CIO Leadership Live with Sreelakshmi Kolli, CIO of Align Technology | Ep 15

hello and welcome to another episode of
CIO leadership live I’m Mary Fran Johnson executive director of CIO
programs here at IDG and I have the privilege today to be talking with Sri
Lakshmi Sri Lakshmi Kohli who is the senior vice president of global IT for a
line technology incorporated a line is a company dedicated to delivering a
beautiful smile which is all the more noticeable in today’s era of the selfie
this is a 1.7 billion dollar california-based company which makes and
markets the Invisalign system of orthodontics they also do digital
scanning systems that are used by dentists around the world
Sri is a 15 year company veteran she’s responsible for defining the technology
strategy and leading all of the global consumer and enterprise and customer
applications as well as the infrastructure Sri also runs their
global program management office at a line and she manages and executes the
company’s product portfolio and all of its cross-functional business programs
most recently she was leading the two-year global business transformation
efforts at the company which we will be talking a bit more about before she came
to a line in 2003 Sri held technical lead positions at sword CT space and
Accenture she’s also a member of the executive advisory board at sorry thank you for joining me today great me too I always
have such a great time talking to CIOs oh and I wanted to also remind our
friends out who are watching this live on Twitter we openly welcome questions
from you so if you have any interest in a follow-up question to something I’m
talking to Sri about or you just want to join the conversation tweet on in and we
will get your question put to this wonderful CIO let’s start out talking a
little bit more about the size and the scope of a lines business and it’s it’s
relatively dominant position in the market tell us a little bit more about
that as of June we had over 10,000 plus
employees we have about 140,000 Plus doctors certified Invisalign providers
we have shipped over 5.8 million patients from hundred plus countries
around the world so really juggling scale and we
manufacture about three hundred and thirty thousand plus unique personalized
aligners per day Wow well and it’s it’s such a it’s such a
big business there must be a lot of technology initiatives that are tied
into this because so much of the business is inherently digital these
days and talk a little bit more about that aspect right you know we look at
how we’re transforming a whole industry to go from conventional analog
approaches to digital and aligned you know at a line we have a great
opportunity to be in the middle of all that stuff you know whether we are
digitally driven restorations you know delivering great treatment outcomes with
digital technologies you know intraoral scanners visualization tools that help
the doctors and the patients visualize what the treatment outcomes could look
like patient engagement platforms in ways the doctors have never imagined
possible social communication and the way they can market their practices so
it’s a really exciting time to be an aligned where all of this is so
dependent on technology and the market opportunity is limitless and how we can
make orthodontics available to the masses well that’s that’s the part that
I think is so fascinating especially to anyone who’s been a parent of a child
going through the the whole process of getting braces or if it’s someone who as
they themselves were in their 20s and 30s and decided they finally wanted to
do something to fix something about their particular smile it seems almost
it seems so space-age the idea that you could be doing some of these procedures
using an app and you know using scanners that go over mobile phones how how much
has the technology changed to enable this in just the lab
five years um I think initially for a long period of time we spent a lot of
time making sure that the clinical outcomes where we’re good for without
the plastic moving teeth and that digitization and the digital approaches
and making sure that the doctors are comfortable in delivering a great
treatment and a good outcome for the patients in other words are also teens
we spent a lot of time perfecting that and the last five years the business
models have changed lots of consumers are opting in the phone has become a
bequest in our lifestyle and question is how we can be delivered the kind of
treatments and how can patients track their progress against you know what
they usually saw in the treatment in the doctor’s office or all things that have
changed in the last five years even how social has changed how doctors practice
and have a doctor markets that efforts have taken center stage yes and the
opportunity for them to deal and engage with their patients where you know you
could do it over the phone you can you don’t have to come into a doctor’s
office to actually look at how a treatment is progressing or to
appreciate how a doctor by going and clicking on a social media they’re all
they’re all highly relevant in the last five years mobile social all of that has
changed the dynamic well it sounds like in the world of orthodontia and
dentistry it sounds like that particular part of the healthcare industry is a lot
further ahead than we are with other parts of the healthcare industry with
medical doctors and their practices it does it just seemed that way from your
perspective or is that are the dentists actually striding ahead with all these
technologies I mean I think they they understand the opportunity of what
digitization can do to their own practice when you look at conventional
and along approaches you know lots of manual labor and the amount of time they
spend in general in the treatments I mean this millennial generation is like
I want something now I want something as I wanted from my couch and the
doctors are able to change how they deliver that treatment in response to
how the consumers are seeking it yes and you know like Adam is my experience
centers are places where you can go experience you know water controllers
scanner can do you know you no longer have to go to doctors offices and put
that puppy come on your mouth and scoop it you know you send it to a lab for a
root canal or a crown you know it’s all 3d visual you know you can sit back and
your chair at the doctor’s practice and look at how your teeth can progress you
know from now and you know what a time lapse to how your teeth would move and
