Jeanne began her career in startups and made her first big splash when BMC Software acquired Marimba. In working to integrate Marimba, Jeanne became a pioneer in the development of business service management. Which is the foundation for what we now call digital transformation. We're beyond excited to have Jeanne on the Podcast, and we're so glad we get to share this interview with you!
Today, it's my very great pleasure to welcome my friend, Jeanne Morain to the podcast. Jeanne began her career in startups and made her first big splash when BMC Software acquired Marimba. Marimba, was the company founded by Kim Polese, the original product manager for the Java programming language. It was a precursor to everything we take for granted today. This includes containers, orchestration, device management, and patch management. Marimba ended up being sold to Samsung and it's still in use at Starbucks, powering everything from cars to fridges. Without it, there's no continuous delivery. And there's no DevOps. In working to integrate Marimba’s software, Jeanne became a pioneer in the development of business service management (BSM). Which is the foundation for what we now call digital transformation. From BMC, Jeanne moved to executive roles with Thinstall, which was acquired by VMware, InstallFree and Flexera.
In the middle of all this she also wrote the definitive books on desktop virtualization Client4Cloud and digital transformation Visible Ops Private Cloud. She is a highly sought-after advisor to executive boards, CEOs, and is now working on a digital transformation startup of her own. Jeanne, welcome to the podcast, it’s great to have you here.
Can you talk about some of the ways in which Business Service Management and digital transformation lie at the heart of Corporate Innovation?
Absolutely. When you think about the first ideation for Business Service Management, it came from the need for the business to have visibility into “What is the spend of IT or technology?” And even at that time…So BSM was first started in 2002. A lot of people thought it wasn't started until later, but it was actually in 2002. It was needing that visibility in understanding that from a regulatory standpoint, from a compliance standpoint, and from a standpoint in which looking at the business of the company, (and not just the business of IT), what is the impact of technology? Taking into account as the bottom line and that overall total cost of ownership.
So regarding Corporate Innovation, when you think about why it's so critical and how BSM has really evolved into Digital Transformation, it's looking at how we have a generation of users that have never known the world without Facebook, Google search engines, and mobile cell phones. They are now looking at every business as a software business. Therefore, every business needs to have that understanding of what the true costs are. Which means, not just business as usual, but of implementing this technology for the life cycle of that service within an organization. And so I’m still seeing today, as part of their digital transformation efforts, companies who started with BSM and never quite got to the full vision, transform their vision. This is so they can do things like cloud bursting. And then understanding everything from the asset implications to when they add in this new digital technology. Or they add in this new service, that they can speed up to go faster and have that full visibility with predictive analytics and different aspects to it.
So it's definitely a significant component of the journey. And it’s almost impossible to undergo that journey without having that base foundation of knowing what you have.
One of the joys of working in such a youth-oriented industry is the young people with all of their energy and enthusiasm. One of the downsides is that we’re at continual risk of losing our history. For example, forgetting that in 2002, companies had an IT department, and all the computers lived in that IT department. But then there was the rest of the company, which was most of the company. You tell that to kids these days and they just do not believe you. But that is where we came from.
It really is important that we don't forget that institutional knowledge. The reason why I say that is because I have worked with many companies over the years to deploy these large-scale deployments. Everything including DevOps to working with a large organization on deploying their CI/CD pipeline. Then of course looking at that transformation. And the heart of it is, if you forget the fundamentals of how we got to where we're at, then it's harder to peel that onion back to the basics. Meaning, “What is that minimal viable product so I can crawl? Then what do I need to do to walk, then run?” This is how you get from vision to reality.
So they focus on the technology. I've seen this mistake happen more often than not. That's why I wrote my last two books, Crossing the Cloud-Chasm and Embracing Digital Transformation. It was because too many companies couldn't get past the technology phase and were thinking about how to communicate not only up, but out and down. So, this is the big gap that is driving me absolutely insane after all these years. 70% of these large initiatives are failing.
They’re failing because of the fact of communication. They’re not focusing on the people-process aspect that was part of Business Service Management. And guess what, we found that out the hard way. Because when we went to implement the CMDB (Configuration Management Database), we realized with the first 40 implementations that it wasn't going to work if you didn't have the cultural mindset shift. That if you didn't have the shift in understanding that the process needed to be automated with the automation and that needed to be changed for compliance. 2002 marks the initial compliance restrictions. If you think about Sarbanes-Oxley, they were the first Act, (other than the 1932 security exchange commission act) to really have such a significant impact on organizations as a whole. Now what we've seen sense has been absolutely phenomenal.
