That’s in short the focus of my research and what I do day to day consists of prototyping algorisms, writing code to thought leadership and for example participating in this show.

(02:41) So I was going to tell a little about Lithium. So Lithium is a social customer experience platform so we help big brands connect better to their customersand that’s basically our mission.

(02:56) We do that three different ways. Basically we provide a community platform that allows brands to build a community for their most passionate customers, to basically help them advocate about their product, to advocates of their products and self-support. And we also have a social media response portal which basically it’s one place where you can respond to all the conversations on social media; on Twitter, Facebook on Google Plus wherever those conversations maybe.

(03:30) Finally we have recently acquired cloud and that’s also another platform that helps brands connect to the influencers that are relevant to their brands, and basically help them scale their marketing efforts and create those medias.

Michael:         

(03:49) So you’re the chief scientist at Lithium and what does that mean and what does the chief scientist actually do.

Michael:         

(04:05) Well it’s a lot of things, so like I said a large part of it is crunching numbers, building models, and testing those models. Once we have built a model and validated that it actually works and is actually predictive, and one of my professors used to tell me you know, as a scientist you have two missions in life. One is you have to do good research to advance the field.

(04:32)Two, is that you have to essentially disseminate the knowledge and educate people. If you don’t do that basically knowledge gets shelved away on a shelf somewhere and nobody benefits from that. so that’s what I do.

Michael:         

(04:51) So as we talk about analytics a big focus of your work is creating very practical results. So why don’t we start with some examples of big data and how it’s useful and how big data can give us non-intuitive insight or understanding about what’s going on. So give us a couple of examples.

Michael:         

(05:17) Okay, so let me cite an example from my work, but I think this is a really interesting example.

(05:25) So there’s a company called  ZestFinance and basically you can apply for loans there and what’s interesting is that they find that when people fill out the application form would only upper case the lower case letters, they are more likely to default. But that’s interesting and that’s something that you wouldn’t have expected. You probably expect that in their payment patterns, their financial situation and all of the traditional underwriting mechanisms when they look at when they underwrite.

(06:05) Those are thefactors that affect the loan default rate, but it turns out the way a person types or fills out the form actually matters somehow. We don’t exactly know what the mechanism is yet, but we could hypothesis and maybe people who fill out the form with proper lettering cases. They are more careful and more detailed orientated and therefore they are probably more successful and more you know better off financially and better off, or better off to pay off the loan.

(06:46)So maybe that’s a hypothesize mechanism that but we don’t actually know what the mechanism is, but you know it’s possible it could be a mechanism but this is what you can find. You can find these unexpected factors.

(07:01) So what they do is that they actually leverage these insights, so the data is just pages and pages of loan application. But the insight and the information that derives from this data is that people have actually a lower default rate when they actually fill out the form with proper cases.

Michael:         

(07:28) So you don’t know what the reason is but you’re able to develop formulas and analysis the data in order to develop basically predictive causality, is that a correct way to say it.

Michael:         

(07:42) Yeah, so the causality could go either way so we’re not sure where the causality is yet but that remains to be tested. But what we find is that there is a correlation. When they actually leverage this insight and put into action and then say, okay, now if I use this as one of the factors in my underwriting and determine,you know, it’s not also to determine but also it adds to the traditional factors that you consider.

(08:19) Then they actually what they see is that they can actually lower their overall default rate. So that means in this case it is causal and if they actually take actions on this and it didn’t affect their loan default rate then we will know it’s not causal.  

(08:37) So whether it’s causal, the analysis will give you correlation and when you actually experiment with it and try out, that’s when you are able to figure out whether it is causal or not.

Michael:         

(08:48) So the analysis you said gives you a correlation, but then you actually have to do run the experiments in the real world in order to see if it’s causality.

Michael:         

(09:00) Yeah, that’s actually the easiest way to determine and figure out causality is to experiment with it. you know traditionally in the media industry very similar things happen is that you could go and buy media and don’t actually know whether it’s having an effect on their sales or their business KPI.

(09:26) What they see is a correlation, when they show ads sales go up, but then it could be the other way. It could be people are buying your stuff and they like the look of the ads to find out more about you, so the way they actually prove that is causal is that they could just shut off the add and see if it comes back down and then show the ads again and see if it goes back up. In

(09:49) So the fact that you can experiment with it, you can turn it on turn it off at any time and then your business KPI just follows that, that’s a sign of causality.

Michael:         

(10:03) Now you mentioned the differences between how data is analyzed in the present and the past. So before we go deeper into the data scientist, maybe give us some more background or explanation about data collection analysis and the past versus today using modern techniques like what you’re involved with developing.

Michael:         

(10:30) So I think you know there isn’t any business that don’t use data. I think you know throughout the history of business we’ve been using data all along. It’s just that today we have much more data and we can collect that much more efficiently, and store it and retrieve it much more efficiently.

(10:51) So and if you want to kind of understand how the data has been used previously before there was big data technology, then let’s look at atypical scenario. Say when you have a problem that you want to address, a business problem.

(11:08) Typically you start with that problem. You encounter some problem and you asked your analyst to go out and collect the data and then the data that you collected is collected specifically to address those problems, right, that’s why they are highly relevant.

(11:24) So as a result and you know like the traditional use of data is very relevant, but with big data technology such as todo, hive, and pig and this non-sequel technology. Basically, what it allows us to do is that now you can actually collect data before you even have a question. So you can collect data irrespective of any purpose or problem in mind, so you can collect it anyway because this is cheap and not expensive.

(11:57) So what that does it makes the data a lot more noisier, because it is not collected to solve any particular problem. So when you actually do have a problem you now have to go and look at your big data store and basically filter out that data that isn’t relevant to the problem.

Michael:         

(12:17) So in the past you had to be very specific about the problem you were trying to solve, and therefore the data that you needed to collect. Whereas now you can be a large vacuum cleaner.

Michael:         

(12:33) Yeah, to suck up everything.

Michael:         

(12:38) Then you can analyze it, operate on it later and then you can form the questions subsequently as well.

Michael:         

(12:48) That’s right. I mean that’s one of the advantages is that you can look at what interesting problem you can address with the data that you have, as well as going a traditional way.

(12:58) The traditional way you start with the problem and now with data you can also reverse, but typically in most business you still start with the problem. It’s just that now you have an extra step in filtering out the irrelevant data, because some data may not be relevant for you to address the problem.

Michael:         

(13:19) But what about really large companies and I’m thinking of say, Google or Facebook or a larger scale the NSA. I mean it seems that these companies are just collecting everything and these companies and the government is collecting everything they can get their hands on.

(13:40) So in that case it’s not deterministic at all, right. You’re just – whatever data we can get is good. Any data is good data, is that an accurate statement?

Michael:         

(13:48) Well any data is good data and is dependent on the problem – well I would say that’s not completely true. I think it’s true in the kind of the idealistic case, because you don’t know what problem you may have in the future.

(14:06) So say I collected some for example with ZestFinance, they actually did not as people did you fill out your form with lower case but just had the information anyway. That information is actually available and is not explicit, but you can actually look at all the application form and look at whether the people fill out the forms with the proper casing and capitalization, or they only use upper and lowercase.

(14:41) So that’s information just available in the data and it may be seen or considered irrelevant before, but later when you actually do the analysis it turns out it’s not irrelevant and it’s actually correlated. Then when you actually experiment and test it in the real world you actually found that to be causal and it’s actually predictive. So it’s actually very relevant in that case.

(15:07) So I think that you may not actually know what the data is useful for in the future, right. It may not be useful for you now, but in the future who knows.     

Michael:         

(15:19) So there is a transformation then that has to take place where you are making some broad assumptions about the type of problem that you may want to solve, and the type of data that is available to you.

(15:42) So lead us through the type of the kind of transformation that has to take place and the logic for the process that gets you from this large vacuum cleaning mass of data that we are sucking up to something that is useful and ultimately actionable.

Michael:         

(16:00) So today what big data technology enables business to do is really still at the largely infrastructure layer of all this big data technology that you’ve heard of like Hive, they work at the infrastructure layer.

(16:22) But what business really wants is the insights of the information that will help them make better decisions, so for example, whether to give this person a loan or not. So one of the surprising insights is that actually if people fill out the form with proper capitalization is actually determining whether they default or not. So those are the insights that business wants.

(16:55) So the data is actually just the application form that’s stored and you can search it and retrieve it. So what that means is that big data technology today is actually not meeting the needs of most businesses yet. What they do really well is to foundation the infrastructure layer and what the businesses actually want is to get the insights from that data.

(17:27) So what we need is basically analytics and data visualizations that will help us crunch this data and to extract the information and insights and make them available to the business decision-makers, so they can actually take action on those insights.

(17:45) I think that you know the next phase of big data revolution will be essentially proliferation of these analytic algorithms - very general algorithms that are out there for people to take advantage of.

(18:02) For example you could have a pile that is influenced algorithm. If you give me your data I will calculate and figure out the influencer for you, and maybe in the future there will be more of these types of algorithms. If you give me the data for this person’s tweets, I could figure out whether they are male or female, their age from just what they talk about and their linguistic profile.

(18:30) So there may be these types of algorithms that is provided as a service that you can use.

Michael:         

(18:36) But when I think of how most companies use data today and when I think about the products like enterprise software companies provide, and as far as I can tell from the most part it’s collecting data and then operating on that data and looking backwards. So now you have a dashboard that really is in truth, even although these software companies call it analytics. In truth, what it really is a pretty visual story summarizing their data. You’re talking about something different than that.

Michael:         

(19:18) I mean I think that big data is that it has this maturity journey as well. I think people need to be become sophisticated and learn about how to use data and how to use these algorithms.

(19:35) So speaking about getting raw data to the information insights that people actually want there are actually three categories or three classes of I think analytics that people can do to get to the insights.

(19:54) The first-class is basically what you just described, that these are what I call descriptive analytics and they usually show them in dashboards and when you have seen in a dashboard it is a summary of what has happened. It is a summary of historical data that you have collected. So whether they show me an aggregated or to sum it up, or to average it and do some simple computation on it, it’s a summary. So those are descriptive analytics and I would say that 80% of most of the analytics that most companies do fall into that category.

Michael:         

(20:40) Basically it’s a summary report, it usually presented in a dashboard, a visual format. Only now we can say, well it is also mobile responsive and it has got all sorts of fancy features, but basically you are talking about reporting.

Michael:         

(20:58) That’s right. So that’s what I call descriptive analytics. That’s basically you are just trying to summarized what has happened. But there is also two other classes of analytics that’s really useful for people to essentially get from data to insights.

(21:16) One is the next class and we have talked about this a little bit and that’s predictive analytics and then the next class is more advanced and you do prescriptive analytics.

(21:30) Usually the maturity of I think of anybody or even whether it is a company or person, you always start with descriptive analytics and then if you get enough data you become more sophisticated and then you could actually build predictive analytics. And if you are more advanced then you essentially do prescriptive analytics.

Michael:         

(21:54) So we have descriptive analytics which is essentially pretty reporting, and often at times position by software companies as predictive analytics even although it’s really not. Then we have predictive analytics that tell us the future in a sense. Then we have prescriptive analytics and so you drill down a bit in the differences between predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Michael:         

(22:24) So that’s very interesting, so in some way I would say that some people, prescriptive analytics and do summary reports predictive analytics. I think in some cases they can be used and I think these are situations that I would say the dynamics change very slowly.

(22:46) For example if you want to predict weather tomorrow is going to rain or not, you can always say it’s the same as today, right because the weather doesn’t change very abruptly. So if you just predict the same as today and you will pretty much get it right most of the time and it’s probably not good enough, but you’ll get it pretty close.

(23:08) So one way I would say that is the simplest type of predictive analytics is a trend line. I trend line is a predictive analytics that everyone is familiar with. You look at the data and the follow some trend and basically you can see that if you continue to follow this trend to moral or in the future it will be this value.

(23:38) So if it gets hotter and hotter and the summer is coming and right now it is getting colder and colder and winter is coming, then you know that tomorrow is probably going to follow a similar trend. So a trend line is a simplest I would say type of predictive analytics.

(23:55) But I would say that predictive analytics – I want to emphasize a point that they don’t have to predict in the time domain. They don’t have to predict I would say in the future. You can actually predict things in the past as well, but these are called the general predictive analytics. Basically, in this case you are trying to use data that you have to predict data that you don’t have. That’s what predictive analytics really allows you to do.

(24:30) So in the case of temporal prediction, when you are trying to project in the future, the data that you have are historical data and the data that you don’t have is future data which you can never have, right. Nobody can actually go to the future and measure what happens in the future. So all predictions about the future and even although they look the same that if I predict tomorrow’s weather and it’s going to be 60° I could predict that.

(25:01)That’s a number and you can plot out the same graph store it and retrieve it exactly the same way as the measured data that you can actually have. You can measure today’s data, but notice that the difference is here.

(25:13) Tomorrow’s temperature is not actually measure, nobody can actually measure tomorrow’s temperature. You can’t go to the future tomorrow and measure that tomorrow is going to be 60° and come back and report it.

(25:24) Tomorrow’s temperature is actually predictive and actually a result of computation and the output of some model that is not being measured, so that’s one distinction that I wanted to draw for the people to understand.

(25:41) If you understand that then basically predictive analytics is really simple and it’s basically what you put into a model and the output of the models tells you something that you don’t already know and you don’t have. Those armed basically predictive analytics.

(26:00) I would say in social media there are a couple of times of predictive analytics that people are actually familiar with. For example, sentiment analysis, that’s actually a predictive analytics. Sentiment analytics is that nobody actually goes out and report that and their sentiment is positive for Apple or android or whatever. They just say I love my iPhone I love my new android and they will speak it in natural language.

(26:30) So the natural language is the data that we have, the input and the model looks at the use of linguistic processing, you know natural language processing and its statistical model. So when built a model people use these this type of language that typically means that they have positive sentiment or negative sentiment. So it’s actually computed and it has not actually been measured.

Michael:         

(26:57) Okay, let’s come back to that in a moment and we have a comment from Twitter and I’ll just tell everybody that we are talking with Michael Wu who is the chief scientist of Lithium and really one of the top practitioner, practical data scientists in the world. So this is your opportunity to ask him whatever you want and I encourage you to ask questions.

(27:26) But we have a comment from Alan Duncan, who is an analytics analyst at Gartner. He makes the point of talking about the type of data collection that you are discussing earlier, so Alan says, if you don’t have a problem was the point of collecting data. Data only exists for some purpose as he calls it horse feathers.

Michael:         

(27:54) I would say that it shows time horizon. If it’s a problem that’s never going to be dealt with in a year or two or five years or something like that, then you probably don’t care. But for if you are talking about the NSA or something like that, they’re time horizon is much longer. So they may have to look back to when they were born, 20 years ago, so all this data becomes important when you actually look at your time horizon is much longer. So it depends on different types of problems that essentially has different time horizons and different timescale.

(28:48) For business, because business I would say changes fairly rapidly and the market changes pretty quickly, so I would say things that are maybe too old or too outdated, or maybe you don’t have to keep them. But for an organisation like NSA and the problem that they deal with has a much longer time horizon and you do have to keep that data. Even although they may not have value for you today, but they may be valuable 20 years later and you don’t know that.

(29:29) I mean the problem may not show up here today, but the problem may arise 20 years later. But if you wait until 20 years later and say, and then you realise that oh shoot I didn’t collect that data then it’s too late.

Michael:         

(29:43) So, time is clearly a function of relevance, or relevance is a function of time plus other factors.

Michael:         

(29:55) That’s right. I would say that it is context. Relevance is context specific. Context specific means it’s relevant to who, when, where and for example if I’m travelling, like a few weeks ago I was travelling in Budapest so the weather there and the traffic there is really relevant to me. It may not be relevant to you because you’re not there, but this week I came back to San Francisco and saw the weather there or the traffic there is no longer relevant to me and I don’t really care about it.

(30:32) So if I have to keep track of the data I have to solve problems as to getting around places and I don’t have to keep a couple of weeks, because I know where I’m going to be. But after I get to places then I need to know where to get food, what’s the best restaurants, so those are what I would say relevant data and relevant information for me when I’m there.

(30:58) So basically it’s the who, where, when, and what and basically all the context of the problem that you are trying to solve. Right, so for me right I’m trying to get there and make sure that I can get around, get to places and to speak beyond time and also enjoy the food there and all of that. So that’s a problem I am trying to solve.

(31:25) So what’s relevant and what is not relevant is determined by the problem you’re trying to solve, so if this data actually addresses this problem then it’s relevant, but what is relevant is specific to the problem. But if you have the same problem as I am and that same data will be relevant to you. If you don’t have the same problem as I am, then those data will not be relevant to you.

Michael:         

(31:48) So we were talking before about sentiment and social media and I know that in your work you’re very careful to connect the analysis that you do to what you call actionable results.

Michael:         

(32:07) So that’s how to deal with the third class in analytics and that’s what I call prescriptive analytics, so let me just give you an example of what prescriptive analytics is.

(32:22) So the simplest type of predictive analytics is a trend line, and the simplest prescriptive is for example Google map, it tells you where you need to go. It has prescribed a route for you to get to where you want to go that’s in essence what it does. But just as in predictive analytics it doesn’t have to happen in the timeframe domain to predict things right, predict peoples sentiment in this sentiment domain.

(32:57) once you have a model you can predict things in the past you can put the Bible through a predictive sentiment classifier, and you can actually see when particular characters in the Bible is angry or happy or something like that.

(33:17) You can predict things in the past. So the same thing for prescriptive analytics, they don’t have to happen in the geospatial domain also, they can happen in the business domain or where the destination or the goal that you want to get to is some business KPI for example, I want to achieve the highest customer satisfaction or the greatest lift in revenue, those would be your business KPI that you are trying to. And prescriptive analytics will prescribe you what you need to do and what you need to focus on in order to get to those KPI.

Michael:         

(33:56) So how do you know, how does the business now what are the appropriate KPI’s and therefore the right type of analytics to apply. What’s that determination?

Michael:         

(34:09) The business knows what KPI they measure on and it’s the same traditional business KPI. There is no difference. Basically, social media metrics – these are operational metrics, I mean the number of impressions, number of fans, number of followers – all of these are what I call operational metrics. These are not business level KPI.

(34:40) Let me step back a little bit. If the goal of the business is to have more fans – I don’t know if any business exists, then that would be a business KPI. Most businesses are not out there to get more fans, most businesses out there are to make more money or to save money or to serve customers.

Michael:         

(35:04) Actually if we think about many start-ups, especially social start-ups who are not focused on revenue their measurement is that do we have more fans. Do we have a growing user base, even although it may be free but they know it’s costing them money and they are in effect subsidizing every one of those users. So I think that use cases are real ones.

Michael:         

(35:25) Yeah so I think in that case during those early phases then if that’s the goal of their business then that would be the proper KPI for them. But if your business is not mature enough, for example you have shareholders where you have to make sure that they are profitable then that would be your KPI. You’re not a start-up anymore and then – if you are start-up, yes maybe that could be your KPI for a while, but eventually they will have to shift over to the more traditional type of KPI, so pretty standard the traditional business KPI.

Michael:         

(36:13) So good data just tweeted an interesting chart describing different types of analytics and in addition to descriptive, predictive and prescriptive they added diagnostic. So and they say, diagnostic is why did this happen and what insights can I gain. So it’s sort of sits between prescriptive and predictive.

Michael:         

(36:38) I would would say that is still descriptive analytics. Descriptive analytics tells you what happened and you can use that data. Diagnostic or not diagnostic is really a use of the data. You can use predictive analytics or descriptive analytics or even prescriptive analytics to diagnose what happened in your business process or your data collection process, and operation and all of that.

(37:04) So that’s what I would say an application distinction, I mean how the data is being manipulated or modelled perspective.

Michael:         

(37:19) So now let’s go back to social media. With social media we tend to focus on what some people call vanity metrics. How many people like us and the things that feed our ego like the things that you were describing earlier will make us feel good. But you’ve made the point that those type of metrics and simply looking at these type of metrics are far less important, than understanding our customers and their needs and how are we going to get more customers. So maybe link all of that up for us.

Michael:         

(37:57) I think whether it is descriptive, predictive or prescriptive, the ultimate goal is to help business decision-makers and also to be able to take actions on the analytics of the data that they see.

(38:20) So that means action ability is really important, which I haven’t really defined in what it is yet, but this is actually a term that has been thrown around and a lot of people say that they provide actionable analytics, but what do they actually mean. So maybe I will take a little digression a little bit to kind of discussed that before answering your question.

(38:46) So actionable is a type of analytics and is also prescriptive analytics. Prescriptive analytics, remember it has to tell you a course of action where you can take the action and affect the outcome. If you cannot take an action then basically it’s not prescriptive analytics.

(39:19) So with prescriptive analytics there are two things that are actually important. One is that we have to understand prescriptive analytics is a specific type of prescriptive analytics, in a sense of let’s take a look at prescriptive analytics in the problem of temporal predictions, and say you are trying to predict tomorrow’s weather.

(39:39) So that’s a very simple problem that everybody understands and we know that if we look at the near future, say tomorrow or two days from now. We can predict the weather in these couple of days very well, but if we look further and further into the future, let’s say a week, 10 days, or maybe a month then your prediction gets worse and worse.

(40:03) So there is this notion of what we call a predictive window, and that means within this window the error that you make in prediction is still acceptable to you. So that’s what we call a predictive window.

(40:19) We talk about action ability, you have to have another measure cold reaction time and that means basically these are the time that it takes for you to act or to take action against what you have learned from this predictive analytics - these predictions. So one of the most important criteria for action ability is that your reaction time has to be shorter than the predictive window, let me illustrate what that means.

(40:47) With the weather prediction again, so we can predict weather pretty good and pretty well say for like a week – five days to 10 days or something like that, we can predict weather pretty well within that time range. If you try to predicted further in the future the error gets pretty big and becomes not very useful to us.

(41:13) So wants the reaction time for us to take action against the insight of what we can learn from this model. Probably, if we know that tomorrow is going to rain you just bring an umbrella and it takes you only a day at the most to take action against it. So in this case the reaction time is to take action is about a day, but the predictive window is accurate up to maybe 10 days. So in this case the reaction time is shorter than the predictive window and that means the weather models today is actually an actionable model.

(41:50) Let’s take a look at a more difficult problem. Let’s say earthquake prediction.

(41:57) So today, earthquake prediction is actually not very good and we can actually only predict may be a few seconds before the earthquake actually happens. So what is the reaction time for us to take action against this prediction – the insight that we learn from this prediction. If we know that the earthquake is going to happen it will probably take us in the order of minutes to tens of minutes to get to safety or prepare ourselves for an earthquake.