what kind of procedures you can do now to prevent some of the bad stuff from
happening yes those are all things that you know from a dentist’s perspective is
very attractive because they are able to do and credit things with digital that
they were never allowed or they were never able to do in their lives
yeah with analog well and I want to get into talking about some of the
technologies that you’re enabling to make this happen but before we do that I
wanted to chat a little bit about the global expansion that a line has been
going through you had mentioned to me that hold on one second my audio got cut
off oh I can hear you can you hear me again hello hello I can hear you fine okay it
happens to every CIO and every leader at one point or another are you back I’ll
have to ask you more questions that make you jumpy yeah I wanted to get into
talking about your global ancient because you mentioned that one
of the things you’ve been doing and I think this was all part of that business
transformation initiative was getting tech backbones providing consumer and
customer engagement you’ve had a lot going on in IT over the last few years
so talk about it to start with about the global expansion and what kind of
challenges that gave you for the that gave the IT organization right so first
thing was you know what came into tap when it came to talent we had to figure
out what remains central was is what remained regional and you know you can’t
sit – thousands of miles away and assume that you know what a doctor in Europe or
our Asia wants and how they service their patients and their consumers and
and also what the different go to market models existed it was what works in the
Americas most usually does not work in the rest of the world okay so the first
choice that we had to make from an odd structure perspective is how much
decentralize and visualize the other thing that we also have to think about a
lot deeply is about technology platforms you know China is a different country by
itself you know where the tools and technologies they use and what’s
available inside the firewall the digital firewall is very different from
what’s available in the rest of the world so we also have to deeply think
about our technology infrastructure and say you know moving to the cloud was
given you know just a jumps of the performance that we had to try you know
considering the number of doctors and the number of patients and the number of
aligners we manufacture in a day we couldn’t have a centralized
infrastructure somewhere in the world so that was given and also when we looked
at platforms that allow patient engagement the data architecture where
no matter where in the world you where you had this similar set of data that
you could collect and and and drive engagement with a set of algorithms that
does not change in the world so we wanted to come or we wanted to build out
a common data infrastructure and all that was part of a two-year
transformation effort we laid out you know when you look at Enter
we didn’t want a centralized global technology ERP platform mm-hmm but we
wanted to be able to regionalize different kinds of you know billing and
payments you know even though we’re sort of a b2b working with the doctors the
volume of transactions as almost like a b2c yes God millions
so we somehow had to straddle between the two and also look at where we can
get Google scale rapidly which was really important to us and you know
whether it was through standardization or far not differentiating this you know
business processes or trying to understand what is our core
differentiator and allowing the regional teams to be able to configure and go as
fast as they wanted the commercial teams wanted was very important guideline here
was was the majority of this done essentially working with various cloud
partners and on cloud platforms or were there pieces of it that you have you
developed in-house it’s a mix of both so we have like I said China is a piece
five different country by itself and hence you know like we had to come up
with a different cloud platform liaison for now we have EWS through the rest of
the world you know we are office 365 which means we have tied to the shore
platform we use power bi as a visualization tool which works really
work well with us your but on our clinical data and the algorithms that we
run on make you know the machine learning algorithms that we want to
deliver principal outcomes are on AWS so we sort of a multi cloud hybrid
platforms mm-hmm and we also try to invest in platforms like Salesforce and
you know we look at ICP on Hanah you know at some points in the cloud that
that and then we all our websites and our core differentiating processes of
tintin has on these platforms so that we get the agility we need to really
differentiate ourselves to the rest of the competition yes
was there something you mentioned you do a lot of it on centralizing globally but
then you have to have regional aspects of it was was that a more challenging
part of the rollout figuring out exactly what you needed to
do regionally versus global yeah you know I wouldn’t say the kids
perfected that in the last three years you know baby that was a journey for
some time you know some regions are more are further along than others I think
part the hardest part has been really the governments around how programs can
run as fast as it can you know which programs you know because we’re still
evolving our go-to-market strategies and the world and what I would personally
like to do is that if something works in Europe we want to make sure it works
that we can actually scale it to the Americas and Asia and so what happens is
even though you’re coming up with a regional solution you want to make sure
that there is some global element of scalability to it only because you want
to solve rinse and repeat as much as possible but also allow for
experimentation yes a lot challenge actually has Benin in
solve a governance process around solution design and arm strength around
how we set up delivery mechanisms you know like ferocity boxes of is highly
integral to this transformation and so when you look at continuous integration
continuous delivery or continuous deployment practices you’re constantly
thinking about how do I take any platform you know web development mobile
development now Salesforce I said any platform or
homegrown technology tools we have it’s like what can regions change what is
