Jacobs Consulting Utilizes Metrics, Customer Expectations, and Innovation to Measure Success - comSpark Podcast
Jeff Jacobs - Columbus Tech Power Player Honoree
Founder and President
Stealth Entry Cyber Security Solutions
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Independent CIO Jeff Jacobs discusses leveraging metrics, customer expectations, and innovation to measure success in performance.
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IA: Hello, everyone! Right now, we are here today with Mr. Jeff Jacobs. He is an independent Chief Information Officer and he's spreading his knowledge and experience to the CIO community. Jeff, you've been a CIO for how long now? How long have you been doing this for?
JJ: I've been a CIO/CTO for almost 10 years now.
IA: Outstanding. So my name is Israel Arroyo and I'm with Stealth Entry Cybersecurity Solutions and I'm going to be your guest moderator today. So, let's get started, Jeff. So, at what point in your career did you actually decide to get into the management and the C-level suite, if you will, and wanted to be a CIO?
JJ: Well that's a great question. So, I can tell you, having grown with the industry over the years, I always had an affinity for technology, but where I found my sweet spot was in motivating and inspiring people and seeing these people get more done with less and seeing them accomplish great things was very satisfying. Very satisfying for me. So, um, probably about 10 or 15 years ago, I was working at a local company here in town, a Fortune 20 company. I was very fortunate and lucky to have a great mentor and she was a current CIO here in town and she pulled me aside one day and asked me if I'd ever given any thought to becoming a CIO someday. And at that point I really wasn't into titles and C-suite, all those fun things, but to be honest with you, she said, “Jeff, you have a lot of soft skills that you just, you know, you just can't teach, right? I think that with the right mentoring, if you go down a certain career path, you can be very impactful to businesses and people are alike.”
IA: That's outstanding. That's awesome. That's really good that you found somebody that actually mentored you into that and bring you in as somebody under your wing. And that's really impressive right there. So, then, you know, knowing that you have these special skills and you have these traits and attributes of a leader, of a true leader, how do you measure the success of your IT organization? Then you know, what to you is success within your IT organization that you're actually either managing or you're showing another CIO and explaining to them, as you mentor and consult with them, what is it that they should be looking at? What metrics as a success?
JJ: Sure. So I've been very fortunate to work for some very good CIOs and maybe some others that maybe didn't quite cut it. And, and I kind of chuckle when I say that because you know, no one's perfect, but when I look at a CIO that exists maybe on paper. They have a title, but maybe don't understand the technologies or the background. It's very hard for them to motivate and inspire teams and challenge them on metrics. And why aren’t things getting better? They don't understand the underlying technology. It's very difficult for them to understand that. I'm so over my career, I took a look at, you know, how do I stay relevant and technology? How do I keep a deep technical prowess, but also don't lose track of what I feel like I'm very good at, which is getting the most I can out of teams.
So, when I think about how you measure the success of an organization, I think about three areas. The first and foremost for any business leader, and I believe a CIO is part of the business as well, but the first area is, you know, metrics never lie. So, understand what the business needs from you to measure what they want you to measure. Make sure you're able to measure it, create a baseline and report against it, accordingly. So, fact-based metrics never lie.
The second area is in the eye of the customer. And what I mean by that is if you're working for a large software development organization or a large company that develops software and services for specific markets or industries, I think a lot of times, people, you know, they, they may deliver a new feature or capability to the market because, you know, the roadmap was committed too. So, they feel like they've checked the box, but if that delivery of that new capability fell short of customers' expectations, that's very different. So, I think you need to be able to measure, you know, did the customer perceive that release as being successful? Even though you delivered what you said you were going to deliver, how was it perceived? I think a lot of times, you know, quantifying expectations and measuring them are extremely difficult, but for any CIO I think it's extremely critical as well.
And then the third area I would say would be, you know, being able to innovate and invest in the innovation isn't easy for a lot of companies. Innovation can be very expensive. At the end of the day you don't get the new iPod sitting there, right? But you don't have to create something physical to innovate, you can innovate in the way you deliver software services or infrastructure, cloud services. You can innovate processes, procedures. So, if you can lower costs or drive innovation and pay for it through lowering cost of services, that's always a very creative way to measure if you're being successful.
IA: Outstanding. I love those three pillars, if you will, especially the middle one. The middle one was very interesting to me, especially in Cybersecurity, right where I come from, where I am more involved in. But those are very, very interesting ways of looking at it. So, in the areas of IT and information technology within the enterprise, you know, there are a lot of emerging disruptive technologies and innovation, you know, that's going on out there in this year and recently and we got things smart, this smart building, smart technology, etc. IOT, blockchain, all the big buzzwords. In your opinion, what is one of the most exciting disruptive technologies that is actually beginning to impact our work? You know, our work or our lives right now.
