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Corporate Engineering
The New IT Admin
Blair Sammons, Head of Corporate Engineering @ WeedMaps
Who am I?
What is Weedmaps?
IMAGE SLIDE
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
● Over 500 users
● Mixed OS Environment
● High Risk Industry
● Global Presence
○ Irvine, CA
○ Los Angeles
○ Barcelona
○ Berlin
○ Boston
○ Denver
○ New York
○ Phoenix
○ Toronto
Weedmaps
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
What is Corporate
Engineering?
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
What is Corporate
Engineering?
Justin McWilliams
software engineer in Google's
corporate engineering department
“The company currently has over 32,000 employees, almost
twice as many as it did in 2008. Because of this rapid growth,
the company's IT staff, which is not growing at the same pace,
has to keep scalability in mind when setting up operations.”
"We have to find other ways to scale. We try to scale
by building [in] automation and self-service, as
opposed to just throwing more people at the problem,"
What is Corporate
Engineering?
Scale for me, but none for you.
2003
Average: 27:1
2008
Average: 136:1
Ideal: 82:1
>1000: 118:1
Ideal: 82:1
250-500: 131:1
Ideal: 64:1
SCALE FOR ME, NONE FOR YOU
2019
Average: 200:1
Ideal Simple: 70:1
Ideal Complex: 45:1
"We have to find other ways to scale. We try to
scale by building [in] automation and self-
service, as opposed to just throwing more people
at the problem,"
Dolla Dolla Bills
"Let’s move to the cloud so we don’t have any on-
prem stuff to waste money/people on"
- Some CEO, probably
"cloud services can initially be more expensive than
running on-premises data centers. [However, it also
proves that] cloud services can become cost-effective
over time if organizations learn to use and operate
them more efficiently."
“While the savings on infrastructure costs over time
may look appealing, organizations should bear in
mind that the overall ROI may be still negative in
the short term due to the hefty investments in
transformation and the long tail of on-premises data
center costs.”
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
So…
What is Corporate Engineering?
How did we get here?
"Tech Support is just a cost center."
- Some C-Suite, probably
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
20191994
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
20191994
● W3C was founded
● PHP was first introduced
● CSS was first being concepted
● Hotwired sold the first online ad
● Yahoo and Amazon were founded
20191994
● W3C was founded
● PHP was first introduced
● CSS was first being concepted
● Hotwired sold the first online ad
● Yahoo and Amazon were founded
1984
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
How did we get here?
Change your thinking, to
change the department.
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders
on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here].
The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of
enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users
more productive, streamline business operations, support
corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many
distributed technology investments.
● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable
systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings for our global user base.
● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are
productive and efficient.
● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and
distributed technology teams to understand and align on technology
needs and directions.
Corporate Engineering leads
three primary functions:
To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced,
love technology, understand how business needs can be
addressed through IT, and enjoy proactively building
relationships with colleagues across the business.
You’ll be passionate about being a part of a diverse and
inclusive team and helping them do great things.
We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here].
The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users more
productive, streamline business operations, support corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many
distributed technology investments.
Corporate Engineering leads three primary functions:
● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings
for our global user base.
● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are productive and efficient.
● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and distributed technology teams to
understand and align on technology needs and directions.
To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced, love technology, understand how business needs can be
addressed through IT, and enjoy proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business. You’ll be
passionate about being a part of a diverse and inclusive team and helping them do great things.
Corporate Engineering Manifesto
We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here].
The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users more productive,
streamline business operations, support corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many distributed technology
investments.
Corporate Engineering leads three primary functions:
● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings for our global
user base.
● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are productive and efficient.
● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and distributed technology teams to understand and align
on technology needs and directions.
To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced, love technology, understand how business needs can be addressed
through IT, and enjoy proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business. You’ll be passionate about being a
part of a diverse and inclusive team and helping them do great things.
