75. The role of the Chief Information Officer in the Future of Work | Michael Krigsman, industry analyst and publisher of CXOTalk


Michael Krigsman | Industry analyst and publisher of CXOTalk


This week is our second chance to connect with industry analyst and publisher of CXOTalkMichael Krigsman.
In Episode 75 we find out where CIOs need to stretch themselves to overcome today's hurdles as well as delving into the differences between cloud-native and established company structures.


Michael Krigsman pic


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
The innovative CIOs recognize that technology infrastructure is not sufficient to add strategic value to the company.

[00:00:20] - Doug Foulkes
Hello and welcome to episode 75 of Chaos & Rocket Fuel: The Future of Work Podcast. I'm Doug Foulkes and this is the podcast that's all about the future of work. It's brought to you by WNDYR and as always, I'm joined with my co-host, Claire Haidar, who's the CEO at WNDYR. We are busy chatting to Michael Krigsman, Claire tell me what are we going to talk to him about in this second section?

[00:00:46] - Claire Haidar
Hi, Doug. Good to be back with you on this second segment, with Michael. Flowing from that first segment where we looked at the role of the CIO in the future of work, we really started getting down into the practicality of what it's going to take for these really future-forward thinking CIOs to really start collaborating with the people function as well as the operations function inside the company.

[00:01:13] - Claire Haidar
One of the things that really resonated with me that Michael brought up in this conversation was specifically the fact that it's not about the goal of the CIO. It is ultimately about aligning the work of the CIO and any other C-level function with the goal of the organization. Naturally, digital transformation and specifically transformation around how we work is very much top of mind and top of agenda right now. We looked into what that is and what it's actually taking on the ground to make that happen.

[00:01:47] - Doug Foulkes
Yeah, we also had a very, quite a long section. We spoke about the difference between cloud-native companies and more established companies, which I thought was interesting.

[00:01:56] - Claire Haidar
It was very fascinating to delve into that. As Michael pointed out in that piece of the conversation, it seems so obvious on the surface, but when you actually start digging into that, it literally is two different types of organizations that need two totally different types of goal sets, KPIs, people teams, types of employees, technology stacks. It's two totally different companies and really critical for CIOs to understand that.

[00:02:28] - Doug Foulkes
Claire, I'm going to stop you there, because I don't want any spoilers. Let's hear what Michael has got to say.

[00:02:32] - Claire Haidar
Good. Looking forward to it.

[00:02:34] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, from my perspective, from my maybe more simple viewpoint, where do the CIOs need to stretch themselves to overcome some of these hurdles that you've spoken about? These are probably things that didn't even exist just a couple of years ago.

[00:02:49] - Michael Krigsman
That's another really, really good question because to some extent I've been talking about both practice and theory. I think that for some organizations, for the most mature organizations in these domains, the way I've just laid it out really is how it should be and it's what the practice is.

[00:03:15] - Michael Krigsman
But in daily practical life, it's not always that easy for many different reasons. For example, some organizations have a bias where they perceive the CIO as being that tech guy or that tech woman. There's not an easy invitation for the CIO to be part of that conversation, that employee conversation, that customer experience conversation, that revenue conversation, which is where these folks need to be. That's just one example of the practical hurdle that may exist in some organizations.

[00:04:03] - Michael Krigsman
In other organizations, there simply may not be the resources to hire the technical depth that's needed, and the CIO may need to be a jack of all trades. When that happens... If the email system is not working or the cloud connection is not there, whatever it might be, of course all attention is going to turn there. The problem happens that if there is a breakdown, if projects are not delivered on time, if there's some type of breakdown, then the CIO will lose credibility, and that makes it even more of an uphill battle for the CIO, for the technologist to become involved and highly engaged in the business conversation.

