Podcast: Leading technology with a toothbrush with Brian Hough

Brian Hough

CTO at Beam Dental

Podcast – Episode 15:
Leading technology with a toothbrush

How to create customer-centric innovation and market disruption

Tech leaders sit at the heart of an organization. They are the enablers of the businesses in this digital world we live in. Decisions they make, impact the present, and mold the future.

In this episode of CTO Confessions, we speak to the tech leader of a very niche business. They have taken the simple toothbrush and added an impressive dimension to it. Marrying the world of personal preventative dental health care with that of dental insurance, through a technology-enabled toothbrush. What you might call “smart dental care.”

“You have to view yourself as the connector. One of the responsibilities we have as CTO’s is that our world touches everybody else’s world, and vice versa. That very rarely happens for other parts of the organization. And so, once you recognize this, you start to realize that you need to have a relationship with those folks. You need to have signals that you’re pulling in, and you need to share the responsibility for the KPI’s those people have.”

Brian Hough, Dental Beams CTO, joins us to talk about his tech challenges and wisdom around creating a truly customer-centric product. He describes how, through organizational and tech leadership, Beam Dental creates a strong feedback loop between the development teams and the needs of the end customer. Forming tight awareness and close feedback loops to get the product offering absolutely right.

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Why it’s important to invest in development that sets the groundwork for future innovation and product agility.
  • Creating high performing engineering teams that fully own their work.
  • What is ‘Sentiment Analysis’?
  • How to improve the success of a product by having more eyes on the customer’s needs.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: Humanizing AI with Swathi Young

Swathi Young

CTO at Integrity Management Services

Podcast – Episode 14:
Humanizing AI

The future is not all AI dystopia & terminator (creating technology ethics, transparency, and fairness)

You hear a lot about AI. It’s a bit of a buzz word, right?! Often misused and misreported. One area that is starting to get a lot of debate space is the ethics around this mystifying and still futuristic technology. It’s an important subject that is starting to have an impact on our everyday lives. As we all know, the world we live in is full of data, and it’s creating more and more consistently and relentlessly. With big data comes opportunities to be one step ahead, to help, to enhance human life, and on the dark side, oppress and control. So the subject of ethics around this subject is an important one. One that we should all take heed of. Especially us tech leaders out there.

“I believe that the [AI] future is imminent and we all think about the future in multiple ways… Some of us think about the utopian future. Some of them think about a dystopian future … ”

Swathi Young shares her expertise in this Podcast, her hopes, and her vision for AI. Especially around the ethics and impact it has on us humans now, and in the future. Swathi is an expert in the field of ethics and AI. In fact, at the time of the recording of this Podcast, she was currently working with the US Government creating an ethics framework for this emergent technology.

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • What is Humanizing data?
  • How can we start considering the ethics of AI?
  • What is ‘Sentiment Analysis’?
  • Tips for tech leaders on where to start when considering AI in their products and organizations

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: A new shiny large-scale simulation tool for the SME toolbox

David Freed

CTO at OnScale 

Podcast – Episode 13:

A new shiny large-scale simulation tool for the SME toolbox

(Democratizing supercomputing power that’s easy to use, low cost, and on tap)

Whenever one reflects on huge steps in innovation, we usually see some disruptive democratizing of capabilities. Where the tools of the elite, and those with deep pockets, become available to the masses. Well, that’s what this Podcast is about! It’s about democratizing this ability to have large supercomputer platforms’ capabilities, brought to the toolbox of SME businesses. 

 … it’s just so difficult to go after the big prize right away. You want to set up an achievable development path that gets you some milestones and some wins along the way.” 

In the context of this disruptive story is an interesting and passionate tech leader, David Freed. CTO of OnScale, a company leading the way in achieving the democratization of high-level computing for large scale simulation. David is a self-confessed computer engineering geek with a background in Physics, chemical engineering, and a Ph.D. in fluid dynamics (in the context of Nuclear waste disposal). A heady mix of subjects all converging on a passion for bringing disruption to a niche market, thus gifting groundbreaking capabilities to the SME market. 

David shares his desires and vision for OnScales platform, his leadership style to achieve this, and what he wishes for tech leaders out there. 

