Digital Transformation and CIO Innovation in Higher Education (#243)

October 22, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


Hello and welcome to CxOTalk. This is Dion Hinchcliffe, your host. It’s July 11, Tuesday, CxOTalk, Episode 243
and I am very pleased we have a special guest with us. Joanna Young, a noted former CIO, a senior
IT Leadership thought leader, thinker, advisor, I’ve been following her for a number of years. I’m a big fan. She’s currently Senior Managing Director of
BlueLine associates, where she advises IT leaders of various shapes and sizes. And, she has a big background in higher education,
which we’ll talk something about during the show today. Welcome, Joanna! Hello, Dion! How are you? I am very good. I’m very pleased you could join us! Thank you! So, I know you and I’ve followed you on
Twitter and read your great blog. But maybe, you can, for those watching, introduce
yourself, your background, your current role, and your two stints as a CIO as well, and
just tell us about that. Yeah! So, I’ve had actually three stints as a CIO. I was a CIO at Liberty Mutual Insurance Group,
CIO at the University of New Hampshire, and CIO at Michigan State University. So, two stints in a higher ed, one stint in
insurance, and it’s an absolutely fascinating time to be in IT. And, about a year or so ago, I decided to
broaden my horizons and start helping out CIOs and other C-suite leaders in a variety
of ways related to technology. Yup. Fantastic! So, what got you into the CIO role, to begin
with? Why did you first agree to become one, being
one of the toughest jobs in the business right now, I think? Well, I think, in fairness, I probably didn’t
realize how tough a job it was initially. I think you learn these things as time goes
on. But, really, for me, it was driven by a desire
to help other people be successful with technology because, as I was sort of really getting into
my career, it really was borne upon me the challenge of people adapting business to technology
and applying it helpfully to business as opposed to being in this constant disruption and churn. And so, when the opportunity came around to
be a CIO, I just was excited about being able to increase my contribution and really be
more influential and helpful with the business at that time, at Liberty Mutual. Well, great! Well, I’m going to ask you a little bit about
that in a moment. But, a couple of pieces of housekeeping first. I’d like to thank Livestream, which does
great work in bringing CxOTalk to the air, to the internet. And also, we’d love to take your questions
throughout the show, so please, post them on Twitter using the hashtag #cxotalk. We’ll be monitoring that during your questions. So, getting back to those two CIO positions
that you had, what were the mandate imperatives that you had? Usually, when they bring a new CIO in, there’s
some challenge that has emerged or is believed to be facing the organization and they need
fresh blood to deal with that. What was the situation with you? So, usually, the imperatives are actually
very similar. And they tended to be around, “Do more with
less.” You know? That ubiquitous phrase is that … When I
started CIO jobs, it was very much that sense of we’re spending a lot on IT, but we’re
not getting enough for what we do spend. And we want you, Joanna, to change that formula. And I don’t think, in a lot of ways, that
hasn’t changed. I think CIOs still have a lot of pressure
on them to drive efficiency and effectiveness within IT itself. However, I also think that there is a sea
change happening, where other C-suite leaders, CFOs, Chief Marketing Officers, CEOs themselves,
realize that the conversation is changing and should be changing to how is technology
enabling an improved customer experience, how is it helping with quality, effectiveness,
and efficiency in various lines of business? And so, I feel like I’ve been able to help
with the initial imperative, but I also have been very focused on changing that conversation
to really how does somebody get value out of IT, as opposed to unending pressure to
control costs within IT itself. Yeah. Which, as IT becomes more instrumental to
running the business, this is the big question. You put your finger right on it. […] The business wants more effectiveness
and get more out of their investment, but non-IT people don’t understand that 80-90%
of that budget is used to keep what they’ve already built going, right? Maintenance fees, and the staff, and the datacenter
around all of that. And you’ve got between 10 and 20% of your
budget for innovation and growth and doing interesting new things. And so, they typically want much more effectiveness,
but they’re not willing to correspondingly increase the investment level to get to those
things. That’s my experience. What challenges do you see normally when a
CIO has been given that mandated; do all these great new things, but typically not given
any resources to do that? Yeah! So, you know, the difficulties of getting
capital to improve the business position through technology is often a challenge. I think a link that’s been missing, but
there’s certainly a lot of pressure on it now, is the talent piece of it. Talent is a tremendous problem in technology. I call it the “technology-talent wars”
in a blog I wrote fairly recently. And there’s often a lot of conversation
around money we need to spend on infrastructure, money we need to spend to acquire a new piece
of technology, money we need to spend on services to correctly implement that technology. But, I also try to help people shift the conversation
