This week we catch up with Michael Solomon, an established entrepreneur and the co-founder of 10x Management a premier tech talent agency.
Michael Krigsman | Industry analyst and publisher of CXOTalk
Michael has written over 1,000 pieces on leadership, technology, and transformation; he has created almost 1,000 video interviews with the world’s top business leaders on these topics. Michael’s work has been referenced in the media over 1,000 times and in over fifty books. For three decades, Michael has advised enterprise technology companies on market messaging and positioning strategy.
[00:00:00] - Michael Krigsman
So the question I'd be asking as a CIO is, what can I do to help support the talent goals of the company? What can I do to support the customer experience goals? What can I do to support the revenue goals of the company? Those are the questions I would be asking right now if I were a CIO.
[00:00:26] - Doug Foulkes
Hello, and welcome to episode 74 of Chaos & Rocketfuel: The Future of Work Podcast, the podcast that's all about the future of work. It's brought to you by WNDYR. I'm Doug Foulkes and my co-host is Claire Haidar, the CEO of WNDYR. Claire, how are you today?
[00:00:43] - Claire Haidar
Hello, Doug. So good to be back here with you. I'm actually really good today. It's summer, and I'm very happy that it's summer, that I can walk around outside and enjoy the sunshine. It's also been my little girl's graduation this week. Quick, funny story. We had to turn our car into a chicken for her final senior parade. So we, literally, in my driveway right now, have got a car that looks like a chicken.
[00:01:16] - Doug Foulkes
Awesome. You must be very proud.
[00:01:19] - Claire Haidar
Very proud, as I know you are, because your little girl isn't little anymore. She's graduating soon, going to college, and learning how to drive.
[00:01:26] - Doug Foulkes
Crazy. Listen, we've got a podcast to get on the road here. Today, we're talking to Michael Krigsman. He's the host of CXOTalk. He talks a lot about CIOs. Why is Michael on the podcast?
[00:01:41] - Claire Haidar
Doug, the reason why I wanted to bring Michael on was specifically because of these really interesting conversations that he has with CIOs. The CIOs of the companies that he's bringing in are world-renowned companies. They're truly global enterprises, and digital transformation is something that's top of their agenda. Naturally, WNDYR being the company that it is, that enables companies to go through work transformation, it's a very relevant topic.
[00:02:12] - Claire Haidar
One of the main pieces which you and I did in this conversation with him was we've honed into the fact that CIOs really tended to function… I don't want to call it purely in the silo, because no C-level executive operates in the silo, but they've never really collaborated in any very serious way with your people function. The last two years have completely changed how enterprises are viewing those two roles in that relationship. So it was just really fascinating to delve into that with Michael and have that conversation with him.
[00:02:49] - Doug Foulkes
Right. Let's meet Michael.
[00:02:52] - Claire Haidar
Let's get started.
[00:02:54] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, so pleased to have you on the podcast, and nice to meet you.
[00:02:58] - Michael Krigsman
Great, Doug. It's wonderful to meet you and Claire. It's awesome to be here with you.
[00:03:02] - Claire Haidar
Yes. Like I said, Michael, before we actually hit the record button on this, I'm really excited about this conversation, so thank you for being here today.
[00:03:13] - Michael Krigsman
Well, I saw your TED Talk, and I thought it was fascinating. So I'm just delighted and I can't wait.
[00:03:20] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, I'm going to kick things off. As you know, our podcast is all about the future of work. As the more basically grounded person, I'm going to get right in at the grassroots level. What differentiates the role from a CIO from a COO to a CTO in this modern enterprise of today?
[00:03:39] - Michael Krigsman
It's such a good question. I think that there's a lot of bleeding together or convergence between or overlap between and among these various roles. The CIO is in general, primarily focused on internal technology infrastructure, so what needs to be in place to ensure that the organization technology is running properly: the applications, the security, the cloud connections, things like that.
[00:04:15] - Michael Krigsman
The chief operating officer is really focused on operations and making sure the trains run on time. Do we have, as an organization, the resources that we need? Is HR functioning properly? Is IT functioning properly? The chief technology officer, in general, is primarily focused on external-facing technologies, so what are the technologies that go into our products, for example, things like that. That's how I would break it out. Internal, trains running on time; and then external.
[00:05:00] - Claire Haidar
Michael, that segue is directly into the question that I want to ask you, which is directly related to the future of work and organizations, and that is, where today are CIOs? Because as you've just explained, they're very focused on that internal component, touching the work and employee experience, whereas before, they may not actually ever have delved into these areas. Are you seeing this playing out today?
[00:05:26] - Michael Krigsman
Yes, Claire, I think that's absolutely a very, very important point. As you mentioned historically, really, the CIO role was about that internal technology. It's a very techno-focused role. Today, the best CIOs are, of course, focused on the technology. We can call that operational excellence, meaning that projects are run on time, that the software works, that the cloud connections work, and so forth. So you have that operational excellence.
[00:06:00] - Michael Krigsman
But what's most important and what will add the real strategic value to the business is focused on employee experience, as you said, and to the extent possible, on the customer experience. This is becoming a more common and more important trend. I think it's still lagging relative to that focus on operational excellence. But without a doubt, when you talk with the most innovative CIOs which of course, on CXOTalk, that's who I'm speaking with. When you talk with those folks, they are definitely headed in this employee experience direction, for sure.
[00:06:41] - Claire Haidar
I'm happy that you're raising that because in reviewing the conversations that you've had with these really forward-thinking CIOs, you can see that the really futuristic thinking ones are realizing that this is essentially the new frontier of their roles.