still in viola control and then you put security and compliance on top of it
like it takes on a whole new level of governance structures that you have to
put in place and still allow for regional speed well it’s interesting you
bring up governance too because I don’t tend to think of governance as something
that gets associated with speed in the business I tend to think of governance
as as something that is more you know like meetings almost like board of
directors determining how the resources are going to get used so to hear
governance referred to in a speed and time-to-market fashion is a little
different ya know we so for US government’s
doesn’t mean that we’re gonna throw a bunch of processes and
you know big thing real slow down things we we continuously try and figure out
again what programs such as keeping the lights on you know if you’re gonna keep
the lights on you just gotta go as fast as you can
yeah you know you can deploy every day if you wanted a living week and then
there are lots of programs associated with growth you know that’s not the
middle pocket where you’re sort of trying to make sure that there is
agility in it but then because of like I said I have a personal interest in
making sure that solutions have worked in one part of the world can be tried in
other areas and so there is some there’s some structural elements about how you
use your platforms or global technology platforms to try that and so that’s
where we have the we have the biggest friction around you know oh this is a
regional program you know I would have to explain to Google about what we’re
doing I’m gonna be spending all night even global meetings educating the
Google teams and you know it’s not something that I can do regionally but I
think we’ve gotten over the fact especially as we have shown credibility
and how we take a regional program and expanded globally we’ve shown the
benefits of doing that and then transformation programs on the other end
are our big investments where we’re constantly refactoring Andry platforming
and those go through more like a and I like to call it an agile poly model it’s
not an agility but sort of waterfall that still goes through your security
promotes your electrical keyboards and and they tend to be a lot more
longer-term but very important because I do believe that they are the ones that
put the foundation to allow the growth programs to to rapidly scale as fast as
it can I see I’ve been hearing more about that later
I’ve heard some CIOs call it waggle where it’s a combination of waterfall
and agile I like your agile fall that’s that’s
another another way to look at it let’s talk also about and behind all of
this all of these platforms they are delivering an enormous amount of data
and you and I have talked before about how important it’s been to you to
democratize data science across a line that the idea that ever
buddy can have their own analytics working so tell me how you how you think
about that and the sort of challenges you’ve had in making it more of a
reality kind of again give me a picture of how you conceived that and got it to
a point where there’s satisfaction with the data analytics that are available
you know if you think global and regional is one layer this whole data
democratization around the business functions yeah is about really I truly
believe that you know and Gardens and credits and modeling and data science
it’s not central and it’s not limited to a central technology function so when I
keep challenging my teens is to figure out how you can create common data
structures you know what’s important is to maintain data integrity and quality
and that’s centralized with an IT and then the rest of the stuff about how the
business uses the data those algorithms specialists needs to be within the
functions because they are the ones who are making it actionable day to day you
know when we began when we started in the beginning it used to be that their
science was all within IT and you know when we came I’d used to say our sales
or marketing or an orangey or a project of my team
it was more like yeah we hear you we get it but it was it was never made
actionable and it was also the credibility around not being in the
operational part of those functions to really understand how that data can be
acted you know relevant to them and now in the last two years since we have
worked with the functions to create their own data science teams so it’s not
like they’re all firing mathematicians and you know stations you know that yeah
that that functions still is with an ID but how you make it actionable and how
you can you can sort of make it make it ah you know relevance to someone in a
meaningful manner for them to do their jobs has made a lot of progress and we
see a lot of success across different functions and you know like when one
function catches on here rest of the rest of the business is like
oh I want that power bi – oh Lord you know and then they are just focused on
figuring out how you know we meet in the integrity quality security and how we
can put governments around analytics which is our new learning this year that
you know using statistical tools you want the predictability of those tools
and the models that the red the team’s come up with you know whether finance
comes up with a predictive model or sales comes up with a predictive model
they are you know within a good amount of percentage of accuracy that is
reliable yeah so we have just started putting together an analytics governance
team which is very distinct from a dealer governance team and I hope to
make a lot of progress is that hard mix – well I’ve heard other CIOs refer to
that is putting essentially IT being there to keep the guardrails in place so
that as the data becomes more democratized you don’t give people too
much power to hurt themselves or their business credibility yes and you know
like no matter what kind of modeling statistical tools you use you want to
arrive at a decent result that is almost saying no matter who longs it and how
they do it yeah tell me a little bit more I remember over the last couple
years whenever we you know I run different cio events during the year and
whenever I ask my advisers about topics that we should be talking about
predictive modeling and predictive analytics often comes up what kind of
progress have you made with predictive analytics and can you give me an example
of what that looks like to your customers or to your to your dentists or