to what talent is it that you need to innovate? To implement? To operate your technology portfolio? And are you making sure that you’re hiring
the right talent? Retaining them? Applying them correctly? Since we’re in this era of hyper-acceleration,
someone coming into a technology job today, they’re going to have to reskill and upskill
multiple times and all the time. And I think CIOs, CEOs, and boards need to
pay a lot more attention to the talent they need, and they need to think just as much
about applying capital, if you will, to the recruiting and retention of the right talent
as they do to making decisions about, and buying technology. Yeah, and we know that people tend to invest
in certain skills that they both enjoy, and have commercial value, right? Absolutely. You know, now with the landscape changing
so quickly, and a lot of these vendor stacks getting quite large, but they’re not considered
sexy by the developer community, necessarily. How do you do that? What it seems to me is a lot of the talent
is being sucked up by the cool internet companies, the cloud companies, who work on very interesting,
scaled challenges much larger than any enterprise is to deal with. And also, there’s a whole factor that you
can get stock options and get a big payout on top of that. How do you manage talent? Let’s say you’re a university and you’re
trying to do the very best for your students? How are you going to acquire the talent you
need to really create world-class IT? So, what I often counsel people on is that
you need to have multiple channels of getting talent. I mean, many of our universities, for example,
don’t tend to maybe be in urban areas, for example. There are many large universities like Michigan
State University, Ohio State, who are in sort of suburban or rural areas that don’t tend
to be technology centers of gravity. And in those instances, they need to have
multiple ways of sourcing talent. One way is very obvious. It’s the students. You know? Many students like to work at the university
while they’re there, and are interested in having and working for the university once
they graduate, so that’s certainly a source. You know, university towns tend to be very
attractive, interesting places to stay, work, and play, if you will. And so, looking for people who want to stay
in the area for whatever reason. And also, an area that higher ed hasn’t
particularly been interested in historically, that I believe needs to get more interested
in now, is they need to think about alternate sourcing. And, I’m not necessarily talking about jumping
into offshore arrangements, but thinking about just as we are meeting remotely here today,
right Dion? You can have people working remotely extremely
effectively. I work remotely with my clients a fair amount. And there are ways to say, “Hey! I’m in a rural area of New England, let’s
say, and somebody who’s really attractive to me to have them work for me lives in Chicago.” Well, okay. That’s fine! Maybe, you fly them in once a month and the
rest of the time, they use tools like this to interact with their colleagues and their
peers. So that’s one way that I counsel… And then, everything that happened, I have
actually seen that staffing model being much more widely adopted, where you can get people
in areas of the country or areas of the world in which the pay scale is a lot different,
but for whatever reason, those people don’t want to or cannot move to a bigger area and
they can get the job that they want. And with today’s collaboration tools, it actually
works pretty well. Yeah, and I think sometimes you’ll see leaders
and human resources departments who maybe are a little queasy about it. And what I say to them, try it. Do it with a couple of people. I’m not advocating that all of a sudden
you have hundreds of people working like this, but do with a couple and get your feet wet
and see how it goes. And, I usually find that they get over the
discomfort and off they go, and then that’s another channel. Yeah, well I’ve noticed that it’s happened
in companies like Yahoo and IBM that have gone back and forth, and the evidence seems
to show that in companies where the employee engagement is high. When it’s slow, maybe not so well. So, it becomes yet another factor. And I know ADP, I was talking to their human
resources folks, you have 22,000 remote workers. And they say it works well. Yeah. […] It absolutely can work well. As you say, the collaboration tools are there. It’s usually things like policies and processes
and training managers and supervisors how to lead people who are not physically proximate. That’s a huge piece, too. Yup. So, Joanna, we have a question from Twitter. Great! Arsalan Khan asks how important is it to consider
biases about technology and transformation within an organization? Now, I’m not 100% sure what he means by
that, but it triggered for me this situation that comes up when I advise CIOs and I talk
to Boards of Directors, then often the Boards of Directors will say, “Well, we’re not
a technology company,” right? So, IT is a cost center to us. We just don’t look at it that way. Our bias is that we automate what we’ve
always done. We don’t rethink our business in digital
terms, and we’re not prepared to do that across the company. That’s one bias that I often see. But how have you dealt with that? What have you encountered? Well, the first thing that I think in my head,
I may not say it depending on the audience, is that these days, everybody is a digital