(42:26) So I would say in this case the reaction time is tens of minutes, which is much longer than the predictive window which is in the order of a few seconds. So in this earthquake model is what we call a non-actionable model and that means that even although it can provide you with an insight basically you can’t really act on it and basically have to prepare yourself to get ready to do preparation ahead of time, to make sure that when it’s going to happen you can act right away.    

Michael:         

(43:02) So we are almost out of time, but we have another question from Twitter which is a kind of interesting one and it connects back to what we were talking about earlier about social media and sentiment and all of that. This is from Christopher Kelly, who says he’s wondering if your thoughts on how we can measure the value of brand awareness if it’s not monetarily, if it’s not about money. Are there other ways to measure the value of brand awareness using data?

Michael:         

(43:34) Yeah, I think ultimately it still comes down to money eventually, right. It’s just that it may not come to your next quarter and it may be 20 years later. Like the branding, Coca-Cola has been around for so long and look at the value of the brand there. So I think it still comes down to the monetary value eventually, but you have to look at a much longer time horizon there.

(44:07) That means a lot of factors go into beyond just awareness, People’s sentiment about this particular brand and all that stuff. I think these all go into that, but I don’t think this is a simple question to answer. I think you have to do a much more longer time in analysis to see the long-term effect to understand the value of a brand awareness.

Michael:         

(44:37) So we are almost running out of time again, but before we go, give us practical simple advice first for marketers and second for individuals who want to improve their awareness on social media, because that’s actually what everybody wants.

Michael:         

(45:12) Well I would say for business, you should definitely start out with some business problem. I think data, as somebody tweeted, when you don’t have a problem that the data is actually not providing value and that is true, but you don’t know what problem you may have in the future. So the problem is actually very important.

(45:37) So if you can and you want to have big data initiative or a big data strategy, first identify some problems so that the data that you collected have more immediate value. Certainly, they will have a longer shelf life, they may have value and they may prove valuable in 10 or 20 years down the line. But you don’t realise the value until you actually address a problem 10 or 20 years down the line, so that I would say latent value and you don’t realise those yet.

(46:09) Then you basically have to see what kind of attributes or what information and what insights you can get from this data, they are actually predictive of these business level KPI. Whether it is revenue lift, brand awareness and in terms of the long run it still comes down to value.

(46:34) So for individuals, I think there are I would say that there is lots of data out there about people’s consumption of social media or participation in social media. And you can actually look at that data.

(46:48) I actually write a blog myself and for me I’m actually very interested in how much should I write, how frequently should I write to get the biggest bang for my effort. Certainly if you are a company, that may not be the problem. Certainly if you write more you certainly are going to get more page view, but I am actually resource constraint and I don’t have a lot of time.

(47:18)So I actually wanted to see and I typically like to look at metrics, something like an output per unit input. So how many page views I get per blog I write. So certainly if you write more blog you’re going to get more page view, but you get a diminish in return when you write more.

(47:39) Certainly when you write one every minute and if somebody can actually write one blog every minute a lot of those blogs will just get pushed away and they will get read. So actually you get a lot of page view per blog you may get overall more page view, but you may not actually get more page view per blog.

(47:59) But if you don’t write frequently enough then people certainly your readership will drop off as well. So there is some kind of middle ground where you will get the most page view per blog that you write.

(48:17) So what’s the frequency, what’s the right frequency for that. For my own blog I actually done some analysis and it turns out to be somewhere between 11 and 12 days and that’s the frequency I should publish so, to get the most views per blog.

(48:34) You can do some simple type analysis like that for yourself so that you maximize your social media efforts.

Michael:         

(48:43) Okay, well this could go on for a long time and I want to thank you. We’ve been talking with Michael Wu, who is the chief scientist of Lithium Technologies, and I hope I’ve understood a fraction of what you have told us today. Thank you so much Michael for joining us, it’s been a very insightful conversation and I really appreciate all of the tweets and the questions that we had as well. I hope you will come back and join us again Michael another time.

Michael:         

(49:15) It’s my pleasure I’d love to come back sometime.

Michael:         

(49:19) And everybody who has been watching, thank you so much and to my friendly co-host, Vala Afshar, wherever you are out there in the world I hope it’s going well and we’ll see you again next week, and everybody will see you again next week, same time, same place on CXOTalk. Thank you so much, bye-bye.

Chris Hummel, CMO, Schneider Electric

  • Episode: 91
Chris Hummel, CMO, Schneider Electric
Chris Hummel
CMO
Schneider Electric

Chris Hummel is Chief Marketing Office of Schneider Electric. He has a 25-year career in enterprise sales and marketing and is a globally-recognized thought leader, widely-respected among senior executives in the technology industry and among global chief marketing officers.  He is a true international executive, having lived, worked, and successfully led organizations around the globe, including the US, UK, Germany, Russia, China, Singapore and several other countries.  He is married with three children.


Before joining Schneider-Electric, Chris most recently served as Chief Commercial Officer for Unify, a global leader in communications and collaboration technologies.  In this role, Chris managed the full rebranding of the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications to Unify and architected the commercial vision for Project Ansible, a next generation cloud platform for unifying business communications. He’d also served as President of North America and Chief Marketing Officer at Unify.  Previously, Chris served as Executive Vice President of Global Field Marketing for SAP AG, where he managed an organization that annually generated more than 7 billion US-Dollars in qualified opportunities. Prior to SAP, Chris spent 13 years at Oracle Corporation in a number of senior sales, services and marketing roles.

Transcript

Michael:         

(00:02) Everybody knows that the internet of things is one of the big hot topics today. And on CXOTalk, episode number 91, we’re going to explore the internet of things and we’re going to explore IT and OT and we’re going to learn what OT means and the connection to IT on CXOTalk. And I’m Michael Krigsman, here with Vala Afshar my co-host. Vala how are you?

Vala:   

(00:32) I nearly jumped out of my seat with that intro. I’m doing great and super excited to have one of the smartest CMO’s in any industry and in any geography on the show with us today.

Michael:         

(00:42) Yes we have Chris Hummel, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of Schneider Electric, which is probably one of the largest companies that you are not familiar with their brand name. It’s a huge company, Chris how are you?

Chris:  

(00:58) I’m doing very well. You make it sound that I shouldn’t have a job with that intro.

Michael:         

(01:03) Well you’re a $30 billion company, so I guess there is a lot of work that’s being done at Schneider Electrics and a lot of customers.

Chris:  

(01:13) There is indeed. I mean to give everybody a quick introduction. First of all guys, great to be on the show. Thank you for having me. We are clearly a $25 billion euro if not a $31 – 32 billion US. It’s primarily an industrial company that is focused on doing power management for the last 170 years. But over the last couple of decades we’ve been buying a bunch of companies, building out or portfolio, so it’s really it’s not just a power thing from plant to plug. It’s more now industrial automation.

(01:50) It’s sustainability services. It’s everything from the light switches in your house up to pipeline management. So we’re really transforming into a technology company and I think this is why it’s interesting to talk about things like internet of things, convergence of technologies. What in the world is OT, well we’ll get into that later I guess.

Vala:   

(02:11) So Chris, can you give us a little background information about yourself. For a number of years I was a student of yours, so many of the work that I tried to emulate as a CMO is because I observed you. Rebrand a multi-million dollar company and bring a lot of excitement through digital marketing, so a little bit about your background please.

Chris:  

(02:33) That’s the first time anybody has said they have been a pupil of mine, but as humble, I thank you very much Vala.

(02:39)For those of you who are obviously interested in this, I spent about 25 years in IT and communication. So 13 years with Oracle living all around the world. Actually my first job with Oracle was the first direct sales rep in Kazakhstan, in the former Soviet Union.

(02:59) So lived in Eastern Europe for six – seven years. Moved over to Asia for a while. Came back to the US, went to the SAP, one of our big competitors at the time, which was like going to the dark side, but went to SAP, had a great run there for a couple of years, another great company big IT brand.

(03:17) And eventually, where Vala you and I obviously met was at Siemens Enterprise Communication, where they were clearly going through a restructuring, joined them as the Chief Marketing Officer, got a chance to work with both of the board members there the owners.

(03:34) And eventually we rebranded it one year ago from Siemens Enterprise Communication to Unify. Which from a marketing stand, because obviously one of the pivotal in my career, but a year ago right after that rebrand, I got an offer from Schneider Electrics and to be honest a company I’d never heard of and just realized when looked at the space of what was going on energy. What was going on in sustainability which are important in our lives. And the shifts in technology, I just couldn’t turn it down.

Michael:         

(04:05) So have said a few times that Schneider Electrics

Michael:         

(00:02) Everybody knows that the internet of things is one of the big hot topics today. And on CXOTalk, episode number 91, we’re going to explore the internet of things and we’re going to explore IT and OT and we’re going to learn what OT means and the connection to IT on CXOTalk. And I’m Michael Krigsman, here with Vala Afshar my co-host. Vala how are you?

Vala:   

(00:32) I nearly jumped out of my seat with that intro. I’m doing great and super excited to have one of the smartest CMO’s in any industry and in any geography on the show with us today.

Michael:         

(00:42) Yes we have Chris Hummel, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of Schneider Electric, which is probably one of the largest companies that you are not familiar with their brand name. It’s a huge company, Chris how are you?

Chris:  

(00:58) I’m doing very well. You make it sound that I shouldn’t have a job with that intro.

Michael:         

(01:03) Well you’re a $30 billion company, so I guess there is a lot of work that’s being done at Schneider Electrics and a lot of customers.

Chris:  

(01:13) There is indeed. I mean to give everybody a quick introduction. First of all guys, great to be on the show. Thank you for having me. We are clearly a $25 billion euro if not a $31 – 32 billion US. It’s primarily an industrial company that is focused on doing power management for the last 170 years. But over the last couple of decades we’ve been buying a bunch of companies, building out or portfolio, so it’s really it’s not just a power thing from plant to plug. It’s more now industrial automation.

(01:50) It’s sustainability services. It’s everything from the light switches in your house up to pipeline management. So we’re really transforming into a technology company and I think this is why it’s interesting to talk about things like internet of things, convergence of technologies. What in the world is OT, well we’ll get into that later I guess.

Vala:   

(02:11) So Chris, can you give us a little background information about yourself. For a number of years I was a student of yours, so many of the work that I tried to emulate as a CMO is because I observed you. Rebrand a multi-million dollar company and bring a lot of excitement through digital marketing, so a little bit about your background please.

Chris:  

(02:33) That’s the first time anybody has said they have been a pupil of mine, but as humble, I thank you very much Vala.

(02:39)For those of you who are obviously interested in this, I spent about 25 years in IT and communication. So 13 years with Oracle living all around the world. Actually my first job with Oracle was the first direct sales rep in Kazakhstan, in the former Soviet Union.

(02:59) So lived in Eastern Europe for six – seven years. Moved over to Asia for a while. Came back to the US, went to the SAP, one of our big competitors at the time, which was like going to the dark side, but went to SAP, had a great run there for a couple of years, another great company big IT brand.

(03:17) And eventually, where Vala you and I obviously met was at Siemens Enterprise Communication, where they were clearly going through a restructuring, joined them as the Chief Marketing Officer, got a chance to work with both of the board members there the owners.

(03:34) And eventually we rebranded it one year ago from Siemens Enterprise Communication to Unify. Which from a marketing stand, because obviously one of the pivotal in my career, but a year ago right after that rebrand, I got an offer from Schneider Electrics and to be honest a company I’d never heard of and just realized when looked at the space of what was going on energy. What was going on in sustainability which are important in our lives. And the shifts in technology, I just couldn’t turn it down.

Michael:         

(04:05) So have said a few times that Schneider Electrics is transforming itself into a technology company. Can you elaborate on what do you mean by that?

Chris:  

(04:20) If you think about an industrial company, right. So what we do is we primarily come from the hardware side. Just like you would see the traditional sort of shift from in the IT space where hardware used to be DEK back in the day, IBM all of that were so powerful. Shifted to software then it sort of shifted to solutions and now it’s gone up into cloud. It’s gone off into all kinds of other things and now you know, IT has gone in all kinds of different directions.

(04:50) Well, industrial technology has a much longer life cycle and we’ve kind of gone from that hardware, where we would call it engineering through to now the software and the solutions have become much more critical to what we do.

(05:03) So for example, I bet you didn’t know that Schneider Electrics is roughly the 25th largest software company in (use? 05:14). We’re a billion dollar Software Company.

(05:17) Did you know, we had a $300 million plus software to service business, right? Probably not but this is something that’s happening in the OT space, which stands for Operational Technology, for those of you who wanted to know what the acronym is for operational technology in that space.

(05:36) We are going through that similar kind of migration from hardware centric engineering to now the software of managing the process to know the solutions of integrating it all together, and I thinks that’s part of the ‘why’ I’m here. Part of the ‘why’ they know they were looking for a profile like this, and part of that transformation to really a technology company, that we’ve been undergoing for basically the last 10 years.

Vala:   

(06:05) So massive company products – many products serving global markets, developed markets,emerging markets, how do you the CMO build a culture where you can build a level of customer intimacy that’s required in the hyper-connected, however that we live, with such a massively company like Schneider Electrics.

Chris:  

(06:28) That’s a good question Vala, and you know one way is from a business strategy standpoint we have a very – let’s call it customer centric approach in that we are really trying to be local.

(06:40) Right, we are really trying to focus on speaking in front of a (Unclear 06:44).

(06:44)So a lot of the thing you would think about,septuliizationor consolidation of the manufacturing (unclear audio drifting in and out 06:53)

(06:54) We need to actually built the strategy in order for it to be dispersed. So we have manufacturing facilities all over the world. We have operations all over the world. It’s a historically French company but the US market is our number one market, China number two and France is actually number three.

(07:11) The management team, very international, based in three hubs. Based in Paris in Hong Kong and here in the northeast in the US. So first of all I come into a culture which is very much affects to be global, right? It expects to be in a decentralized collaborative environment. So people are kind of ready for it, so thank you that would be big walking in.

(07:39) ObviouslyI’ve lived in 15 different countries over my career and I was in that mindset. The second thing is coming from the technology world, I think I was a little bit more prepared in leveraging technology to manage my own team. So I’m not actually based in the location where most of my staff is. I stop all over the world and obviously I use all of the natural things we would think of in terms of archaic tools like (TEM? 08:08) and telephone.

(08:11) I’m not quite that social guy that some of you are, but none of the less you know we use videos like a constant infrastructure for us. So we use all of the poly-com systems to kind of get around.

(08:24) And we make the investment in physically meeting. So our management team is the executive committee that I sit on for the company, we meet once a month at least physically right. Even although we are all over the world, we meet once a month and I use with our marketing team, you know, I really try and use those times to develop trust when we are face-to-face, and the we can use all of the remote tools to kind of manage as we go

Vala:   

(08:50) It’s awesome to hear you say, you’re not as social because you are regularly on Twitter, you regularly blog, and you’re a CMO of a $30 billion company, which by the way in my book makes you incredibly social. Because of the peers of yours which are in the Fortune 500 are not blogging regularly and are not on mainstream public social media. So I disagree with you, you are actually quite social

Chris:  

(09:16) But it’s funny you say that right, because when I was at Schneider Enterprise and communication, and I had been there about a year and you know, Unify Communications was going through the whole – social was becoming a key element.

(09:33) Somebody on a blog called me out and me and a couple of other executive and companies and did an audit of how many (unclear 09:39) have we made. And at the time we had done five – never again, never again.

Michael:         

(09:50) Well so you talk a lot about the convergence of IT and OT. Tell us about that and the connections, the relationships to internet of things. So what’s going on with that?

Chris:  

(10:04)So the interestingthing here is you know, operational technology and energy management in particularly and we’re really a global specialist in energy management and efficiency solutions. When you’re talking about energy, your normally talking about recourse management, efficiency tools which you want to use, and to get towards sustainability, right. Sustain operation and better use of resources.

(10:29) But what’s happening now is you have sensor technology going everywhere, which is really now collecting all kinds of new data. You have computing power which is just no longer in the data center but it’s actually a the edge as well. So you have shifts in almost everything that we do.

(10:48) I mean our circuit breakers. Those things that you have in your garage, they are all connected and all part of an infrastructure and network. Then you have the ubiquities or near ubiquities communications and connectivity.

(11:02) But now all of a sudden, you are not just talking about efficiency, you’re talking about the whole possibility of levels of understanding of new capabilities of productivity and efficiency sure, but also new services that you can provide to levels of understanding of your business. You can maximize your (unclear 11:24).

(11:24) So what’s happening, I wrote a blog called the End of IT, which made a lot of people not so happy. But the idea was not so much that IT is ending, it’s the way that IT has been used as a group of IT companies offering IT capabilities is shifting to now where it is to a place like Schneider Electrics that are offering IT capabilities as a core part of moving goods.

(11:51) So what we are seeing is convergence of energy sort of connectivity and IT coming altogether and that really is the power of the Internet of things. And the Internet is the connectivity, well we are the things guys, right. We are the people that go out there and manage all the operational elements. IT is about data storage and manipulation, extraction, analysis. OT is all about taking and changing the state of operations and actually doing things and when you combined the two together, all of a sudden it opens up this whole new world of possibilities, capabilities and whatnot.

(12:37) And so not something that we are clearly going to do all by ourselves, no, we’re going to do this with partnerships. But we see this as an enormous opportunity to bring those two worlds together, play with the kind of partnerships and move forward to add value to our customers.

Vala:   

(12:53) Chris are you seeing a parallel between consumerization of IT and how the industrial infrastructure is becoming more and more connected?

Chris:  

(13:04) You do, I mean you see all of the sexy stuff right, that we were talking before the show of Google glass, Fitbit and all of the kind of stuff that are now kind of getting. The Internet of things and it’s sexy and it gets all of the attention from the consumer space. But really what you are doing is now connecting that back into the core infrastructure.

(13:24) So if you think about your refrigerators can now order stuff, okay, well your refrigerator can order stuff because it goes into a business processing system. It actually impacts the manufacturer, food and beverage or whatever it is to order more food from the supermarket.

(13:44) So the consumer, if you think about is the access point, right. The consumer is kind of elevating the number of access points for the general population. But the real shift in our society, things we have to deal with, the threats that come up in cyber security and all of this kind of stuff, those are all going to happen in the enterprise infrastructure and that’s where we are trying to fight.

Michael:         

(14:09) So what’s the relationship then between IT and the people who are implementing these OT solutions, because clearly the expertise that is required falls outside the bounds of traditional IT departments in many cases.

Chris:  

(14:27) It does and you know, there is two angles of things. First of all, we have some great partnerships with some very good IT and connectivity partners. So people like IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, HP – we have good partnerships with all of those guys, Oracle and many more.

(14:45) What’s happening is that the IT guys come from a different culture. They come from a culture of where availability is something that’s important, but you know 5×9 is okay. Well we come from a world where 5×9 isn’t good enough. Right, they have been going through Moore’s Law in IT where everything has been shrinking, that the physics of electricity going to allow us to get it wired down or get the shrinkage or that kind of stuff, we are dealing with more bog stuff. We are dealing with stuff that kills and we know that electricity is dangerous to manage.

(15:23) So what’s happening is that the guys that are – or even customers of IT that are let’s say that rewarded for innovation, whereas guys in the traditional industrialized OT world are rewarded and we are not changing. So you have got these two cultures that are now coming together that if you want to push innovation forward to more of an IT mentality. But safety, security, reliability are not just ‘want to have’, they are ‘must haves’, at a whole new different level. That you know, you have got this kind of culture clash going between the two and it’s going to require partnerships.

(16:07) IBM can’t build a smarter city all by itself it actually takes someone like Schneider Electrics to get it done and vice versa. So that cultural piece, I think is going to fall back and then the buyers it’s kind of interesting. Because traditionally, the buyers for IT and obviously CIO.

(16:24) CIO hasn’t had that much to do to plant automation. It hasn’t had that much to do in building management, but now all of the sudden you can’t have a building manager that doesn’t understand IT. So the CIO has a risk and an opportunity.

(16:41) The risk is he’s going to be moved out because he is less and he is just doing the ERP and just doing the email. Or now he has an opportunity where now all of the sudden he is not sitting on the fringe of the business, he is sitting right in front of the four operational elements of what makes you know, a food manufacturer a food manufacturer, a telecom operator a telecom operator – he is sitting right in the core of it.

(17:08) So there’s an opportunity for the CIO to actually grow their influences as well.

Vala:    (17:13) So it sounds like if you think about the roles of IT, you have got the core IT and the responsibilities of maintaining the network infrastructure and the systems of the back-office/front office systems. You have got the lines of business that demand on the CIO and the IT. Folks like you and I, digital marketeers who are looking to spend a good healthy portion of our programme spend in marketing on technology. And then you have got the connected operational infrastructure part of the house. Is that where you see the three buckets that will consume the majority of cycles from IT and the CIO.

Chris:  

(17:53) Probably, I mean certainly you know there is going to be the continually the infrastructure of IT and the transactional systems right. Then there is now what is being called the kind of systems of engagement if you want to go down Jeff Moore’s angle.

(18:10) The engagement of technologies and now, you are into not just transactions you are into interactions right, and trying to manage that and that is where big data comes in. Okay, well here’s an interesting challenge for you right.

(18:22) When you think about the big data in the marketing side, it is because we are now looking at the volume of interactions, and the number of transactions that you did. Because for every transaction there is multiple interactions. Well now, start thinking about something like a crane. So let’s imagine Shanghai where there is one of these big cranes, putting up one of these massive skyscrapers. There is a data center that is actually sitting in that crane. So we have actually built a data center into – why? Because the number of computations that needs to be handled to be managed wind speed, velocity, weight, height above sea level, gravity, shift, angle – whatever it is – load, all of those kind of things. And they have to be repeated constantly in milliseconds to manage appropriately for safety, reliability, performance, asset, life cycle – all of that kind of stuff.

(19:19) You know, the volume of information that is now going to be spit out from these sensors about operational data – wow, that’s unbelievable. So now all of a sudden a traditional CIO comes in and goes, yes, I can take that on. Or do we now actually have enough to build even more specialization of data science technology and goes down that whole real specialization angle on big data.       

(19:49) In fact coming back to the question if I can about IT and OT, one of the interesting let’s say market – I don’t want to see battles, but let’s say market questions that is out there is, who is going to manage the operational data?

(20:05) Transactional data, we know that it is a kind of a CIO who is generally managing. Who is going to manage the operational data? Are they going to come from the IT side, or is it going to come from the operational side? Because all of that stuff that we talked about of the crane for example in Shanghai, that is spitting out all of this operational data. And how do you manage the safety to make sure the system is in safe mode – these are big questions for IT guys, marketing guys, operational guys.