[00:06:58] - Michael Krigsman
I would hope so, yeah. I'm putting it this way, because the underlying question is, when it comes to the CIO, what actually is their role? Doug began this conversation with making that distinction. This aspect of operational excellence needs to be a foundational baseline. But adding value, adding, supporting the strategic goals of the company, which means supporting revenue, supporting talent, that's what matters. That's what's interesting to the CEO, to the board. Those are the things that really matter. And that's where the CIO should absolutely be headed.
[00:07:42] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, I'm going to just bring in another set of initials, the CPO, the chief people officer or chief HR officer. Or how are you seeing CPOs and COOs collaborating on the ground at the moment? Is there much collaboration there? Because I think, traditionally, it's probably not something that has been top of mind.
[00:08:03] - Michael Krigsman
I don't spend a lot of time with chief people officers these days or COOs, which I guess tells you something. I did have a conversation recently with the chief people officer of Chipotle Mexican restaurants, but I think that this question just raises the issue that there is this separation between the technology focus and human resources, despite the fact that human resources relies heavily on technology.
[00:08:38] - Claire Haidar
Michael, I'm so happy that you've been so honest in terms of how you've answered this, is that, no, these conversations aren't happening, and really, as you've pointed out, I believe that they should be. If I was to challenge CPOs today, and if I was to challenge CIOs, I would say, "You guys better start going out for lunch together." You know what I mean? You really should be sitting around the table and starting to understand how your roles are actually so very carefully intertwined in a world of digital work.
[00:09:12] - Claire Haidar
Because if you look at the traditional structure and makeup of a typical HR career path and educational foundation of becoming an HR professional, it does not delve very deeply into tech and vice versa. If you look at the typical foundations that are laid for somebody to set a career path up as a CIO, it doesn't involve a lot of people and human components to it. Yet with work becoming so digital, particularly in the last two to three years, it's now more critical than ever that the pockets in the organization essentially not work as silos anymore.
[00:09:52] - Michael Krigsman
Claire, you're making very good points, however, the more innovative HR folks and the more innovative CIOs absolutely are working together. Because as you said, you have a technology component, you have a people component, and you must have cross-fertilization across these two for both sides to be effective. So in a way, what you've described, this extreme siloing, is a little bit of a stereotype, but it's also a stereotype that has some historical basis in fact. But again, if we look at the innovative folks, they are definitely working together, definitely collaborating.
[00:10:42] - Claire Haidar
Can we segue a little bit down there? Because these are the people that you're having conversations with all the time, Michael, which is what we really wanted to get you onto this podcast for is, can you share some of those conversations that you've had? If you were to sample one or two or three of them, what are the trends that you're seeing in these really innovative CIOs? Where are they starting to think? Where are they going where the rest of the pack isn't following yet?
[00:11:13] - Michael Krigsman
I think you've hit on it earlier. The innovative CIOs recognize that technology infrastructure is not sufficient to add strategic value to the company. What does the company care about? The company cares about revenue. It cares about its business model. It cares about efficiency, of course, but it also cares about the ability to innovate. All of these points don't get addressed by technology infrastructure.
[00:11:49] - Michael Krigsman
When you talk about employee experience or you talk about customer experience, for example, the focus is not on technology. Technology may be a great enabler. So for the CIO, it's really necessary to be thinking beyond that technology and be thinking in terms of, how do I support employees being happy at work?
[00:12:17] - Michael Krigsman
We are in a time right now of extreme talent competition. Talent is becoming very, very expensive. So the question I'd be asking as a CIO is, what can I do to help support the talent goals of the company? What can I do to support the customer experience goals? What can I do to support the revenue goals of the company? Those are the questions I would be asking right now if I were a CIO.
[00:12:45] - Claire Haidar
Have you seen some examples of companies that have really stood out for you that are really taking that approach of the CIO and his entire function, or her entire function being supportive of the organizational goals? Are there some examples you can share with us there?
[00:13:07] - Michael Krigsman
Virtually all the CIOs that I speak with are focused on this set of issues because that's the group that I invite to be on CXOTalk. Just to give you a few examples, not too long ago, I spoke about digital customer experience at Walgreens Boots with their chief technology officer. I spoke not too long ago with the head of data and analytics for the National Football League. I spoke with the head of customer experience and digital transformation for Citizens Bank.
[00:13:47] - Michael Krigsman
The reason that I mentioned all of these people is because although they occupy different positions, in every case, the focus very clearly, very strongly, is to align technology with customer experience, with, again, what the business actually needs. So every one of these conversations that I'm having, it's all about that. It's all about the customer experience, employee experience. It's not about the technology infrastructure, "Well, here's the tools that we have or that we may need."
[00:14:24] - Michael Krigsman
The way technology organizations are structured, there will be a set of folks who have technical expertise. Those folks, their job is to make sure, for example, that the network is working, it's functioning properly. But when you rise to the level of the CIO, the CTO, the chief customer officer, what have you, the expectation should be—and among the best, the most innovative folks, it absolutely is—the expectation should be that the operational aspects, the technology infrastructures, are being handled by technology experts. But the C-level executive should be a business person, and therefore their concerns should be focused on the business issues, not the technology issues.
[00:15:26] - Doug Foulkes
That brings us to the end of the first part of our conversation with CXOTalk host Michael Krigsman. Now that you really understand the various roles and how they need to continue to collaborate, make sure you catch the next two parts of this conversation on Spotify, Google, or Apple podcasts or on WNDYR's website, wndyr.com. From Claire and myself, we'll see you soon.