Innovation

Innovation
Workflow automationWorkflow automation

Are tech leaders adopting workflow automation?

What are the most effective strategies for transforming customer experience?

Top Answer : Go sit down with your customer for a day and see what they do first-hand. When I was at eBay, we had customer experience sessions where we would sit down with the customer service agents and shadow them. We listened in on those phone calls directly to see their experience. On one hand we saw buyers and sellers dialing in and doing different interactions and we learned their pain points. At the same time, we’re with the agents themselves witnessing how they use the tools we build to support them. How do they look up the file? How do they validate information coming back through? That was really eye-opening and I really enjoyed it because I understood eBay's customers more and the pain points they had. I also understood the eBay employees who had to deal with that directly. And I had a much higher level of respect for them. Just think about if you had to take these inbound calls from people who are mostly complaining all the time. They're resolving disputes and it takes a certain type of personality to handle that. Making sure you have tools to support them makes their job easier. I learned quite a bit from that. It's the kind of experience that leads to incredible internal and external customer satisfaction.

How have you approached onboarding in a remote working environment?

Top Answer : I would say onboarding new employees does not work well in our remote environment at all. As somebody who has been onboarded in a remote environment and who's tried to onboard other people in a remote environment, it does not work. It's not the same. I’d wondered at first if this is a generational issue, whereby the younger generation coming into the workforce were always digital natives and used to developing relationships with people digitally. But I read recently that this same group entering the workforce in their early 20s does want to go to the office because they're losing so much opportunity to connect with people, develop relationships and get that intrinsic learning by observing.

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Which of the following activities best characterizes your focus in your current role?

Top Answer : As a CEO of a startup company I am focused on a few critical areas. Go to market strategy, customer engagement, revenue conversion, product alignment / roadmap, fundraising, recruiting and employee engagement / satisfaction. There are many others but these are top of mind for me now. I assume this list will differ with each role, level, age and size of company, etc.

When it comes to AI, is the industry evolving as fast as the technology?

Top Answer : I applaud the progress made but we have to keep learning. If the software that’s produced devalues your worth based on your identity, you would consider that a significant emotional event.  The challenge I have is that I often get that approach without an understanding of the guiding principles we're going to use: What are the do's and don'ts that we will use until we have those guiding principles and what will we do to create those checks and balances? I see a lot of eagerness to put out AI because it exists and not much understanding of the potential impacts or wanting to examine them afterwards. That used to be the model that many less mature organizations had around security—that’s changed, but we need to make sure that change exists with AI. Let's keep learning and failing fast but let's also understand what the principles are regarding use, as well as the checks and balances we'll put in place while we learn. I'm not hearing much discussion about that from the same companies that have been working on AI principles for the better part of a year, yet they already have projects in flight for utilizing AI in their products. We need to get in front of that principle-based usage, or we'll end up both slowing AI from a reactionary standpoint—from people who don't understand it—and causing problems from which we won’t be able to recover until people or organizations have been victimized. That concerns me.

How have experiences from your past roles helped to create efficiencies in your current operating model?

Top Answer : Back when I was working at a biotech company, we had to move our big server closet with about six racks of servers to Equinix because it just made more sense. The plan was to pull all the servers out, starting at 5:00PM Friday, and be done by Saturday morning. So we start ripping the cables off the back of the servers. We start unracking and throwing them in the truck. We get them to Equinix and then we're slamming them on the racks and getting everything organized. But when it came to plugging in the cables: Where the heck do I plug these things in? There's a lot of trial and error, and we didn't get it right. We were there until the next night—24 hours without any sleep.  So at the next company I went to, it was the same situation: We had six cabinets of servers that we needed to move to Equinix. Only this time I took those blue organization boxes for cables, etc., and labeled a box for every single server. Then I had two of my systems admins sit down and spend the time to label each end of every single cable. They were like, "Why the hell are we spending two weeks doing this?" And I tried to explain to them that we were going to get this done a lot faster rather than be up for 24 hours doing this and getting frustrated." And they didn't think so. But sure enough, we got everything in boxes, took them to Equinix, and we were able to just pull the cable out. We had a map of where each server should go, which we made before we got there. It took three hours for the movers to get everything into the room but once they were in there, we were able to complete that part in five hours.

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What was the most impactful experience you had with an IT leader while building your career?

Top Answer : My best experience from a leadership standpoint was having a leader who allowed me to be an idiot: He didn't judge when I came into his office and sat down for half an hour and rambled. He just listened and gave me feedback. If it was a good idea, we would do something about it but there was never any judgment.  That was incredibly encouraging to me as an employee, because I always had more than just an open line of communication. In theory, we can all get on the phone and call somebody. But there's a big difference between making a call to someone and being in a position where you're just as comfortable talking about your kid's ball game as you are talking about problems with the project from last weekend. That has always been a big part of what made me who I am.

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Has remote working caused decision-making in your organization to speed up or stall?

Top Answer : Ralph Laura recently said, "At the beginning of COVID, we were all talking about how decisions were being accelerated but we were wrong. In fact, decisions are now taking longer." He said that decisions that would otherwise get made in the hallway are no longer getting made because there's no hallway and now we have to schedule all these meetings. And when this came up in the conversation, everybody agreed that it is actually now taking longer for decisions to get made, which was surprising. Ralph said that it got to the point where they created a flowchart for decision-making within the company but unfortunately such flowcharts don’t work because the decision-making process for somebody in finance or in HR may be dramatically different to somebody in engineering. A standard communications framework across the organization is a challenge to implement. The only way it actually works is to drive it down into the organization and empower teams with specific guardrails.

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What are your thoughts on SaaS management platforms (SMP)?

Top Answer :

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