(20:38) Anybody who is looking at a broad spectrum of technology, these are big questions.

Michael:         

(20:41) But Chris, because these questions exist, and you are kind of sitting in the middle of it, don’t you have to help guide your customers to address these issues? Are you in position of having to do that?

Chris:  

(20:57) We do and you know it’s something we have seen as a bit of a gap in the industry in general. And so we talk about efficiency savings, building resource sustainability, and we’ve started to really focus on our service offerings, our consulting offerings in fact.

(21:17) You know, a while agowe bought a company called Summit Energy which did exactly this right, were consulting in these kind of energy areas and we now call it energy sustainability services, but it is because our customers kept telling us, look you can’t look at this just from the technology side anymore. It’s great that you understand everything that you are doing and you are very localized. You have all of the vertical knowledge, because we specialize in our business opportunity and it is specialized by industry verticals, that very tightly because we need to know how they operate. They are saying you are going to come and help us.

(21:51) Right, you’re going to come and help us and pull together multiple pieces and it’s not all going to be Schneider Electrics Technology. We want to use other people’s technology for certain things to. And you need to help us with the best practice and guidance in how to do it and you know, we are building up and we’ve created a whole new division around this called, our global solutions division.

(22:12) It’s one of the five divisions in the company and we are building up – I’ll admit it. We are growing it and it’s growing very fast and it’s probably one of the biggest requirements that our customers are telling us right to our face, and we need to develop even faster.

Michael:         

(22:27) Your customers include correct me if I’m wrong, I’m assuming the CIOs as well as the operational technology managers at the same time

Chris:  

(22:39) That’s correct. We goes of the operational guys sort of more historically, but particularly over the last few years as a software and a platform has become more important. And the CIO has become a much bigger buyer for us.

Vala:   

(22:54) 40% of CIOs report to CFO’s, so when it comes to sustainability, operational efficiency and security availability, I suspect you have a captive audience with CFO’s as well.

Chris:  

(23:05) Well we are getting there right, but what’s happened is we’ve sort of bin as we have started the program right, who is the CMO of Schneider Electrics – wellfire that guy right, because he’s never heard of him. Well, you know part of it is that name recognition we don’t necessarily have. And even from a marketing side, right.

(23:22) So let me turn the conversation to marketing for a second Vala since you went there.

(23:25) We had about 100 something brands if you years ago. And we have now actually brought it down to about 40, so you may have heard of a company like APC – American Power Conversion okay, that’s us, right. In the US if you are an electrical contractor and when I was interfering for the job, I asked my guy Nick, and said Hey Nick, have you ever heard of Schneider Electrics? He goes no. I said did you ever hear of Square D, he says sure of course. Square D is us.

(24:02) If you are in Australia and you go under Cliftsol, 95% of the population knows issue as them about Schneider Electrics and less than 5% know about it. But it is the same thing. It is the same company, you know but it is like a confectionery company, that we have different brands for different markets, and different segments.

(24:19) But some of the challenge now is that at the higher end you know, all of the retail stuff that is probably okay because it is more of a distribution product business. But at the higher end of the market, and we have companies that deal with hundreds and millions of dollars of business with us, they are actually saying wait a minute. Why are you integrating the APC – it’s like the same company, they say well, put it under the same brand and tell us it’s the same company.

(24:47) You know, we want best practice’s – yes we want best in class products and all of that, but actually to offer that cross sale and the solution offering. As a marketer, I need to figure out APC has got a very strong reputation in data, power management and all of that.

(25:06) If I move them to Schneider Electrics, you know is that the right thing to do and am I going to lose equity, brand equity or am I not. So these are really a lot of the challenges that we are facing that means you’re not necessarily going to see Schneider Electrics that you face all of the time. But it is a very complex marketing challenge and that is part of that why I took on this.

Vala:               

(25:23) That is unbelievable. Think about it Michael, you have 40 distinct brands, and the two that you just mentioned – strong brands, under one on brand. That is what a total of war. That’s the easy.

Michael          

(25:42) You’re over $30 billion in revenue company, with all of these brands and yet the main brand is kind of hidden. So as a marketer, what are you doing about that, and what is your goal with it?

Chris:  

(26:04) Assuming with technology we have got a global audience as well right, you go to France and obviously more people are going to know us historically. We have been a French company and I will argue that we are one of the most global companies I have ever seen.

(26:18) You go to China and we have a stronger reputation. You go to Germany and you know was under some different names right, Merton and Alcode. You go to Australia like I said Clipsol and Scandinavia it’s different.

(26:29) So what we are doing is some of those brands are what we call associated brands. So actually APC buy Schneider Electrics. So if you buy an APC product, you see the connection to Schneider Electrics. Others you don’t necessarily know because they are indiscreet markets, so they are very specific products and we kind of leave them out there.

(26:50) well, with the endorsed brand, the first thing I need to do is before I would even talk about any shift in the brand architecture, I need to grow the master brand. So as an marketer, my first challenge talking with Jean Pascal, my CEO is that we have got to raise the tide of the master brand. And that will raise everything. And then that will give us options, because once we raise the recognition of the master brand, we can talk about some of those other brands and we increase the endorsement or the Association, or whether we migrate or whatever we do. But for now, it’s not even a conversation.

(27:27) And the first thing I need to do in terms of raising the master brand is, well what does it stand for? Again, like I sort of eluded to for the last 10 years we have been very assertive about building out our technology portfolio, building out our geographic presence. We’ve doubled in size over the last decade and had you know for the last 10 years had over €10 billion in acquisitions.

(27:58) Now we have just sort of we think we have is assembled the company. We have assembled our portfolios, so we couldn’t really invest in the story when it was changing. A good example would be in January, we completed the acquisitions of a company called, Invensis. And in fact Invensis was actually a number of other brands that were put together very strongly – Foxbro, wonderwear, Trickonics – very strong brands in their own right. And so that added a whole new element to us of software because it raised our software revenue significantly. But also the process automation, where we had been in sort of discrete manufacturing automation.

(28:45) So how could I tell the story about industrial automation when I had the discrete, but when I knew the process was coming or eventually would come. So now we feel like we have kind of reached the boundaries of something that is a little more complete, stable, offers the right differentiated portfolio for our customers, a mix of OT/IT.

(29:05) Now I can start telling the story and so what we have been really focused on in my first year is obviously I have to get to understand the business, and make sure that all the trucks are running on time, and these trains are operating and you know what in the background is going on.

(29:20) But also really preparing for I think in 2015, where you will start to see us raise the profile of that company story. Raise that you know kind of all of Schneider Electrics story that allows us to really touch along you know the industrial automation. The energy management that we do with utilities and customers. Buildings management, you know data centers and so on.

(29:48) That will allow us to actually combined all of those things into one coherent story, which again if you are a marketing guy looking for a challenge it is a great story to try and avoid. How do you pull all of that together and you know tell me a year from now, we’ll get back together on the show and you guys can tell me whether I was successful or not.

Vala:   

(30:09) I’d love that. I’m thinking as you are talking about these challenges how much fun you are having, because just knowing you I know that it is in your DNA to tackle tough problems. So I applaud you for that, but I am not surprised that you are taking on a Herculean task as you are. Now, one of the things that you talked about in terms of defining the master brand, or what matters to you, you know you wrote an incredibly insightful blog about the importance of sustainability. And you linked sustainability to profit, but in the blog you talked about the pretension that exists between population density, consumption density, and the impact on the environment. But you included metrics in terms of the importance of retail, customer loyalty and even rental space efficiency and sustainable buildings.

            So can you talk to us a little bit about what clearly is something that you are passionate about and that being sustainability?

Chris:  

(31:02) So you know sustainability is in some ways have gotten a bad rap as its green. It’s good to be green, okay well great. It is good to be green and if I can put in a little plug, we’ve recently won an award to box energy award for our own consumption of energy in efficiency entirely.

(31:33) So we are kind of eating our one medicine. We are taking our own medicine internally and not just as a supplier. It is critical, we are a big company and big infrastructure all around the world and real Estates costs, power management, energy consumption – all critical factors for us. But, when you start to look at sustainability more in a – let’s call it a rational or financial kind of approach you start to look at, well there’s two things.

(31:53) There is the long term which in economics and accounting one-on-one which teaches you assumable sustainable enterprise. Assume this is an ongoing concern. Well, we can’t always assume that now a days. We can’t always assume that not as a society, because you have got things going on. You know, urbanization and industrialization, digitization – these are all great things that are enriching our lives, yet they are vastly increasing the amount of demand on energy.

(32:23)We are all running 24 hours a day on our mobile phones, devices and all of these kind of things. My number one battle every day is not with my customers, it is with my phone and make sure it is charged all of the time right, so I can reconnect it. How many times do I try to charge in a day, well okay that is an always on world putting a strain on technology and on batteries and all of that kind of stuff.

(32:48) So we have to find a way to manage our insatiable appetite for energy with these great things that are enriching our lives. You know, more than 50% of the population in the next – I don’t know what it is, 40 – 50 years maybe or even faster than that, will live in cities. Right, you know our demand for energy is going to double over the next 40 years.

(33:11) So there is a long-term element of this. This is not about whether I believe in the melting ice caps or anything like that. I mean this is a very practical concern over – you can see a resource crunch, you can see the financial elements of it.

(33:26) But the second piece of it, which is much more practical and much more today you mentioned the idea of rental. Well, if I can manage space better and I can use my dead space better by managing my air conditioning environment, my power, my building security – all of these kind of things. If I can start to do that without big bulky machinery, but do it more through sensors. If I can consolidate locations and whatnot, by managing all of my assets correctly by doing things like watching the pattern of usage on the floor.

(34:06) So in our headquarters in France, we actually have what we call the international customer lounge. It has a screen there that shows the usage of energy in the building. And what it does is it actually watches the dead spaces in the building, and turns down the heating or turns up the heating or air conditioning or whatever based on the usage of the building.

(34:27) And when you do that over time you know, short-term it saves me some money just like a smart thermostat. But over time I can actually identify areas of the building that I’m not using, and I can put them to other uses. I can use them as storage. I can put more office space in there. I can see what the key requirements would be for the building, and not just through badges, but actually by watching them, the movement of the people and then you get into all kinds of questions about security and privacy and all of these kind of things that we need to manage appropriately as well.

(35:02) But if you really think about squeezing out more efficiency that has a correlation to who we are and our profit and all of that. And also to add another element to this is the millennial’s.

(35:21) We are a company that is trying to bring on a population of workers, and I can’t pretend that we are a young guy any more. I’m already passed that midpoint. But as we bring on these people, you know or so I am told I am guess from my kids tell me, even they are too young. But working for a company that they feel is invested and not just in them, and not just in financial success. But in sort of a rational way, the society is good as well, is an attractive element.

(35:55) So if you look at it in practical terms, we have to hire thousands and thousands of people each year and if we can show them that we are doing good things for ourselves, good things for our customers, good from the bottom line. You know, being green can be good for business to and we sort of look at this in a very practical term and I try to do a little research before writing that blog of not just to pick a pure financial angle, but take a customer engagement angle. Take an angle on long-term ability.

(36:30) There are so many overwhelming factors, and the bottom line is being efficient is good for every purpose.

Michael:         

(36:36) We have a question from Twitter from Holgar Muller, who is a great analyst, and he is wondering about and it is a remark going back to marketing. He’s wondering, as you start centralizing the brand, will happens to the local purchasing decisions. So how do you manage the tension between the central larger global brand and the local brands as you try to consolidate and make sense of it all?

Chris:  

(37:07) So this is scary. Holgar is another ex-colleague of mine. I feel that I am really holding out from all of these people.

(37:18) I didn’t see the centralization of the brand, so to be absolutely clear in what I said was I want to raise the visibility of the master brand. By raising the visibility of the master brand that will in essence also increase the visibility of all the associated brands, and then it gives us options on what we want to do three, four, five, six years down the line.

(37:46) I’ve been around this enough to know that to build a master brand across the world, when we operate in over 100 countries, a company this diverse of this size has taken me years to build a master brand. So I’m not even you know, focused too much on centralization per se. It’s really just can I get more people to know who I am, and can I get the people to know who I am, not just know me through one angle but know all of what I do.

(38:16) Those are the two things I’m trying to accomplish. They may sound simple but they are pretty hard to do, but more reach and more depth. Those are the only two things that I really maniacally focus on every moment of every day.

Vala:   

(38:20) So you must be really focused and you know, I hate to use it because it sounds like such a buzzword nowadays, but digital marketing and digital business transformation. The way you scale the voice of your brand, for example through social and mobile and apps like you know, most enterprise will eventually have their own app store. And we’ve already talked about big data, so talk to us a little bit about building the master brand and what that really means in terms of digital marketing.

Chris:  

(39:03) One of the interesting debates inside Schneider Electrics is, do we talk about digital marketing or do we just talk about marketing? And it was interesting because when I walked in we talked a lot about digital marketing, and it was a group focused on digital marketing. And I said, yeah there is a group on digital marketing, it’s called marketing.

(39:22) in fact, the default answer has to be online, right? The default and so has to be the digital not analog. Now that stuck to say, and I’ll be very honest we still spend a lot of money on events. We still spend a lot of money even on print. There are countries that low and behold still want print catalogues, right. They won the old Sears catalogue and they want catalogues of our products sent out to them. And they are not quite there, so we could force them onto digital but we also have to be responsive to our customers and that kind of thing.

(40:02) We do a lot of third-party tradeshows still, because in how industry there are still – or parts of our industry that is an important factor for getting more into branded activity, and more into branding our own events, private events or whatever you want to call them.

(40:19)And certainly you seen that just over the last year a real uptick in our digital marketing. You know, you have seen some of the social marketing, up a little bit. And you’ve seen some of the sort of things, and I’ll be honest we are experimenting.

(40:40)This is not a maniacal total control thing. This is actually trying to get everybody into to do and to do it organically. You try some things, even as a CMO I may be cringed at a little in terms of the content to whatever. But we wanted to experiment to see whether this was something that would generate traffic. And then could return the traffic into demand or not. And I had to you know, hold on a little bit and say no, that’s not very corporate, that’s not very enterprise. But you know, sort of let it go through and covered my eyes and hope that nobody would come after me.

(41:22) But it’s worse, because it has shown us some things that work, don’t work. And again we have a lot of engineers, long life cycles of products – all of those kind of things from history. So, this digital world, the pace it works at it is a cultural challenge for us.

(41:41) So there are two things that we have done. One, we show them that it works, right. So now we are not trying to do the big overall re-brand that I did at Unify and that kind of thing. It’s really trying to put stuff to the market now and in 2015 will see a lot more in the market that we are. And just get stuff out and through that, and build on that.

(42:03)But the other thing that we’ve done and we have a real focus on on our own people, is that we’ve made the internal transformation first. So we actually have a community of internal social community, where people blog, have collaboration spaces, and work on that and we have got a drive system that we call Spice

(42:26)Internally, it is by the mass of the population and the executive are more comfortable going onto Spice and posting and putting all these kind of things than they are actually. So what we have done is actually use that internal transformation first to say look, it’s not bad, it doesn’t hurt or whatever. And now we are starting to shift a lot of energy potential externally.

(42:56) You know, we have a long way to go in that transformation but I’m really excited about the steps that we have taken so far.

Vala:   

(43:02) Michael, how many multibillion-dollar, in this case $30 billion CMO’s who are on Google hangout live, blog, and engage on Twitter I mean you could probably count a few on one hand, Jonathan Becker of SAP, Chris Hummel of Schneider Electrics. I’m telling you, you are living digital proof and you are doing it, so kudos to you.

(43:23) There are not too many CMO’s or companies of your size that are actually doing what they say in what the company needs to do and leading by example. So we appreciate that.

Michael:         

(43:35) We’re almost out of time, and maybe before we end share with us some of the challenges and lessons that you have learned that other CMO’s that are watching might take away.

Chris:  

(43:49) Well the first thing is you have got to be okay to fail. You are going to have a few bombs there right. You are going to write a couple of blogs that nobody listens to, nobody watches. It’s hard. Most of us are introverts as a sort of a DNA and we crave attention and if your followership is not going up, it doesn’t mean that people don’t love you.

(44:22) You have to work at it, you have to be be afraid to fail and you have to fail fast to move forward. You have to be consistent. One of the things that I beat myself up about is I love to write blogs. I’ve got so much I feel that I want to say and all of that, but I’m just not doing it regularly enough. It’s not that I’m paying the price, but I certainly could be even more present if I was active about it you know.

(44:49) If I was writing a weekly blog I would get more attention on it, because you get the network effect and I probably write a couple of weeks or whatever. So if you are going to do it you better commit. You have got to commit to it.

(45:09) And the other thing which is a big jump for people is that at a time when budget pressure is constantly coming in and marketing is being challenged in what I call it, the definitional crisis. What is marketing versus sales versus what is IT.

(45:25)You know when the buying process is shifting online and before the sale, is that good for marketing or does that mean that the sales are going to knock marketing off another way? I don’t know the answer to that and in some cases it’s different. But you have got to be committed to the fact that the buyer is no longer allows you to control their journey. That you have to actually map the thing, and you have to just keep presence where they are, and we have never had the tools to be able to do that before.

(45:55) So I made peace with that, and I wrapped my ego in a way that I couldn’t convince millions of people to do it in the way that I wanted them to do. And instead said I’m going to give myself in and I’m going to try and map where they want me to be. And I think that if you can get the psychology of my fellows out there, you know I think that’s one of the first things that you just have to psychologically get over.

Michael:         

(46:22) So pay attention and listen to the empowered consumer and recognise that they are the bosses

Chris:  

(46:30) That’s right

Vala:   

(46:31) Control is an illusion.

Michael:         

(46:33) And it’s true in business to business as much as it is in business to consumer.

Vala:   

(46:39) That was awesome advice, like that was tremendous advice to marketeers. I hope you’re watching and that was great advice by Chris. It’s true, but it does require a level of discipline and procession in marketing, unless you can have practice of market segmentation, account segmentation, and buyer segmentation. Understand the personas and then build the buyers process map. It is tough to deliver that relevant message at the right time across the right channels, to the right audience. It just requires a tremendous amount of discipline. It’s not easy and for 41 brands good luck to you! Why don’t you have enough time to blog!

Chris:  

(47:23) I’m going to talk to some people here. Maybe we will consolidate our brands just so I can become a social guy.

Vala:   

(47:30) I’m just wondering how many hours a day to sleep, it should be a lot like two.

Michael:         

(47:36) Well unfortunately we are just out of time and I want to thank Chris Hummel, who is the chief marketing officer of Schneider Electrics for joining us today.

Vala:   

(47:47) Chris you are awesome, and thank you for dropping all of that science on us in 45 minutes. Really appreciate it

Chris:  

(47:51) Well thank you guys, appreciate the invitation and appreciate your time.

Michael:         

(47:56) And come back again and we will be off for two weeks and our next guest at the beginning of January is going to be the CMO of Adobe. So we are going to from infrastructure to graphics in two weeks. And I hope everybody has a wonderful holiday. Vala, as always it’s pleasure to see you, happy holiday. And we’ll see everybody on the other side. Hope you have a great weekend. Bye bye.

Companies mention on today’s show:

Schneider Electric:                                                                 www.schneider-electric.com

Oracle:                                                                                     www.oracle.com

SAP:                                                                                          www.sap.com

Unify (Formally Siemens Enterprise Communication):    www.unify.com

IBM:                                                                                          www.ibm.com

Microsoft:                                                                                www.microsoft.com

Cisco:                                                                                       www.cisco.com

Dell:                                                                                          www.dell.com

HP:                                                                                           www.hp.com

Summit Energy:                                                                     www.summitenergy.com

American Power Conversion (APC):                                    www.apc.com

Meg Bear, Group Vice President, Social Cloud, Oracle

  • Episode: 90
Meg Bear, Group Vice President, Oracle
Meg Bear
Group Vice President
Oracle

Meg Bear lives and works at the intersection of people, business and technology. She is Group Vice President of the Oracle Social Cloud.

With well over 10,000 hours and nearly 20 years experience in Enterprise Applications she is seasoned yet optimistic. Skilled across a broad spectrum of functional domains including: Manufacturing, Financials and Human Resources in addition to technical tools, implementations and methodologies. Meg has a proven track record of on time product delivery and an industry leading return on investment. She is currently in charge of the development of the Cloud Social Platform for ORCL.

Meg is passionate about applying technology to solve business problems, building and growing teams to be their best and defining products to invest in, that will make money for her company, while solving real customer need.

She is a working mom, technology executive, blogger, patent holder, idea generator, change agent, disruptive technologist and enthusiastic TED conference attendee.

Meg is currently focusing her energy and passion in pursuit of helping others achieve their best.

Transcript

Michael:         

(00:02) Hello, collaboration and collaboration software is a big deal today. Everybody is doing it and today on episode number 90 that is what we’re going to talk about. I’m Michael Krigsman, here with my friendlish, no, genially and deeply very friendly co-host, Vala Afshar. Vala how are you doing, I’m excellent. And we have a guest today, who is one of the most knowledgeable people anywhere on this very topic.

Vala:   

(00:43) Absolutely, please introduction.

Michael:         

(00:45) We’re joined today by Meg Bear, who is Group-Vice president for the Oracle’s social cloud. Hi Meg how are you?

Meg:   

(00:54) Hello gentlemen, I am fantastic. Just a little wet here in the Bay area but all good and very happy to be here.

Michael:         

(01:01) Yeah we here these reports of it raining cats and dogs and mudslides.

Meg:   

(01:08) Yeah. I did not bring a kayak to work but I’ve seen people doing that so yeah it’s been a little wet because we need rain here desperately so we’re happy.

Vala:   

(01:19) Meg can you tell us a little bit about your background please.

Meg:   

(01:23) Sure, sure yeah. so I’ve been in Oracle for some time. I have been in enterprise software for even a little bit longer than that. I now experienced enough to cough between the start and the end from how many years I’ve been doing what I do.

           

(01:40) But generally I am a technologist and someone that’s very focused and interested in innovation. So I’m in a really good space in this idea of social, collaboration and cloud because that is the merging of the people and the technology coming together for business, and that’s really kind of some of what I care about and what I do here.

Vala:   

(02:07) Great and your role at Oracle.

Meg:   

(02:08) Yeah so I run our product. I’m a general manager of our social cloud, which is a group of products that do both external and internal social platforms. So we do social listening, social engagement, social marketing, internal collaboration and all the analytics around that to help social become part of the business landscape with technology as the backbone.

Michael:         

(02:34) So you talk about social becoming part of the landscape, and you’ve written a lot and spoken a lot about customers centric organizations, so let’s start with that. What is is a customer centric organization in today’s world, what does that mean?