I do think that at the heart of these communication challenges is our historical amnesia. Because it's too easy to say, “Oh, what are you doing still using a mainframe? Why are you a hospital that's still using BMC Patrol?” While the decisions to deploy those products in that hardware made perfect sense at the time, it's just that we don't remember the historical context in which those decisions were made.
Well, they don't always know if the juice is worth the squeeze. So more often, people think of technology for technology's sake. Let's fast forward, let's grab onto that shiny new object. But if the older technology is not only fulfilling the bill, but the newer stuff doesn't have the minimal viable components to replace it, it's hard to really dislodge it from the culture. It’s that people-culture piece that is the biggest factor for these large initiatives failing.
So let's talk about Kim Polese’s company Marimba. It was such a revolutionary and radical company. We don't talk about it much today and yet it introduced so many of these ideas and approaches who's implications we are still working through.
Marimba for me has been the epicenter of my success in this industry, having been given a lot of the changes in lifts and shifts. So that the key with that company, and why it was phenomenal working for them, is that there were no glass ceilings. A lot of the things that I’ve heard other people complain about, I was fortunate that I had a leader that was able to kind of clear the way and everyone with a good idea would come to light.
A lot of people don't realize that Business Service Management almost didn't happen. When I first pitched that idea, I was laughed at. I barely got past the second slide and Kim was in the room. I was young then, so I of course got upset, stormed out, and then she came to coach me. She said, “Show me your business case. Show me exactly where these ideas are coming from, and where it all makes sense.” When I explained it all to her, she said ”Okay, we'll fund it and we'll make it happen.” So it was one of those things that when we originally came up with the idea, a lot of people thought it was crazy because the analysts were not talking about it yet. They didn't see it yet. It really came from a meeting with one of our customers, Ernst & Young and also with many of the other auditors. Because Sarbanes-Oxley had just passed, they were wondering how they were going to enforce it. So, a lot of the vendors who were sitting in the room thought that was a good question. They were thinking, “Well a lot of our systems don’t talk together. There is no magic database that you could pull this list from that will tell you everything that you're looking for from these different areas.
They had brought in iTel from British Telecom. That's where Malcolm Fry and team had ended up getting involved with the whole process. It was a really interesting time. When I think about those days in Silicon Valley in the 90s and early 2000s, it really lifted and shifted the change. I was fortunate because I was a customer of Marimba back in 1996. I actually started their user group and then was recruited to join them. A lot of the things that they were doing were so innovative that it was, you know, really the opportunity of a lifetime when you think of the bigger picture.
But when I think of everything that they've implemented. Like the first container products in the market. When people are trying to figure out how to deploy containers and production, because containers are a C version of Java, it’s not as scary to someone who has done it a couple of decades.
Or looking at everything from subscription-based policy orchestration to adding active directory to doing your changing configuration management deployment. Some of the first patch management pieces, they were all created, (and this is the key to what I loved about the company) not because we believe that that's what was needed, but because we took a different approach. Which meant taking a customer in-in approach. And instead of listening to all the noise around us, we listened to the people that were actually writing the checks and using the products/production. It was a start-up, you had to or you didn't make it past tomorrow from that perspective. But everyone had a very family type approach in an “all-in”. So there wasn't as much of the negativity that you see happening at a lot of companies that frankly, kills startups. This assessment is from my experience. This is from some that I've seen, some that I have advised, and some that I've been part of. The infighting tends to be because the leaders don't get along and then it really kind of implodes.
The other key thing that I loved about that startup is that they made work fun. One of my favorite times of the year is Halloween. So all the Marimba founders would get together. So Kim, Sammy, Jonathan and Arthur. Many of them played instruments, but they would dress as judges, and we would close on Halloween and have contests. They would have skits, and everybody would literally decorate their cubes and stuff like that. I was a part of the Marimba Martians one year where we just came up with these fun skits. Sammy would play the drums or the guitar. Different things like that made it a more fun environment. You then realize that you play hard and you work hard. And you had to have that balance.
My best advice that I had ever gotten from Kim. Well not just the best. I've gotten lots of good advice from Kim over the years. To this day, she is still my mentor. I think that is an important piece as well. To manufacture time for what matters. Find a mentor, but be a mentor. If it’s given to you, then be sure to give back.