organization; you know, a technology company whether they like it or not. Whether they like or not. Whether they like it or not! And, what I try to do is, first of all, I
always seek to deeply know the folks that I am working with. And so, I try to, you know, find some really
relevant use-cases for them that will be near and dear to them that illustrate how important
technology and digital is to them. You don’t have to go to where they’re standing. If in their mind, they’re like, “Hey, we’re
not a technology company. We don’t get why we have to spend all this
capital,” so on and so forth, you have to think of a way to influence them that speaks
to where they are in their heads right now. So, you know, using a higher ed example, I
might say, “Well, let’s look out the window. Let’s look at the students walking around. What are they all doing?” I mean, they’re all holding a device, and
they’re looking like this; and trying to explain to them how students interact with the world,
whether it’s in a social sense or a commercial sense, is through a digital lens. And so, you have to think about how to engage
them; how to appropriately include in their educational experience what aspects of that
are going to be digital. So, that’s one way I might try to influence
someone. But I think the key is that CIOs, other digital
leaders, they have to find examples that are going to resonate with audience and […] for
example, if my initial response was to say, “Well, everybody’s a digital organization. You are, whether you know it or not.” That is not going to work. That’s just going to thud on the table like
a dead animal and not go anywhere! So, it’s really important for IT leaders
to go to where people are standing. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And, it’s exactly what I would advise as well. So, we have another question from Twitter,
a good one. Scott Weitzman asks, “Is it key for new employees
to understand different aspects of the business outside of the technology part to drive greater
impact overall?” […] Absolutely! And so, one of the things that it is tough
to implement, but I strongly advise people to try is you need to rotate people through
the organization. So, if you’re bringing on a new IT employee,
and let’s say they’re assignment is going to be supporting the finance organization
or supporting the sales of the organization, you know, go and have them be in the finance
and the sales organization for some period of time. I think our tendency as IT leaders is, “Okay,
you want people to know the analytics tools, the coding languages.” You know, you want them to know all this tech
stuff. You know, cybersecurity. But, it’s really … You can train people
on those things; you can be reskilling and upskilling people for that. But what is more important for them to know
is the company that they’re in, the organization they’re in; what are the products that they’re
selling? How are they making their money? How do they interact with their customers? What do the customers perceive positively? What do the customers perceive negatively? What are the pain points that are being experienced
in the sales organization or the finance organization; for the support organization; or the fulfillment
organization? Those are things that you can’t necessarily
teach or train for. You have to rotate people and get people in
the organization, you know? Go have them shadow a … Sit next to somebody
in a sales call center or service call center for a day. They’re going to learn more by spending half
a day job shadowing someone than they will months and months of technology work. And, those sorts of programs can be hard because
they’re time-consuming, they can be a little logistically challenging, but I think it’s
critically important. But the best [way] how to do that for new
employees is when they first come on board and they don’t have too many duties yet,
right? In terms of getting people up to speed on
the business side… Yeah. Absolutely! And, people need to think about that in terms
of their onboarding, right? They need to say, “Okay, they need to accept
the fact,” and plan for the fact that for the first three months, a new person is not
going to be running at 90-95% productivity. You’re better off having them running at
50% productivity and doing these sort of rotational experiences so that when they do get to the
point that they’re increasing their productivity, working specifically with the technology,
they’re going to be getting so much more value out of that person. Yeah. Absolutely! And so, that brings up a question that I would
have around higher-ed and IT talent. And that is, IT people tend to be a little
more loyal to the profession than they are to individual employers. Turnover is fairly high. Average IT staffer’s been around for about
three years on average. Not very long, right? They move around and do a lot of exciting
jobs, and maybe don’t want to learn the business too much because they know they’re
not going to need that for very long. So, make a minimal investment. I’ve seen that. But in higher ed, you’re talking about an
educational environment. Is there a different stance towards learning
about the business and learning in general about new things? And the IT staffers… Same IT mindset as you see everywhere else? So, traditionally, I would say that IT people
who work in higher education institutions do tend, as you point out, to be very attached
to the institution. So, they think of themselves as Wildcats,