Meg:   

(02:52) Right you know I think customers being the center of business is not a new idea. Business exists to serve the customer and always has. The difference is and the age of digital, of course customer’s power has shifted and customer’s voice has become amplified.

(03:11) So when you think about how companies can differentiate today and how companies really move forward in this competitive global landscape, the customer being at the center of that becomes a business differentiator, becomes a critical part of how business works.

(03:28) So that’s what kind of interests me and how I think of the world as bringing the customer together with the business mission and making sure that business’s aren’t just focused on making their operations better, but to make sure that they’re focused on serving their customer better.

(03:42) And doing that by understanding more than they ever have before in what their customers care about, about what their customers are passionate about and what their customers are interested in them doing as part of that relationship.

Vala:   

(03:56) Can you elaborate a little bit more on the shifting power and then perhaps of maybe an example and was the power always there, it’s just that the voice is amplified or is there really a shift where the customers are influencing companies direction and so on and so forth.

Meg:   

(04:12) Sure it is a broad spectrum, but I do genially believe that the

Michael:         

(00:02) Hello, collaboration and collaboration software is a big deal today. Everybody is doing it and today on episode number 90 that is what we’re going to talk about. I’m Michael Krigsman, here with my friendlish, no, genially and deeply very friendly co-host, Vala Afshar. Vala how are you doing, I’m excellent. And we have a guest today, who is one of the most knowledgeable people anywhere on this very topic.

Vala:   

(00:43) Absolutely, please introduction.

Michael:         

(00:45) We’re joined today by Meg Bear, who is Group-Vice president for the Oracle’s social cloud. Hi Meg how are you?

Meg:   

(00:54) Hello gentlemen, I am fantastic. Just a little wet here in the Bay area but all good and very happy to be here.

Michael:         

(01:01) Yeah we here these reports of it raining cats and dogs and mudslides.

Meg:   

(01:08) Yeah. I did not bring a kayak to work but I’ve seen people doing that so yeah it’s been a little wet because we need rain here desperately so we’re happy.

Vala:   

(01:19) Meg can you tell us a little bit about your background please.

Meg:   

(01:23) Sure, sure yeah. so I’ve been in Oracle for some time. I have been in enterprise software for even a little bit longer than that. I now experienced enough to cough between the start and the end from how many years I’ve been doing what I do.

           

(01:40) But generally I am a technologist and someone that’s very focused and interested in innovation. So I’m in a really good space in this idea of social, collaboration and cloud because that is the merging of the people and the technology coming together for business, and that’s really kind of some of what I care about and what I do here.

Vala:   

(02:07) Great and your role at Oracle.

Meg:   

(02:08) Yeah so I run our product. I’m a general manager of our social cloud, which is a group of products that do both external and internal social platforms. So we do social listening, social engagement, social marketing, internal collaboration and all the analytics around that to help social become part of the business landscape with technology as the backbone.

Michael:         

(02:34) So you talk about social becoming part of the landscape, and you’ve written a lot and spoken a lot about customers centric organizations, so let’s start with that. What is is a customer centric organization in today’s world, what does that mean?

Meg:   

(02:52) Right you know I think customers being the center of business is not a new idea. Business exists to serve the customer and always has. The difference is and the age of digital, of course customer’s power has shifted and customer’s voice has become amplified.

(03:11) So when you think about how companies can differentiate today and how companies really move forward in this competitive global landscape, the customer being at the center of that becomes a business differentiator, becomes a critical part of how business works.

(03:28) So that’s what kind of interests me and how I think of the world as bringing the customer together with the business mission and making sure that business’s aren’t just focused on making their operations better, but to make sure that they’re focused on serving their customer better.

(03:42) And doing that by understanding more than they ever have before in what their customers care about, about what their customers are passionate about and what their customers are interested in them doing as part of that relationship.

Vala:   

(03:56) Can you elaborate a little bit more on the shifting power and then perhaps of maybe an example and was the power always there, it’s just that the voice is amplified or is there really a shift where the customers are influencing companies direction and so on and so forth.

Meg:   

(04:12) Sure it is a broad spectrum, but I do genially believe that the power has shifted. So I would say that customers have always been the compass of how business works again.

(04:23) But the difference is now that the conversation around a given product is impacted and addressed and amplified by the voice of the customer.

(04:35) So again, to give some you know examples of what we all know, there’s not really any purchase people do, whether it’s consumer or business to business that’s not driven by a lot of available research and a lot of available input into what you think about that product.

(04:52) It’s always been true in what we care of what others think when we buy things, what others think when we try new products. But the difference is that we know more today in the era of social networks. We have more people to hear from, and the ability to get amplified and the speed of information getting to me as a consumer has grown such so much easier.

(05:16) It’s easier for me to know of what other people think of what products I might buy. It’s easier for me to know of what the general sentiment is about different brands.

(05:26)And when things go well, for me to get new ideas much more quickly, and when things go badly, it’s easier for me to know about reputational problems much more quickly. And so that combination of inside information for me as a consumer, and with the social proof and the idea that I understand in what I’m doing based on what customers are saying amongst each other. I think that combination is really pivotal today.

(05:55) So it’s an exciting time but also you know really dramatic in how big it’s gotten.

Michael:         

(06:01) So social is an amplifier in both for intensity positive or negative as well as speed and transmission of information.

Meg:   

(06:11) Exactly, so the arch is so much faster and the intensity is so much faster and that kind of ripple effect of information passing around becomes much greater. So yeah the combination of all of that makes the impact to business really interesting and really strategic.

Vala:   

(06:30) So how do you advice companies that academically or philosophically understand the importance of power and the social, but what forever reason they are hesitant to either invest in social technologies or to train their employees or actually get their executive to leverage social not just inside the business but also outside.

Meg:   

(06:52) It’s interestingly for what I do is very similar to the story of what we even tell our customers. So you know I think the early days when I started down this path there was a lot of, hey, helping people understand the business is important and it’s not just about millennials. It’s not just kids these days and it’s impacting the broader landscape.

(07:15) Today, that is less the case. I think we see this in the data, and I think we see this in real life and interactions with companies. The question of companies really needing to be social really is not coming up anymore and I think we understand this and we think about this.

(07:29) It is at a board level understanding so everybody really understands that. so the question is really today is, where is that and how is that impracticable for your customer journey. In other words, just spinning out social media group to respond on your social channels – it’s a great idea. Don’t get me wrong you should do that. but if that is your definition of success, you’re missing the opportunity to really serve your customer, because you’re just responding to your customer. You’re not actually bringing your customer into your business.

(07:59) So where we used to spend more times strategically helping businesses’ understand that if that voice of the customer can be heard and understood in a more structural way, you can do better things for your business.

(08:14) You can think about new products coming to market. You can think about how customers are responding to things on a regional basis, on a local basis.

(08:23) You can have the kind of interaction with customers which feels much more personalized because it’s much more direct and targeted. While simultaneously, being much more material to your business.

(08:36)  So again, where we see our customers interested and where we see them moving, is brining social throughout the business, throughout the lifecycle, throughout the channel.

(08:48) And of course that is more complicated, because now you are talking about how business works. You’re talking about organizational information about who is responsible for what and how they are measure in different roles in the company.

(09:01) So these are the places where we are seeing more social is and much more transformational and has a much bigger impact. It takes longer and has more of the socialization and more in the idea of where that fits in the overall story.

Michael:         

(09:13) So Meg, when you talk about it this way, it goes beyond just marketing, because I think many of us tend to think of social as another marketing channel and that’s it. you are talking of it in a much deeper way it seems.

Meg:   

(09:32) Yeah, and that’s where I like to think about it as customers centricity. Social is a path to understanding your customers, communicating with your customer and being in a relationship with your customer that is more meaningful to them.

(09:46) But it is more than that. if that is the only thing your measuring, if that’s the only thing that you care about, you are missing the opportunity to impact your business. It comes more strategic is if you start with customer centricity – who is your customer, what do they care about and how they want to interact with you.

(10:05) Of course that’s very important to do marketing and to do a marketing function well that’s where you start. That’s part of one on one on marketing. But marketing is not the only group that impacts with the customer and gets in touch with the customer.

(10:20) Service, PR, product development. I mean that’s where my heart and love is and if you don’t know what your customer likes or dislikes and needs to do their business, how are going to get them to build new products. So it becomes a much more structural end and better thing in just marketing.

(10:40) So again absolutely marketing but if you are only doing marketing you’re missing in which I’m talking about which is relationships with your customer, which services them throughout your life cycle, through to advocacy and an ongoing lifetime value of that customer relationship.

Vala:   

(10:57) How often do you see within your client ecosystem of IT being the champion of social adoption or is it still predominantly customer services and support and marketing. Do you see other lines of business more interested in how they can improve their listening and engagement and the customer centricity?

Meg:   

(11:18)  So I see everybody interested, but in the era of these cloud the roles shifting from those of us who have been in technology for a long time will know that technology used to be exclusively vetted and understood by IT, and then rolled out to the business, like here’s how you solve the problem and this is what you do.

(11:39) Today, it is much more a collaborative partnership with the business declining, you know what it is what they want to measure, what it is that they want to do, and IT helping facilitate how to do that in a structural way.

(11:52) And I do see that we are at the point with the cloud where – again, we have got the low hanging fruit, we have gotten the easy stuff and now to get the real impact on the real benefit for business, IT has to be part of that picture to really bring that value all the way through the organisation. And they are anxious to partner and again as you know, the skills that you need technology skills, long term project planning skills and you also need good data analysis skills so that you can get the broader insights from this and the long-term benefit.

(12:34) So IT is really bringing to the table that more than I think that we were able to do in the early days of digital transformation. In this particular space of social, I really think they are able to help bring that and make a long-term data story around understanding your customer and driving broad level change to the organization with that.

Michael:         

(12:57) Meg we have…

Vala:   

(12:57) So it’s not easy. Social isn’t easy.

Michael:         

(13:03) We have this image of the social as being let’s…

Vala:   

(13:07)…Have fun. So you just talked about analytical skills, technology skills, integration of systems, the ability we react to customers and partners who are smarter. So anybody who thinks it is a walk in the park…

Michael:         

(13:30) So let’s come back to this, because I have a feeling that as we talk this is going to be an important theme but we have several questions from Twitter. And we actually try to defer to Twitter because that’s our…

Meg:   

(13:46)We are trying to listen to our audience? That’s crazy talk!

Michael:         

(14:00) We are a customer centric show and we have good questions here. So our first question is from Stewart Aply , and Stewart asks how can you get social into the companies DNA? Social as you are describing it.

Meg:   

(14:14) So now you are talking about change management and change generally, and first and form almost I think you need to understand where your companies DNA is. So just like any other thing, start with understanding what you are working with and where you want to go. But broadly what I have seen work well is getting some successes on the board, building some advocacy internally, and then growing out from there.

(14:44) But the key is really defining some good and some smart successes upfront, such that you can build on that momentum. In other words, if you build on successes early on that nobody cares about the probability of other groups, thinking it doesn’t matter to them or anything to do with them is very low.

(15:04) So thinking smartly about where you start, thinking smartly about how where you engage with the different communities, and then working from there. Again, I think the point is not to get everyone social. The point is to drive business outcomes, and everybody can get behind that because that’s how we all get paid. It’s you know if you really want to let it out.

(15:25) So helping people understand and how to get the business outcome they need. Not just for the fun and pics and games, but for the real business results and then show where social helps give you a lift, and then it becomes much more about the result and less about trying to sell somebody on a new way of doing business.

Michael:         

(15:43) Fair enough. Let’s ask another question, and by the way I have to stop and ask Vala a question. Vala how do you treat with these images as we are talking? He’s like tweeting and inserting while the three of us are talking.

Vala:   

(16:01) This’s show and 90, so I’ve had lots of practice.

Michael:         

(16:07) I think I’ve been involved with these 90 shows to and I can’t do it.

Vala:   

(16:09) You’re asking for the coke formula. I’ll let you know later.

Meg:   

(16:13) Well I don’t think if anybody wants to set their bar is with trying to keep up with Vala on tweeting. At least for me as a bridge too far, so.

Michael:         

(16:22) Okay, he says we are asking for the coke formula, so we will definitely come back to that question. But we have a question also from Frank Scavo. You probably know Frank, he’s an analyst, and Frank is asking, how does this manifest inside Oracle? What is Oracle doing around those things?

Meg:   

(16:42) So as you probably know, Oracle we use a lot of our products internally. We use them often at times before they are even available to the general public. So we really do have some good momentum.

(1:58) We are too similar to organizations where Oracle is a very large place with a lot of very different lines of business, so I think that you will find groups like mine that are building a social products and are spending a lot more time sharing things in a social way. So I think we let each group defined in what works for them and helps strife their business forward.

(17:19) Then of course the marketing group and the PR group does use our tools to sort of monitor and manage. And then I think that you guys got to see that we did our and used our social intelligence center at Open World to monitor the show and visualize that and things that we do on a regular basis as well, which is fun for me because you get to see your product in a really big beautiful space, showing really great insights from smart people like yourself so we get the best of all worlds here.

Vala:   

(17:50) Is there a difference between the social software and collaboration or are they one and similar.

Meg:   

(17:56) I think that collaboration software is kind of social software, but it is not the only thing. So I would look at it as and the way that we looked at it from a product portfolio is that our internal collaboration tools at Oracle social network is used for purpose based collaboration amongst teams inside and outside the organisation. And it is tied very closely to the business transactions that we serve with our enterprise portfolio.

(18:26) So you could be collaborating around a sales lead. You could be collaborating around a performance review. These are sort of known fantastic ideas around where collaboration comes in transactions. But in the case of social platform, we also have additional tools that we have spoken about to do external collaboration. Not just on a point-to-point, but on the public social media sites.

(18:49) So if you are doing social marketing outbound inclusive of building things like custom audiences for targeted region advertising with your social outreach. And then being able to get insights on the public where, and also get insights on internal data sources that can tell you what are some key themes, what are some key topics, what is the overall sentiment.

(19:15) And in within those what are the different groupings of conversations that matter for the different groups. So there is going to be a group of different discussions happening on say on twitter, that may be about product innovation, and then that you want to send to a different group and then the ones that are are about customer satisfaction issues or maybe if something isn’t working, versus the ones that are, hey I’m your brand and everybody go and team, right.

(19:42) All of those have different purposes, but the team technology underneath can help you try that insight. So from the technology side it’s about understanding and structured data, very quickly and very smartly and to be able to drive results and actions out of that. Some of that can be collaboration, and some of that can be response management if necessary. So that can be, hey, we need to build a plan around this.

Vala:   

(20:08) So is this social operation center, or is this a community manager or a data scientist…

Meg:   

(20:15) That is a fantastic question and the answer is all of the above, and I think that is where we see the transition happening in our business. So absolutely community managers use our tools to respond on twitter, on Google plus, on Facebook etc. so that is a very strong persona that we think about. But our tools also provide you know, for business insights and data analytics or complex large scale data input.

(20:43) The people that look at that, and that could be business planning, that could be PR, that could be marketing, that could be customer service. You know, when you want to look at the aggregate and really understand. So there is multiple persona that interact with our software and my theory, my understanding, and my prediction is that the number of personas is going to grow exponentially because the tools that we are talking about has relevance in those terms of contexts.

(21:07) is We happened to be minding them for marketing purposes because that is what the market understands and is ready to use. But the technology behind them have a tremendous amount of equitability and is just now starting to become a lot for business.

(21:23) So I think that where we come from here is that the idea of taking large-scale data understanding, and bringing that and driving insights from that is going to become very interesting and be used across of a lot of different functions.

Michael:         

(21:40) So Meg, collaboration is not something that is new in business and so what changes – what does social and collaboration software change in terms of the interaction and driving business results, why is it important?

Meg:   

(22:00) I agree. I don’t think we are talking about a new thing from the human side. But what we are talking about again is scale and reach. So you know the idea of that, to get work done and you may have to get along with others, and you may have to work with others, and you may have multiple roles in interacting and that’s not a new idea.

(22:23)As technology has improved it has gotten easier. It has gotten easier for to identify you know, who are the right people and it has gotten easier to make that interaction real time, like the idea of what we are doing here and going out to have a good conversation, that is new and interesting. But not really a new idea issue get right down to it. What’s interesting is how many people can is how many people can be part of it with us.

(22:53) The same is true for collaboration software. It is a an amplification opportunity for something that we’ve always done. And then where I think it gets smart and interesting is that when you can help embed that into places where people are ready to do business, it is very similar to. It is not new, right in having apps that are already available, having phones that are already available, and having music that was already available, and watching movies which were already available. Putting them altogether made travelling life a lot easier and adding a video and camera and you know, those are all just things that started making it easier.

(23:30) And the combination and it became something bigger than it was at one time, even although we had all of the component parts. So I think that’s what we are talking about here with collaboration and social technology, is we started with all of the component parts. We started bringing all of the component parts together, we started putting them in with things that we were already doing. And now we are at the point where we can start imagining different things as outcomes as a result of those building blocks finally getting mature enough and getting available, and getting all of the right people involved to become bigger than they were on their own.

Vala:   

(24:09) Do you have a sense when we think about going from listening to monitoring, to engaging, and then ultimately reporting. If you think of those as phases, where are we in terms of the majority of folks, are they in the engaging part and do you see a lot of clients using the reporting to change their for example their roadmaps or how they service and support a customer. Where are we in that for stages of maturity let’s say.

Meg:   

(24:41) I see that we are and similarly moving in the right direction. I don’t think I talk to any prospect or customer that isn’t doing something already today. So this isn’t about convincing people to ever doing something that they haven’t done before. It isn’t about convincing people to think about this more structurally.

(25:03) in a lot of the times most companies have done some experimentation and have a pretty good sense of where they are ready to go next. Whether that is going global, or whether that is going departmental or whether that is going in multiple lines of business. Companies are coming to us already and we are aware of that.

(25:24) And where we are seeing bright lights and interesting stories, but not necessarily consistency yet, is the tools to act after you gather the insights. So everybody is interested in looking at the inside, and everybody is responding to customers and doing their best with the idea of customer services. Some are better than others, but generally everyone knows that it’s true and it’s part of that life today.

(25:50) Where we are seeing bright lights is in the case of like General Motors where they see feedback about their cars and they give that feedback and immediately and actually fix them on the line. That is what we are seeing as great proof points, but not subsequently is doing that.

(26:09) A lot of times is seeing is still in the marketing department, and they are not sure who to give that insight to or they might give it give it blasé or generally but not with an action plan built into their organisation to say, hey how do we respond when things are emerging on social media that aren’t just a crisis, but are actually really important to address.

(26:32) So I think if it is a brand crisis, people kind of know that we have got to do something. But if they are, hey is a lot of people are bringing the same issue up over and over again, maybe we need to think about how do we fix it structurally in at the plant, at the design level, at the delivery side. Of the operational side of the business, I think that is where I see bright lights and I think we are absolutely going to get better at this. We are going to get better at helping every part of the business, to enable the customer to do their part better.

Michael:         

(27:04) So we hear often the phrase of systems of engagement, so that’s what you are talking about, having social imbedded in the context of how people are working across different parts of the company.

Meg:   

(27:17) Correct. I think the systems of record, the systems of engagement; I’m totally a big fan of that. I think it gives a lot of content and customer experience and applications software is changing. I would add to that though the data underneath it, we are just now getting smart about that and I fully expect we are going to get way smarter over time.

(27:42) Again, we are getting insights out of data. We’re getting insights about broad themes, but we’re also getting insights about individual customers. We are also getting better at knowing how to target and as you guys know that when you look for something for somebody for Christmas, you abandon the cart and nothing follows you everywhere on the web.

(28:02) So we know we’re getting closer, right. It’s not just randomly spamming me with stuff and saying, hey, you’re an old lady and maybe you want something that women of your age want. There now saying, I think you like these shoes, maybe you should look at these shoes.

(28:16) What they’re not saying is you already bought them somewhere else, so maybe I’ll show you some other kind of shoes right. They are still following me around with the same things that said, maybe I chose not to get, or I gave up on or already purchased somewhere else.

(28:31) We have room and then more broadly, how do I get the system to be not creepy but more understanding of me, how to serve me better, so it’s not just selling me something but it is actually building a relationship with me.

(28:47) Everybody is interested in this, we going to get better, we’re going to keep getting stronger because we’re getting better handle on the data and I just really have to say systems of engagement, systems of record, they’re all critical pieces, but that data foundation layer watch that space.

Vala:   

(29:06) We had a Chief Digital Officer who said, you’re not surfing the internet, the internet is surfing you. And I guess you would be Michael, strong correlation engines to be able to once you identify a target persona, assuming you have done your market segmentation, your account segmentation, your buyer segmentation, whereby you’re not recommending the same shoe, but you do know it’s a female buyer who likes to buy high hell and there’s a comparable price promotion that they may want.

(29:40) But to have that level of sophistication, integrated with social because when I think about marketing automation and being able to use social analytics to lead nurture your contact and then feed that to someone like inside sales so they can action that sentiment you just received. Do you see the customers not only investing in the social and making sure the marketing automation and the CRM integration points are all there for that magical moment where you are actually creating value to a customer?

Meg:   

(30:12) Absolutely, I would say that people are absolutely investing in this area. They know that there is multiple places that they can enter to get to this bigger solution but without a doubt people are thinking about it, and I would add it’s not just about popping up ads to show me other shoes. Although again – a big fan of shoes so let’s make sure that’s fair.

(30:33) It’s also about giving the content that relates to things that I care about. It’s also about you know, have that broader relationship of sharing ideas and other things. So if everything that we think about in social and building and engaging a relationship with your customer.

And everything that we’ve always thought about depending on our business, whether it’s B2B or B2C with advertising and everything that we’ve always thought about with delivery and coming together and leaving that voice of the customer being the foundation. And the voice of the customer as represented in data to help you drive more interesting business analysis, what’s working, what’s not working. Who are they, where are they.

(31:32) And remember the lifespan of the data is changing as well, in the days where we started with enterprise software, the whole systems of record, the lifespan of your order or whatever that very sort of known and manageable thing. But the lifespan of your cookie, that’s what you browse on this week, a very different thing. And everything in between it there is part of understanding who, you know, what your digital identity is and how to interact with you. Again, in a non-creepy, value added way and we’re going to get there.

Michael:         

(31:56) So in a way, the way that you’re talking about it, social is like the big superset of what CRM kind of want to be. When CRM goes to bed at night and dreams of grandeur, in a way you are describing what CRM is dreaming of.

