Chief Content Officers, CTOs vs VPs of Engineering, How TV Influences Search Behavior + more

strategy+business starts us off again this week with an article around five steps to formalize forward thinking in our organizations.  These are meant as a way for the leaders of companies to predict future trends so they can lead in the market versus lag, but they are still good exercises for all of us and a great way for us to engage our teams and get them to focus on strategy and get out of the rut of tactical thinking.  On a personal level, is the question we should be asking ourselves.  Should it be what makes me happy or what do I want, or should it be what am I willing to suffer for, what is so important to me that I am willing to endure pain to achieve it.  Life is full of pain, and closing our eyes to that fact doesn’t make it not a reality.    The more interesting question we should ask ourselves is what pain do we want in our lives and what are we willing to struggle for.  This article digs into that concept, and it reminds us all that life is about choices, even when it comes to struggle.

Steve Hilton, CEO of Crowdpac talks of his life, going on three years, without a mobile phone.  I spent six months without a phone of any kind back in college because I simply wanted to, and you know what?  Everyone who needed to could still reach me via email or other means.  As we move forward into a new year and with so many distractions, a challenge for myself is to see how I can distract myself less.   That said, I also now have an Apple Watch, but that is an experiment in seeing if I can leverage just enough technology to see myself less distracted by it.  So far, distraction is winning.

How do we recruit top entry-level millennial talent?  That’s a great question, and one that many companies have the leg up on us around because of the cachet of their names (Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs, und so weiter).  This week Forbes gives us some insights into how in order to attract talent, we have to be willing to help them grow and move on.  Many times this results in our people seeing the greener pastures that exist within our companies, and sometimes it means they leave us for other opportunities, but we end up with an advocate for our culture and our people advocating for us in their new companies.

In America, credit cards are banks’ most profitable lending business.  Priceonomics takes a look into how much that convenience costs us on an annual basis.  For sure, for an individual, it can be smart to use credit cards and take advantage of credit card rewards.  What we don’t think, however, is how using credit cards impacts the profitability of merchants and I think it will be interesting to see how this dynamic impacts retail business as a whole as we move more and more towards a cashless economy and banks build so many potential penalties into using debit cards.  This article also give a good summary of the history of credit and credit cards and where we are today.  The way to work around credit card usage?  Transactions on our phones, we we already see a huge uptick in in developing countries.

There’s been plenty of press about Apple developing its own car, Google autonomous vehicles (only one of many such projects), and Tesla, but this article digs in to how Ford is pivoting from being an auto manufacturer to a software-driven service company.  It will be interesting to see how Ford makes that transition, whether they are successful, and how they manage the pivot and try to transform a company and an industry.

Some interesting things are afoot in the cloud space with quite a number of companies (including some big tech firms) going all in with AWS.

IT process automation is and has been a hot topic in industry for years and this article from Gartner gives some tips on how to overcome five common IT process automation challenges.  One of the biggest I see with customers, even with the dearth of systems out there, is a lack of process standards, discipline, and governance.  While this article doesn’t dig deep into any of these subjects, it highlights them, and information on portfolio management adoption can be found here.

I know Tom Frey from my days back in Colorado and have always been impressed with his DaVinci institute and with his own thought leadership as a futurist.  Tom recently published his thoughts on twelve critical skills for the future, from distraction management to opportunity management and other.  As he notes, the key word in the list is management, as technology, while enabling, also complicates our lives so much more so than once they were.

With so many different screens in front of us every day, how are marketers supposed to best influence a consumer’s buying decision?  This article from Search Engine Land starts digging in to how the typical purchasing process might have looked just a few years ago versus how it looks today.  There truly is no longer a linear path to purchasing anymore and now the challenge for marketers is how to make Digital and TV work together.

So what is the Chief Content Officer?  Digital disruption, as noted above, is dramatically changing the way content is consumed, with more choices than ever before.  Those changes have led to the need for a strategic content leader, and the establishment of a new C-Suite role: Chief Content Officer.  This article digs into what that role is, as well as how companies need to create an ability to harness content’s relationship-building power.