Kim is really just an exemplar of someone who lifts as she climbs.
Yes, and everybody had to do that. That was the other key thing. There was no room for politics. So you lift your team with you because there is no “I” in team. And it doesn't matter what great things you’ve done. The founders created Java. So it's really hard to get past that when you're working for them. But they made sure that as leaders in the company, you had to lift up your team. That it was not just one voice. You had to be the voice for some people that were maybe introverted that didn't necessarily have their own voice. But you made sure that all of the ideas were thought through or funded. Well, not necessarily funded, but founded under great context. And that people really kind of looked at what the art of possible is. And how to solve the customers problems and not create more problems of our own. I think that was critical to their success.
So from those, you know, very nerdy, “I will carry the image of Marimba halloween in my heart for the rest of my life”, true startup days, you've launched on a career in Innovation with some of the biggest enterprises on the planet. When you look back on your work in Corporate Innovation in particular, what are you proudest of?
I would have to say really lifting those up around me. So if I think about one given technology or peace or component, I don't think that book is written yet. What I mean is that in the sense that a lot of what I've been working towards is the foundation of digital transformation. So seeing when that finally succeeds, then I'll be proud. But I don't see 30% as a success. It's not something that you can have ego or pride over. But regarding Corporate Innovation, I realize that I've helped solve a problem that helps people have more time for what matters. So whether it's with their families doing something that they enjoy, to reading a book, (poetry for example) from that perspective, that’s what I take pride in.
So the biggest thing that I think I've learned from the experience of working with the people that have mentored me, is to be someone who leads by example. I’ve always led by example. Even if sometimes I was forced to walk away from difficult decisions because I had to acknowledge that it wasn’t the right thing from an integrity perspective. I guess I’m proudest about that. Now, that doesn't always make me the most popular player in the room, but at the end of the day, I know that I’ve made a difference. That’s the key.
But, you can't just point to one thing. I think that's what drives me. I don't rest on my laurels. I have done a lot. I’ve had a lot of success and I'm very grateful for that and to the people that have lifted me up. And also to the people that I've worked with on that. But I do know that it's one of those things I wouldn't be able to do without that strong group of people lifting each other up. Again, there is no “I” in team. So there's no one thing I can say that is all me. Realistically, I can point to the customers. I can point to the developers. I can point to the leaders that helped make it happen. I guess the biggest thing would be being a leader that leads by example and really tries to make a difference.
Are there any specific customers that really stood out? Or any corporates that did a really good job with this?
Oh, there are some amazing ones! And some of them I write about in my books. Regarding the NFL, and Aaron Amendolia, this was post-Marimba days... But what they've done around digital transformation. To really revamp not only the use of the technology, but also how they function as a corporation and pull some of these pieces together, is absolutely phenomenal. So moving people from being chief firefighters to strategists. To kind of being on the cutting edge. They've done some phenomenal things in that area.
Another customer that I've worked with over the years when I think about the larger ones like telecommunications would be Verizon. Verizon was a Marimba customer. They've always done a phenomenal job at really keeping focus on what matters. They would tell you if you made a mistake, what the impact was to their customers. It made you think twice.
There were some hospitals that I worked with that absolutely loved. And probably one of the hardest ones was… Well, imagine going into a catholic nun and then they ask how I can help them buy more blood. Which really helps you put it into perspective. The other big epiphany for me as a leader, and you’ll probably appreciate this, is on a personal level. My husband had open heart surgery and it happened to be with some of my clients. Imagine going and watching them do the echocardiogram and you're looking at the laptop that they're doing this on, the portable machine. And you’re realizing that you see that your little icon is on there, and you're like, wow. I never thought that the lives that it could help save, or the difference that it would help make, would actually have such a profound personal impact on our lives. It really helped me take a different approach to how I looked at things. It made sure that when we deployed code, we understood what the impact was going to be. And yes, we always did before, Kim was always very adamant about the “before”, but then, we upped the game.
So that whole idea of round fail-fast, find-fast, fix-fast, was a critical aspect not just in DevOps, but realistically as part of BSM. Because you needed to be able to address those issues so that patients, especially in healthcare, think would be the biggest one, aren't impacted. Like with banks, it’s money and different things like will obviously have a huge impact, but the biggest impact on people's lives could be life or death.