Meg:   

(32:17) I like to think about is social is the realization of what CRM has always wanted to do. Social is the way if that channel that makes possible what has always been the intent from the beginning of time. You wanted to know more, well guess what, people are telling you more. You wanted to do a better job, well guess what. you have the opportunity to do the better job that you ever have.

(32:40) You wanted to be authentic and have a relationship. Well guess what, you can do that. what you’re giving up is it’s not all about you anymore right. So that’s changed right, that’s the core will be started which is the customer’s power has changed and it’s shifted and it’s a fantastic thing and it’s something that you always wanted but it is somewhat you know, different than may be what you would have imagined it when you started damn the path of CRM and managing your customer relationships you know.

Vala:   

(33:19) As we talk about social, which is an element of digital and companies going through digital transformation and adopting mobile, social and every company will have an app and certainly data matters. What are some obstacles that companies will see and advice in how you will overcome? I’m assuming that culture of people process and all of those fundamentals achieve to success, but are there any other obstacles specific to digital transformation?

Meg:   

(33:46) I would hit a little bit more deeply on the culture thing, because I do think it’s not just the obvious stuff that you think about as culture. It’s actually about measurement and definition of business function. It really is about organizational structure. What are you in charge of and how do you do it and the thing about digital it starts to merge all of these things.

(34:09) We now that the marketing relationship used to be this big and now it’s this big, right. We know, that the service relationship it used to be this and now it’s this, so it’s true that these things are starting to overlap that much more. So actually, it gets back to our collaboration story at the beginning and now I’m not talking about is tool. I’m talking about a human interaction of who is responsible for what, how do we work together to drive an outcome.

(34:37) And I think what works the best is again, when you can tie it to the key business metrics that you are already tracking in your business plan. It is a very strategic to business discussion about who are we as a company, how do we serve our customer, and what do we measure to do it. And if you can get that really tight it becomes much easier for teams to interact because if your measurement is about customer retention, then you can think about how does everything you do to manifest itself with customer retention.

(35:10) It’s customer acquisition you know, how does that work etc. so really thinking about your metrics and really thinking about how you help define success across groups, I think is actually the keys to where people are seeing success and seeing retention.

(35:26) I think that’s going to get bigger and it’s going to be more obvious and we are going to get better at it because you know, companies that get good and high functioning at remembering the plot and not just thinking about their area and what metrics they were measured on in the past and will do the best job.

Michael:         

(35:48) So Meg, you’re talking about measurements and metrics and having clarity around what you are trying to achieve. Let’s use that to talk about this digital transformation buzzword, because digital transformation is kind of the broader business expression of a lot of the things that you were just talking about. So what are your thoughts on that and maybe let’s talk about this topic.

Meg:   

(36:20) I love the way you said that and I think it’s exactly right, it is how companies grappled with this idea. The idea that there is a whole bunch of new stuff, and how do we as a company me that new stuff strategic to our business plan and our business story.

(36:40) I think again a lot depends on your industry, your competition, and your landscape. So again, I would go back to your B school stuff saying, what is your customer, what is your competition, how do you serve your market? Because you know, if you are a soft drink manufacturer as a very different story, if you are automotive, building toys, or clothing or you know, parts inside of other things.

(37:10) You know, where your business lies is the key to everything. And then after that, you know the customer journey mapping and what journeys are your customers taking and how does that play out. All of those things need to be really well understood and agreed upon. And then the next step is, where does digital play in all of this.

(37:34) Again, you know if you can sell your stuff through e-commerce, digital is kind of end to end. If you are selling your stuff through B2B with sales people, then well you have a different sort of surround kind of salesforce automation story with your set of technologies and tools.

(37:55) But again, if you are thinking about digital and you are not thinking about how it goes across your data platform and what your strategy is there. You are not really thinking about digital either thinking about e-commerce, or marketing automation or you know however you are defining it in your company.

(38:12) But like the way that businesses are thinking about and talking about digital transformation, because it does imply that the transformation is happening inside the business and not just out. And I do think that we are really in the second generation of this, because e-commerce started for us. A lot of companies was like, is my storefront happening to go away or not. These are not new questions, they are just getting more interesting because of the tools and the capabilities and the participation is growing so rapidly.

(38:46) But again, I think starting with your classic B school. What is your business, who is your competition, who is your customer, and how do they want to interact with you really is the start. And then what where is digital in that story and with social in that story. It is a lot of strategy work actually.

Vala:   

(39:06) You focus on disruptive technology and in future technology, how closely do you and your team work with enterprise start-ups.

Meg:   

(39:15) We do a little. I would say that first up I remember my teams were start-ups and my products came through acquisitions, so that has been a really nice for us. And then of course you know, myself in general I consider what we are doing as being a start-up inside of Oracle, so we are sort of an internal well-funded start-up because we know that we are part of a bigger piece inside here at Oracle.

(39:49) But within our oracle cloud, it is becoming much more interesting about the overall marketplace and the ecosystem what’s available in our solution space. So a big change that I think that has happened here at Oracle is our shift from – you know when we had to deliver products from on premise, it was a lot harder to say we will just plug-in with anything because by the time it got to a customer site, the version they were on, the number of things that they would plug into and the ability to make that a good customer experience was hard.

(40:23) So we always did it and we made sure that IT had a big piece of that and all of the systems integration work and all of that. Now, we are cloud delivery and you know, from a technology delivery point of view, it is so special and so nice in this world in which we are in today.

(40:41) Because not only can we give innovation to our customers easier, but the integration frameworks and platforms have just gotten so much better. I mean I really have to say that place used to be much much harder.

(40:55) And so the idea of these marketplaces, the independent software that work with our cloud solution and that works with other companies, or it could be our hosting on our cloud. And all of these things make for a more rich and interesting technology picture.

(41:13)But again, it really supports and what the customer is trying to do, which has a reliable backbone, a known set of data and the ability to plug in and innovation, even internally built. They could build on our platform inside an IT organisation for the company, and still bring that into our cloud.

(41:34)So I think there has never been a better time to be innovative and to be building new products because all of the big players are ready to work with all of the little players and the customer really benefits.So, from a technology provider point of view it’s a pretty good deal I would say.

Michael:         

(41:54) So we have just if you minutes left Meg, so we want to ask your advice. How can organizations ‘become social’? You touched on this a little bit earlier, but may be..

Meg:   

(42:11) First and foremost I would say be true to the culture of your organisation. Be true to your identity, but think about how transparency and the value of the global voice can be part of what you are.

(42:31) So I feel like a lot of the times that people think, well you know I have to do like share everything. No, if that is not your corporate culture I don’t actually think that is going to work. People are going to find that off-putting.

(42:43) If it is your corporate culture, you should be able to use the kind of patterns that have been laid out there. But I think the benefit for all companies by getting your employers more engaged, getting your ecosystem more engaged, getting your customers more engaged as part of your business plan. It gives you a competitive edge that you really don’t want to miss out on.

(43:07) So first and foremost, do it in a way that is going to work for your business because if you are just going through the motions everyone is going to know and that’s not going to work.

(43:15) Secondarily, think about where within your personal corporate culture can collaboration and sharing of information and working together gives you the biggest benefit. And then think about what does that mean for your business plan, and where does that play in driving business results.

Michael:         

(43:40) And we can’t leave without talking about women in technology.

Vala:   

(43:45) That is a fantastic topic. So could you share your thoughts on that? That could be 45 minutes by the way. And you know getting to the last minute and bringing up such an important topic.

Meg:   

(43:58) I’m not sure why you would think I would be interested in talking about women in technology guys, I can’t even imagine that. So yes, I am a mother of two girls, and I have been in tech for a long time. And first of all I think tech is a fantastic place for women you know; I think there is great opportunity.

(44:17) We need more women in the age of digital and the age of social even more because we know that social leans feminine, and we know that the idea of collaboration is having multiple points of view is important. So you know, over 50% of the population, I think we should be participating in this important shift in the world.

(44:45) So if people are thinking about how they can be involved and they aren’t sure that technology is for women. First and foremost I would say called me because absolutely you should be here. And secondarily later, I feel very strongly that this is ebb and flow in how women can become part of the start-up’s theme and help women can be part of the venture theme, and how women become part of the board and these are great conversations.

(45:11) We have a lot of room to grow, and the conversations are happening so be part of it. I could talk to you on any entire show on that, but I’m very passionate about it and I think that women need to be in tech, tech needs women and so definitely don’t give up it’s important.

Vala:   

(45:31) Well you have written wonderful blogs on this very topic, so I suggest that our audience definitely reads your blog is because you very passionately and very empathetically articulate the importance. As the father of two daughters, 12 and eight, I’m certainly trying to encourage them. Awesome, thank you very much. Michael, a great topic to end the show.

Michael:         

(46:04) Yeah and we have been thrilled and honored to have Meg Bear, who is group vice president of the Oracle social cloud joining us today on CXOTalk. And I hope you will come back again Meg and join us another time.

Meg:   

(46:22) I would love to, thank you.

Michael:         

(46:25) These conversations go by it too quickly.

Vala:   

(46:26) That was an incredibly fast 45 minutes we could have talked just on that last topic for 45.

Michael:         

(46:32) That is for sure, we underserved that last topic. And I hope everybody will join us next week when we will be having as our guest the chief marketing officer, of Schneider Electric which is a huge company, Chris Hummel. And thank you for watching and once again thank you to Meg Bear. And Vala, as always. Meg, at one point they set up a fist bump cam, but now there is no fist bump cam so I’m not sure. Well this sends another episode, episode number 90 of CXOTalk, and I hope you will come back and I hope everybody has a great weekend. Bye Bye.

 

List of companies mentioned:

Oracle:                                    www.oracle.com

General Motors:                    www.gm.com

Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Episode: 89
Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sree Sreenivasan
Chief Digital Officer
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sree Sreenivasan is Chief Digital Officer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. At the Metropolitan Museum, he explores new digital opportunities for the Museum and leads its Digital Media Department, which is responsible for managing and producing digital content—especially documentation and interpretive materials on the Museum’s collection—and for delivering it to a variety of audiences, both online and in the galleries.

Mr. Campbell stated, in making the announcement: “Sree comes to the Met with a strong background in the communication of ideas.  His work in traditional journalism, his role as a commentator on technology and media issues, and his expertise in websites and social media will all be key to the Museum’s work in the digital space.  His academic background will also position him well within our community of scholars, and we look forward to working with him as we leverage mobile, in-gallery, and online platforms for the Met’s collections.”

“Until now, I’ve had a one-way, three-decade-long love affair with the Met,” said Sree Sreenivasan, “so I am absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to contribute as part of the staff and as the leader of the digital media team there. Much of my work in recent years has been about connecting the physical and the digital, the in-person and the online experience. Now I look forward to forging new connections between the superb, expansive collections of the Met—which are a true representation of our shared global history—and the two billion people who use the web.”

Mr. Sreenivasan became the first Chief Digital Officer in 2012 at Columbia University, where he has been a professor of digital journalism at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism since 1993 and served as Dean of Student Affairs from 2008 through 2012. He trains and coaches journalists and other professionals around the world about smarter use of social and digital media. In 2012 he became a blogger for CNET News, writing the SreeTips blog about social and digital media. From 2009-2011, he was part of the founding team and a contributing editor at DNAinfo.com, a hyperlocal site named one of the six hottest news startups of 2010 by BusinessInsider. He is also a co-founder, past president, and current board member of SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association, comprised of more than one thousand journalists of South Asian origin who are based in the U.S. and Canada (www.saja.org). 

He appears weekly on WCBS-TV to discuss technology trends and tips, and was a technology reporter for WNBC-TV (2007-2009) and WABC-TV (2000-2007), as well as co-writer of the Poynter Institute’s weekly Web Tips column, aimed at helping media professionals understand the Internet better(2001-2007). He published more than 40 stories in the New York Times between 1996 and 2002, including regular contributions to the “Taking in the Sites” column when the web was new.

Mr. Sreenivasan has been named one of Poynter’s 35 most influential people in social media; one of AdAge’s 25 media people to follow on Twitter; one of SPJ’s top 20 journalists to follow on Twitter; one of OnlineColleges.net’s 50 most social media savvy professors in America; one of GQ India’s 30 digital Indians; and one of the Huffington Post’s 50 media people to follow on Facebook. 

His Twitter feed is at https://twitter.com/sree and his tech tips are on Facebook athttp://facebook.com/sreetips

Mr. Sreenivasan was born in Tokyo and raised in Manhattan, Bhutan, the former Soviet Union, Myanmar, and Fiji. He received his B.A. in history from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and subsequently earned a Master of Science degree in journalism from Columbia University. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.

Transcript

Michael:  

(00:04) The world of the Chief Digital Officer is certainly a very interesting one, and CIO’s and CMO’s and analysts and pundits and everybody else is wondering what dose a Chief Digital Officer do. Well  today, on episode number 89 we are privileged to have with us a Chief Digital Officer.

I’m Michael Krigsman with my fabulous and friendly co-hos Vala Afshar. So we’re here today Vala with Sree Sreenivasan, who is the Chief Digital Officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Vala:   

(00:49) The most influential museum on Twitter based on a recent study. That’s maybe on a reflection of an awesome Chief digital Officer, but we’ll learn more about that as we have our conversation. So Sree, could you please provide us with a brief background about yourself.

Sree:               

(01:06) Sure thank you. I’m delighted to be on your show, and I’m delighted to any invitation that doesn’t require me to get on a plane and fly out anywhere. I know lots of the folks listening love getting on a plane but I’m not one of those people.

(01:21) I joined the Met about a year and a quarter ago about in the middle of last year in 2013. I came here after spending a lifetime at Columbia University. I arrived on campus at 21 and I planned to leave when I was 81, but mi left at the age of 43 to come the the Metropolitan museum. And I would have not have left for any other job except this one.

(01:50) I grew up a few blocks from the Met and gone to school one block from the Met and I had this idea that I had this 30 year love affair with the Met, and if you love someone for 30 years and they call you, you talk the call. And then with your wife permission you carry on and that’s what we did and I did and that’s how I ended up here.

(02:11) A couple of quick things. I taught in the journalism program at Columbia. I was a full time professor there and I was also a Dean of Admissions and career services in the part of the world of studying and academia. And then I had the privilege to spend a year as the first Chief Digital Officer of Columbia University and try to understand and navigate that world. And the this opportunity at the Met came up

(02:38)We have here about 70 people doing digital media at the Met and we work very closely with our CTO, whose name is Geoff Sparr. He and I work very closely together. We’re in multiple meetings every week and it’s a true partnership that makes everything we do possible.

(03:00) I also work very closely with our CMO, Cynthia Round, who came to use from a career in places like P&G. but was also at United Way, the world’s largest charity. So those are some of my partners in crime here.

(03:15) We have another kind of CDO, a Chief Design Officer, and all of this is to say the the Met is very committed to the world of digital and technology. And I’m here to take your questions and learn along the way myself.

Michael:

(03:30) Great. Well thank you so much. So you were at Columbia for many years. You were a journalist and you were a professor and then you were a Chief Digital Officer at Columbia. What is that pathway? What’s the pathway from journalism to being a Chief Digital Officer? Let’s start there just to continue to set the stage.

Sree:   

(03:54) Sure, I would say that people are confused about my past and wondering what I’m doing here. And there are certainly days I’m wondering what I’m doing at the Met.

(04:06) I am a fan but I am not an expert on any kind of art myself, but I do love storytelling. And I believe the future of all businesses is in storytelling and in connecting the physical and the digital, the in person, and the online.

(04:25) And at the Met we are committed to this idea of storytelling, and I tell people on a very informal basis is that my goal is to tell a million plus stories about our million plus works of art to a billion plus people. So that’s where that journalism

Michael:  

(00:04) The world of the Chief Digital Officer is certainly a very interesting one, and CIO’s and CMO’s and analysts and pundits and everybody else is wondering what dose a Chief Digital Officer do. Well  today, on episode number 89 we are privileged to have with us a Chief Digital Officer.

I’m Michael Krigsman with my fabulous and friendly co-hos Vala Afshar. So we’re here today Vala with Sree Sreenivasan, who is the Chief Digital Officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Vala:   

(00:49) The most influential museum on Twitter based on a recent study. That’s maybe on a reflection of an awesome Chief digital Officer, but we’ll learn more about that as we have our conversation. So Sree, could you please provide us with a brief background about yourself.

Sree:               

(01:06) Sure thank you. I’m delighted to be on your show, and I’m delighted to any invitation that doesn’t require me to get on a plane and fly out anywhere. I know lots of the folks listening love getting on a plane but I’m not one of those people.

(01:21) I joined the Met about a year and a quarter ago about in the middle of last year in 2013. I came here after spending a lifetime at Columbia University. I arrived on campus at 21 and I planned to leave when I was 81, but mi left at the age of 43 to come the the Metropolitan museum. And I would have not have left for any other job except this one.

(01:50) I grew up a few blocks from the Met and gone to school one block from the Met and I had this idea that I had this 30 year love affair with the Met, and if you love someone for 30 years and they call you, you talk the call. And then with your wife permission you carry on and that’s what we did and I did and that’s how I ended up here.

(02:11) A couple of quick things. I taught in the journalism program at Columbia. I was a full time professor there and I was also a Dean of Admissions and career services in the part of the world of studying and academia. And then I had the privilege to spend a year as the first Chief Digital Officer of Columbia University and try to understand and navigate that world. And the this opportunity at the Met came up

(02:38)We have here about 70 people doing digital media at the Met and we work very closely with our CTO, whose name is Geoff Sparr. He and I work very closely together. We’re in multiple meetings every week and it’s a true partnership that makes everything we do possible.

(03:00) I also work very closely with our CMO, Cynthia Round, who came to use from a career in places like P&G. but was also at United Way, the world’s largest charity. So those are some of my partners in crime here.

(03:15) We have another kind of CDO, a Chief Design Officer, and all of this is to say the the Met is very committed to the world of digital and technology. And I’m here to take your questions and learn along the way myself.

Michael:

(03:30) Great. Well thank you so much. So you were at Columbia for many years. You were a journalist and you were a professor and then you were a Chief Digital Officer at Columbia. What is that pathway? What’s the pathway from journalism to being a Chief Digital Officer? Let’s start there just to continue to set the stage.

Sree:   

(03:54) Sure, I would say that people are confused about my past and wondering what I’m doing here. And there are certainly days I’m wondering what I’m doing at the Met.

(04:06) I am a fan but I am not an expert on any kind of art myself, but I do love storytelling. And I believe the future of all businesses is in storytelling and in connecting the physical and the digital, the in person, and the online.

(04:25) And at the Met we are committed to this idea of storytelling, and I tell people on a very informal basis is that my goal is to tell a million plus stories about our million plus works of art to a billion plus people. So that’s where that journalism, digital media background comes in.

(04:47) We’ve been teaching digital media at Columbia University journalism school since the fall of 1994, which, as you know is ancient history and in that spring of ’95 we were super excited because a new product had come along called Netscape. Until then we were working on Mosaic and Netscape arrived and Virgin 0.9 was what my colleagues used to launch our first websites.

(05:14) Back in those days it was very easy to be the digital guy, because no one knew anything. Our students didn’t know anything. So now as people become more sophisticated, to stay ahead of them we have to work a lot harder as professors.

Vala:   

(05:30) So the 20 year anniversary of Netscape, and you have one of the founders and recent and very active on Twitter on a daily basis, so one of the most prolific investors and thought leaders on Twitter.

So let’s step back a little bit and maybe you can help to explain to our audience you know, what is a Chief Digital Officer, and what does that role encompass and the goals of a CDO. So you were the first CDO of 2012 at Columbia University, and now the CDO at the Met. So please help define the role for us.

Sree:   

(06:04) Sure, and we should say that CDO’s are a brand new type of role within corporations andit’s also a role that’s in transition itself and maybe we can get into it a little later. It might be a transisitionary role itself, meaning that it may not always be around.

(06:21) So that’s quite a provocative thing to talk about but we will. But maybe let me back up and explain.

(06:28) A CDO as opposed to a CTO, CIO and similar roles, I see it as the person who deals with the content that’s created and shared and interacts with the public facing part of the museum.

(06:45) So for us that meanseverything, so I have a team that does email marketing. We have a team that does website. A team that does social media, we doubled it to two people. We have a team that has a media lab which is just getting started. We’ve had it for a while, but we’re doing a reboot and reenergizing our media lab. It’s about just a two person operation, just thinking about the museum. We have a team that do the interactive and the gallery.

(07:16) We have audio guides, which is something that people still use. we have mobile developers and doing that kind of work. We have a team that does video and online publications and on and on and on.

(07:31) We have a group of folks who do our CMS development. We work on a platform called Sitecore that some of your colleagues may know. On email we use Cheetahmail, so it’s all of these different types of platforms. And then we have some museum specific technology that we use.

(07:49) All of this is done in conjunction with our CTO’s team. They’re the ones that build our infrastructure. Our galleries are all wired, so he does that for us and for the museum. We do all kinds of things that require the CTO and the CIO to be in close contact.

Michael:         

(08:09) So you’re like the content arm. So if we think about a vein diagram where you have the intersection technology digital delivery and content. You are the content arm, would that be a correct way of phrasing that?

Sree:   

(08:26) I think so. That’s one way to look at it. Anything that touches the public audience we’re the ones responsible for that. But it’s all built on the infrastructure that the CIO, Geoff Sparr has pulled together for us.

Michael:

(08:41) I’m hesitating because it’s almost the boundary between IT is doing and the CIO, and what you’re doing, it’s got to be a very grey kind of boundary.

Sree:   

(08:56) As somebody who has a lot of grey hair, I like grey. So I think that’s absolutely fair. And it would also be fair to say that on any given day there may be some confusion in who does what. But this idea of thinking, does it phase the audience or does it not phase the audience. I think that helps us stay out of each other’s way. But as I said, we do so many things together, we don’t worry about the things that we have to do separately.

Vala:   

(09:21) So it looks like a quad of let’s say digital business transformation that has a CIO, a CTO, CMO, a CDO and then the design chief that perhaps ensures that the customer experience is preserved as you are adding technology and capabilities to the museum.

Sree:   

(09:42) I think that’s very good. I think if anyone at the Met has ever sat down and drawn any of that out – and you have to remember, this all fits into a much larger context at the Met. At the Met we are all about the art. So all of us are in service of the art and I should give for the folks that don’t know, just a 30 seconds on the Met itself. People always want to know the biggest, largest, oldest kind of parameters.

(10:07) We are the world’s largest encyclopedic Museum, which means we represent 5000 years of human creativity from every corner of the world, from every country of the world is represented here. There are fabulous museums in other parts of the world and in New York, but not all of them have every culture. They are specializing in certain things or having gaps in them but we have everything.