to the end-user customers of the Invisalign products we have focused a
lot on predictable great outcomes because that’s what a doctor cares about
at the end of the day that’s what the patient cares about you know my new
visualization tools and you assume that a treatment is going to take a certain
amount of time and your teeth is going to move in a certain way you know can be
used all of this five point eight million plus digital
dentist dentures that we have to be able to predict what you know the next set of
movements are gonna look like and you know what how you set up your treatments
and how you build that into your treatment learning software and you made
a lot of strides in in really delivering that sort of predictability so we are
taking some of the learnings of that clinical credits of mobility and
modeling into your business planning sales operations you know even in
digital marketing patient conversions you know because we have a lot of
interested in this line so the question is how do we get the right patients or
the right consumers to the right doctors with a similar treatment mindset and
they’re able to convert the patient and get in his line and and have a very
successful outcome in the end mmm-hmm well and that is all central to
the companies to the goals of getting more of those consumers I think we
talked about there’s a consumer market out there potentially 300 million people
yeah that’s a pretty big number to be going after huge opportunity yes yes you
know you know conventional analog approaches there was no way that you
could scale to be able to deliver an outcome that both the doctor and the
consumer likes right with an analog approach that’s really the exciting part
of being at a line and being very central to that end-to-end digitization
of that experience all right great well and there are a couple of those I
want to talk a little bit about the customer journey week that you spent
recently but this also seems like a good place to talk about the the competitive
forces that are being unleashed in your market because it’s not just a line is
the biggest and the best known in your market but there are many startups that
are starting because this digital opportunity has occurred to other
companies as well talk a little bit about kind of that disruption the
changing competitive lens scapin and how you watch it and what are
the trends about it that you’re finding interesting you know we see paranoid
with the first mover advantage that we have we are continuously thinking about
you know how do we deliver the right solutions for a doctor’s you know the
customer connect Peaks if we do this on a regular basis is very important we
like I personally go on lots of ride alongs at regular intervals just
watching the doctor’s listening to them because they also have a great
perspective of what’s happening around them yeah you know and you know what
kind of products are being introduced in their practices and in the industry as a
whole that drive digitization and you know we would like to be central to all
of that mm-hmm you know from from the from a leadership position that we have
we want to make sure that we continue to stay agile we continue to keep looking
out for what emerging technologies are out there that make the patience and
proper engagement better the drive great outcomes the drive the enjoyment
digitization and what and what the rest of the competition is doing in terms of
the different business models that are available and we continue to work with
the doctors to tell them more that that just great sweetness mm-hmm well the I
actually I was reading there was an article on about a line and
that whole market in the Invisalign and all the competitors coming up and there
was a statement in there that clear aligners are actually right now just 15%
of the existing orthodontic appliances market but that essentially a line holds
a lion’s share of that market I expected it to be bigger it sounds like this is
something that you’re still there’s still a lot of people taking a
traditional approach to it right untapped market that Dylan 300 million consumers that are out there yeah
that wanted like and so our challenge or our
opportunity is trying to figure out how we connect them to the right doctors who
can deliver great outcomes and deliver the smile that though consumers are
looking for and the convenience and and that’s what I think there’s three tools
make a big difference in trying to tap into that huge untapped market is that
untapped market mostly younger people who are comfortable with all of these
new technologies is this more of a play for Millennials and the next generation
than it is for Gen Xers and boomers because I think are equally interested
in having a great smile like it transforms their lives they also have
disposable income to be able to spend I mean it really truly makes a difference
and how great the self-esteem is and you know you’re smiling in all the pictures
and and so there’s a large adult orthodontics market that we have that is
also on tap and you know like I think it does follow me millions in terms of the
kind of tools you know when computers came along and now phones came along and
they are everywhere just the mobile tools they man not beyond social as much
for the mobile tools or what you need to be able to get the convenience of the
digital technologies or digital shockingly tell me how you enable all of
this with the way you have IT organized what is the size and the scope of your
IT group both in the US and around the world and how do you have the
responsibilities divided up so I have a consumer and customer team and that
technology team is constantly looking at sorry my power I have to keep getting up
and down with you it’s like in a few minutes so I have a consumer and a
customer team that is front-facing technologies that’s built around more
agile processes and then I have a global enterprise team that is looking at
platforms like Identity Management functional systems where you want a lot
of standardization around compliance proven just a security and you know gas
data gets more democratized things like GDP are come in and all the countries
are coming up with their own data government stores so I don’t know how
long this whole enterprise platform strategy of staying central will hold
I’ll keep it as it is but and the consumer these are actually very spread
out so that’s where the global and the regional comes in so that the regional