That is a really sobering story and it's humbling to think that these pieces of technology that we work on actually have the power to dictate people's lives and deaths.
For good and or bad. And I’ve seen the opposite. So some stuff that I've worked on in the virtualization realm, with “hospital that will not be named”, they implemented nascent technology into the ED (Emergency Department). So when we first did VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), they had the doctor looking for the IP address on the system. And what they really needed was the IP address on the server. So it was a poor implementation. It was a question that I was asked at VMworld. This particular person was the one who asked me. I told them to tell them that they made a mistake. Because one, you shouldn't have implemented nascent technology into production for life or death. And two, you didn't do a good enough job, training or supporting staff to understand what to look for; so that the doctor could focus on the patient and not on the technology in hand. I think as technologists we have to realize that profound impact that we can have, either for the good or the bad to our customers and what they're doing.
I guess one of the encouraging things we've seen over the course of our career is this idea of human factors - human-computer interaction. Moving from what was honestly a periphery of marginal interest in the 90s to really, the front and center of how design thinking happens now.
Yeah, and for me that is a big deal because that's my background. My Master's is in Instructional Technology, human performance technology. That's what I focused on and I started out as a Usability Engineer when it wasn't as popular of a career path to take. Everyone thought I was a little crazy for going in that direction. But now it all makes sense.
Yeah, we've been working on augmented intelligence for the last 50 years. We just didn't realize it until now.
Yes exactly. We're finally getting to the right approach.
Jeanne if you had one do-over, what would you do differently?
Looking at the fact that Alchemist is to help people that are doing startups, is not to provide too much information during the due diligence and the pitch phase. I have had developers taken from VCs with entrepreneurs and residents that decided that the idea was too good for them not to just keep for themselves. I have had many cases, in fact one even just recently, where they kept coming back to see if I’d join them after they're trying to implement my idea or my vision in technology. To see if I'll shift back because they could get funding again by giving away a bigger piece of the pie.
I think the key for entrepreneurs is that they may or may not know about the America Invents Act. I didn't know when I was going into some of that stuff. They may not know that your NDAs don't really matter. You think that they do if you're going for funding. These VCs know that if you don't have the $500,000 it's going to take to do the seed, or the 3 million dollars that it's going to take to actually build the company itself; then chances are you don't have the minimum of $500,000 to open up an IP infringement lawsuit.
Ask me how I know that one!
It could cost millions. And then more importantly, a lot of the time that goes into that. You have to be very careful as to what you disclose. And even though they need to have some of that information because they're investing, make sure that you really know the person on the other side of the table. Because they'll tell you that it's a bad idea today, and the next thing you know, they’re having a start-up funded for it tomorrow. And they’ve gotten their own group of entrepreneurs and residents to pick it up so they can own a bigger piece of the pie.
So lots of treacherous waters around the startup economy. What are some of the things that make internal innovation, Corporate Innovation, so difficult?
The key for internal innovation actually goes back to the human factors. So humans by nature are resistant to change. And the biggest mistake that most make, whether they’re consultants, or startups, or even larger vendors that go in; is that instead of making sure that everyone has their fingerprints on the pie and that you're lifting the team up in the organization is they want to be the one to get all the credit. So, they continue to work in their silos. The idea of incubation isn't necessarily including all the different people that really need to have the insider input. Because they know that when you push, where does it poke out? But they want to be the genius to deploy it. Or they just look at the technology and they don't think about the processes or the people. It’s the people that will kill it every time. It's that humans' resistance-to-change, or the not-invented-here. Also, mentalities like, “I've spent 20 years working on this system or process that I implemented. So I’ve dedicated my blood sweat and tears to that, and I don't want to change it because that's critical to me. Even if it's better for the organization.”
They feel like that is their job security.
You know what's really interesting about both of those answers. The internal and the external innovation answers that is. Is that they come down to the same thing. “Trust doesn't scale”. It's really difficult to form a trusting working relationship beyond the three to five people in a startup team. As organizations get bigger. It's harder and harder to form those bonds that make work feasible.
It can be, but not always. I’ve written about this in some of my last books. It's important that you find those change agents. Because they exist. In every pocket, in every group. There's always those that aspire for a little bit more. And don't be ageist. What I mean is that the change agents that I've seen have varied anywhere from interns, all the way to people that have already retired, and are now consulting back to the company. They both can really understand (on both ends of the gamut) what the impact could be. You balance them and get them on board. That positivity is contagious.