or as Spartans, or as Blue Jays, or whatever the mascot happens to be … Tigers… So, they think of themselves that way as much
as they think of themselves as technology people. And so, I think higher ed’s been very fortunate. It’s had a lot of long-tenured, very dedicated
employees who really have a love for the place and for the mission. However, I think that is starting to change,
to your point. You know, people are starting to realize that
they can be more mobile, if you will, even while they still live near these institutions
or campuses. And I think that speaks to … I’ll generalize
a little bit and say Millennials, they realize that they can rotate around and have different
experiences and different organizations and companies; higher ed, retail, manufacturing,
insurance, financial services; and I think there are a couple of things that I would
say is that a lot of the folks that have worked at these institutions for a while are Baby
Boomers. They’re starting to retire, and taking their
place are younger workers who do realize that they can be more flexible and mobile. And I think higher ed is going to have to,
already has to, and is going to continue to have to up its game because as you say, higher
ed increasingly is not competing against other higher ed institutions for talent. They’re competing against everybody for talent. Yes. […] In fact, with everything, sort of … It’s
inside every part of the business and the organization. It’s a big challenge. So let’s talk a little bit about today’s IT
operating environment in higher education – what the big shifts are. I’ve got to believe that things like public
cloud are going to change a lot about where your budget’s going to go. You’re going to ship from CapEx to OpEx; cybersecurity
is becoming a bigger deal than ever, even how to help with innovation, necessarily;
are reinventing the future of higher education. Student experience; I’ve got to believe
the bar’s really rising up. Students want a very consumerized, extremely
convenient way of engaging with the university resources and each other, I imagine. So maybe, paint us a picture. What are you seeing? What’s changing? What’s in play? What’s going on? So, higher ed is now experiencing the same
challenges and opportunities as everybody else, as it relates to technology. It was okay for them for a long period of
time. They could lag. You know, they could be late adopters of things,
and it was fine. They no longer have that luxury for all of
the reasons that you state. And, both the challenge and opportunity for
them is that the challenge is that they paved a lot of cow paths, particularly with their
ERP and their student information system implementations. And those can be sort of millstones around
their neck that they’ve been doing things a certain way, and their technology reflects
that. So they’ve got a lot of legacy debt when
it comes to that. As I mentioned before, campuses are beautiful
places, but they’re often very large, sprawling places with very interesting and old buildings. And so, just things like putting in quality
Wi-Fi solutions can be very challenging for them. And so, you know, you’ve got a lot of legacy
debt and infrastructure there that they have to contend with and it can be quite expensive
to contend with. In the meanwhile, there’s a tremendous about
of pressure on them to increase graduation rates, provide affordable access to different
demographic segments, and so on and so forth. States, in the public higher ed space increasingly
are saying, “Hey, we’re not going to increase your appropriation unless you improve these
key performance indicators. So, there’s a lot of pressure from all sides,
whether it’s the states, the consumer experience … There’s sort of a bifurcated financial
outlook from many institutions. You’ve got institutions on one end of the
spectrum, let’s call it the Harvards and the Stanfords who have a ton of capital, very
well-endowed … They have the capital to invest in innovation and what have you, but
sadly, there’s a lot of institutions who are very, very stressed financially; have
been really struggling to fill their freshman classes, and what have you. So, this soup, if you will, of challenges
[…] can be very intense, especially for CIOs. However, on the opportunity side, they can
sort of leapfrog a bunch of stuff that other organizations have had to deal with. For example, if they have legacy ERP system
that was built in the 1980’s, well, you know, they can go right to a cloud-based solution
like a Workday or what have you. They can maybe be doing some interesting things
with Salesforce, etc. And so, they need to think about ways to translate
their problems into opportunities. And a lot of work I did at Michigan State
was around that, about how you can leapfrog over a bunch of problems and get yourself
into an opportunity. And, I’m very curious to know… In just a second, I’m going to do a halfway
message here… But think about this. Why is it easier to leapfrog in higher-ed
than it is in traditional industries? But first, we’re about halfway through the
show. We’ve got Joanna Young, Senior Managing
Director of BlueLine Associates; a well-known former CIO. We’re talking about CIO higher education
talent and a bunch of other interesting topics. We’d love to take a couple more questions
from Twitter on the hashtag #cxotalk. So, Joanna, […] is it easier to leapfrog
in higher education than in some other industries? Does having the summer off make a difference? Help us understand. Well… So, big misconception. Higher Ed doesn’t take the summer off! In fact, if you’re in IT in Higher Ed, summer
