What is your position at MEGA International?
My role at MEGA is Customer Success Manager for North America. I’m responsible for interacting with our customers on a personal basis to make sure that they have success, both in using our product and with their Enterprise Architecture (EA) function in general. What that means is, I counsel them, I consult with them and we formulate go-forward plans so that we can see how they can better integrate new technologies, do roadmapping for technologies that they have, and then develop proper EA functions.
What are the primary technologies that you’re helping people integrate to modernize their IT landscape?
I’m seeing a lot of different technologies come in; a lot of people want to work with artificial intelligence or robotics. A lot of people are also working with blockchain, it depends on the industry. Many people are upgrading systems, but more than anything the big buzzwords are always digital transformation and business transformation; these are the big buzzwords that we’re hearing from many of our customers. We have some very specific thoughts on digital transformation which starts with making sure that you have good customer architecture.
You previously worked at AIG, what was your role there?
I had two different roles at AIG that crossed at different intersections. My first role at AIG was Vice President of Enterprise Architecture delivering a technology introduction, where all new technologies were implemented through our function. Then I moved to a different role, which was emerging technology and innovation risk, where I was responsible for developing a program that evaluated new technologies and strategies from both the opportunity and risk perspectives.
During this transformative period is there a moment you can pinpoint and say ‘this was my biggest challenge?’
The biggest challenge is always having a clear understanding of what it is you’re trying to do and how new technologies will play a role. Let me use blockchain as an example; blockchain is interesting because it’s a new technology, there’s a lot of potential in it, so it’s a big buzzword. There’s a great ability for privacy and how to distribute ledgers, but finding the right application for that technology is a challenge; you’ve got privacy laws, you’ve got to make sure encryption is there; there’s a lot of issues that you have to address with this tech, that was a great part of the role from emerging technology risk management. I would go out and analyze this new technology and discover the pros and cons. That was the best part of that job; it had the ups and the downs because on one hand, we were able to figure out uses for blockchain. On the other hand, there were times when you had to tell very important or very powerful people: ‘I know you want to do this, but we can’t find a very good use for it, so let’s hold off and continue the analysis.’
Is it a similar situation at MEGA where the biggest thing is for people to understand what they want the software to do, as well as get a grasp on all the capabilities that the tool can deliver?
That’s still a very big part of it. What I’m doing now is taking on an even broader role because we’re looking at the enterprise in general. When you’re talking about capabilities, you’re looking at these new technologies and you’re asking: what does this enable?; What is this going to do?; What capabilities will this support? Then looking at the capabilities systemically and saying ‘what impact will this technology have on the company, positive or negative?’ One of the major things that I see is that you need to know what the impact and the cost of that transformation effort is going to be, starting with that capability that you’re trying to improve. What are your deprecated technologies? What’s the old stuff you’re going to have to rip and replace and is that connected to something else? You’ve got to find out what the ripple effect is and then translate that back into a feasibility assessment.
Is there an example you can think of where, during a digital transformation, somebody didn’t understand what the far-reaching-impacts might be?
In a company previous to AIG, we were going through a big ERP transformation. The problem was that we did not have a clear understanding of what the impact would be. We didn’t have the processes modeled, we didn’t have the organizational impact; we weren’t looking at the comprehensive picture. If there’s one thing that I can impart to anybody who reads this: you need to know every component of your enterprise and how these components interact. I don’t mean just the technological component because technology is utilized by people, or it automates a process, and all of these things build towards the capability of the business model. If you don’t understand how this connects, that everything you do has an impact and if you’re impacting some large system, especially like an ERP, it could bring your business to a grinding halt. Here’s what we had to do: we abandoned the project $9 million later, we decided just to cut our losses there.
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