Key takeaways from the Podcast are: 

  • How novel solutions can bring historically expensive, out of reach capabilities to the masses by being bold, creative, and establishing cost-reducing ideas. 
  • How businesses can accelerate innovation through affordable large scale simulations (removing complexity and need for deep expertise) 
  • How to be a leader in a disruptive business and getting the best out of your teams 

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: Tech-ing up the construction industry with Jeff Olin

Jeff Olin

Vice President of Technology at HomeSphere

Podcast – Episode 12:
Tech-ing up the construction industry

 

Do you think the building industry is tech-savvy? It’s a good question. To some degree, it’s yes and no. Through this Podcast, we shine a light on the current state of affairs. It seems that the industry is on the cusp of a step-change. Its finally making attempts to bring technology and infrastructures that have advanced so many other sectors into its arena. Bringing technology, new tools, and the use of big data to strengthen its ability to create thriving, innovative, and efficient businesses.

Well, Jeff Olin, Vice President of Technology at HomeSphere, is a person with many years of experience from software programming, to project/product management, to leading technology groups. He joins us in this Podcast to share his thoughts on leading tech within his current role, in an industry that’s finding its feet in the modern digital world. Jeff is clearly passionate about doing his part to help the construction industry catch up. Find out about what HomeSphere do, and the tips that Jeff has to offer on creating highly flexible architectures for customer-centric products, at two ends of the building industry (builders and their building suppliers)

“The construction industry has not improved in efficiency in the same way as most other businesses over the last 50 years. So there’s lots of room for technology improvements to make the construction industry more efficient.”

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • How the construction industry is picking up the technology pace, and how it can improve its bottom line
  • Creating an architecture that makes it easy to maintain and deliver customer-centric outcomes
  • Leading as a CTO with Agile in mindset

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: CTO's voice from the Banking as a Service Industry with Taylor Lilley

Taylor Lilley

CTO at Global Payroll Gateway

Podcast – Episode 10:
CTO’s voice from the Banking as a Service Industry

(Setting up high performing resilient remote teams and architectures)

Tech leaders today are multi-faceted. There is the obvious requirement to understand technology, at least from a high level, but also a need to be business-minded and understanding what creates the best high-performing teams in one’s leadership scope. In this episode, Taylor Lilley joins us to give us an insight into his lessons over varied his journey. Taylor is the CTO at White Label MFG with a straight-talking style that gets the nub of where the challenges are and what the options are. Rewinding his timeline on experience, you get to see a colorful journey, one that started in the United States Marine Corps.

“…make sure that your [soldiers] in the trenches know the battle plan.”

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Try not to treat your highly intelligent engineers as task doers
    (get the best out of your high IQ people)
  • Communications is the key to making remote teams deliver the outcomes you want
  • High-level tips on creating high volume resilient architectures
  • The importance of having a business head as well as a tech one

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: CTO's roles in driving revenues for SaaS Companies with Gene McNaughton

Gene McNaughton

President of Growth Smart Consulting

Podcast – Episode 10:
CTO’s roles in driving revenues for SaaS Companies

(In sales, seemingly small things can make a huge difference)

Selling is an art, and like any art, we can use techniques to improve or suppress the probability of creating the desired result. In the modern world and COVID19 crisis, interactions in the digital world are becoming the norm rather than the exception. The normalities of face to face meetings have, at least for the short term, turned into a rarity. Thus, impacting the ability to develop a healthy rapport between the seller and potential client. Gene, a thought leader in the space of sales and company growth, shares his wisdom on how technology leaders can set up their sales representatives to tip the scales towards success. What appears to be small things can make an impact on online meetings, which smooth the path towards a sale or, at a minimum, a stronger client relationship. Gene is an author on the art of selling, who has lots of experience working with many large organizations to drive revenue growth, and a man with many years of experiential success for his clients. So, what Gene has to say to Tech leaders holds weight. His advice will help your organization’s bottom line.

“What a seller should be doing is bringing in their engineers [to their sales meetings], bringing in their technology thought leaders. … [the] technically inclined people whose job is to ask the hard questions. Whether it’s the CTO, an engineer, or a subject matter expert, they are vital in today’s buying and selling processes.”