teams can use global platforms for consumers and customers and scale and
move as rapidly as possible so those are my two teams and we have a global
infrastructure team that’s also but we have people in every country that are
basically running or 24 by 7 you know manufacturing operations customer
operations and you’re like the nature of the business model is such that we have
to be up 24 by 7 365 days you know because there was a doctor somewhere in
some part of the world treating a patient and everything has to be on so
even though we think that we have a global infrastructure team it’s
basically spread out the team is basically spread out around many
different parts of the world and and so when we look at my org structure we are
continuously thinking about ways where you know the foundation principles
around keeping it simple you know allowing allowing regional teams to go
to market as fast as it can Palani enterprise teams to stay as
compliant as possible and and letting the infrastructure you know whether it’s
moving to the cloud or automation or you know as we hire and grow more even on
doing and offloading has taken on a life of its own around how fast we can get
the employees to be productive day one hour one yeah when they start and you
want to have standard processes as much as possible in those areas ok well and
the let’s circle back around to talk about the customer journey week you and
I were we had our event in Silicon Valley in July and I was I was trying to
get you onto the stage to talk about a line and
and instead we got your your VP one of your beating peace came instead but you
were tied up with the customer journey week and this was a very big deal this
involved 25 plus 35 Plus executives at the company I’ve heard about CIOs of
course going out and spending time with the customers but this seemed like a
much bigger more organized attempt to just get out there in the market so tell
me about that right we understand that you know
delivering solutions to the customers making sure that we can integrate with
what they do with their practices is and the more you go visit them the more you
learn about what’s happening you know I cannot sit here like it’s not visualize
what happens in the practice but it’s nothing like being in the doctor’s
office hearing from them directly about how the technology shifts are impacting
the practices and their industry and so we make I we make a lot of attempt to
make sure that we have many different forms of listening to them and making
sure that we integrate their voice into all of the products and the solutions
because that’s like given in in art it’s it’s everyday you know what are you
listening to customer care calls were they were reviewing data to look for
patterns around ease of use or how they use their tools that people have what
are the gaps and solutions that we have if this Entenmann’s digitization journey
it’s very helpful to to watch them do that in their own practices and to come
back to some of the headwaters and and figure out you know when you’re
designing solutions how do you integrate that knowledge on a daily basis yeah
well when and you’d mention that this does this isn’t just dropping in a
dentist’s office you would actually groups of you would get together at the
at certain times in the week to have almost town halls where you discuss the
customer feedback yeah and and we and so the good thing is that we realism we
hear a lot of it we bring it back we take actions we make it meaningful and
and the doctors appreciate it and all our
employees actually appreciate it you know they love the fact that our tools
that they are building you know from an engineering perspective yeah I realized
so well or not and you don’t like you know from an imposture perspective a
hundred percent reduction is like Nirvana for all engineering well sure
and so and so when you when you get that feedback directly from the doctors you
know good or bad it’s very meaningful in what we do every day mm-hmm well and you
mentioned to that us but I think it’s with your consumer group you do a lot of
work in an agile kind of fashion and those agile project teams depending on
how you have it set up they usually have people from the business involved and
they require a certain amount of customer input upfront yeah yeah I feel
like agile development and just the approaches to it have driven greater
business collaboration for the IT organization more so than any other
process or technology that I’ve seen in a while yeah is that your feeling about
it too as business collaboration levels have they changed a lot because of the
agile approaches right you know all the emerging technologies that have come up
you know and all of those technologies you know like I would like to say that
though the lines between the business and IT is blurring so fast because you
cannot be in sales or marketing on manufacturing and not understand the
basics of what technology can provide you know when you’re looking at
especially if you want to drive innovation you want to know what
technologies are out there that can drive the marketplace that can even
drive different business models especially when you have such untapped
market potential out there and it’s the same for the technology engineers as
well because there is no point of being a technologist without figuring out how
that technology can enable the business to scale rapidly again to come up with
maybe different kinds of data models I mean sorry how data can influence
different business models in different ways of how you engage with the doctors
and how we have the doctor is engaged with their page
and all that stuff it’s like so if you sit in a meeting and a line it’s very
hard to identify who is business who is ite because everybody is talking each
other’s language and and I think the way I have reached a point where it’s like
you know when you’re setting up program scenes or when you’re coming up with
agile teams it’s about what skill sets to each bring to the table it does it
complimentary enough you know I rarely look at whether you know what function
are they from you know I want everybody to play their position you know but
eventually when you come up with a solution
it’s very collaboration it plays to the strengths and you want to have people
with different kinds of specialized skill sets but with sort of generalized
thought process okay well that makes sense
I wanted to also ask you the after this customer journey week and the visiting