CORPORATE ENGINEERING MANIFESTO
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
You Can Only Change You
ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin
Problem
● Cyber Security
IT
● Security Policies
● Remove Admin Accounts
● Push MFA
● Corporate AV Policy
● BYOD Restrictions
● Blanket email sent to:
allhands@companyname
Corporate Engineering
● Partner with users to identify risk
● As little disruption as possible
● Ensure users are protected
● Communicate on channels the
team actually relies on
IT vs CORP ENGINEERING
Customer Focus
Companies that are customer-focused have a culture
dedicated to meeting all of their customers' needs.
They ensure all facets of the business prioritize
customer satisfaction as the primary concern.
Customer-focused companies develop close
relationships with their customer base and are deeply
invested in customer success.
Solve for a specific customer need.
1
Always look for product improvements.
2
Make the customer part of the brand.
3
Be proactive when communicating changes.
4
Go above and beyond with customer service.
5
Build up trust with your customers.
6
Respond to the changes in your industry.
7
Crave your customers’ feedback.
8
Invest in your employees’ growth.
9
The customer’s experience is key.
10
1 - Solve for a specific customer need.
2 - Always look for product improvements.
3 - Make the customer part of the brand.
4 - Be proactive when communicating changes.
5 - Go above and beyond with customer service.
CUSTOMER FOCUS
6 - Build up trust with your customers.
7 - Respond to the changes in your industry.
8 - Crave your customers' feedback.
9 - Invest in your employees' growth.
10 - The customer's experience is key.
We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here].
The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users more
productive, streamline business operations, support corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many distributed
technology investments.
Corporate Engineering leads three primary functions:
● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings for our
global user base.
● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are productive and efficient.
● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and distributed technology teams to understand
and align on technology needs and directions.
To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced, love technology, understand how business needs can be addressed
through IT, and enjoy proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business. You’ll be passionate about
being a part of a diverse and inclusive team and helping them do great things.
CORPORATE ENGINEERING MANIFESTO
Corporate Engineering

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ALTITUDE 2019 | Corporate Engineer: The New IT Admin

  • 1. Corporate Engineering The New IT Admin Blair Sammons, Head of Corporate Engineering @ WeedMaps
  • 13. ● Over 500 users ● Mixed OS Environment ● High Risk Industry ● Global Presence ○ Irvine, CA ○ Los Angeles ○ Barcelona ○ Berlin ○ Boston ○ Denver ○ New York ○ Phoenix ○ Toronto Weedmaps
  • 18. Justin McWilliams software engineer in Google's corporate engineering department “The company currently has over 32,000 employees, almost twice as many as it did in 2008. Because of this rapid growth, the company's IT staff, which is not growing at the same pace, has to keep scalability in mind when setting up operations.” "We have to find other ways to scale. We try to scale by building [in] automation and self-service, as opposed to just throwing more people at the problem,"
  • 20. Scale for me, but none for you.
  • 21. 2003 Average: 27:1 2008 Average: 136:1 Ideal: 82:1 >1000: 118:1 Ideal: 82:1 250-500: 131:1 Ideal: 64:1 SCALE FOR ME, NONE FOR YOU 2019 Average: 200:1 Ideal Simple: 70:1 Ideal Complex: 45:1
  • 22. "We have to find other ways to scale. We try to scale by building [in] automation and self- service, as opposed to just throwing more people at the problem,"
  • 24. "Let’s move to the cloud so we don’t have any on- prem stuff to waste money/people on" - Some CEO, probably
  • 25. "cloud services can initially be more expensive than running on-premises data centers. [However, it also proves that] cloud services can become cost-effective over time if organizations learn to use and operate them more efficiently."
  • 26. “While the savings on infrastructure costs over time may look appealing, organizations should bear in mind that the overall ROI may be still negative in the short term due to the hefty investments in transformation and the long tail of on-premises data center costs.”
  • 28. So… What is Corporate Engineering?
  • 29. How did we get here?
  • 30. "Tech Support is just a cost center." - Some C-Suite, probably
  • 37. 20191994 ● W3C was founded ● PHP was first introduced ● CSS was first being concepted ● Hotwired sold the first online ad ● Yahoo and Amazon were founded
  • 38. 20191994 ● W3C was founded ● PHP was first introduced ● CSS was first being concepted ● Hotwired sold the first online ad ● Yahoo and Amazon were founded 1984
  • 44. How did we get here?