(10:31) We are going to celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2020 and that gives you a sense of how long we have been doing this as well. We have had 6.2 million visitors in person at the Met, the largest tourist attraction in New York. And we have about 40 million people online, and this is where I get in trouble because I said my goal is to tell a million stories to a billion people. What kind of crazy person gives his boss a set of metrics on which he can be judged against. So we are only at 40 and we have a long way to go to hit 1 billion.

Michael:         

(11:07) So I grew up in New York and the Met, I have such incredible – the one thing I really miss about Boston is the Metropolitan Museum art.

But tell us why did the museum need to create a chief digital officer role, because the museum has been in the business of presenting content to audiences since its founding. And at the same time we have a question from Twitter, from Lauren Brousell, who is a big on show over at CIO magazine who asks, what are the top challenges for the Met in terms of digital content. So is two challenge questions, why did the museum need to create the role and what are the big challenges?

Sree:   

(11:58) Well as the person that has the role I’m glad they did, and I think the reason they did is because the Met is no longer the old Met - it’s not to say your grandmother’s collection of art or your grandpa’s collection of art. It is a living, breathing museum that – not just has all of this great art, but collects art and acquires new art and it is also constantly a place where art is being made. And we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of art classes that are free that people can take and can participate in. Adult classes to young kids.

(12:37) We work also very closely with our head of education, her name is Sandra Jackson-Dumont who came to us from the CLR museums. So she is full of tech ideas and she and I work very closely together. Just this morning, we were touring through a group from my daughter’s favorite app. It’s an app called Paper, from a company called 53.

(13:09)What they have there is an iPad app where you can drill and they just do it in a beautiful way. So we already teach iPad sketching but we are working with these folks to improve the way we do iPad sketching. So you come into a gallery, you take a class, and you will be given an iPad and one of their new special pens to interact. So that kind of technology we are able to use.

(13:32) But this all goes to the idea that there are a lot of opportunities for a Chief Digital Officer to get his or her team to be thinking about the digital aspects. For many many years the Met was just the Met and people would just show up, but now we’re in a battle for attention – not just amongst other museums, but sort of everything.

(13:55) As a couple of you know because you commented on it, I was lucky enough to have just returned from NASA, where NASA hosts something called NASA Social where they bring influencers to come and see behind the scenes at NASA. And that was such a meaningful experience for me. When I was growing up, I would have been absolutely have been an astronaut, except that I am scared of heights. I’m not good at math and I didn’t have the guts, but other than that I’m Neil Armstrong basically and I would have loved to have been an astronaut. So I couldn’t do that, but the next best thing was getting to see behind the scenes at NASA.

(14:38) We were there for the launch of Orionand I got up at 3:30 on Thursday morning and I was there, waiting and waiting and it didn’t launch. And then I got on a plane and came back home, because I knew I had to be here on Friday to be with all of you wonderful people, and I had lots of meetings in New York, and I wanted to be in my office when I talk to you.

(14:55) But this idea that if NASA has to do this, then what hope do the rest of us have. NASA is sending a rocket into space, and they worry about attention, then what hope do we have.

(15:10) I was in a meeting this year with Sal Khan from Khan Academy and you know this K through 12+, his organization is changing the world of education, and Sal said something to me that really detests me, he said that the vast majority of people who will benefit from my service, my free service whose lives will be improved tonight, whose kid’s lives will be improved tonight, whose neighbors, grandkids lives will be improved tonight have never heard of my service and will never hear of my service. I said, Oh my God, if Sal who is doing this Get all of this promotion and all of that, then what hope for the rest of us have.

(15:52) So that’s one of the things that we have to do at the Met is tell our stories, our internal stories I was touring a group of people through the Met this morning, including those folks from 53 and you end up walking in our armor gallery which is so beautiful. It would have been one of the largest museums of arms and armor in the world if it wasn’t just inside the Met. And you walk right by these handmade spurs, and they were crafted by a silversmith in Boston named Paul Revere.

(16:25) You wouldn’t even notice them because they are just lost amongst all of these other things. And that’s the challenge. In any other museum you would have had a shrine to Paul Revere and these spurs, but here they are kind of lost. And that is the challenge of having a big place, so to your question from Twitter, so what are some of the challenges

(16:44) Telling the stories are big challenge. Another challenge is how do we harness all of this excitement that our audience have and our employees have. We have 2200 employees at the Met, including hundreds of guards and we have these curators - 100+ curators, 100+ people who are conservatives and scientists, inventing new ways of preserving this art.

(17:11) So we have to think about those very strongly, very deeply and think about how we make those work. And what I try to tell people when they ask about the role of digital in a museum is I kind of think about our curators who might buy a beautiful Greek vase and decide that this – they will buy this, 2000 years old.

(17:37) And as a CDO, my instinct might be to say to them, I want you to do XYZ by the third quarter, or by the close of business or Q4 - words that make a lot of sense to everybody on this call. But for a curator whose thinking not in five year bursts or five-month bursts or five decade bursts, she is thinking about this for the next 2000 years.

(18:06) So what is my role and how do we motivate our team? What we say is that it’s our role to make several things with this cup. We need to make it shine online, so that it’s so attractive that people want to come and see it in person. We want to get a generation of people to support that cup, so people will come – and it will have a roof over its head and it can stay.

(18:32) But also we have what we told our collection information systems. These are the people who do our digital asset management and our text management of our fields of information so that everything we do is catalogued in a permanent way. So that five years from now, someone can come and say, hey, isn’t that a knockoff made in India – it’s not from Greece.

(18:55) Well the only proof we have is that digital record that we have kept that has the provenance that we publish publicly. All of these things that they can see, that knows that is in fact here for 2000 years. So what we talk with our team, our goal is to keep that cup and keep it with us for 2000 years and we have a role to play in that process, and we think about that all of the time.

Vala:   

(19:22) So in this hyper connected world and this participation economy what you have – folks coming to the Met and they have got this tablet, their phone, their iPad. And at the same time you have technology like the sensors and Internet of things and augmented reality. How do you as the Chief Digital Officer look at the innovation of velocity that exist today and plan a roadmap of, ‘this is how I can boost participation by using may be an Oculus Rift or sensor technology, that detects patron’s that are frequently visit the Met and so on and so forth.

What is the process of building your technology roadmap for the next 12, 24, 36 months.

Sree:   

(20:06) So have have you been looking into my Google Docs and figured out everything that we have been doing here, because we use several terms that are in our plans and in our…

Michael:         

(20:19) We are connected to the NSA.

Sree:   

(20:21)We are really worried about this because I can take a part that was said, including IBeacons can set which we are playing with. We have Oculus Rift here. We have four instances of Google glass – I don’t know what the plural of glass is. We have various ways in which we are trying to find ways in which we can connect to deal with our visitors and connect them with the museum better.

(20:48) Connect them amongst each other better – those are all things we have to do if we want to be successful at the Met. So those are things we work on most of those projects and things. We will work with our CTO and CMO building our CRM strategy. By the way I love talking to you guys because you know all of these words and when I’m normally in a conference with folks from the art world, these are not jargons that everybody is familiar with – which is fine because most of the time I I am not familiar with the things that they are saying.

(21:21) Part of it is this idea that I’d tell people that the role of the CDO is also as Chief Listening Officer. CDO/Chief Listening Officer, because we need someone in the museum whose listing for new ideas and saying, is this worth it. Does this make sense for us? And you all know that you can spend as anybody in the tech world, your entire day dealing with vendors – all day long and all of these pitches.

(21:49) I tell people, let’s take as many of these pitches as possible, because you don’t know is what if something that is going to change your business and what is something that is absolutely worthless, and that’s because everything that we use today that we love and swear by was once something that someone had to pitch, and a lot of luck was involved along the way.

Michael:         

(22:13) That’s interesting, because most of the senior executives that I know have put layers and layers and elaborate mechanisms in place to filter those pitches out. But you are doing the opposite, how do you manage that?

Sree:   

(22:28) Now you are going to make me regret this aren’t you!

Vala:   

You are only amongst a bunch of start-up founders, no one worries.

Sree:   

(22:38) I didn’t say anything guys, that was my evil point.

(22:43)What I would say is that it’s part of my role. I mean is defined in my role, in my mind as Chief Listening Officer then you have got to listen. And by the way, a couple of things and some tips to start-ups is that I have been teaching entrepreneurship and teaching entrepreneurs and being involved in start-ups myself.

(23:01) I taught for four years with an awesome guy called Kenneth Lerer, the co-founder of the Huffington Post, who runs Lerer Ventures and now Lerer Hippeau and here’s one of the most influential folks in the world of entrepreneurship, and one of the things I have learnt from him is the importance of when you are doing work even how you pitch it matters.

(23:26) And for example, I keep getting pitched by these social listening tools, right, all of these social media tools. And you would be shocked of how many of them don’t listen themselves. Some of them don’t know that I have tweeted about them, or they have coming to the meeting which I have given them – they are sitting with me in a meeting and we would say, okay, these are the next steps I would like to learn more. Let’s do this and that. And then because I filled in some forms somewhere, two days later I get a cold call from somebody who is at the same company, and has no idea that they have already got the meeting, they already have a plan, and they are starting from scratch.

(24:06) And in the last few years I have noticed that vendors have this really clever way where the email subject line says, free on Wednesday – like very specific in the subject line. So you think, my God is this somebody I already know it says free on Wednesday. Maybe it somebody that I’ve met at a conference or whatever, and then I read it and it’s a standard pitch. But they are like, let’s get on your calendar for Wednesday. And I understand the hustle, because you have got to hustle if you are doing this. But listen to your own teams listen before you reach out.

(24:37) So for example, you guys know the importance and we live in a social world and for the first time, vendor’s and others have this enormous advantage, that the people who you are reaching out to have public profiles with public information and they are sharing way too much, including me.

(24:56) So what happens is, if I get a cold call email on Wednesday night when I’m preparing to go and see Orion lift off, that means this person hasn’t read anything I said for the last three days. This is not because I’m important, but this just means that they don’t bother to look and read before they come.

(25:18)That’s why I’d tell everybody, get this app called Rapportive, which has now been bought by LinkedIn, and what it does is when you compose an email to me, on the side will come all of my social status mentions and you will see – for example, if you are about to write to me saying, Sree can I meet you. It will say I’m at my grandfather’s funeral. Do you want to be the guy that contacts me on my grandfather’s funeral? –no.

(25:46) Instead, you might write a note but we later and say, Sree I’m sorry to see that your grandfather has passed away. Whenever you come back I would love to talk to you, then again this is not because I’m important but that’s because it’s common decency to understand this, and you have these tools now.

(26:02) So when I wrote more than 50 articles for the New York Times, I never cold called anybody and that was from the New York Times. I believe the best way to reach somebody is via email and give it 10 days, and if you don’t hear back write another note. Nobody minds that, but that’s how I work. Other people may love getting phone calls, but you should see these kind of aggressive phone calls where they have no idea what I’m doing when they call. Again, not because I’m important, but this is the new world we live in.

(26:31) It’s so much easier to sell now, because you can understand something about the person you are selling to, otherwise you are doing it all blind. So please, don’t do it blind you don’t need to do it blind.

Vala:   

(26:42) It’s incredible that marketing organizations are not taking advantage of for example, social listening tools and some of the applications that you mentioned. In fact, anybody who has a decent CRM solution, perhaps already has the ability to look at all of the various social channels and add contextual intelligence to the process. So that they’re not trying to reach you when it’s at NASA. And by the way, if you have pictures of Nasser please share, because we see the astronauts now frequently tweeting and there are some of the more popular folks on Twitter with just the brilliant photography, and you have got the Mars rover tweeting and so on.

Sree:   

(27:34) Here’s an astronaut and I was so excited to meet astronauts. And what I think is by the way that there is a person at twitter called Erica Anderson and her twitter handle is @EricaAmericaand you should all follow her. And Erica has this great line, is that if you are good in real life you can be great on Twitter. And I believe she is right, but let’s take it one step further. If you are good in real life, you can be great on social. But if you are great in real life, you can be awesome in social. But if you aren’t bad in real life, you will be awful on social.

(28:13) And I see some terrific people who are just not using their social as well as they could, maybe they didn’t get the training, may be they don’t understand, and maybe they can be doing more.

(28:23) I met this guy as a conference named Dan Goods,, he works for JPL, the Jet propulsion laboratory and he is just terrific. He’s not very active on Twitter, so what I want everybody to do is to follow him on Twitter so that he will Tweet more. But there are people like this. You see this every day – these astronauts this is Astro-wrecks, so you can follow him.

(28:49) But the favorite moment was – well there was several favorite moments including by the way, sometimes you don’t see things in front of you – this is near a launchpad in Cape Canaveral, before I notice that there is a space shuttle right on the ground. I stood for half an hour and I never noticed it and it is actually a quarter of a mile walking track. Of course I went for a little walk around it, it was so exciting.

(29:20) But I want to tell you this last story that gentleman who runs the head of all of NASA is CharlieBolden, and he is not on Twitter. And we can talk about bosses on Twitter in a moment if you like to. And he is terrific. And then what happened was, we had a kind of a bad selfie background, it doesn’t say NASA in any way. So I just turned him around and said let’s stand here, and he had no idea who I was. He said so what did you do? I said I worked at the Met.

(29:54) So now you are about to see by luck, I captured his reaction to my saying, I work at the Met. So you look at this and you look at his face and he said, you have a better job than me.

Vala:   

(30:07) It sounds like you do!

Sree:   

(30:09) But I said, my God, you’re the head of NASA are you kidding me! of course you have the best job in the world. He was asked by the way at the press conference, isn’t it that this is not such a big deal, because after all you’re not sending any people and we’re not going to get to Mars until 2030, so what’s the big deal.

(30:26) So this man, the head of NASA said to his audience, all of the journalists and everybody, said, it’s a BFD. Who else would say that and get away with it and I love the idea of that and say it and it just shut everybody up after that because he answered them

(30:47) Look at the joy when someone sees an astronaut. There’s a little boy with one of the other astronauts we met and he’s just so excited and that’s what NASA needs to capture and to tell these stories, and we need to do that for all of our institutions, whatever they might be, wherever they might be.

(31:07) This is 5AM arriving for the launch of Orion. Look how dark that is, then we waited until 9:30 and look how bright that is and then we left when it didn’t launch and then we came back home so that I could be here and watch it with my family.

Vala:   

(31:23) Where do we find these photos? Do you put them on Facebook, Twitter, do you have Instagram.

Sree:   

(31:27) Yeah, everywhere. I live tweeted from @sree and my Instagram is sreenet and my Facebook is sreenet and I have a Facebook business page called sreetips, where I share my best social media and other tips.

(31:52) Here’s something funny that happens sometimes with these things that you don’t realize that how useful it might be to get your name the way you want it on these channels and I didn’t bother to sign up. So now whenever a new platform launches, I don’t join it necessarily, but I certainly book the name on it, and there is a tool to help you do that and I certainly recommend that.

(32:14) And one other tip, what happened was that NASA brought us altogether and they treated the social reporters who we were, it was called NASAsocial#NASAsocial, and they gave us the same respect, the same access and the same location as all of the major news outlets. So I was standing next to someone from one of the biggest Japanese TV networks and this side someone else.

(32:36)And they treated us all equal, but we were in a place that was so jammed that the cell phone networks weren’t working very well so it was hard to tweet. And you know the new rules about Twitter. You have to put a picture if you want to engagement. 300 to 400% more engagement, but then no one could tweet because there was no signal. But then I remembered that I had set up my 40404.

(33:00) What is that? The ability to tweet via text, via SMS and I was able to tweet out and at least get the text out, which nobody in that public space. So we started telling people to go ahead and do that. The problem is you have to set it up in advance. You can’t do it on the ground when the network is down. You can do it from your desktop earlier.

(33:27) But it was a good reminder to me that you need to set up things in advance before you need them. It’s just like LinkedIn. Too many people in our worlds do not use LinkedIn properly. They think of it as a job hunting tool, when it is infact a relationship tool that you should be building out long in advance because if you start using it the day you get laid off, it’s to late.

(33:35) My wife, her handle is roopaonline. She does a lot of business strategy and she worked at big big companies, so she knowswhen a company is having lay-offs, because she’ll get 10 invitations from one company.

(34:10) But it’s too late to join LinkedIn then. Because what happens, you come across as desperate. You don’t know the language, the etiquette or how to use it properly. And desperation does not work on LinkedIn and just as it doesn’t work on e-harmony or match.com or j-date or any of those services.

Michael:         

(34:30) So let me ask you a question. You’re describing an absolutely contemporary digital view, yet you are working in an organization that by it’s nature looks backwards. How do you bring these two together?

Sree:   

(34:51) This morning as part of that tour, our group met with Ken Moor. Ken started 42 years ago at the Met as a night watchman. Today, he’s the head of the world’s best collection of musical instruments. This would be its own premiere museum in the world from musical instruments if it wasn’t inside the Met. This gentleman is thinking about digital from 1970, he was using digital technology to enhance his collection.

(35:21) What’s in his collection? The world’s oldest piano and is still in tune and he still plays on occasion and he also has enormous collection of Indian non-Western musical instruments.

(35:36) Since I’ve been here, Steve martin’s played, Rosanne Cash has played, Steve Miller from abracadabra fames – some of you might know. Too many people are too young to know who Steve Miller is. But they are all kinds of people who are in the building come and play.

(35:53) We have Stradivarius instruments- all kinds of things here but we are talking to people at Sound cloud and Spotify. How can we use contemporary technology to tell better stories from things of long ago, and that’s what we want to work on and improve and see what we can do.

(36:13) And that’s what makes this place so alive and so exciting to be a part of, and when we look at the Met, the Met at any point has 100 job openings and what I say to people is that in the art department it’s very easy to hire people because they want to be here their whole lives. But here in technology, it’s a little different. People have not necessarily even spent much time in the Met.

(36:39)How do I compete with developers than with you guys? How do I compete with Wall Street server farms – equity, the people in equity and all of those startups – all of those things? So how do we do it if we tell our own story about the Met in what an exciting place it is, that it’s a place that’s looking ahead and looking back at the same time.

(37:01) An institution that to survive has to be thinking ahead all of the time but always thinking about our great scholarship, our great authority, and making it all accessible. And if we can crack that or continue to crack that, we’re going to do fine.

Michael:         

(37:18) Most of the people who are working at the Met are not digitally focused. They are focused on the depth of knowledge as academics and so forth. So how do you bring the culture this way forward.

Sree:   

(37:45) Well, the way we do it is very carefully, by bringing people along. Like someone said to me you’re never going to get 100 curators do all of these new things. And I said, my God, if I had 100 curators who wanted to do things I would be drowning – I can’t do them. all I need are people who want to do things, then others will come along. I have 20 years of experience in doing that in the world of Columbia. If you think museums are slow and careful, then what about universities.

(38:14)So I have experience bringing people along. I used to do workshops in the mid-90’s about a new form of technology that everybody needed to embrace, but wasn’t sure of. That technology, email. I would say why people should use email. People say I love the fax, so why would you want email.

(38:35) What happened was you had to show them what makes sense. I had that with email, I had that with the web in general. We have that with blogging and social media. Tonight I’m doing a social workshop for 200 people and the idea is how do we do social better. How does it make sense for us.

(38:56) And if we can bring them along in universities, we can certainly bring them along here at museums. These people understand technology, but not necessarily what you or I are talking about. Think about that cup again, why does it exist today? Because the people who made that cup had the right technology in 2000 BC, or 1000 BC or 100 BC, and because of that, that cup exist today.

(39:23) That beautiful iPhone that you own will die in two years. So technology has been part of museums forever, it’s just a different kind of technology.

Michael:         

(39:34) We had a question earlier from Brian Fanzo, who asked, how do you extend the in-person experience digitally?

Sree:   

(39:44) Thank you, that’s a great question and something we think about all the time. What I want to do is build a virtual circle. Have such a fantastic experience online that you want to come to the Museum and when you are in here have such a fantastic time that you want to stay in touch, and we need to give you a bunch of tools to do that.

(40:04) So we want you to come here and if you like as so much you actually follow us on social, and then you will get our app and look at it. And our app which we just launched this year it’s a beautiful at and it has three principles –

(40:29) It should be simple, useful, delightful. Simple, useful, delightful – that’s all we wanted it to be. And we are not trying to do Museum in your pocket, so here are the highlights of all of the things you should see. We also have a today’s events. Then we have this thing called staff picks. Funds things that you can look at, it says, 2 million objects and many opinions. Fun things like, if we come up here a little bit you will see all of the Met stashes – all the moustache tour, so you can take that at the Met and you can travel.

(41:01) And then we also have for members. Remember, a lot of things are free but we want people to sign up. We have 150,000 members – tens of thousands who don’t even live in America who support us that way. Then over here upcoming events, and then finally instead of a press release section, we just have Twitter going up here and these are all tweets that we are posting. I think we posted a tweet about this session. So you guys should frame that because this is the first time that the Met has promoted a talk that is not at the Met and not connected to ours. So that’s on you guys, just for you.

(41:41) But the principle here, we took from a couple of tools that we love. One is the NYTnow app. It is so good that I deleted the main NYT app. It’s only 30% of the New York Times, but it’s the right 30% of the New York Times.

(42:01) Another app I love is called dark sky. In a world of thousands of whether apps, this does one. It tells you whether it is going to rain or snow where you are standing in the next hour. It just works and I love it, and even offered – as I understand it lots of money to sell and they haven’t done it. But not just does it work, it looks really beautiful, and those are principles we can get behind at the Met.

(42:25) So these are examples in ways in which we think about technology that we don’t invent. We want to work with companies with with partners around the world. Sal Khan, we just launched 100 videos on his platform, so we could extend the reach of what we are doing. That’s just an example.

Michael:         

(42:47) So we have three minutes left, tell us anything you want.

Sree:   

(42:52) I’m sorry, I’m accused of turning into Professor again, I don’t teach anymore.

Michael:         

(42:58) We don’t want to to ask you any more questions. Just talk to us in whatever you want.

Sree:   

(43:04)Let me tell you something funny, right? So this is how I make the sale to a developer, who is like why should I come and work for you when I make lots of money. And this is why tell them and am going to tell you the same thing.

Vala:   

(43:15) How many companies do you have right now?

Sree:   

(43:19) We have – I’ll show you one second. We have flow chart right here and all of the yellows are job openings.

Michael:         

(43:32) So we are going to tweet…

Sree:   

(43:35) The Met has dozens of openings at any time, but we have to find the right folks that want to come and work in this place, and want to be part of this team and want to do exciting things – that’s how we sell it to them. But here’s what I’d tell them and it’s going to shock all of the parents in the audience.