So when I think about why they took off. They are BSM or VDI or Universal Clients, and what we've done with Cloud Native and some of these different areas that I was fortunate enough to be part of. The reason why they took off is if you look at the one thing that Diane Greene, Kim Polese, and others in this area like Gene Kim, was that they're all very positive, and uplifting people.
Yes, that’s true!
They all believe in “Don’t tell me why you can’t, tell me what you can, and what you’re going to do.” So if you're looking at these things from an entrepreneurial perspective, and you consider how these things have really been successful. It’s that what was shed, was all that negativity. Yes, sometimes we're going to have it because we'll have bad days - but shut it. Think about what you can do and make it happen.
That's such an insightful point. And your point about ageism is really interesting and well made. During my time at Autodesk, it occured to me that there were two universally loved change agents. The one, it was her first job out of college. Shout out to Molly Sun. A project manager who just got stuff done. Really phenomenal at moving through different silos of the organization of persuading people. Another woman of whom I could say all of the same things had spent most of her career at giant companies like GE. She had come to Autodesk just before retirement and was the person on whom everyone could depend to execute. So shout out to Anne’s friend.
At those two ends of the spectrum, they were just able to build trust by very very consistently delivering on their promises.
Exactly, over-deliver, under commit. Too many people overcommit and under-deliver. Make sure you scope the work and understand that you need to leave at least 30% pad for unknowns in the agile world that we live in.
Your pre-empting my next question, which is, how would you distill your experience into lessons for our listeners?
Well, the key is that when you're thinking about Corporate Innovation and how you can expand within your own organization, you’re figuring out who the change champions are. You’re creating that table. If you don't have a seat at the table, you create the table and you invite them to it. Because the one thing I found more than anything else is, people don't want to not be invited to the party. They want to be able to have input and feedback. The second thing is to actively listen. Identify the low-hanging fruit of change, for my crawl, walk, run approach. By “crawl”, it's not just crawling with the technology, but asking what elements you can implement.
Even if I'm looking at the CI/CD pipeline, focus on what version of the pipeline you are doing. It could be Java or your .NET. Then you can begin to understand based on that version of the pipeline, who your customers are. Internal customers? External customers? But also consider Support, Operations, and different teams. Because if you look at the center of the pipeline itself, it supports both. Then coming up with that communication pathway and plan. Not just from a technology scope and implementation, but identifying with those users what those requirements are upfront.
And don't do these large, what I call “pepto-bismol walls”.
I do believe in the scrum of scrums. But not where 150 people come in the room and they're doing all these post-it notes all over the walls, and then they're like, “okay take pictures”. What happens is that everyone is so busy filling out their post it notes, that nobody's actually trying to understand what that pain is. So if you don't identify the pain chain, which is important, then you won't and you can't fix it. Sure, we all have lots of great ideas. But just because you can - it's kind of like Gene always likes to say “You can juggle chainsaws - that doesn't necessarily mean that you should.” We need to think about if it makes sense or not.
When you look at that innovation, you look at what makes sense for the company. That's a critical success factor because if you're not adding to the benefit of the bottom line, then it goes back to juggling with chainsaws. Then you shouldn't do it. Realize that companies are like children. Sure, there are lots of great frameworks out there, right? For those of us who have had kids - I’ve got twins. They’re as different as night and day, they don't even look alike. But what would work for one is not necessarily going to work for the other. Make sure that when you think of the framework, kind of like ITEL and all of the other pieces, they’re guidelines. Adapt it for what's needed for your company. It's okay to change the naming convention if you need to.
For example, if you already have a team called SRE, it's okay to call the Site Reliability Engineering team, something else. This can make it easier for the company to facilitate and embrace the change in less friction. And that's because there's always going to be the people side. Which honestly is the hardest side of the equation to fix and address. On the technology side, you'll have lots of solutions on the technology piece, but always remember that the vendors may or may not always have the answer. This is because very few have actually walked a mile in your moccasins. A lot of the greatest innovations seem to be blueprints that actually came from us integrating things together for our customers - then we’d realize it was a great idea.
For example, I had six different customers in six different industries, trying to do the same thing or asking for the same thing, Sarbanes-Oxley. Once we got that, we realized we needed that centralized data stored instead of integrating everything together. We needed to understand those components. So, really make sure that if you are working with a vendor they are actively listening.