  • 45. Change your thinking, to change the department.
  • 47. We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here]. The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users more productive, streamline business operations, support corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many distributed technology investments.
  • 48. ● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings for our global user base. ● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are productive and efficient. ● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and distributed technology teams to understand and align on technology needs and directions. Corporate Engineering leads three primary functions:
  • 49. To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced, love technology, understand how business needs can be addressed through IT, and enjoy proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business. You’ll be passionate about being a part of a diverse and inclusive team and helping them do great things.
  • 50. We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here]. The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users more productive, streamline business operations, support corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many distributed technology investments. Corporate Engineering leads three primary functions: ● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings for our global user base. ● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are productive and efficient. ● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and distributed technology teams to understand and align on technology needs and directions. To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced, love technology, understand how business needs can be addressed through IT, and enjoy proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business. You’ll be passionate about being a part of a diverse and inclusive team and helping them do great things. Corporate Engineering Manifesto
  • 51. We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here]. The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users more productive, streamline business operations, support corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many distributed technology investments. Corporate Engineering leads three primary functions: ● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings for our global user base. ● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are productive and efficient. ● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and distributed technology teams to understand and align on technology needs and directions. To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced, love technology, understand how business needs can be addressed through IT, and enjoy proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business. You’ll be passionate about being a part of a diverse and inclusive team and helping them do great things. CORPORATE ENGINEERING MANIFESTO
  • 53. You Can Only Change You
  • 55. Problem ● Cyber Security IT ● Security Policies ● Remove Admin Accounts ● Push MFA ● Corporate AV Policy ● BYOD Restrictions ● Blanket email sent to: allhands@companyname Corporate Engineering ● Partner with users to identify risk ● As little disruption as possible ● Ensure users are protected ● Communicate on channels the team actually relies on IT vs CORP ENGINEERING
  • 57. Companies that are customer-focused have a culture dedicated to meeting all of their customers' needs. They ensure all facets of the business prioritize customer satisfaction as the primary concern. Customer-focused companies develop close relationships with their customer base and are deeply invested in customer success.
  • 58. Solve for a specific customer need. 1
  • 59. Always look for product improvements. 2
  • 60. Make the customer part of the brand. 3
  • 61. Be proactive when communicating changes. 4
  • 62. Go above and beyond with customer service. 5
  • 63. Build up trust with your customers. 6
  • 64. Respond to the changes in your industry. 7
  • 65. Crave your customers’ feedback. 8
  • 66. Invest in your employees’ growth. 9
  • 68. 1 - Solve for a specific customer need. 2 - Always look for product improvements. 3 - Make the customer part of the brand. 4 - Be proactive when communicating changes. 5 - Go above and beyond with customer service. CUSTOMER FOCUS 6 - Build up trust with your customers. 7 - Respond to the changes in your industry. 8 - Crave your customers' feedback. 9 - Invest in your employees' growth. 10 - The customer's experience is key.
  • 69. We are skilled, creative, and inclusive technology leaders on a new team at [Insert Your Company Name Here]. The Corporate Engineering team serves a variety of enterprise-wide technology functions that make our users more productive, streamline business operations, support corporate technology infrastructure, and align our many distributed technology investments. Corporate Engineering leads three primary functions: ● Systems and Services. We provide and support robust and scalable systems, platforms, and SaaS offerings for our global user base. ● Custom Solutions. We create new tools for our users, so they are productive and efficient. ● Business Engagement. We liaise effectively across the business and distributed technology teams to understand and align on technology needs and directions. To succeed on this team, you’ll need to be experienced, love technology, understand how business needs can be addressed through IT, and enjoy proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business. You’ll be passionate about being a part of a diverse and inclusive team and helping them do great things. CORPORATE ENGINEERING MANIFESTO

Editor's Notes

  1. Hi Blair Sammons, my entire world revolves around my ladies: I’ve got two beautiful daughters at home aged 4 and 8 weeks, and the world's most perfect wife who is celebrating putting up with me for 10 years this October. Currently, I am the Lead of Corporate Engineering at Weedmaps, helping some really really great people do some really great things to enable some other great people to do other great things… I have been doing tech stuff for the last 15 years, in fact starting as many IT pros here have I’m sure: at Apple Retail, where I was a Genius! Ha! Amongst several other preppy titles. Since then I’ve had my fingers in account management, engineering, consulting, Managed Services, Break Fix, one-man-show-in-house-IT-guy, selling my own company, and being part of a “larger than just you” team. I hope to share some of my findings and offer some new perspectives to issues I think we all face in this ever-changing and shifting industry.