If you’ve not heard of Distributed Ledger Technologies, this article on Blockchain is a great place to start.  Based on technology that is the backbone of Bitcoin, DLT could be a game changer when it comes to public sector, healthcare, retail and financial services where trust and anonymity are key.  It is an incredibly new technology, however, so there is a great deal of uncertainty as well.  Big tech firms like HP, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft are highly interested in it, as are many of the larger firms in the Financial Services sector.  Basically, Blockchain is a self-sustaining, peer-to-peer database technology that manages and records transactions with no central bank or clearinghouse involved.  It will be interesting to see how this tech is manipulated with the involvement of big banks, but it is a great step forward in anonymizing personal financial data.

A follow up article here after the one I posted last fall about the Unicorns of Silicon Valley – it seems that many of them are now on fire, that funding is drying up, and many exits occurred – we saw funding dry up across North Americana dAsia at the same time, and VC firms are tightening their belts.  What that means for the broader economy is an open question – hopefully by tightening belts now, we can avoid another dotcom bust of the early 2000s but with the rampant spending by established firms like Yahoo, time will tell.

Many of us feel stuck behind the evil that is email, we let it run our days (and nights) and find it so hard to disconnect because of how this tool has morphed and changed and how audiences have broadened and the impact of a lack of communication that email brings about (97% of all communication in non-verbal, all of which is lost in email).  So why has it been so triumphant when so many revile it, and many new technologies have been created to replace it?  The Atlantic digs exactly into that question this week, with a great article on the history, current state, and possible future state of email.  Spoiler alert: it’s never likely going to go away.

Last is an article that walks you through the difference between a Chief Technology Officer and a VP of Engineering.   It’s from back in 2010, but still relevant in describing who’s who in the tech zoo and how those roles impact/interface with one another and what makes a great tech team.


For those of you who have been reading along for a bit, I tend to come back to this same idea time and again: starting with why.  A few months ago I pointed to this TED talk by Simon Sinek as the foundation for that conversation.  While Sinek speaks of our organizational need to outline the nuts and bolts behind our various strategic visions and missions, I believe that for it to take, we all have to do our own part to figure out our individual whys.  So let’s start there:

What are the tenets or core values that service companies hold dear?  They might be relationships.  Or serving others.  Commitment.  It all boils down to SERVICE, which makes sense given our focus.  But why are we here?  To me, in the end it comes down to enabling our colleagues, customers and employees to accomplish their personal and professional goals.  Through their success, I’ll find success myself.  That’s what we all strive for, and that is how we achieve our own success.  But we still have to figure out our own personal whys behind what we do, beyond income, comfort, or stuff.  Let me give an example:

When I was six or so years old, I’m told that I went up to my mother and told her that I was going to bring joy to people through music.  First off, what six year old talks about stuff like that?  Second, how audacious a goal was that for six year old me?  It’s not just a story, though, because I somewhat remember that conversation.  Through the years, that desire has driven a lot of what I do, but it looks different today than it did when I was six.  In high school, I decided that bringing joy to others through music was too long, to specific, too wordy.  It didn’t have the power I wanted it to have, because it wasn’t simple enough.  So I changed my focus, changed my desire and decided that my life-long goal, my why was simply to BRING JOY.  That’s it.  My focus, day to day, was to bring joy to others through service.  I’ve wandered from that mantra over the years, but it has always been my true north.  That’s my focus every day, and the focus I bring to my different partners and customers.

There’s a difference between loving what you do and liking what you do.  There are days where we will not like our jobs.  That said, if you focus on your WHY, you will always love your life.  Profitability is a result, whereas why is about your purpose and purpose with intent leads to profit.  It’s something that permeates all of our relationships in our lives and our customers and employees can sense it in you and that want that, whatever that is.

So what’s your why? 

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