is your busiest time because you’re scrambling around the dorms, upgrading WiFi that’s usually
when they choose to do any major systems upgrades. So, they’re busier than one-armed paper hangers
in the summer. I wouldn’t say it’s easier in higher ed,
but I would say that the opportunity is there, and they need to figure out how to exploit
it. I’ll give a couple of examples. My good colleague Jeff Grable at Michigan
State University has formed the Michigan State Innovation Hub. And they are doing some really leading, if
not bleeding-edge things with educational technology in that hub. The way they did that is they both separated
that unit and had it be unique and separate from some of the existing infrastructures. But they also tied it in. For example, Jeff and I worked together strategically
to make sure that I wasn’t off doing something that was going to impede him, and that he
was not off doing something that might cause me a security headache or some other sort
of thing. And, they’re doing some fascinating stuff
sort of leaping ahead in that space. I would point to the University of Texas System. Phil Komarny and Marni Baker down in Texas
are doing some absolutely fascinating things in partnership with Salesforce. And everybody in higher-ed should familiarize
themselves with what’s going on down there in Texas. I think it’s extremely interesting thinking
about using Blockchain and other things to really disrupt but also revolutionize educational
technology. And then, I think many people in higher ed
are familiar with things that have been going on like Arizona State University, which has
been very innovative in terms of increasing access and affordability for folks down in
Arizona. So, you have these … And, the reason I mentioned
those three specifically is that those are within higher-ed. Those are within higher ed institutions that
this innovation is happening. And so, other places should look to not just
what they’ve done, but how they did it. How did they do that? How were they able to innovate but also continue
to recognize maybe some legacy debt that they have and deal with that also? Yeah. Very interesting. Which brings us to a question we just had
come in from Twitter, Robert Nowell: “What are the latest trends in student expectations
for digital experience? How can institutions best attract students?” And I think the question is, how has digital
experience risen up to be a major factor? I imagine the school reputation and other
things also matter a great deal, probably more even today. Where does that lie, and what do students
really expect on the cutting edge right now? Well, it’s interesting. I think that students still; so I have some
young people who are looking at colleges now, and high school age folks, friends, and family;
and it’s still […] a lot of their choices are what are they interested in? Does the campus feel like a good fit? Where are their friends going? I mean, there are a lot of very non-digital
factors that go into why a child and their family elect a certain institution; obviously,
financial factors as well. However, increasingly, it’s “What’s
the WiFi like in the dorms? Is it easy to register for classes? Is it easy to select the residence hall that
I want to live in? Is it easy to figure out what dining hall
best caters to my personal food choices?” And, increasingly important as, you know,
a lot of campuses have more of an international flavor as well. And so, the … They don’t want a lot of
friction in those experiences. They don’t want to have to go to a website,
navigate through a difficult experience to find out what should be a very easy piece
of information. Because you’re talking about young people
who know how to use Uber, they know how to go on Yelp and figure out where has the best
pizza. I mean, they’re used to running their lives
like this. And so, once they choose somewhere, they want
to be able to have that same sort of frictionless experience that they had had in high school,
right? Yeah. Exactly. So, this kind of takes into what’s next
for higher education and digital? What are the business model impacts when it
comes to digital transformation? So, we see competitive learning products,
things like Massively Open Online Courses, which, even though they’re not much in the
news, they’re growing about 30-40% per year, globally. Yeah. And they have services like Coursera, which
are operating a very flexible, highly digital education that’s community-based as well. And, although these aren’t necessarily accredited,
when you talk about upscaling and keeping existing employees going, […] are those
impacting the business models of existing universities? Or really, that hasn’t yet happened? I think it is starting to impact the business
model, but I think the big tipping point is yet to come. And here’s what I believe the tipping point
is going to be. It’s that increasingly, employers are interested
in what you know, and what you can do, not so much what […] is on your diploma. And, employers are starting to figure out
how they can tap into the workforce effectively and get productive, highly-engaged employees
that don’t necessarily have that brand-name degree. And, once … It’s sort of like two halves
coming together. As employers are figuring that out and saying… You know, let’s take an extreme example. You know, I can probably take a bright eighteen-year-old
who has done well in high school, has the right sort of attitude and aptitude, put them