  2. Weedmaps is the leading technology and software infrastructure provider to the cannabis industry. Our suite of cloud-based software and data solutions include: point of sale, logistics and ordering solutions which all enable customers to scale their businesses while complying with complex regulations applicable really only to the cannabis industry.
  3. As if that wasn’t enough, our platform provides consumers with information regarding cannabis products across both web and mobile platforms, including listing local retailers and brands, facilitating product discovery and allowing consumers to educate themselves on cannabis and its history, uses and legal status.
  4. As if that wasn’t enough, our platform provides consumers with information regarding cannabis products across both web and mobile platforms, including listing local retailers and brands, facilitating product discovery and allowing consumers to educate themselves on cannabis and its history, uses and legal status.
  5. As if that wasn’t enough, our platform provides consumers with information regarding cannabis products across both web and mobile platforms, including listing local retailers and brands, facilitating product discovery and allowing consumers to educate themselves on cannabis and its history, uses and legal status.
  6. As if that wasn’t enough, our platform provides consumers with information regarding cannabis products across both web and mobile platforms, including listing local retailers and brands, facilitating product discovery and allowing consumers to educate themselves on cannabis and its history, uses and legal status.
  7. We try to use our position as the “big kids” in this industry to help drive the conversation around cannabis forward.
  8. Our government relations team works hand in hand with local community leaders to help regulate and legislate,
  9. our outreach teams do amazing work to help spread the word around the globe.
  10. In fact, we just recently launched The Weedmaps Museum of Weed, a 30,000 square foot beautifully designed space that, in a nutshell, is here to tell the whole story of cannabis. If you are in LA before the end of the week, please check it out.
  11. We’re headquartered in Irvine, California, Weedmaps employs more than 500 professionals around the world, with offices in Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Denver, New York, Phoenix, and Toronto.
  12. And I can confirm, the App and Website both work very very well in San Francisco, I “HIGHLY” recommend giving it a try.
  13. So. What is Corporate Engineering? Real quick, can we get a show of hands if your department or organization is actually named Corporate Engineering? Wow, ok. How about Information Technology The idea of Corporate Engineering is super new! To understand the shift, let’s take a brief look at some of our brothers and sisters in another department:
  14. I’m sure everyone here remembers, when DevOps wasn’t a thing, Linux Admins, SysAdmins, System Architect, or maybe Site Reliability Engineer if you were really progressive. But that’s not really what they do anymore, right? The term “Devops” 2008/2009 John Allspaw the SVP of technical operations, and Paul Hammond, director of engineering at Flickr/Yahoo did a presentation titled: “10+ Deploys per Day: Dev and Ops Cooperation at Flickr.”
  15. Well, we in IT are having our own renaissance if you will, spurred on I think by the DevOps revolution; Information Technology is morphing into a new entity. The day to day responsibilities of the modern IT Department are vastly different than what they were 10, 15, 20 years ago. How we get our jobs done, the systems we manage and oversee, and the complexity of some things which used to be “simple” are now entire multi billion dollar industries unto themselves. The transition to the cloud, User Access Controls, vertically integrated application stacks, mixed OS environments, remote yet constantly connected workforces, the list goes on... Like so many other firsts in our industry, one of the very first companies to have a “named” Corporate Engineering Department was Google.
  16. Take this snippet from a 2012 article written by Joan Jackson about Google’s Corporate Engineering department: In fact, at Weedmaps we just recently made the shift ourselves. I am the first Lead of Corporate Engineering at the company. Previous to our current iteration, we were known as ITOps, Tech Support, or just IT. So what drove this change? Sound cool? Match other companies? Fancy titles come cash money right?