and all of that feedback when you come back to the office and you know now it’s
the following week what kind of impact does that have or did it have on your
technology priorities do you come back from any of those journeys where you
think okay we really need to do this differently or I need to launch a
program around that was there any sort of definitive follow-up that you did and
and the first feeling that you get is this aha moment where some of the
simplest the biggest problems of the toppers have have the simplest solutions
and technology and it’s always like oh my god like how come we didn’t figure
this out like we couldn’t we not commercialize this better how do we not
do the solution to the practice better so you sort of feel like really like
like like and then you sort of get to the practicality of okay so at least you
know going forward you’re gonna learn from you know it’s not sort of mistakes
but some opportunities that exists around you know how you deserve as you
move from analog to digital visible change management involved the advantage
of adopting technologies at a different pace and you know when you’re trying to
you know sort of good solutions that are sort of you know same for everyone
across you sort of you know you have to figure out is there a simplified version
of this for doctors who are lawn tech savvy but trying to get their complexity
or is it too simple for doctors with tech savvy and you know what is that
middle ground is something that you think about the week after you come back
after you’ve gotten over I can’t believe that we didn’t solve that problem yeah
mm-hmm well I used to I remember years ago I heard a an expression about that
the ultimate goal of marketing was to deliver to customers something they
never knew they always wanted and that that was the goal for marketing I think
increasingly today that’s the goal for IT for technology executives and leaders
to essentially bring something to the table and it might be something obvious
like a use of a messaging app in a particular business situation but to
bring that to the table from the difference of a technology viewpoint and
say well here’s something you may not have realized you needed and by the way
we have it and you know and you know it from an IT perspective it’s like the
best place to be right like you know like I because you have visibility into
every aspect of the business yes you know whether it is consumers
converting into patients at the doctor’s offices what kind of doctor tools that
we can provide clinical outcomes the engagement tools and then you move the
spectrum along finance manufacturing sales operations I mean you can go on
and on about all of the different aspects that you have visibility to and
amount of data that you have that you can now inform the business about how
they can make it actionable yeah we are we we have like the best
seat at the table this quote very focused on running their
portions of the business yes and this cross functional view especially in the
digitized world is becoming extremely important and is a great place to be yes
oh well I could not agree more I think that’s absolutely true but that that
whole notion that you know where we’re from
we’re here from IT and we’re really here to help I think I think that that
actually has more traction now in a lot of businesses when we were talking about
providing the global platforms that are very suitable for regional adapting what
are some of the lessons that that you learned along the way of that you one of
the things you mentioned of course was the predictability for the clinical
outcomes but I wondered in areas like 3d printing or getting things going in
production where IT is very involved how what are some of the learnings I guess
you took away from that as you were setting that up from global governance
perspective yes ah you don’t like like I said from from the basics that you
mentioned for example are all in the transformation bucket yes you know where
you want some structure you want some ROI for the investment you’re making you
want to be sure that you know research is truly research technology feasibility
you know you you are able to get past some of the some of the disruptive
technologies that you want to play in and then at some point you want that
experimentation phase to be able to scale as well and that’s where some of
the governance processes around global and regional customer inputs into how
those technologies can be commercialized come into play okay you know so our
marketing and product products development functions take take so from
from how the teams are set up a lot of regional customer input comes into the
product definitions expand it’s the same thing around technology platforms you
know I can build a whatsapp solution that does not work in China you know I
have to build an equivalent WeChat solution you know I can have
u.s. solution that has not worked in China different commerce platforms are
prevalent in different areas of the world it’s like you know Latin America
it’s on a different commerce platform yeah the number one twos and threes are
bananas on is that everywhere but how people pay how insurance works it’s very
different country to country and hence all your engagement tools that you have
to build in are the products of the services that we blogs have to take into
account all of those regional customer needs as well excellent the interface is
extremely important technology feasibility phase is also extremely
important and how we get feedback okay well an underlying all of this is
especially in this digital transformation and the way you’ve been
scaling around the world there’s a great deal of innovation work of IT innovation
how do you what is your your approach to supporting and encouraging innovation it
is just usually whenever I talk with CIOs the three biggest topics of
interest are leadership innovation and business strategy and we’ve talked a lot
about aligns business strategy so let’s switch hats and talk about the CIO as
the leader for the innovation effort what does the jack do to spark more of
it you know it’s not an event like it’s part of the everyday routine even that’s
that’s where I aim to be on a daily basis yeah so you know when you you know
like we have an idea boards we have our hackathons processes that continue but I
think for me what’s really important is you know date today you know whether
you’re working on Keitha lights on programs or growth programs a