through a couple of boot camps, and have them be highly productive in a full-time job. And if that particular student and that family,
if that’s a fit for that individual to do so, then okay, you know, start your career
and maybe you’re getting your educational experience in terms of that classic, liberal
arts experience along the way. You know, the employer is paying for them
to go to Freshman English and everything else. You know, if you take that as an example on
one end of the spectrum, […] you think about how students… First of all, we’re all now lifelong students
because we have to upskill on […] so much. But, if you think about the traditional eighteen-year-old
graduating from high school, the number of pathways that are going to be available to
them that employers support and are okay with, is going to change. And, in my mind, that is going to be the tipping-point. The four-year degree no longer… First of all, why does it even have to be
four years, right? You know, the classic four-year degree is
not going to be the only pathway and it is going to be, if you were to look at a pie
chart, it’s going to be less and less of a percentage of the pathway that people take. And I think once both students and employers
figure that out, I think that is going to be the tipping-point. And, what the value of higher education institutions
is, is the content they have. It’s their amazing faculty, it’s the research
experiences, it’s all those things. They’re going to need to figure out a way
to have that content and experiences available in these new pathways that students and employers
are increasingly figuring out. Is it fair to say that, as education becomes
more granular, and maybe it’s not becoming more vocational, but people need to be able
to demonstrate that they have skills and capabilities in relatively specific subjects that emerge
very quickly? How is that experience going to be designed? Is that what universities are trying to figure
out? Or is that still too far down the road? Universities aren’t moving to bring things
like augmented and virtual reality in to bear to digitize those types of access to research,
for example; for a research experience? I think there are a lot of interesting and
fascinating things going on all over higher education, and you and I were chatting earlier. EDUCAUSE in Philadelphia is a great place
to see all that stuff and talk to people about all those fascinating things. I think, the key is if you think about it
now, who owns the transcript? I mean, what’s the source of record for the
transcript? It’s the institution, right? What classes do you take, what grades do you
get in them, what extracurricular experiences did you have? Blah, blah, blah. That data, if you will, is within the source
systems within institutions. And it’s like electronic medical records,
right? Right! Who owns that, and is that all going to move
out to some Blockchain, or something, right? Exactly! And so, I think a key to this tipping point
that I mentioned earlier is that once the student owns that completely, once that data
is in the hands of the student, I think that’s when we’re going to see things change. That’s my bet, if you will. Yeah. So, the student will actually get more control
of the overall experience; be able to select the technologies they want, who and what can
access that data, and it’s certainly a very interesting world. So, much more heterogeneous, as what we’ve
seen with the rest of the web, too, right? Right, exactly. All right, so we only have a little bit of
time. I talked a little bit about culture and its
relationship to successful digital transformation. I think you said we could talk about that
all day. I very much agree with it. Why is that… Let’s tease that apart and let’s get to
what really matters: Why is culture a blocker or an enabler, specifically, for digital transformation? The culture eats everything for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner. Yeah. It will. You know, it’s interesting. No matter how many organizations I work with,
the same sentence always comes up within the first day or two. We have always done it this way, right? And so, and the only thing that’s the same
about culture is that culture is different in every organization. It’s N-of-One, everywhere. You know, you say all higher ed is a vertical. Let me tell you, higher ed institutions are
as different from one another as they are from organizations in different verticals. So, you know, culture is a blocker, because
primarily, either overtly or not, people are incentivized and motivated to conform with
the culture. Let me give you an example. If the culture is that it’s a very hierarchical
leadership model, and the decision-making, let’s say, is tightly held at the top and
not distributed, well people are incentivized and motivated in ways that support that. They’re not, all of a sudden… because a
new CIO comes in, all of a sudden be incentivized and enabled to have more distributed and lower-level
decision-making. So, if you think about technology today, all
this stuff is designed to drive decision-making very low as possible. You can have dashboards on your phones; you
can be alerted to problems; we can get a lot more data in the hands of workers to enable
them to help customers more directly and effectively, so on and so forth. But, if you’ve got a culture that holds
decision making maybe kind of tightly, the CIO is probably not going to have a heck of