  17. I mean, at our core, Information Technology and Corporate Engineering are kinda the same thing, right? We make sure the electrons are flowing through the silicone in all the right ways. We close tickets and make sure the stuff enabling the widget creation is working. When the lights stop working, we are the first ones people call. Provision new accounts? Suspend former ones? Ensure the network is up. Don’t forget about backups! But, very similar to DevOps it’s not just the “what” we do that’s changing, but more so the how. How we interact with users (hell, how we THINK about users), how technology can address organizational problems, and how we as the tech support arm of the company can remove barriers for our users, is what it’s all about.
  18. Speaking of organizational problems Real quick raise of hands, who here is either in need of replication, need an assistant, or oversee people who feel like they need more help to get their jobs done? Hah, IT people feel overworked? You don’t say! Let's look at some numbers to validate some of these feelings.
  19. In 2003, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, and ITAA ran a study 27:1 Robert Half Technology 1,400 CIOs. "What is the ratio of internal end-users to technical support employees at your company?" 136:1 "What would be the ideal ratio of internal end-users to technical support employees at your company?" 82:1 Those greater than 1,000 employees were 118:1 versus an ideal of 82:1. (250-499 employees), 131:1 when in a perfect world it would be 64:1. Now in 2019, according to a study by Samanage, they found that “the median [User to IT Ratio] was 200:1, with some outliers as high as 800:1” Robert Half has the last word on ideal ratios here: “An overall employee-to-help desk ratio of about 70:1 for organizations with a single operating system and network is considered suitable. That number drops to 45:1 for enterprise networks using a number of operating systems and no consistent hardware standard.” Anyone here running a single os AND network? Didn’t think so. Show of hands on Ratios
  20. So, we are presented with a problem here… The ideal ratio keeps getting smaller, while reality keeps getting bigger, meaning we don’t have the manpower to tackle these problems… Let’s read that quote from Justin at Google again: Huh. Automation? Self Service? Integrating directory services? API Calls? Does this sound like building apps and developing tools to better support our users to anyone else? Or maybe the top buzz words from the landing page of pretty much any SaaS. This doesn’t sound like old school break/fix IT work, this sounds like engineering solutions to problems corporate users experience… If only we had a term for that…
  21. This lack of personnel resources causes an imbalance which only technology can solve, right? But, none of the tools or systems to offset this ratio imbalance is truly free. (Open source is not free! Don’t say that!) So, stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
  22. (I know you can’t see this but I have written *insert eye roll here*) In its 2018 study “How to Develop a Business Case for the Adoption of Public Cloud IaaS” Gartner realized
  23. Oh yay! But wait...
  24. Let’s check this out in action. Gartner migrated 2,500 virtual machines from on-prem data centers to AWS.
  25. In their example, the total cost of ownership shows an initial spike in cloud costs and a steady decline as soon as the team learns how to apply Amazon’s best practices. I am also assuming these admins and engineers were given the bandwidth to shore these services up, training, POCing, etc. The chart also shows how on-prem costs may have a very long tail. How many projects spin sideways? Or you leave the on-prem stuff on until the cloud is fully stood up? Last-minute scope changes? What Gartner also doesn’t take into account is tertiary needs that drive the overall cost up over time, and as the company’s needs grow. Case and point, we are all here because we use this amazing product called BetterCloud to connect all the various SaaS things we have in the cloud and further automate our infrastructure. That comes at a price, as do all the SaaS apps BetterCloud supports. I’ll wager the majority of us didn’t start our SaaS stacks WITH BetterCloud, or an Unified Directory, or Single Sign on, etc etc etc. It’s part of each one of our overall management strategies, and the business “happily” pays these added costs once the ROI is understood (more on that in a minute).