This is a big part of why I've become such a proponent of customer discovery. Because there's nothing quite as transformative as having those conversations with people who have business needs who are in some kind of process pain. To clarify everything that happens internally. You know, when you can push an innovation team out of the building and get them to talk to somebody who's using their product. Suddenly, all of the arguments about frameworks, all of the arguments about naming conventions, just become moot. This is because the real problem is that the customer’s hair is on fire and we have a fire extinguisher, and maybe these two situations could somehow come together in some positive way. It's so clarifying.
I agree. I always do what I call, “field trips”. From the beginning, this is a human performance technology thing, not something that I would say is a me thing. But rather, something that I was taught to do when I was in school. You basically take your developer and you take your test engineer, and you go on-site to observe like coyotes in the wild. It’s to have a better understanding of what exactly they're doing and why. It's eye-opening. Even within corporate IT and IT within companies, I've taken that same approach to implementing digital transformation. Where I've had, the role of Product Management and I've had the developers, and the test engineers actually sit with the business users. Not the people signing the checks, not the VPs or the leaders, but the people actually doing the work, and seeing how it was working for them. Or, what wasn’t. It really makes a difference.
If they feel like they have input or voice, and you're willing to listen, they become your biggest champions.
They do. That's howVMware and Splunk got their engine moving. They gave people the next five years of their career. What happens to those field trips? What happens to customer discovery in the age of the pandemic? How is that going to change?
Well, I think the biggest change that it will have is you're not going to be physically going there on site because there's going to be more restrictions to go on their own site. We've seen that in general. The pandemic is part of it, but even with more regulatory oversight and social engineering. Not just the actual, physical viruses, but all the virtual viruses have people a little on edge. If we stop and think about how many viruses are written now, I think the last count I heard was over a million a day. Realistically, you can visit through Zoom or through Webex. Even just this week, I was doing the day-in-the-life trips. I was really kind of going through and watching the developers, and in this case, the CI/CD pipeline, working with a lot of Dev. I watched them go through the line of work and identified some of the gaps. Not just within the technology, but the people process pieces that we need to think about shoring up. Then we can innovate and then we can scale innovation.
Because most innovation fails, not in the early days, but the minute you go to scale. It’s that hockey stick up. And if you haven't fixed those gaps before you scale, then it explodes at a higher level. And DevOps is purely indicative of that.
Yeah humans don’t scale either.
With everything that you manage to get done in a day, I'm constantly in awe. How do you avoid burnout?
Reach for joy and manufacture time for what matters. Kim was the one that taught me that. To make sure that throughout the day, you make time. Whether it's that you schedule an hour here or there, or you check out and go for a walk. To make sure to do that especially with family. Though it's always a struggle. With my children, I've always made sure that I never miss a game, I don't miss recitals. I may not have made every practice. But, you’ve got to read stories every night, etc. However, you can’t forget to make time for yourself. Often as leaders, we don't always practice good non-burnout skills. There's some things I could be doing to better myself. If I look at the biggest hurdle for me with this whole covid thing, was when the gyms closed. I went from working out five days a week, five miles a day - to nothing.
So what do you do? Well, another hobby of mine is that I like to cook. Unfortunately, if you’re not working out, then that’s not a good idea.
But looking at that balance piece, sometimes there are times when you don’t get the balance, but you just have to figure it out. I think it is important for all of us to realize that we're all human. We will make mistakes. My kids range in age from 6 to 26. The 26 year old and I have had plenty of conversations about now. He understands now that he’s older, that I didn’t necessarily have as much time to be there after school in those days - like a traditional mom would. But now, it's changed, times have changed. As they get older, they get that. Fortunately, with this upcoming generation it's going to be easier because they've had working mothers. They understand the struggle. For both sides, they try to be a bit more flexible with that. So, I think it's good. The change is good.
One of the things that I find most rewarding about parenting is this eventual consistency. You know, you invest so much in the children when they're infants and when they're small. Then as teenagers they come back to you and they're extraordinary. They're brilliant, they're interesting, and they're wonderful to talk to. They bring you music and books, you would never have encountered otherwise. It's just a delight. The best return on investment ever.