(43:52) I gave up free full tuition at Columbia University for my 11 year old children. If they were lucky enough and smart enough to get in, and have tuition anywhere in the world to come and work at the Met. That is no better sale things then I can tell you, but it gets worse than that guys. So you can do the math on how much money is left on the table, those are pre-tax dollars.

(44:23) Totally insane, and these are my kids and I told them basically they don’t need an education. So that’s okay in what I did to them and those are my twins there. But remember, my kids eat if you come to the met. But I tell people, don’t just come to the Met, go to every museum. I don’t care what Museum you become a member of – become one. The MFA in Boston, the art studio in Chicago, SFO – please become patrons of the art.

(44:44) There are people who don’t understand technology is key to museums, and we need support from the people watching, the VC’s and others who have influence. We need your support. Wall Street money, oil money, have built all of our great museums, but now it’s time for the next generation to step up and support the arts. Because the arts are hard to quantify compare to certain things, but everything is important and we can do it all if we have partners and people like you.

Michael:

(45:26) So I hope you’ll come back and be our guest again another time.

Sree:

(45:29) I hope you’ll have me back, thank you and I just want to make an offer to everybody. If you are in New York and you are coming to the Met, just tweet about me or email me I am sree@sree.net or sree@metmuseum – I’m the first sree in Google and reach out to me and I would love to show you around and get your feedback. How do I tell 1 million stories to 1 billion people – I have no clue, I need your help.

Vala:   

(46:04) What an offer, you can get a guided tour of the finest museum in the world arguably from the chief digital officer. To me if you are not accessible, you’re not social and what you just offered is a clear indication that not only do you care about and you are the chief listening officer with that type of offer. So thank you very much.

Sree:   

(46:27) I’ve been reading the tweets that have been coming and I see 186 tweets came during your show, that means people are listening, people are interacting. I don’t know what the heck they are saying – I’ll go back and read. I see 206 now the number has jumped to and I love that, and there is a lot we can all do together guys.

Michael:         

(46:48) Frank Scavo, who is one of the top technology industry analyst in the world, he comments, okay, I love museums but Sree has convinced me to visit them more often. So we have been talking with Sree Sreenivasan, who is the chief digital officer for the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City.

Sree:   

(47:17) Can I show you the only museum experience I had before I came here. This is the Museum of dead technology and here I got some great stuff here that many of you will be familiar with. Let’s see if I can show you a couple of things. Tin cans they still work. Look at this phone, beautiful. I have lots of blackberries. This was my favorite camera this was the Nikon cool pix 990 – do you remember them? It travelled with me around the world. I have lots of other things in here. I have a Walkman that most kids have never seen them. This is called a cassette player. Walt Mossberg, my hero in the world of journalism, digital journalism, said this was the best smart phone in the world. Does anyone remember this? The 3O. I have the original Palm pilot in here I also have x-ray vision. Do you remember this from the back of comic books? With the bald wig and  I don’t need the bald wig anymore. I’ve got all kinds of crazy things. Come and visit and we will show you this as well. There is lots of great things here, the Sony e-reader, which was so beautiful but got eaten alive by other people.

(48:47) And then finally just to leave you with this idea that we can never predict. We can have great ideas and it’s all in the execution. What you see here is a VHS tape about the tablet newspaper; a vision for the future and you can’t see the date and it says 1994. It is on a VHS tape, and in 1994 they had predicted and made even what was going to be the iPad 15 years before it was launched. They didn’t do it, so life is all about execution and we need to keep that in mind.

(49:27) So I’ll let you guys go, and thank you so much for including me and I had a great time.

Michael:         

(49:30) Well thank you and I’ll tell you that Brian Fanzo says, that thanks to this interview he is going to be visiting and subscribing to the Metropolitan Museum, and Meg Bear, who is a vice president at oracle says that Vala and I has the best job in the world and after this conversation I have to agree. So Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer of the Metropolitan Museum of New York thank you so much for joining us, and please come again. And I hope everybody has a great weekend and we’ll see you again next time. Bye bye.

 

 

Companies mention in this week’s CXOTalk:

Metropolitan Museum of Art  www.metmuseum.org/

Netscape                                   http://www.netscape.ca/

Sitecore                                     www.sitecore.net/

53 (Paper app company)        www.fiftythree.com

Cheetahmail                             www.experian.com/marketingservices/cheetahmail.html  

NASA                                          www.nasa.gov/

Khan Academy                         www.khanacademy.org/

Oculus Rift                                www.oculus.com/

Huffington Post                       www.huffingtonpost.com/

Lerer Hippeau                          www.lererhippeau.com

LinkedIn                                    www.linkedin.com

JPL                                              www.jpl.nasa.gov/

SoundCloud                              www.soundcloud.com

Spotify                                        www.spotify.com

Dark Sky app                             www.darkskyapp.com

NYT now app                             www.nytimes.com/subscriptions/Multiproduct/lp864JJ.html    

Stan Swete, Chief Technology Officer, Workday

  • Episode: 40
Stan Swete, Chief Technology Officer, Workday
Stan Swete
Chief Technology Officer
Workday

Stan Swete is chief technology officer at Workday and is responsible for Workday's overall technology strategy, direction and execution.

Stan was one of Workday’s first employees, joining the company in 2005. Prior to Workday, Stan spent 10 years at PeopleSoft in a number of key leadership roles, including head of the products and technology organization that included more than 4,000 employees. He was also manager of tools development, general manager of financial applications, general manager of customer relationship management systems and was responsible for the initial release of PeopleSoft's Internet architecture. Prior to PeopleSoft, Stan spent 10 years with ASK Computer Systems, including management of ASK's VAX product line.

Stan holds a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University.

John Hagel, Co-Chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge

  • Episode: 41
John Hagel, Co-Chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge
John Hagel
Co-Chairman
Deloitte Center for the Edge

John Hagel III has nearly 30 years experience as a management consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur, and has helped companies improve their performance by effectively applying information technology to reshape business strategies. John currently serves as co-chairman of the Silicon Valley-based Deloitte Center for the Edge, which conducts original research and develops substantive points of view for new corporate growth.

Before joining Deloitte, John was an independent consultant and writer. Prior to that, he held significant positions at leading consulting firms and companies. From 1984 to 2000, he was a principal at McKinsey & Co., where he was a leader of the Strategy Practice. In addition, he founded and led McKinsey’s Electronic Commerce Practice from 1993 to 2000. John has also served as senior vice president of strategic planning at Atari, Inc., and earlier in his career, worked at Boston Consulting Group. He is the founder of two Silicon Valley startups.

John is the author of a series of best-selling business books, including Net Gain, Net Worth, Out of the Box and The Only Sustainable Edge. He has won two awards from Harvard Business Review for best articles in that publication and has been recognized as an industry thought leader by a variety of publications and professional service firms. Additionally, he and Center Co-chairman John Seely Brown recently contributed a chapter to Business Network Transformation: Strategies to Reconfigure Your Business Relationships for Competitive Advantage (2009) and The Power of Pull (April 2010; 2nd edition December 2012).

Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer, Harvard University

  • Episode: 42
Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer, Harvard University
Perry Hewitt
Chief Digital Officer
Harvard University

Hewitt is an established leader in digital marketing communications, with deep experience in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Her background includes both traditional business and marketing strategy, and expertise in digital and social innovation and management. As Chief Digital Officer, Perry is charged with Harvard University’s efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy for digital communications and engagement, as well as to establish best practices for content, multimedia, and technology. Perry has held significant digital marketing, editorial, and client services roles at firms including Crimson Hexagon, Razorfish, ArsDigita, Harcourt, and Lotus Development Corporation. She has been a consultant to major media companies on online product development, and began her career in publishing at the Houghton Mifflin Company. She has been a frequent writer and speaker on topics including the social web, content strategy, user experience, mobile, women and leadership, and online communities and networks. She has been quoted on business and Internet issues in news media including Forbes, CNBC, and the Pew Internet Project. Perry holds an A.B. from Harvard University in Russian and Soviet Studies. She has lived and worked in Switzerland, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and now lives with her family in the Boston area.

CIO Innovation with Mike D. Kail, CIO, Netflix

  • Episode: 43
Mike D. Kail, CIO, Netflix
Mike D.  Kail
CIO
Netflix
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Mike D. Kail serves as Vice President of IT Operations (CIO) at Netflix. Mr. Kail has more than 20 years of IT Operations experience with a focus on highly scalable architectures. Prior to Netflix, he served as Vice President of IT operations at Attensity, where he was responsible for the Americas data center operations team, including managing various Big Data systems including their Hadoop cluster, HBase, and MongoDB components. He has been Advisor of Netskope, Inc. since October 2013. He serves as an Advisor of Maginatics, Inc. He serves as Customer Advisory Board Member of OneLogin, Inc. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Iowa State University.

Transcript

Michael:         

(00:05) Hello, welcome to CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman and this is episode number 43. As always I am joined with my very friendly and if you notice I’m not saying anything sarcastic or snide today a very friendly and believe me it’s hard, Vala Afshar, how are you

Vala:   

I’m doing great.

Michael:         

(00:31) Good, and Vala, we have a very interesting guest today.

Vala:   

We have an amazing guest today please.

Michael:         

(00:37) Who is Mike Kail, who is the Chief Information Officer at Netflix. Hey Mike how are you?

Mike:              

(00:44) Hey great guys, happy to be part of this.

Michael:         

(00:47) Thank you so much Mike let’s jump in and tell us about Netflix. I think everybody knows who Netflix is, but tell us about Netflix and briefly about your background.

Mike:              

(01:52)Sure so hopefully everybody knows the brand by now and I believe we’ve had a good year and people are excited about House of Cards, Season two coming out next Friday, which is Valentine’s Day.

(02:05) My role here is I’m responsible for all internal IT, so that’s campus networking, cloud infrastructure, cloud applications and platforms, supporting our marketing team for Adtech and the real time bidding and the programmatic buying area. HRAIS, with Workday CM and expense and then financials ERP, we just recently moved from Oracle to Workday financials as well as Workday payroll.

(02:37)So a pretty broad range of technologies I’m responsible for and have a team of about 125 – 130 today and growing.

Michael:         

(02:46) And how many employees does Netflix have right now?

Mike:              

(02:51) I think we’re just under 1400 between small office in DC, here in Los Gatos and then Beverley Hills.

Vala:   

(03:00)As I was researching about the show, I mean amazing stacks about Netflix. You know one in four Americans subscribe to Netflix, you know and the diversity of how they watch Netflix is interesting. Half watch on computer screens, a quarter watch on smart phones and tablets. 33% of all home broadband and internet traffic in the US generated by Netflix video, just amazing company and amazing player in the cloud and you know you just mentioned a bunch of cloud – Sass solutions that you and your team manage internalized with Netflix. Can you talk to us a little bit about your approach and philosophy regarding cloud computing.

Mike:  

(03:47)Sure, so I think Nick Carr first wrote about in 2004 with The Big Switch and how it’s really becoming commoditization, and it’s much like electricity. So you want electricity, you don’t build your own power plant. So we want to have computing and storage resources, you shouldn’t build a bunch of data centers if that doesn’t make sense if that’s not your business, and ours is providing great entertainment.

(04:13)So fuelling the new family dinner of a family four at watching content on their iPads is what we need to focus on. So then how do I apply that to enterprise IT?

(04:25)So I don’t my teams focused on procuring hardware and network infrastructure and storage systems when it’s readily available in either Sass or public cloud. So then I can provide great service much more agilely instead of the long cycles of procurement, racking, stacking and configuring; I can just configure and move.

Michael:         

(04:50) So your philosophy really is very intensely focused on cloud wherever possible.

Mike:              

(04:57)Absolutely so it’s either used to breed Sass applications or where we want to do our own, do some custom application development and publish that on public cloud.

Vala:   

(05:10) Was that mindset already there, I mean you’ve been with Netflix for what, three plus years?

Mike:              

(05:15)Yeah, so I think the mindset had definitely been on the streaming side, but I don’t think

Michael:         

(00:05) Hello, welcome to CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman and this is episode number 43. As always I am joined with my very friendly and if you notice I’m not saying anything sarcastic or snide today a very friendly and believe me it’s hard, Vala Afshar, how are you

Vala:   

I’m doing great.

Michael:         

(00:31) Good, and Vala, we have a very interesting guest today.

Vala:   

We have an amazing guest today please.

Michael:         

(00:37) Who is Mike Kail, who is the Chief Information Officer at Netflix. Hey Mike how are you?

Mike:              

(00:44) Hey great guys, happy to be part of this.

Michael:         

(00:47) Thank you so much Mike let’s jump in and tell us about Netflix. I think everybody knows who Netflix is, but tell us about Netflix and briefly about your background.

Mike:              

(01:52)Sure so hopefully everybody knows the brand by now and I believe we’ve had a good year and people are excited about House of Cards, Season two coming out next Friday, which is Valentine’s Day.

(02:05) My role here is I’m responsible for all internal IT, so that’s campus networking, cloud infrastructure, cloud applications and platforms, supporting our marketing team for Adtech and the real time bidding and the programmatic buying area. HRAIS, with Workday CM and expense and then financials ERP, we just recently moved from Oracle to Workday financials as well as Workday payroll.

(02:37)So a pretty broad range of technologies I’m responsible for and have a team of about 125 – 130 today and growing.

Michael:         

(02:46) And how many employees does Netflix have right now?

Mike:              

(02:51) I think we’re just under 1400 between small office in DC, here in Los Gatos and then Beverley Hills.

Vala:   

(03:00)As I was researching about the show, I mean amazing stacks about Netflix. You know one in four Americans subscribe to Netflix, you know and the diversity of how they watch Netflix is interesting. Half watch on computer screens, a quarter watch on smart phones and tablets. 33% of all home broadband and internet traffic in the US generated by Netflix video, just amazing company and amazing player in the cloud and you know you just mentioned a bunch of cloud – Sass solutions that you and your team manage internalized with Netflix. Can you talk to us a little bit about your approach and philosophy regarding cloud computing.

Mike:  

(03:47)Sure, so I think Nick Carr first wrote about in 2004 with The Big Switch and how it’s really becoming commoditization, and it’s much like electricity. So you want electricity, you don’t build your own power plant. So we want to have computing and storage resources, you shouldn’t build a bunch of data centers if that doesn’t make sense if that’s not your business, and ours is providing great entertainment.

(04:13)So fuelling the new family dinner of a family four at watching content on their iPads is what we need to focus on. So then how do I apply that to enterprise IT?

(04:25)So I don’t my teams focused on procuring hardware and network infrastructure and storage systems when it’s readily available in either Sass or public cloud. So then I can provide great service much more agilely instead of the long cycles of procurement, racking, stacking and configuring; I can just configure and move.

Michael:         

(04:50) So your philosophy really is very intensely focused on cloud wherever possible.

Mike:              

(04:57)Absolutely so it’s either used to breed Sass applications or where we want to do our own, do some custom application development and publish that on public cloud.

Vala:   

(05:10) Was that mindset already there, I mean you’ve been with Netflix for what, three plus years?

Mike:              

(05:15)Yeah, so I think the mindset had definitely been on the streaming side, but I don’t think it was really thought about for enterprise IT. So enterprise IT has always been about – obviously we have to have laptops and tablets ad physical devices on premises, but then how do I leverage other resources and look at things differently. I think that’s a perspective I brought here.

Vala:   

(05:41) Did that require re-tooling, retraining and not only changing the mindset, but the skillset of the internal IT organization. You mentioned 120 odd resources; can you talk to us a little about that transformation?

Mike:  

(05:57) Sure so  you know one great thing about Netflix is for those familiar with our 126 page culture deck, we hire really talented people and a lot of people say that and I really mean it. And there’s two really great traits that my employees have.        

(06:15) Intellectual curiosity, so wanting to expand their horizons and then continuous evolvement. So if you think about – cloud computing’s not a huge shift in thinking, but you have to think about architectures differently. How do you secure something you don’t have physical control over, and when you deploy applications, how do you handle resiliency and latency, once again when you don’t have full control over them. So it’s letting go and having people that want to think differently about infrastructures and architectures.

Michael:         

(06:54) So you said intellectual curiosity and  continuous evolvement?

Mike:  

(07:01) Yeah, so I think you have to be able to – especially at Netflix, we’re a very dynamic organization. So it’s not like I have a bunch of people doing one thing all dy. So you don’t just update DMS for example. So how do you continually expand your skillset and look at different and new technologies and you know, we have a great advantage point here and autonomy to do and to live in the future to some degree or at lease drive the future.

Vala:   

(07:30) Can you talk a little about your hiring process? You have a great brand and great company growing. It’s an awesome company, but is there anything unique about how you recruit; how you interview and how do you make sure there’s a cultural fit with new candidates that you bring to your organization.

Mike:              

(07:49) Sure, so we have an internal talent team that helps us with sourcing candidates and with also setting context early about the culture and what it means to work here.

(08:01)So recruiting really heard. The the Valley’s hot, there’s a bunch of great companies to work for. I think this is the best one to be at, but people have different goals. So it’s having conversations and making connections, whether that’s social media, going to conferences. Yu know I use the Glen Gary, Glen Roth you know, always be recruiting mantra.

(08:24) So anytime you meet somebody, you don’t have to give them the hard sell, but you should talk about why the Netflix culture’s great, what is different about it and at least get them thinking about wanting to be here.

(08:35) And then once we find a candidate, we probably put equal if not greater value on the cultural fit versus technical. I go into the interview, assuming that somebody has been working to five to 15 plus yearsthat they have the technical jobs. But do they really understand what it means to operate as a fully formed adult and in that culture that doesn’t have micromanaging.

(08:58) So the one thing I say to every candidate is, if you need a lot of daily direction and really enjoy micromanagement, being micromanaged you won’t have fun here over time. You’ll start to flail, because we set context so that the tagline out of the deck is context, not control. So if you want to operate with full autonomy with great context, you will absolutely love it here.

Michael:         

(09:24) So it sounds like the culture code deck, really is a very living real document that is part of the daily activities, especially it relates to hiring and probably other people oriented intersections. It’s not just a thing on paper or a slide deck, but you live it every day.

Mike:  

(09:48) It’s really guiding the principles in how you should operate every day, whether it’s doing direct candid feedback in real time, which eliminates if not all of the politics that exist unfortunately in a lot of organizations. To how do you grow and how do you think about hiring, your own skillset, and what you need to get done.

Vala:   

(10:11) So you come in three plus years ago and you realized the team need to focus more towards multi-tenant cloud Sass solutions and you start I suspect over time, migrating on premise solution to the cloud, what advice do you have for CIO’s going through the same process at the beginning. What were some of the challenges and some of the obstacles you have to overcome?

Mike:  

(10:34) Once again, I think setting context for everybody about why we’re doing this is the key to success. So the goal without any reason to have that goal is fraught with failure.

(10:47) So doing that early and then having a good clear plan that is agile enough to handle the bumps in the road that you can’t say I’m going to – everybody wants to say that I’m moving to the cloud, but what does that mean? I don’t want to fork lift existing apps and put them in cloud just to do it. So it gives you a good chance to look at all of your processes. Is this the right application, is it the right technology? And take a fresh look at a bunch of different areas that people may not even think about, so which is your financial system.

(11:23) Just because you’ve used the same system for 15 to 20 years, you know things have changed and my not be as sufficient as it once was. So really looking at improving business efficiency is something that you can do in conjunction with moving to cloud.

Michael:         

(11:39) So I’m really stuck on this idea of the culture code and the impact on IT. And the reason is that when I think of many of the IT folks that are no – not all of them, but many and I think of those CIOs and I think of how they’re trained and education and the career path it is not always lead to flexibility. But rather we towards control, rather than openness, and now you’re advocating really almost the opposite. Isn’t there a conflict there?          

Mike:  

(12:20) I don’t see the conflict, but then I have not followed H additional path in this role. So my background is a computer science degree from Iowa State a long time ago and then things like dev-ops, big data and cloud before they were buzzwords.

(12:37)So I was super early unfortunately for a lot of it and I wish I had coined a lot of the terms, but I think once again people need to take a fresh look at following what other people do doesn’t interest me.

(12:50)IT’s charter should be, and it is here to improve business efficiency and move the business forward, versus trying to co and protect your employees or prohibit them from doing X, and am not sure why that is ever a valid thought process.

Vala:   

(13:10) Can you talk to us a little bit about the growing demands of your stakeholders within Netflix. How has some consumer technology trends of mobile and social, cloud, apps change the demand on internal IT at Netflix.

Mike:              

(13:27)So if you start at the network layer, people expect the same experience whether they’re here at the office, whether at home, whether at a coffee shop or airport. So us moving towards what was called the zero trust network this year will be the start of that. And then supporting a different bunch of applications that allow people to get their job done and in conjunction with cloud they love to talk about mobile.

(13:56)Everything is mobile these days, you know personally I don’t have an office here. I have a tablet, a MacBook and chrome book and I carry that around and I can operate where ever. We also have a bunch of devices here, obviously since the Netflix app runs on them. So the acronym that I’ve blogged about while ago was instead of BYOD it really should be UAD, which is Use Any Device. Use the best device to get the job done and we should support it.

(14:28)So, in a secure manner and make sure that you have great access to applications and data.

Michael:         

(1434) So when you’re designing your systems, is that something that is foremost in your mind and do you try to explicitly set things up so that people can work off their devices as opposed to being in an office on a laptop?

Mike:  

(14:45) Yeah, so we try to remove a bunch of friction whenever possible. So with respect to Sass applications, we use one login to tie everything together via a single sign-on portal, especially for the applications that support the SAML 2.0 spec for security.

(15:03) So that way we have one place that people don’t have to have a different password for every application they use, and that helps with on boarding and off boarding employees, as well as the mobile experience. So you can access the application from your tablet, phone, laptop, and once again have the same secure login experience.

Vala:   

(15:25) Is this the greatest opportunity for IT to serve the business ensure optimal user experience you know where ever you are. I mean you said you UAD, Use Any Device, but any device, any location where ever you are all the mission-critical of this application with you everywhere. Is that the best way to serve the business?

Mike:  

(15:49) Yes and I think there has never been a better time for IT to fix its reputation in the industry. Pivot out of the blockers to being enablers, and sure that you can deploy this great technology that’s accessible where in a very agile manner.

(16:08) Leverage cloud computing, leverage Sass, leverage mobility and then the final tenant of that is providing analytics to the teams that need it so to understand those analytics before they asked for them, so being proactive instead of reactive is another good time.

Vala:   

(16:26) I totally get that and it’s so intuitive and I mean it’s common sense, although sometimes common sense is not so common, so why are CIOs under such scrutiny. I mean in Gartner News a press release the day before that 25% of large global organizations will have a CDO appointed by next year and a lot of that is promoting the CIO, or replacing the CIO or having somebody else to co-own the tech budget. And then the CMO’s have a a lot of future plans to expand. So this is the best time for IT to fix its reputation, why are we hearing so much about you know technology thought leadership shipping away from IT?