transformation you know from the inside spectrum that when you’re coming up with
a solution you know there’s always a desire for short-term you know I want to
test and learn an experiment and so I’m gonna put something together or I’m
gonna have something together and then I’m the one I’m constantly asking okay
how does it the short-term translate chip medium John you know I’m still
19 but now I mean with the scale yeah and though kind of so that’s what I
would like to think that it’s it’s built into the DNA it’s it’s because the
company DNA you know a bra team aspect and then a 90 it’s just it’s just daily
routine you know I you know all of my meetings with all of my teens
I’m always figuring out of it what’s the one thing that you’re gonna do
differently if you’re doing more of the same you know we might be in a great
spot today but tomorrow I can guarantee it won’t last some of the things that
you’re gonna do differently for tomorrow yeah just asking those questions on a
daily basis maybe means that you’re in I think part of like I said the culture is
such that that the teens are also thinking about it which is really good
yes um why while making sure that you know because we’re self experimenting
all the time about what works and what does it that we don’t lose we don’t lose
that innovation in short well that willingness to do some disruption you
know it you have to be able to work it in well you would mentioned it too I
think of it as the valley challenge I mean the fact that you’re centered in
San Jose and you’re a 22 year old company which in valley years makes you
about a hundred years old right and you said you don’t want to become a legacy
company that you want to stay ahead of what digital tech is doing and that that
means a lot of experimenting on products ya know I mean that’s all true and
that’s why I said like we don’t want to think of it as an events collect all the
ideas that are coming in but day-to-day decision-making around how we build
solutions okay now I know you do a lot of thinking out a few years because
you’ve got we talked about this that you’ve got lots of people that on your
senior leadership team who are taking care of the day to day the month to
month even the next year or two and that you like to think two to four to five
years out how do you fuel that part of your mind how do you keep yourself kind
of on that leading edge well of course still having to do your day job
right you know like I think being in the Silicon Valley has its advantage in that
respect you know you remaining into venture
capitalists all the time you want to understand like I try to understand what
technology is they’re investing in you know which and then you also have a
whole bunch of innovative CIOs all of them trying to crack this digitization
digital market opportunities you know the different kinds of business
models and services that they can enable their own companies to get into and you
know like on our conversations in that space are always very entertaining yeah
and we all are very opinionated to say the least we all place the bets of
technologies that we think are going to be successful well I would say that
they’re sort of bleeding edge we want to be cutting edge in a few areas that
really enable a line like I said in a few areas where you know we can’t
deliver predictable high-quality clinical outcomes how we allow doctors
and patients to engage with each other in really meaningful ways that helped
both of them get to the treatment that they desire how do we take this untapped
market opportunity that is there around the world and and get the smiles that
they want and that transformation needs a lot of newer thinking you know
sometimes it’s also not even the newer technologies that make a difference
technology hardly has a role as much as you know how do I put it digital
discipline into the architecture you know every dollar that I spend on a
daily basis I’m asking okay how does this further our own digitalization
along you know the line is a company and then dentistry has an enzyme you know as
an industry as a whole mm-hmm so that thought that sort of
thinking is also equally important and you know I think technology you know if
you just look at these you know the visualization technologies they’re very
important role for us the scanning technologies have played an important
role for us their science is playing a very important role and then just that
that’s when you know like listening to your peers out here listening to VC
our investments listening to where security and compliance regulations are
working around the world you know how governments are thinking
and how technology can actually help us scale and meet the compliance needs all
of those things come from just just looking outward right well I remember
when we talked about this originally I was assuming that for a business like a
line 3d printing would be a huge deal for a line but from what you told me a
lot of it is not it’s it’s not Enterprise ready essentially in terms of
delivering those predictable outcomes it’s not a huge part of what you’re
doing in the manufacturing process research mm-hmm and that’s that’s part
of the manufacturing engineering process so we want to be leaders in 3d printing
in fact you know when we talk about manufacturing 330,000 plus two week
aligners a day you know it’s a form of 3d printing and we see a lot of
opportunity in how we can scale that digitally as well and there’s a lot of
effort inside the company to be yeah and do you do the offices you visit when you
go to dentist do many of them have 3d printers already are they interested in
this area of technology or do they look at you like they don’t know what you’re
talking about no they’re very interested in I think
almost all of them believe that it’s transformative to their practices okay
okay and so from our perspective from opportunity from a life perspective is
we are already leaders in making custom personalized aligners and we want to
stay ahead and the doctors are looking to us to lead the way so it’s a great
place to be okay well and we you had mentioned data science everyone’s always
interested in the data aspects and I wanted to ask a little bit more about
machine learning and the AI aspects what parts of your IT organization are most
deeply into that right now what sort of things are are you able to do
because of machine learning so we invested a lot of it clinical outcomes
which was which was a great area that if all stakeholders doctors consumers align