  26. So now I’ve said a lot of stuff about DevOps and the Cloud being complicated and expensive, and all of us being overworked… That’s all the new latest and greatest “what”. The what of our jobs. Now we get to talk about the “how”. How Corporate Engineering approaches enabling our users, ensuring that technology equips and creates efficiencies. We don’t set policy, we don’t manage or police our users. Our users are our customers, and we have to be as fanatical in our service to them as our company is to our clients if we want to enact change. None of us here (or very few of us) actually run our companies or entire departments, right? We have to go up the chain at some point. So let’s talk about some of those people.
  27. We have a scale issue. We have a money issue. At least at Weedmaps, we don’t find we have an issue finding good talent (in my experience). If the issue your team has is finding qualified candidates, there are a plethora of resources out there. That’s a different issue than not having the open headcount to hire someone.
  28. I think we have all heard this before: And after the little spiel, I just gave, that’s a great question. In fact, Google it, and you will find a treasure trove of blog articles and advice columns on how to change the perspective of the C-Suite. I think this shift needs to come from within our departments. Before we get into that, however, we need to understand the perspective of the guys and gals at the top calling the shots.
  29. 82% of CEO’s are over 50 years old, about 30% of ALL CEO’s are over 60.
  30. 82% of CEO’s are over 50 years old, about 30% of ALL CEO’s are over 60. Let’s have some fun, and rewind time in a hypothetical career. I want to take a CEO and put them into “our” shoes. Leads, Managers, Engineers, Admins, middle of their career. At about 30, most of us were just really hitting our stride, and figuring out our place in the workforce.
  31. Let’s take a 55-year-old CEO today, and pretend to go back to when they were 30. That puts us in 1994, you want to know what happened in 94?
  32. NAFTA, the North American Trade Agreement was signed.
  33. Friends aired for the first time.
  34. The Playstation 1 came out…
  35. Here are some fun techy facts. In 1994, World Wide Web Consortium was founded Take THAT in for a second, most of the stuff we take for granted nowadays, was in its mere infancy when many of our bosses were in our shoes. Amazon? I mean, where would any of us be without AWS? I would wager more than half of us wouldn’t even be here if we just magic wanded that away. PHP and CSS? Some of the literal building blocks of the web!
  36. Let’s take another jump back, let’s take a 65-year-old CEO today. That puts us in 1984 when this hypothetical CEO was about where lots of us are career-wise, right? When this Gem came out:
  37. The Macintosh. Yes, this beautiful state of the art machine, with its floppy drive, a whopping 512x342 display resolution, and a whole 400 kilobytes of storage could have been yours starting at $2495 in 1984. Oh speaking of that drive, the 3.5-inch floppy was released in 84 in part due to the Macintosh.
  38. April 1984, Bill Gates was on the cover of Time rocking the latest and greatest technology… oooo, rough, Looks like Apple innovated a litttttle bit faster again there Bill…
  39. and the first desktop laser printer was first introduced in May 1984. It was called the HP LaserJet. It looked like this. It was the first of its kind and could print a whole 8 pages per minute at 300dpi. It cost $3,500. A modern laserjet does about 10 times the amount of pages, at 4 times the resolution for less than half the price. Do you know what didn’t exist in 1994 or 1984?
  40. The Cloud. There wasn’t a vape to be seen anywhere. (Point of order, this isn’t a picture of me, but it was too good to not pass up on unsplash…)
  41. I don’t say any of this to imply that your CEO has the same knowledge about computers as your parents, but I’m also not NOT saying that. Yea, it’s funny, but we as Corporate Engineering need to realize, know, and address things exactly like this! Our bosses, the people they surround themselves with, and others calling the shots didn’t grow up with the foundational tools we take for granted. This shaped their fundamental outlook on almost everything we do. And it’s our job to know this, address this, and plan for it! Because when you take a step back, that CEO is your VIP Customer. You had better know everything about your user base, your core demographic, what they like, how they think, how they best work, the tools they need to succeed, communication styles, all of it! Because spoiler alert everyone, the more successful the CEO is THE MORE SUCCESSFUL YOU ARE! That goes across the entire gamut. Karen in Accounting. Kyle in the warehouse. That one person who always microwaves tuna fish at like 10:30 am. The guy who wiggles his leg in EVERY MEETING making the entire room shake a little. All of them.