[00:04:48] - Claire Haidar
Michael, I want to weigh in there. I can definitely confirm, because if I look at the work that we do as a company, those two particular issues that you've just highlighted there, the first two out of the three that you mentioned, they play out in almost every single conversation, where you either have a company that has chosen to hire in a more senior capacity on the people-side of the business, so you have a very, very progressive human resource officer or a chief people officer, and you have somebody, as you've said it very eloquently, has just been siloed to the tech person, and they're not able to stand as an equal to this very executive level people person.

[00:05:35] - Claire Haidar
Then we see the reverse in companies as well, where there isn't a distinction between the CIO and the CTO. Those roles are bundled into one, which means that the person is extremely, extremely pushed in terms of resources and their own limits from time, because those two roles of the internal functioning of the organization versus the external functioning from a technological perspective is a huge load for any one human to carry with their team below them.

[00:06:05] - Claire Haidar
Then organizations who have chosen to focus in hiring there tend to have, what I would call, just an administrative HR function in the company. They don't have somebody that they're bringing to the strategic table saying, "Okay, this is not just about payroll processing and leave processing and things like that. This is actually way more than the typical HR functions." There's an experience that needs to be designed here, to your point, that leads back to actually achieving company outcomes.

[00:06:41] - Michael Krigsman
There's a difference in sophistication among companies as well as among CIOs. The more sophisticated companies, which tend to be the larger ones, not always, but in general tend to be the larger companies that have more resources. They can allocate folks to really think through these strategic issues that you're describing.

[00:07:04] - Michael Krigsman
There's another issue here which serves as an impediment or hurdle or an obstacle. I feel pain as I say this, but not all CIOs have the experience and the background to go beyond the technology aspects of the role. If you think about the way CIOs are trained, at least historically, it's been a very internal, heads-down, technology-focused role and the background of folks traditionally, CIOs traditionally, historically, have come out of tech without a lot of training and experience in communication and the business.

[00:07:55] - Michael Krigsman
I think that's definitely changing. It's also part of a generational shift, as younger people come in that's changing, but I wouldn't ignore that aspect either.

[00:08:07] - Claire Haidar
Michael, this actually segues beautifully into the next question that I have for you, which is the difference between cloud-native companies versus established companies. This is a very big part of your work. It's a huge area of your research and highly relevant to this conversation that we're having.

[00:08:27] - Claire Haidar
Before we go into that, can I ask you to just give us a basic definition of the difference between those two so that everybody understands what we're talking about? Then can you walk us through how the employee and the employee experience differs in both, and how that touches the role of the CIO?

[00:08:46] - Michael Krigsman
Cloud-native companies were born during this period where we all use cloud software. That means that they've built the company around collaboration. They've built the company around using cloud-based services. They've built the company around the idea that mobile needs to be central to the operations. A cloud native company doesn't have the baggage of old existing processes. There's no concept of, we're not going to use collaboration software together. We're not going to find ways to work together that make it easy for us to be in different locations. That's a cloud native company.

[00:09:41] - Michael Krigsman
In contrast, established organizations typically were formed before the age of the cloud. For example, I—not too long ago—spoke with the Chief Digital Officer of Ingram Micro. They have 35,000 employees, $50 billion in revenue, they're major book distributor. They're not cloud-native. They are an established organization. They have established lines of revenue. They have established business models. Very importantly, they have established ways of working. To build-in digital transformation for them is a major strategic undertaking, whereas a cloud-native company doesn't need a chief digital officer, for example, because they are already digitally transformed. In other words, they started out being digital.

[00:10:44] - Claire Haidar
Yeah. Michael, I can bring this home before I send it back over to you to answer the rest of my question for you, but the way you've described it is really, really a perfect description of it. I can give a practical example of when I was... Let's just get some timelines right here. I graduated from my undergrad degree in 2006. I had literally been this generation that had functioned with a mobile, and I had been introduced to the very early cloud technologies that we all consider just everyday technologies today, like Microsoft Teams and Slack, and all of those type of tools, you know, the very beginning of those.

[00:11:33] - Claire Haidar
I was introduced to them and as a young graduate I couldn't fathom why big companies couldn't see how this could make work possible, that I didn't have to go into a physical office to get my work done. I could do it from everywhere, because a mobile phone was available to me and these technologies were available to me.