JJ: You know, it's interesting you mentioned the internet of things and you know, 10 years ago that was the big buzz. A lot of people were saying, “What is this and how's it going to change us?” And there were the naysayers saying, “That'll never really take off. It's a fad.” Now internet of things is everywhere, right? It's in your refrigerator. It’s in your thermostat. The majority of homes now have, you know, these AI devices. Internet of things was big and I say past tense because I don't think it's going anywhere, but I think we've seen its explosion. The next part of that to come out, I believe is in artificial intelligence as it relates to the everyday citizen in our society. So, what do I mean by that is, you know, we've all heard about behavioral analytics and you know, what people do, results in how markets market to that particular person, but I think it's much more than that now. Right? So we had these AI devices like the Google Smart Home and you have the Alexa devices and you're talking and interacting. I believe, you know, as the internet of things becomes more smart if you will, collecting data about large scale areas like in downtown Columbus or in downtown Dublin or even here in some of these building. They're constantly collecting data about us.
I believe that AI is going to become even more important because as you walk through a neighborhood or a downtown event, whether it's the 4th of July where it happens to be, you know, there'll be kiosks and an interactive things happening with you just because they know you're coming, right? Your communications, Bluetooth, all these things. It wouldn't surprise me to stand there and have them, you know, a machine, language AI device say “Hey Jeff, how are you today? I see, you know, would you like a Coke or Diet Coke?” Because they knew that was me. That was something I prefer. So, I think AI is a very big disruptor. I know it's been around a long time that we've never had this amount of data to leverage smart data and when I call it dark analytics. All of the things that are metric driven to help drive marketing. There's a lot of dark analytics that are out there that we're just now starting to uncover and help drive things like AI.
IA: Absolutely. That is outstanding. It's kind of interesting too because when you think about the AI, you know, not only the market, but the technology itself, it could be a little scary, right? Because we start thinking about how's it going to be used in other ways? Not just for the marketing and not just for innovation, but who's going to be using it to predict markets overseas? These sorts of things like bitcoin for example, you know, if somebody's going to come up with an AI or some sort of data analytic solution where they can actually start understanding, you know, well the stock market's gonna go up here. It's going to go down there and things like that. So it's kind of scary in a sense, but it's also good thing, right? It's also good that it can help out a lot of the things that we do every day.
JJ: I agree. In fact, you know, how we deploy and leverage AI or directly affect the lives of every citizen here in central Ohio and elsewhere as well as how we function as a community, right? So, as we gather more and more smart data, because of the internet of things, how we interact with each other and with the local businesses and how the local businesses leverage that for their own gain from a sales or marketing perspective. I think that the potential is very limitless.
IA: You know, it's very interesting too, and you can do, I don't know if you agree or not, but it's interesting how quick the consumer is ready to provide information to certain entities for a $50 off coupon, yet they're upset when it's being used in the name of national security, right? It's almost kind of like: “wait a minute, you mean to tell me, you know, this is going to say my life, but no, I don't want you to have my info. You're gonna give me $50 off on a pair of shoes? Yeah, you can have everything kind of info. Right. It's almost, laughable, but it's almost there. It's there, right? Everybody thinks big brother and it's like, no, I'm not big brother. Nicely trying to save you and your family's lives, etc. Um, I use that sometimes because I come from a military background. So, in that sense, you know, I see both the, like you said, the commercial side and the consumer side and you see that kind of side right where they don't both always match up. So it's very interesting that, that, that was brought up with the AI. You know, I'm thinking about robots now, right?
JJ: And if you think about it, you know, they'll look at some of these new releases of these products. The eye device from Amazon, there's a new Alexa device that plugs into your car. It's about the size of a deck of cards and you know, before you know it, you'll be just telling Alexa to pull up this address and you know, the car is off and running or you know, either it's through the API is written, so you can have your home robot did back in Florida and just turn on and off with Alexa logo history. It's part of the room, you know, so it's, it's definitely here today, but I think the potential is just tremendous. I think there's an amazing amount of potential for businesses to leverage AI in and get into those dark analytics and kind of unveil new and creative ways to integrate.
IA: Absolutely. I totally agree. I totally agree with that. Well, Jeff, Mr. Jacobs. Thank you very much. This was a great conversation. I appreciate your time. You know, thank you for your time. This is Israel Arroyo and Mr. Jeff Jacobs. And if you want to learn more about us, just come and visit comspark.tech and goodbye. Until next time. Thank you very much.
JJ: Yep. Thank you. Appreciate it.
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