  42. Netflix, anyone here from Netflix? Man, those guys and gals get it. They are doing some really cool stuff over there. Recently they just posted a new Director role. Any stabs at the department name?
  43. They call it out in the posting as a brand new team! I think they are hitting the nail on the head when it comes to defining Corporate Engineering. I really wish I could take credit… But in all fairness, I took their job posting and removed the “Director” parts, and instead made it a type of Corporate Engineering manifesto, let's read it
  44. Man, I really really really wish I could take credit for that. Do you hear that shift in tone? Yes, our tools are radically different than they were for our predecessors. Yes, the leaders making all the important decisions for your company may never fully understand what Terraforming is or understand the difference between SMB1 and SMB3, or why SAML is a requirement for any additional SaaS apps.
  45. But in all seriousness, it’s my hope that this way of thinking infects other IT teams, and we slowly start to see the death of the “Tech Support” stereotypes as we introduce a completely new way of caring for our customers through technology. This shift is obviously happening in the tech industry, but I can easily see this extending beyond just us in Silicon Valley/Beach/Prairie, and into the “real world”. If we can do that, then IT will no longer be a cost center, because we will be driving the conversation forward in ways no one would have expected otherwise. So how can we do that? What are some practical steps to accomplish the transition? Well, I have a few.
  46. So we can’t change our industry’s perception of us, till we change our company’s the people around us. We can’t do that until we change how our department interacts and perceives our users. That starts with those of us in this room. We’ve got leaders in here, and we’ve got doers. It’s going to take the buy-in, and adoption of this style of thinking by everyone to get it right.
  47. But, that can only start with you. If we want to be leading the charge in the business, and making sure that the day to day technical stuff is at the forefront of people's minds, we need to provide both business and relational value. Let me explain via comparison
  48. On this side we have IT, on the other, we have Corporate Engineering. We are presented with a problem, let’s say “Cyber Security” a bit vague, so define it for your role, but how would typical IT respond? Corporate Engineering? You feel that right? When our focus is on, as Netflix so eloquently said: “proactively building relationships with colleagues across the business” the way we approach a problem is completely different. Instead of “how can I fix this thing as quickly and cheaply as possible,'' it's “how can I focus on my customers and ensure they are equipped for success.” Now, the end results in many many situations will be the same! There are only so many ways to protect a system, but the WAY in which we approach it, the HOW is different, and completely changes the game! If we take our focus and ensure our customers are cared for, the rest will fall in place!
  49. Here’s a buzzword anyone here who has worked in sales has heard before: Customer Focus. According to Hubspot here is what Customer Focus means:
  50. Woah, listen to that! It sounds almost verbatim to what we defined Corporate Engineering’s focus should be in the manifesto. Hubspot knows a thing or two about Customer Focus. Not only do they lead by example and have one of the best Customer Oriented mindsets out there, but their whole existence is also about enabling other companies to make more money, by guess what: Customer Focus. Literally, their whole platform is built on it. So it would make sense to listen to what they have to say when it comes to building a customer-focused team. Let’s go down the list:
  51. In our world, it’s very easy to see a technology problem as just that. Like in my example, we see the problem as Cyber Security, and the Social Engineering/People aspect of it is just one side of it. Instead, we shift the focus to how the problem affects our customers, we will naturally shift how we deploy tools, what systems we choose, etc.
  52. How easy is it to choose a system or product you know and love, or is easier to manage, or was cheaper because fill in the blank reason, only to hear that “the entire accounting team hates that Gmail looks different than Outlook.” We should be the ones forcing the tools to do what our customers need. Do we need to create something? Modify an existing thing? Go find a tool to accomplish some customer goals? Whatever it is, that is on us to ensure we are deploying the perfect (or as close to perfect) solutions as we can!
  53. Anyone here done some sort of company-wide initiative or project? I’m thinking stricter password policies, email retention, switching from HipChat to Slack, or something along those lines? How much easier was it for those that had it, or would it have been if you had people throughout the company “on your side”. By truly partnering across the business, we’ll be able to rely on our teammates to buy into, and actually, help facilitate transitions.