[00:11:56] - Claire Haidar
But to the point that you're making, business was so established and so ingrained in those early two 2000s. That concept of moving away from an email-driven on-site in an office where teams are working predominantly with email being the main driver of work, was really hard for people to conceive.

[00:12:22] - Michael Krigsman
Just very briefly going back again in time to that transitional period. The reason that it was such a challenge for large established companies to make this transformation was because they had millions, if not billions of dollars invested in technologies and processes that existed before the cloud. To adapt those technologies to be as simple and straightforward as frictionless, as sometimes you hear that term, in use compared to cloud-native companies or companies born in the cloud. That technology transition just it took a long, long time. It's still taking place today.

[00:13:15] - Michael Krigsman
But then you have the cultural dimension, which is this shift in mindset, folks in your generation, as you were just describing it, Claire, you expect that there's a kind of... I don't mean to put words in your mouth, there's a blending between what happens at work and what goes on in your home life, and the technologies are very similar, if not the same. But at that time there was this real distinction. We had our work technology and we had our home technology and the two were separate.

[00:13:51] - Claire Haidar
Yes. Interestingly enough, and I think this is the other really important thing to highlight, Michael, with this thing is, in that very, very early stage where this huge shift happened, we wouldn't not where we are today, where the technologies that were being used in the work environment were far more sophisticated than the technologies being used at home.

[00:14:17] - Claire Haidar
That's part of why there was this drive in terms of they were not yet consumerized. You had to go to a workplace to use these really large enterprise resource systems, et cetera, with all of their protective mechanisms in them, like their firewalls and everything like that, in order to get your work done, and then you would come home.

[00:14:42] - Claire Haidar
Part of that huge shift was all of a sudden everything flipped and these technologies became really consumer friendly. Now you actually have the opposite, where it's way ahead on the consumer-side and actually lacking on the enterprise-side in many ways.

[00:14:58] - Michael Krigsman
Yeah. We have the recognition now in the enterprise that consumer technology is what consumers expect. Consumers include our stakeholders, they include our partners, they include our employees. There is this expectation among all of these consumers, our employees, and so forth, that our work technology should be as simple and easy to use as the technology that we use all the time when we go home.

[00:15:32] - Michael Krigsman
Companies recognize that. The born in the cloud companies, the cloud-native companies, they don't have this problem because the technology they're using is cloud-based. It's already there. But for the larger companies, it's still an ongoing challenge. But certainly everybody knows this, everybody is aware of it, the software vendors are trying to put out software that's easier, that's modeled on consumer software.

[00:16:02] - Michael Krigsman
This is not a big secret, but there's a huge weight of history, tradition, investment and processes and culture, and mindsets that fight... Look we—people—we don't like change, and changing how we do things, changing our technologies, changing the relationships that we have... Collaboration and all of this.

[00:16:27] - Michael Krigsman
For established companies, especially large companies, it's hard, it's expensive, and it takes time and it can be disruptive. We talk about disruption as being this great thing. Yeah, disruption in markets is great because we get new technologies, new business models, new products and so forth, but no one wants to be personally disrupted, or very few people do. I just want to get my job done. It's like, "Listen, I come to work at nine. I want to do my job just leave me alone, and then I want to go home."

[00:16:58] - Claire Haidar
Exactly, and I want to watch Netflix.

[00:17:01] - Doug Foulkes
That deep dive into cloud-native and established companies concludes part two of our conversation with Michael Krigsman. Check out part one if you haven't already on Spotify, Google, or Apple Podcasts, or on the WNDYR website. That's wndyr.com. We'll conclude our chat with Michael shortly, but for now, from Claire and myself, we'll see you soon.

Similar posts

Get notified on new Chaos & Rocketfuel episodes

Be the first to learn about WNDYR’s latest work and productivity insights to drive a successful enterprise digital transformation