Yeah. And the other thing that I get a lot of joy from is mentoring. I’ve worked with Arizona State University for example, but in general, I make it a point with different schools as well. But I typically mentor 2 in the U.S. and 2 abroad. Which is one in Europe and one in South America. Which helps me to get more of a global perspective. I’m also looking to possibly pick up some more. I have done it in India as well. I've had one in Mexico, but they're finished., and they're doing well. They don't need as much of my time anymore. I’m shifting over to India or to different countries because it really broadens your horizons. Because you can learn just as much from the people that you mentor. And not just mentoring people locally, and not just mentoring women, but women and men. Because in order to make a difference, you have to be the difference. Which means you have to lead by example across the board. But the idea is to really try and reach out to young people that are up and coming. To learn the industry and the process. Because they will look at it from a different lens, and they help give you that injection of positivity. Whether you realize that you need it or not. Because, sometimes you might feel like you've been beaten down by listening to these people talk. Young people are excited about the future and what it holds. They ask all these brilliant questions and then help you look at it in a different way. One of my favorite things to do if you ever have the opportunity, is volunteer at the universities to be part of their engineering pitch day, for the senior projects. I've done that with ASU and different ones where the developers will come in and they'll pitch their capstone project. You will give them feedback, but you learn so much from these bright minds. Also, you're giving back to the industry, whether we admit it or not, gave us so much that we have.
I'm laughing because the first time I judged a pitch day was for Alchemist back in 2013. I spent the next six years trying to figure out a way to get Ravi, the founder, to hire me at Alchemist. It's the most fun thing in the world and mentoring is such a regenerative activity - it's incredibly rewarding.
Tell Ravi I said, “he's lucky to have you.”
Thank you! Jeanne, what is the best way for our listeners to connect or follow your work?
iSpeakCloud.com, and then I am also on BrightTALK. I also do webcasts and the key thing with my webcast is they're completely altruistic. I usually include an industry expert and then somebody who's actually implementing the technology in production. Those who sign the checks and the ones with their fingers on the keyboard giving you a balanced perspective. Either of those would be the best ways of getting a hold of me. I am also on Twitter as well as on Instagram.
What does the future look like for you, personally?
For me personally, I am still looking at this particular area - that has not been solved yet. I am determined to fulfill my life's work. When I think about digital transformation, a lot of these pieces of my life have gone into seeing this bigger picture solved. So, Identifying more of the gaps and new technology. Working on many different projects that I won't necessarily get into all the details. Because based on my earlier advice, not to divulge too much from that perspective. So, personally I've got a couple more decades to go before I’m done. As well as definitely mentoring more people and lifting them up. I really want to give back because I think there's so much room for growth in that area, for the industry as a whole.
If you could wave a magic wand and have our industry pan out exactly the way you want it to what would that look like?
That is a broader conversation. Really looking at when we talk about Cloud Native, and if you think about it, I've been writing about cloud bursting for a decade. In 2010 is when we wrote the book, Visible Ops Private Cloud. So regarding that bigger picture, what I would love to see is not just 30% succeeding, but every company succeeding. When we think of the industry as a whole, I’d like to see a lot of these bigger players take a good idea, and listen to their customers. But for whatever reason, the hubris is there that they're not listening to their customers. To do more of that select program piece of really hand-holding through the implementation. Or helping their customers, not by having them hire these high price tagged consultants, but to really understand that while they're rolling out this technology in its infancy, that they need that feedback. Which allows them to evolve with the needs of the customers.
I still think that gap right now is so significant. My dream is predictive analytics, which I think is going to be the next big thing in this area. Being able to help senior leadership understand that when they poke, where it pushes out. Which will give them better visibility into their organizational structure. But it's not there yet. The nirvana would be having that clean CIC pipeline. With everything being automated for java.net and the gray areas like mainframe and stuff like that. It’s important to manage from the infrastructure down. The apps to the users. And that the business can focus on the business of the company and not the business of IT.
Whenever we talk about this I think about those movie images of mission control in Houston from films like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff and just having Ed Harris there and he has all of the information mission at his fingertips. Sure your spaceship has blown up a little bit but you're going to be okay.
Exactly! Exactly! If you think about when we talked about BSM when you were at 451 Group back in the day. It was at that single pane of glass. We still haven't gotten there yet. So, let me ask you a question:
Where's the business in Business Service Management?