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Tech leaders can drive sales revenues in more ways than you initially think
  • Partnerships with Sales, Marketing and technology offices create a powerful synergy
  • The disruption of the COVID-19 crisis highlights an opportunity to employ technology to reduce Sales function costs and increase customer engagement

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: CTOs as Champions for Innovation with Jeremy Basset

Jeremy Basset

Founder and Managing Director of CO:CUBED

Podcast – Episode 9:
CTOs as Champions for Innovation

(Providing innovation to enterprises in uncertain times)

Large corporations attempt to innovate internally, sinking vast amounts of money, balancing high levels of risk, and rarely succeeding in achieving the innovation opportunities they crave. So what can tech leaders within these organizations do?

Jeremy Basset, Founder and Managing Director of CO:CUBED, a company providing an interesting bridge between the large corporates and the vast sea of startups. Previous to that, he was the innovation director at Unilever. In short, Jeremy has a vast amount of experience in the innovation space. With gratitude, he joined us for a conversation on how CTOs and tech leaders can be the champions of innovation by taking a rather different approach to invigorate innovation in an easy, de-risked way.

“… we’re going into a new era now where it won’t be… step-change transformation, but just ongoing incremental innovation that happens every day and over the medium to long term. [i.e. consistently] deliver[ing] ongoing transformation.”

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • How can tech leaders of large enterprises maximize their ability to innovate?
  • How can corporates make innovation easy for themselves?

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: Transformation for Innovation with Deal Daly

Deal Daly

Field CTO at Hammerspace

Podcast – Episode 8:
Transformation for Innovation

(Technical leaders part in the Innovation Game)

As a tech leader, how do you transform your organization for innovation? And why you need to be involved in the first place?

Deal Daly,  Field CTO at  Hammerspace,  joined us for an enlightening conversation on the subject. With many years in mergers and acquisitions, looking at technology from the outside-in. His journey gradually led him to lead infrastructure groups. For this reason, Deal has a very interesting perspective. He’s a business person with an acquired technology angle. Now looking from the inside-out, he shares his learning and insights.

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Why must technology leaders become partners in enabling the entire business, not just in the capabilities of a product?
  • How to tap into the inherent curiosity of technical people, thus driving team performance and innovation.
  • Using the multiplier effort to drive and spread innovating behaviors.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

1. Introduction and Bio.
2. Deal Daly's varied career from business world to tech.
3. Deal Daly's thoughts on transforming cultures in an organization for innovation.
4. It's easy to go shopping for new technologies; it's not so easy to align teams and get them on board [with new ways of working].
5. Breaking down siloes to raise the cross-boundary communications, and more fire up collaboration.
6. A cultural change by a process change.
7. All businesses are intertwined into the fabric of the digital world, and that's why tech leaders need to be steering them.
8. Businesses finding the need for new products in the market.
9. Understanding the product and the business model around it.
10. Using subject matter experts to help create technical architecture.
11. Finding the golden nuggets (people) in your organization.
12. The benefit of creating an organizational safe space to safely transparent.
13. Supporting internal people who are innovating and curious, while reinforcing the behaviors they are showing (for others to see).
14. The multiplier effect (to increase the number of innovators).
15. Persuading senior leadership to bleed their leadership (and innovation creation) into the organization.)
16. The reason digital transformation is hard… because it's hard!
17. Grounding areas for cultural change and political upheaval.
18. The theory of small success to get business people "on side" for innovation.
19. The technological world innovates much more slowly than marketing and sales.
20. Greenfield innovation can be successful and can be a path for innovation, but be cautious.
21. Innovation is disruption, so how do you re-engineer a stable organisation to be able embrace technological innovation and the needed disruption?
22. Organizations becoming more Agile (nimble and iterative based on market input?)
23. Creating converged organizational functions like a DevOps.
24. For new, more nimble, and adaptive processes, don't dismantle development or IT, create a demilitarized zone.
25. Business Agility and safe zone (demilitarized zones).
26. Organizational cross-functional departments not being told what to do, but inspired to create the solution.
27. How do you persuade senior leadership to create "Business Agility" cross deparmental ways of working.
28. Circuit breaking applications, so if one module goes down, the others can still continue.
29. Breaking down monolithic applications.
30. Monolith applications into independent services, microservices, data meshes or using low code or no code methodologies.
31. Dealing with engineers who don't want to break up the monolith into elemental services.
32. Technical people creating a PR (Public Relations) mindset.
33. Two-way communication encourages people to create feedback loops.
34. Technology leaders becoming good communicators (start your communication plan).
35. Iteration of business changes.
36. Where does the market input for the organization to innovate come from?
37. Innovating while avoiding burning cash.
38. Funding innovation that pops up out of the blue.
39. Deal Daly's framework for tech leaders who want to fire up innovation.
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Podcast: A CTOs Epic journey with Charles Griffith