  54. This seems like a no brainer, but this is CONSTANTLY a pain point in almost every single tech department I’ve ever been a part of. People, we SUCK at talking. The IT stereotype is a very real thing, we all have seen Fallon’s Move bit. Almost every Indian person I know is their friend groups default IT or Health-related texter. You never know, it’s either Software or Brains… Again, we need to adapt to fit our customers. Is email the way they communicate? Slack? In-person workshops? Remote training? Webinars? Talk to their leaders and have them discuss? We should be constantly striving to reach out in whatever way best works for THEM, and we should be doing that constantly.
  55. Hubspot has got it right again. We should constantly be striving for that “aha” moment, when we hit the go button and the system works and everyone feels their lives improve. THOSE are the moments we are going for.
  56. We can’t expect buy-in, and partnerships across the company if we don’t build trust. This looks a bit different for each company, but something as small as going to lunch with other departments builds relational trust, having Corporate Engineering throw events. You build professional trust by executing projects well, resolving problems quickly, and (shockingly) focusing on the customer!
  57. If we don’t do this as Corporate Engineering, our businesses have larger problems… I don’t need to tell anyone in here how important it is to constantly patch your servers, or keep up to date on the latest spear-phishing attempts. We get that part of it, but we HAVE to couple staying abreast of the goings-on, with our customers! Responding is one thing, partnering across the business to ensure everyone understands is something completely different!
  58. There’s no way anyone can tell me “oh but our company loves IT because so and so said so, or this project went off without a hitch”. That’s subjective and anecdotal data. Any Data Science peeps in here are dying on the inside. You have to go out, garner feedback from multiple sources, and then look at it and action off of it! We can’t best serve our users if we don’t know anything about them! NPS surveys are a GREAT way to get actionable and objective feedback. I like to send these out once a quarter to my team, and a few times a year to the company at large. I also try to send out some sort of feedback request after a project wraps up. I can’t get better if I don’t know what people think.
  59. Again, a lot of the doers, and former doers in here get this. So this one is targeted at us, leaders. Tech moves fast, certs update constantly and need renewals every other week. We get it. This should absolutely be a focus of EVERY Corporate Engineering department. Going to relevant conferences, certifications, and training should be a standard operating expense if we expect this level of excellence from our people! But, I am sure most of us have bosses or finance departments that would lose their minds if we did everything we wanted to right out of the gate. “I see here Phil a PO request for sending the entire team to Altitude 2020? I am a bit confused… The reason you have listed is just ‘The Beard’...” Getting more resources is precluded by “standard IT operating procedures”, but as we shift into a more Corporate Engineering mindset, create efficiencies, and make lives easier, it will be easy to prove ROI, and open up funding for these sorts of things. Sadly a bit chicken and egg in most cases.
  60. I’ve been saying it from the beginning. We HAVE to HYPER FOCUS on our customer’s experience, not the technology we work with. What enables our users to do more? How can we help drive the cost down? Is there anything we can do to speed this system up? I noticed that this thing is a pain point, let’s solve it with this tool. These people are complaining about that other thing, can we do this to solve for that. If our teams ensured the customer experience was amazing first, the rest of these pieces will come naturally, the team would become more respected and trusted, fear would go down, efficiency goes up, and in a perfect world, we get more money to do more of what we are doing.
  61. I tried to write a great wrap up for this with some sort of inspirational quote or something, but I just can’t get this manifesto thing out of my head, so let us just look at it one more time:
  62. Man, I can’t really think of a better way to end than that…
  63. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this fires me up! Think of the change we can enact within our organizations, by simply shifting the way we think! We’ll get more buy in on projects and solutions because our teams will know we are inherently looking out for them, they’ll know this because we communicated it well, and have built in a history of behaving in a way with their best interests in mind. Taking a Customer Success approach will also provide new ways for us to grow, enact change, and try new solutions to new problems. We as IT wins, the other teams win, and the org wins. Besides, Corporate Engineering. It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I really appreciate everyone listening to me ramble, please feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn, not sure if you can tell, but I am pretty passionate about this stuff, and would love to talk shop with everyone. And now I am going to open it up to any questions anyone may have.