That's a really good question. It's like asking where the business is in open source because it's an enabler. It's something that other people build their businesses on. People say open source was a disappointment and that Red Hat was the only really big outcome from there. But stick a fork into Amazon, Netflix, Google, or Facebook, they're all built on enormous mountains of open source software. I think BSM is the same. I think maybe there will be a big vendor outcome, but it won't be the most interesting part. The interesting part will be hospitals, banks, and airlines - if we still have airlines. Big AgTech companies are able to do scenario planning, being able to see a little bit into the future and understand the implications of the decisions that they make.
That's where digital service management is critical because most people don't know that two-thirds of the vision for BSM was cut. Business templates, fast flow data components, everything that you need to get those outcomes. I'm excited because I think that the industry is finally waking up and realizing the business needs to be front and center. Digital service management truly will be, in my mind, the success of BSM. Realistically, looking at BSM because they cut those pieces, it's more like ITSM. A lot of the value that we wanted to provide wasn't there because of the cuts.
That's why it’s not one division off to one side of the company anymore. You don't manage IT services - everything is digital now. The entire business is digital, it's all being delivered online. You have to manage all of those services and there isn't any business that isn't a digital service in some way.
That's why the ones that have succeeded have figured that out. When I point to the NFL or Gavilon Group, they've literally re-architected their business. People that used to report into IT, are now part of the business. People that were part of the business are now part of IT. If I look at the Gavilon Group, Gary Acromite - amazing guy, really amazing - what he did is he took the engineering architecture team and put it with the business so they could be closer to the customers developing the apps. Then he took over things like supply chain and logistics - that are very operationally focused. So, the ones that are truly succeeding at digital transformation, they're not looking at the business of IT.
I think that's some of the mistakes that the industry is making. They're trying to say, it’s IT for IT - it's the business of IT. I’m not against IT for any reason, for a framework. But, how do you expand it beyond? Because it's not just the business of IT. It's how IT is part of the business, because every company is a software company.
Is there anything else I should have asked you?
This is looking at it from a Corporate Innovation and things that I just started talking about in recent years, is my background. “Where did i come from?” A lot of people would be surprised to discover that I was a foster kid. That's why I became a foster mom. You shouldn't discount or discredit someone from where they come from because innovation and change can come from anywhere.
I almost did not go to college. I did end up getting my masters, but it was because I had teachers that believed in me, when all else seemed a little bit abysmal. That really helped inject that sense of looking for the brighter outcomes or positivity. I think that is an important part of being a mentor; lifting all of those up around you because you never know who's going to make the difference.
I couldn't agree more. It was one of my frustrations with Institutional Venture. It's that everyone was looking for the next seed from Stanford. The most impressive entrepreneur that came into my office, when I was an Institutional VC, was a woman who had gone to Harvey Mudd. The other is charity majors who are literally changing the industry - they have half a music degree from the University of Idaho. That kind of pattern matching, that's so prevalent in our industry, is actively destructive. It makes people say she doesn't look like a CEO to me.
I've seen people that I've worked with, and we've had these conversations at nauseam unfortunately, they were told they weren't technical enough; however, they had a Masters from Stanford in Computer Information Science. They would have to remind him, I actually have my Masters in Engineering and yours is in Psychology. It's not judging a book by their cover, and not just for women, for men, too. People are looking for a certain thing. Sometimes what you're looking for isn't actually what you need. Going beyond the exterior and really understanding the balances that are there. That is the one thing that I am also very grateful to Kim for because she has been phenomenal at lifting everybody up -the same thing with Diane. If you think of Karthik Rao, some of the individuals that Marimba I worked with, they came over from India with 800 dollars in their pocket and a dream.
Very common story.
It's really embracing the change agents that are really willing to put in the time and make a difference. There are so many out there that come from all walks of life and really embrace everyone to lift them up. I think the more we can get that positivity that's how you innovate and that's how you make the difference and you change. You don't give up. And that's the other big one. When people ask me why I have so much energy, the answer is that I learned from the environment I grew up in. You had to be persistent. If you wanted to succeed you had to be persistent. You had to keep working at it. Even though you may not get it this time, you'll get it next time. But just keep trying and if we send that message to the younger people that are coming up, I think it's going to be important to ignite that next generation of innovation. That next generation of insight that's going to even propel us farther than we ever thought we could go.
Jeanne I can't imagine a better note to end on. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been such a joy to spend this time reconnecting.
Absolutely. Thank you Rachel, it’s been a pleasure.
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