Charles Griffith

CTO at MileZero (a Capstone company)

Podcast – Episode 7:
A CTOs Epic journey

Charles Griffith, CTO at MilesZero, and previous to that, Technology Vice President of Transportation at Amazon, shares his journey as a CTO. An incredibly experienced tech leader with an interesting voyage. One that went something like this:

  • Gaming industry
  • To working at Amazon in the formative years
  • And then to a Startup … and Exit

Through Charles’s story, be inspired to find the path for your own journey and see how making it varied can lead to long term success, thus creating a well-rounded tech leader. One of the key takeaways from the Podcast is that Investing in your journey from a place of awareness is a powerful success trick. Leading you to places where you want to be, rather than where you just end up.

“Ultimately, every day, ask yourself, is this what I should be doing and what is it I really want to do. I think if you’re not asking yourself to basically accomplish something that’s historic; you’re setting your bar too low. Because we only go through life once. So, you should always be moving forward. And I think that’s another reason I moved out of games after a certain point, and out of various companies where I got comfortable. [This] is because I said to myself, “what am I doing” “I’m not improving myself,”; whether that’s by challenging myself or by what I’m delivering. And so I will say, in retrospect, maybe I’ve hurt the world two times. Games, in terms of what I’ve seen from my kids being so absorbed in games versus the rest of the world. And now, perhaps with Amazon in terms of what that’s done to other retailers. But you can’t hold yourself responsible for how your deliveries are used, but you should hold yourself responsible for continuously improving.”

Key Points from the Podcast are:

  • Designing a varied journey builds a strong foundation for your career
  • Experimentation and failure leads to new deep learning and one that can have surprisingly long term successes (look at Amazon)
  • Do what you love, and continuously learn from it (avoid comfort)
  • Building high performing teams around you is a leadership art based on people chemistry

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

Transform your technology organization with IT Labs teams.
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Podcast: Transformation Leadership for CTOs

Episode 5: Transformation Leadership for CTOs

Guest: Jardena London – Enterprise Business Agility Strategist at Rosetta Technology Group

Once again, greetings, ladies and gentlemen. Jardena London joins me for a riveting discussion on Leading Transformations. On how exciting they are, and at the same time how painfully challenging they can be. In short, It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Some of you may recall Jardena from a previous IT Labs Webinar: “Creating Structural Agility with Living Systems.”, jointly presented with Sally Breyley Parker.

In this talk, we dig deeper into the role of CTOs in organizational transformations. We cover a number of angles including a few outlined here:

  • The elements that create good transformation. What supports transformation and what does not.
  • What Jardena has observed in her vast experience.
  • And the importance of the CTO and tech people in enhancing transformations.

Something in our discussion resonated with me. On how we need to get more of the technology folk talking to the business and supporting them. Especially CTOs. It’s been something that I have been banging the drum about for a long time. Jardena’s view reinforced my belief that we need to break down boundaries with CTO’s leading aspects of a transformation from their wealth of intellect, ideas, and passion for trying new technological ideas.

I hope you come away with as many good takeaways as I did.

Our Guest: Jardena London

Jardena on Linkedin
Jardena on Twitter

Referenced Webinar in the Podcast: Creating Structural Agility with Living Systems (Guests: Јardena London & Sally Breyley Parker)

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