a lot of luck trying to introduce technology that does things differently. So, that’s one example that I can think
of where culture would be a blocker. Where culture can be an enabler is where people
realize… You mentioned employee engagement earlier. You know, an engaged workforce, part of how
they get engaged is they feel empowered to do interesting and customer service-oriented
things every minute of every day. “Oh, this customer needs this thing in pink,
instead of blue. I’m just going to run down my paintbrush
and paint it pink and ship it to them.” You know, you want to be able… And that employee is going to feel good, and
going to feel empowered. And so, you think about deploying technology
somewhere that has that sort of culture, you’re probably going to have an easier time of adoption. But, you know, I think that a lot of times,
boards and CEOs, and other C-suite folks maybe don’t pay enough attention to culture and
also the processes that that culture engenders. You can have the best technology in the world. If you haven’t paid attention to your talent,
if you haven’t paid attention to the right sort of processes, it doesn’t matter. It will fail. Yeah, I’ve called corporate culture an enterprise-wide
immune system that throws off change… Yeah! Really, companies are successful because they
had a culture that worked. It got them where they were. “This is how we do things. This is what’s acceptable.” And, these new technologies proposing… They suggest that we should be “Uberizing”
Airbnb and all of our business models and doing these very radical turns in the corporate
direction, and that is often very hard for existing corporate culture to accept. So, it’s one of our biggest challenges and
it think you summed it up very nicely. […] The plus-one on that is that a strategy
I often advise is that if a CIO is trying to influence a culture, there is always somewhere
in the organization that is open to change. Get a couple of quick wins with… even if
it’s small, quick wins because you’ll start to have sort of a flywheel or a snowball effect. So, I’m like, okay, you’ve got this big problem
over here, but you really don’t think you can influence it because they’re not culturally
ready; stick a pin in that! Go over and… This little group over here who are raising
their hand saying, “I want to do this, I want to do this,” go help them out and get a quick
win, and then go back, maybe, to the larger issue if you can. Yeah. Exactly. And so, thanks for that and we’ll have to
talk about that more next time when we get a chance. One final question, kind of taking that lens
a little farther and saying, well what’s the end-game here? Not that there probably ever will be an end-game. But, we look at trends like AI. Scott Weitzman’s
back on Twitter asking, “How will AI change higher education?”, artificial intelligence. And we see already people creating instructors
and teaching tools using AI. Adaptive learning is a big trend in education
saying, “I’m going to create a micro-customized educational plan and delivery,” and it’s adaptive
in real-time to how fast the students are learning and what they need to know, and things
like that. So, we look long-term, that the machines will
take over much of the teaching institutions? Or, is that fantasy? Well, you know, I think we’ve got a lot
of examples in pop culture, right, that can show us the negative side; you know, “The
Matrix,” “Terminator,” George Orwell’s “1984”… And in my mind, technology is amoral, right? Technology doesn’t necessarily know right
from wrong, that you can argue that one day, AI will take care of that. It’s people that know what is right and
wrong. And when we’re developing AI, whether it’s
in a higher education setting, or it’s autonomous vehicles, or whatever the case may be, humans
need to think about how do we design and implement this technology so that it is in service to
human beings, right? It’s in service to human beings. It’s in service to the student. It’s in service to the faculty. It’s in service to the consumer. That is the key. And, I think there are some very interesting
areas of study that need to deal with that. You know, we’ve already seen some not-so-good
examples of technology that hasn’t… We see it all the time, right? People implement ERP systems and all of a
sudden, not only are they spending more on technology, everybody hates the system. Well, let’s not have that happen with AI,
right? Let’s learn from the past and apply a little
bit more thought to artificial intelligence. Yeah, well I’d like to say all technology
is a two-edged sword, and with power comes great responsibility. Absolutely. And I’m not sure we’re taking up that
last part well enough yet. Yeah. So, Joanna, thanks for joining us! Really appreciate you coming on and sharing
your experiences as a CIO and working with up-and-coming IT leaders. Any final words? Just, thank you so much for having me on the
show! People can find me on Twitter, @JCYCIO. I’m also on LinkedIn. I love hearing from people and talking and
collaborating about all things technology, and this has been great fun! It’s always great fun and look forward to
doing it sometime again soon. Absolutely! We’d love to have you back on. Alright, well that was Episode #243 of CxOTalk! We’re done for this episode, but you can
catch more on Friday, July 14th. Michael Krigsman, the founder of CxOTalk will
be speaking with Kim Stevenson… Great!
…at Lenovo! Yeah, exactly! It’s going to be a great show. I’m looking forward to that one. Yeah, Kim’s awesome! Yeah. Exactly. Thanks, everyone!