Note lost transmission.

Mike:  

(18:26) I think  I’m obviously not the best person to ask about this because I take a completely different view. I think it’s really driven by fear, so I think you have to be uncomfortable with being uncomfortable and taking a hard stance or what you believe is the correct stance and moving forward and partnering with the rest of the business versus being at odds with them. so figuring out how to partner with the CMO and figure out how to provide solutions to them.

Vala:   

So that’s good advice, being uncomfortable with being uncomfortable, great advice.

Michael:         

(19:07) Well yeah, and I’m particularly interested and you talk about being driven by fear and that’s absolutely right, but I think that is rampant throughout business. But maybe talk a little more about the implications of what that means for IT in general and what you’re doing at Netflix to change that.

(19:27) You’ve spoken about high performance IT, transformational CIO’s, enterprise IT 3.0 and I’m assuming all of this is in a sense of the antidote or more creative way in relating to the departments rather than (trivia? 19:43)

Mike:  

(19:45)So to answer the first part, I think the fear factor is really driven by unfortunately some of the analysts, so everybody has been predicting the surmise of the CIO and IT for as long as I can remember. So I view that as a challenge and I just tend to ignore them and move forward with what I think is right.

(20:06)Then what I’ve written about in the transformation period, enterprise IT 3.0 is really trying to get people to think differently and provide a framework both internally and externally for people to do that.

(20:18) So layout of what I think is the right path, which may or may not be correct, which I hope it is, but at least I’m going to try and pioneer the way to get IT to a better reputation both internally and externally and along the way hopefully help some other CIO’s and IT leaders.

Vala:   

What are some of the challenges that you face when you’re trying to introduce new innovation and when other stakeholders view is traditional IT is just someone who’s the guardian of the infrastructure. You know, how do you go about introducing change and innovation within Netflix.

Mike:              

(21:00) I think you have to understand the switching costs and the variable switching costs of technology for your employee base. And then addressing that head-on, so we switched from exchange on premises to Google apps last year. And I wrote a long Google Doc memo top lining why I thought that was actually correct, how to think about the switch What applications to use as people people move out of outlook and not just into the chrome browser. So setting the context there and then providing great support, and working with different people and piloting it, and really explain why you are deploying the technology.

(21:45) I think a lot of times unfortunately IT departments tried to deploy new technology without a communicating to the end-user why what they’re doing. So then people get frustrated because they don’t understand it and they don’t understand why, and I think that was probably one of the root causes of shadow IT. Then employees decided so to go and find their own app that they understand, and that helps them do their job.

(22:11)So once again, is IT understanding the needs of the business both in year time and then trying to predict out like what the needs of the marketing team will be 6 to 12 months from now.

Michael:         

(22:23) So what’s your view on shadow IT, if people inside the company are selecting their own apps, do you care, do you mind, what do you think about that inside Netflix.

Mike:  

(22:35) I only care from the fact that I’m disappointed that we should be providing it instead of someone finding it. So people should use the app to get the job done, and if there’s a big need for it, IT should deploy it and provide it in our portal versus blocking it.

Michael:         

(22:56) That you must be tempted and sometimes that even the CIOs that you must be tempted sometimes to look at these departments and say, why the hell are they doing that, we supply this.

Mike:  

(23:09) Honestly, never because that would completely be the wrong philosophy. If you want to be at odds with that department and then have a coo, then that’s a great approach.

Michael:         

(20:22) So you don’t believe – this is interesting, so let me play devil’s advocate for a moment then. So, historically the CIO role has been about control. I’m the protector, I the CIO am the protector of corporate assets, and security and everything else, and efficiency, and saving money. And therefore, you guys are going to do what I tell you to do.

Mike:  

(23:51) Michael you’re fired!

Vala:   

(24:07) I just read a HR blog, control is for beginners and he is the common theme whether it was Kim Stevenson or Christen, Russell and other CIOs that have been on the show, they talk about that they want to learn from shadow IT, because again as Michael said, shadow IT is an opportunity for them to understand how they can improve the service.

Michael:         

(24:32) Yes, so Kim Stevenson is the CIO of Intel and Kristy Russell is the CIO for the state of Colorado, and interestingly enough their views and your is pretty exactly that shadow IT is an opportunity to understand what the user community actually needs. And then to figure out where IT can support them better, and that seems exactly what you’re saying

Mike:  

(24:53) Yes, precisely

Vala:   

(24:55) We have a question from Dunn in Bradstreet from Twitter for you and the question is, what role does IT play in empowering employees via social media?

Mike:  

(25:09) So we have a social team internally and one of the roles of the information security team is to make sure that we keep the social media account secure, as well as like our Facebook pages from being phished or being spammed. So I think providing some level of security and monitoring is a good approach.

Vala:   

(25:33) And of course you’re one of the most active most social CIOs on Twitter, have you set the tone for the rest of the IT organization, and do employees look at your activity on Twitter and they‘re inspired to participate in social media as well?

Mike:  

(25:50) Yeah, one of my directors said to me yesterday that her 2014 personal goal is to Tweet more. But I think Twitter is a good outlet. It’s both a good way to share and ingest information, as well as I use it for a recruiting tool.

Vala:   

(26:07) So you recruit through social media?

Mike:  

(26:10) Yeah I think if you know I publish our road map deck and get people excited about what we’re doing here, which then attracts people to have intellectual curiosity and it’s a virtual cycle.

Vala:   

(26:24) Are they internal enterprise social collaboration tools that you use within Netflix?

Mike:  

(26:30) There are not. So I have yet to understand the benefit of such a tool.

Michael:         

(26:38) That’s interesting…

Mike:              

(26:38) …It’s known as the lowest common denominator and everything reverts back in

Michael:         

(26:45) So no plans – you’re not seeing the value of these stand-alone collaboration tools.

Mike:  

(26:53) Yeah, we’re very much in person culture, so I think a lot of collaboration happens in person in real time.

Michael:         

(27:02) Going back to cloud for a moment, can you tell us a little bit more about your cloud apps that you’re using and what did you migrate from. There are so many companies who are taking on these migration and considering it, so it would be really interesting to hear more about your experience.

Mike:  

(27:18) Sure, so I think one I mentioned we moved from exchange to Google apps for both mail, and we use Google Docs pretty heavily as collaboration. So I can’t imagine going back to a world where we mail a word document around, much like the old token ring network, so you never know who actually has token or the mass to copy.

(27:40)So being able to work you know with 20 to 100 people on a dock is amazing. So that was a great move and it got us out of the running exchange on the premises and hardware there. We most recently like I said move from Oracle financials to workday financials, which freed up a bunch of hardware and now we can apply new techniques to accounting and make some efficiency gains there.

(28:06)The other ones we use, we use Boxx for some cloud storage and collaboration both internally and externally, so we exchange digital assets. And then there’s a few custom applications that we are doing. So legal contract management and revision control with full contextual search we are working on. A creative management asset to for our creative marketing team, so managing rights of assets and tracking that and knowing when like when music rights expire. That is a great tool that will help them – especially in the global scale will be much more efficient.

Vala:   

(28:51) Can you talk a little bit about how you support different lines of business and where there’s additional examples like you just mentioned for marketing or sales, or services or other functions.

Mike:  

(29:04) Sure, so a year ago I was asked to figure out this real-time bidding technology that’s been fairly up-and-coming and programmatic buying, online display ads.

(29: 17) So I’m I am running our ad tech platform, which helps all of our global marketing people with the programmatic buying in algorithms around buying display ads and presenting them in a much more formed manner. Then, how do we get insight back and work with our data science and algorithms team, on applying some of our algorithms.

(29:40) And if you are a member showing you a relevant ad about new content that we have coming, and if you’re not a subscriber it’ll tell you why you should be. And once again just providing great content to the external customer.So helping in the acquisition and retention departments.

Michael:         

(29:55) And we have a question from Twitter from Frank Scavo, who asked from Twitter the question that I was thinking about to ask next as well; so you are getting this one from two sides here. Does Netflix have any on premise systems left, and if so what are they and maybe you can explain why.

Mike:  

(30:16) Sure sothe goal for this year who hasn’t seen the deck is move on, 100% of corporate IT to public cloud. So the main stuff we have to move is we want to move our (print queues? 30:30) to Google cloud and fully move away from active directory to one login as a IDP and then we’re freeing up some of our net compilers and moving those to either Google drive, Boxx or Maginetics and using Mag FS as a filer as a service in the cloud.

(30:54)So it’s really storage and a few other applications we have internally that we just need to migrate. So like our applicant tracking system that one of my teams wrote, will be moving to the cloud this quarter and we are architecting that as a result.

Vala:   

(31:11) You said one of the apps that my team wrote. Could you tell us the make-up of the 120 some folks that work for you and how that make up will change if at all once you move 100% of corporate IT to the cloud.

Mike:              

(31:28) Sure so the neck up, once again from what we call our client technology services, which is our helpdesk and front-line support. To enterprise technology and enterprise apps platforms, DBAs, cloud system infrastructure, and storage engineers, networking, and information security. Our HRAS team, which helps with our talent team on the applicant tracking system.Our financials ERP team and then the ad tech team.

(32:07)So I try to organize it that there aren’t silos, so people were really cross functionally and you can blend across. So information security networking is arguably tightly coupled. So how do they collaborate together and both have some expertise in the other area.

(32:25) So I don’t think of moving to cloud really changing any of that, it’s having people like I said that have the skills to continuously evolve to learn new technology and the excited about it.

Vala:

(32:39) Do you have deep data analysts all data scientists if you want to use the title in your organization or do they exist in other functions within Netflix?

Mike:  

(32:53) So there’s a whole data science team that is outside of IT and they apply some of their best practices internal it with my database engineering team at a smaller scale.

Vala:   

(33:08) Do they report to the CMO or is there a chief digital officer at Netflix?

Mike:  

(33:13) There’s not, the data science team reports to our BP of cloud infrastructure. We have a CMO but we don’t have a chief digital officer.

Vala:   

(33:31) Is he or she the person that you collaborate most with in terms of different lines of business? Is marketing again as we all read is a strong need for the CIO and CMO to collaborate to digitally transform the enterprise. Do you find yourself working closely with the CMO more so than any other executive at Netflix?

Mike:  

(33:55) I would say it definitely trends towards that and I think it probably will over time just as we have a completely new marketing team and a fairly new CMO since Kelly has been here, she’s been here a year plus.

(34:08) I think there’s a lot of opportunities for CIOs out there to really understand the vast marketing landscape. I know it’s pretty intimidating if you have ever seen the ad tech lunarscape graphic, outlining all the technologies. I’m not sure one person can fully understand that landscape, but I think the CIO should really try to and put themselves, once again out of their comfort zone and learn something new and see how they can help.

Michael:

(34:37) Mike you’re definitely very forward-thinking in terms of a lot of the things that you’re doing, but I’m wondering what kind of challenges do you have? What do you find as resistance points, obstacles, problems that keep you up at night in trying to implement the vision that you have been talking about.

Mike:  

(35:00) I think the big challenge is trying to move fast enough, you know here in the Valley it’s faster paced than in other areas, and also I’m a fairly impatient person. So once we make a decision I want to deploy quickly and move on. So I think trying to balance expectations with reality, and even in the era of cloud computing things still take time, and you need also a thoughtful approach to securing it.

(35:28) I think with the recent breaches which seen across various industries, you need to spend a lot on the time thinking about how you secure these assets.

Michael:         

(35:36) So security is kind of a retracting factor, slowing factor.

Mike:  

(35:42) It’s just another factor, I don’t think it’s a slowing factor. I think it’s just something you need to think about with respect to performance and and usage and analytics. So it’s a key tenant of it and it’s always changing.

Michael:         

(36:00) What are some of the other slowing factors that exist in your world?             

Mike:  

(36:07)Thankfully there aren’t a lot of slowing factors, I think we’ve moved as an org really quickly and you know try and stay ahead of the business growth and understanding what’s out in the future while also keeping things running            and operating now.

Vala:   

(36:25) So what’s next, I mean any device, anywhere, anytime, with the entire IT cloud to a cloud infrastructure by the end of the year. When you think of and you look forward to the 2015/16 goals, do you have a sense of what disruptive technology or mass adoption will shape Netflix a year or two from now?

Mike:              

(36:49) I think I really want to push secure authentication, so if I want to talk about security and removing friction and adding security, let’s get out the username and password world and move into – removing some of our work to certificate-based, which supports mobility even better.

(37:10)So you have a device certificate and a user certificate, because you have multiple devices. And then if you lose your device or change it we just remove that cert and we don’t have to touch your user certificate.

(37:23)And then we also can do some analytics around anomaly detection and correlation. So as people become more mobile, we expect them to login from different places but we also want to keep some tabs of that.

Michael:         

(37:37) How much of your time and resources are focused on security issues. I mean I’m thinking of the target rate again and the impact, and you’ve got so many millions of subscribers if security breaks down it’s obviously a nightmare. So how much of your company is focused on security?

Mike:

(37:58) I think it’s just always in the background of your thought process and I don’t think we are paranoid and luckily we don’t have point of sales systems like target or (Newman? 38:08) to worry about. But it’s about how do you provide a really flexible environment with also being secure in knowing what is going on without being draconian about it.

Michael:         

(38:23) So basically it’s part of the blood basically, it’s part of your thinking all the time as your planning.

Mike:  

(38:29) It’s not something I’m paranoid about, but it is also something I don’t ignore.

Vala:   

(30:36) So a constant balance of removing friction and the ease of doing business and user experience, but at the same time you know, at the back of your mind you’re always thinking about the integrity of the networking security and the robustness of it.

Mike:  

(38:50) Yeah, I think it’s also about for us brand reputation. So how do I take down phishing sites that hurt a brand, especially as we have become more and more of a global company.

Vala:   

(39:06) What is the distribution of Netflix in terms of employees; Geographic distributions.

Mike:  

(39:12)So the main campus here in Los Gatos in California, and then we have a Beverly Hills office which is a couple of hundred and growing. We have a small DC office, a small office in Lux and then some contracting offices in a couple of other locations, but we’re really central here to the Valley.

Vala:   

(39:34) And do a good percentage of them telecommute or are they physically in offices?

Mike:  

(39:30)We’re very much and in person culture, so it’s here in the office.

Michael:         

(39:44) So you work with a variety of Cloud vendors and you mentioned several, what about start-ups? You mentioned you work with Boxx and I guess you can consider them as a start-up, even though they are about to go public and God knows how many billions they are valued at, but what about smaller start-ups. Do you work with smaller start-ups?

Mike:  

(40:06) Absolutely, so we get to see a lot of early technology here, and I think a bunch of stuff that we’re working on really needs a new way of thinking, so that’s why it’s fun to talk to the start-ups instead of the incumbents, because they take a fresh approach to architecture.

(40:23)So if you talk about how do you secure a cloud environment, you can’t deploy a firewall of finance for example. There is no perimeter and there is no invest regress, so you have to take a completely new approach.

(40:35)We definitely have a fairly huge appetite for working start-ups. And much like interviewing and employees, I interview start-ups based on (a) technology and then (b) in a team that we can really partner with. So getting out of the vendor relationship and really moving into the partner world.

Vala:   

(40:54) What do you look for, I mean can you tell us what are the signs that you’re looking for that makes you validate that this could be a start-up that could have a long-term meaningful relationship with Netflix.

Mike:

(41:08)So I think a couple of key attributes are focus, so are they trying to solve a very key problem and they’re focused on it, or are they going to bring in 20 people and they just want to land that Netflix is a really great brand to land on and have your logo. So they need to understand the needs of the business and will they spend the time here really doing that.

Vala:   

(41:31) What advice to you have for established companies that are trying to pitch their solution to you. Is it any different from a start-up?

Mike:  

(41:41) I think for both its do your due diligence on both the company and then me. We’re fairly public about the fact that we don’t have data centers, so trying to come in and sell me a data center for technology is not a good approach. Understand your customer and don’t take the shotgun approach to try and get in here.

Vala:   

(42:03) So if the vendor comes to you and opens up the interview or pitch, Mike tell us about your pain points. When you have written all these blogs and they are out there, that’s probably not a good thing to do.

Mike:  

(42:16)It’s not a good strategy in general.

Vala:   

(42:18) That’s another common thing that we’ve heard from CIOs that don’t walk in there and asking questions when – especially from a social CIO and blogs and do your homework. So hopefully vendor’s and start-ups that are watching the show, this is definitely a reoccurring theme, do your homework. And it may be goes back to your context statement, you know have an understanding of what your customers’ needs and not before that first meeting.

Mike:

(42:44)And don’t try to trick us into meeting you because that’s not a good approach. I could go into all the sales techniques.

Vala:   

(42:54) Tell us the worst one, the total obvious awful one to try and get a meeting.

Mike:  

(43:00) Calling my admin and saying that you were just talking to me and got disconnected, that’s an interesting one. The replying to an email like I was actually involved in a thread earlier, and forging the subject line is another fun approach, and then just sending me an invite and hoping I will just accepted

Vala:   

(43:24) Those are incredibly common and I have experienced all three and a couple fairly regularly, so.

Mike:  

(43:32)They must work – I don’t know.

Michael:         

(43:36) It’s like all these emails, you wonder who responds to these things and I guess some people do.. Will we’re just about out of time unfortunately, and it’s been a really interesting hearing about your approach to IT, which I guess because you didn’t come out of IT, you kind of figured it out in a sense that you went – in a commonsense way based on the guiding principles in the culture co-jocular. That’s what it sounds like to me.

Mike:  

(44:06)Whatever you think is right take ownership for it, execute, and if you then do feel like it’s failing or not the right approach, change course fairly rapidly; don’t try to force it. So really self-aware and business aware.

Michael:         

(44:26) So that’s the summary of everything I suppose.

Mike:  

(44:29) Yeah, I think that’s a very good summary. It’s a good guiding principle to operate by.

Michael:         

(43:35) Fantastic, well obviously it’s working really well for you at Netflix which is growing incredibly rapidly and obviously puts tremendous strain on IT just like every other part of the company.

Mike:  

(44: 50)I don’t view it as strained I view it as opportunity.

Vala:   

(44:53) Okay well I like that, a pragmatic optimism and a can-do attitude.

Michael:         

(44:59) A pragmatic optimism and can-do attitude. Well on that note it is time to take the show to a close and it has been great Vala seeing you, and we’ve been talking with Mike Kail, who is the CIO of Netflix. Mike, thank you very much for joining us today.

Mike:  

(45:26) Thank you guys, it’s been a pleasure.

Vala:   

(45:29) Thanks Mike and thanks for your active Twitter stream and all of your words of wisdom. Really appreciate it.

Michael:         

(45:39) on April 22, Vala and I are going to be doing a CXOTalk life event with CIO magazine in New York City, and we are looking for a really interesting CMO and/or CTO Chief digital officer, to join us on stage. So if you want to nominate somebody who is really good, please that us know. And with that, we will say goodbye and thank everybody for watching and we’ll see you next week. Bye bye.

 

Companies mentioned in today’s show:

Netflix                           www.netflix.com

Boxx                              www.boxx.tv

Intel                               www.intel.com

Facebook                      www.Facebook.com

Oracle                           www.oracle.com

Workday                       www.workday.com

Google                          www.google.com

Maginetics                    www.maginetics.com

Enterprise Analysts: Ray Wang, Louis Columbus, Esteban Kolsky

  • Episode: 44
Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder and Chairman, Constellation Research
Ray Wang
Principal Analyst, Founder and Chairman
Constellation Research
Louis Columbus, Director, Ingram Cloud
Louis Columbus
Director, Global Cloud Product Management
Ingram Cloud
Esteban Kolsky, Principal and Founder, ThinkJar
Esteban Kolsky
Principal and Founder
ThinkJar

Louis Columbus is a Product Marketing Manager at Plex Systems, focusing on how manufacturers can streamline their business strategies with cloud computing. Previously Louis was senior manager at Cincom Systems and an industry analyst at AMR Research. He earned his MBA from Pepperdine University and completed the Strategic Marketing Management & Digital Marketing Programs at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Louis teaches graduate-level courses in International Marketing, International Business and global competitive strategy in the MBA Program at Webster University.  He writes for Forbes and has his own blog, A Passion for Research.

R “Ray” Wang is the Principal Analyst, Founder and Chairman of Constellation Research, Inc.  He’s also the author of the popular enterprise software blog “A Software Insider’s Point of View”. With viewership in the millions of page views a year, his blog provides insight into how disruptive technologies and new business models impact the enterprise. Ray’s a prominent key note speaker and research analyst working with clients on engagement strategies, social business, customer experience, and decision management.   He advises Global 2000 companies on business strategy and technology selection.  Ray is a regular contributor for Harvard Business Review and regularly quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, Reuters, IDG News Service, and other media outlets around the world.

Esteban Kolsky is the Principal and Founder of ThinkJar, an advisory and research think-tank focused on Customer Strategies. He has over 25 years of experience in customer service and CRM consulting, research, and advisory services. Most recently he spent eight years at Gartner, focused on Customer Service and CRM research. While there he coined the terms for EFM (enterprise feedback management) and CIH (customer interaction hub). In addition, he researched and wrote on the social networking topics that led to today’s revolution and assisted Fortune 500 and Global 2,000 organizations in all aspects of their CRM deployments.

David Bray, CIO, Federal Communications Commission

  • Episode: 45
Dr. David A. Bray, Visiting Executive In-Residence, Harvard University
Dr. David Bray
Visiting Executive In-Residence
Harvard University
Download Podcast
Listen on Google Play Music

Dr. David A. Bray was the Executive for Innovation, Integration, and Interoperability for the Office of the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment from October 2010 to August 2013. During this time, Dr. Bray was also detailed as an Executive Director supporting the National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community. He received the National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2013 and the team he supervised received the National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation that same year. He was also one of 13 individuals across the entire federal workforce recognized for the Arthur S. Flemming Award for public service leadership. In August 2013, he assumed a new role as Chief Information Officer for the Federal Communications Commission.

Bray holds a a PhD in information systems, a MSPH in public health informatics, and a BSCI in computer science and biology from Emory University, alongside a visiting associateship from the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute, and two post-doctoral associateships with MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence and the Harvard Kennedy School. He also has served as a visiting associate with the National Defense University. Bray’s career also includes deployments to Afghanistan, projects at the Department of Energy and work at the Center of Disease Control.

Blog: http://www.fcc.gov/blog/author/David%20A.%20Bray

LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dbray 

Twitter: @fcc_cio