you know we’re all interested in generating really high quality outcomes
and we like to buy technology platforms that today you know whether you look at
Salesforce they say the you even enterprise platforms are all building AI
and machine learning in and data science into their soul sets so we are
constantly looking for ways about how we take the learnings that we have had from
our own experience and I’m driving predictable outcomes into the business
operation side around sales and marketing around the subject large
untapped market opportunity how we are able to convert and they engage the
consumers and go to the doctor is asking for in this line and get the treatment
that they need that’s that’s that’s all the areas where we want to use machine
okay and are there other cutting edge or leading-edge technologies that you’re
particularly interested or watching closely blockchain for instance just
about every industry seems to have some sort of experimentation going on with
blockchain right so we are watching it very closely mm-hmm we know for that you
know just from a records perspective the digital records have a very high
propensity towards the blockchain yeah and I think the opportunity where
you can come up with and it also offers the patient an opportunity to have their
records security you know like they own you know if it’s a finite blockchain
they they can manage their own privacy of their records and when you stitch all
of these these blocks of records together you know whether it is you know
you you’re scanning every time you come into your daily practice to your
financial information around the insurance
are the kind of treatments you you have had in the past I think there’s a great
opportunity for the doctors to stitch all of the blocks together to come up
with you know what’s working for the patient what works for their dentition
and how they can set up their future treatments even better
mm-hmm so keep watching it and you know gonna watch it very closely like I said
because you know we want to be innovators of of all the digitization of
dentistry as a whole yeah it’s a really good area for us to keep an eye on
mm-hmm it’s robotics another area that you
watch with any particular interest um is always being part of us especially for
the scale of manufacturing that we need to do mm-hmm so it’s always being part
of the manufacturing engineering DNA so the part that I’m interested in is you
know what I’m calling a digital IT you know the word robotics process
automation is becoming very is becoming its talked about a lot these days and
you know whether it is looking at all the events that the machines are
generating or with its amount of standardization as you’re replicating
servers around the world you know I think there was a lot of opportunity
digital IT and process automation in general that we would be next
all right good and let’s also talk about talent because acquiring and retaining
talent is always in the top three of what CIOs are thinking about and you
said you mentioned that you were telling your team the other day we are so busy
trying to make sure the digital journeys of your dentists and your patients are
going well but it’s also important to have some internal focus on your own
digitizing and scaling so talk about talk about how you attract talent and
how you also make sure that the kind of tools and the internal workings for IT
and a line are just as exciting as they are for your customers right and you
know we like just to keep ourselves and in those four small teams small agile
teams tons of formation work no matter which function
you look at and the company because animation is in the DNA and it’s
technology that is trying to adapt to enable that rapid scaling there’s
opportunity for all different kinds of skill sets and you know because we we
have a learning culture and you also have a growth mindset it’s it’s it’s
very attractive for talent to look at a line in the middle of every other
company that is equally attractive to everyone so that’s so we try to create
that self an advantage around you know how we can enable and how we can how
adaptable a talent is we look at multidisciplinary skills which i think
is very important while there is room for specialized skills the kind of
skills that we allow people to develop you know they might start off in an area
in a particular technology but the ability for them to to grow laterally
and learn different technologies and to grow with the company is huge and we
actually encourage that like I’m a prime example of someone you know who started
off with product development engineering and moved on to business operations you
know running IT and you know those are those are all the opportunities that we
just allow for challenge growth and that’s how we can attract talent yes do
you have you also have intern programs or things you do directly with colleges
to bring in the brand new talent so we have an intern program so I use
summertime is the best time to to get a lot of interns yes we put them in a lot
of emerging technologies we put them in lots of areas where you know we can
experiment and it’s okay to fail and and learn from the speed at which the
Millennials come in and it’s also a good way to learn about what they expect in a
workforce and in a workplace and yeah there’s a lot of benefits of having up
and and we work really about an IT yes to get a lot of good interns you know
why they are developing their own skills we also well CIO is always the ones I
talked to always seem very interested in these the attitudes and the mindsets of
the Millennial developers and you know these young people in their early 20s
coming in what are some of the things as a as a manager and a leader inside the
company what do you notice about the Millennial talent in terms of the areas
they’re interested in what keeps them engaged what if what have you learned
from watching them the interesting part about integrating digital technologies
into the curriculum so in the emerging technology stays they’re all well words
you know they talk about automated deployments the time they walk in yeah
you know when you say you have manual configurations they look at us like
they’re in shape asking them to use a handset instead of any of the other
engagement experiences they’re all like really like it just comes very naturally
to that the part that where we really struggle with challenge in general is
you know in enterprise technologies right like you’re not trained on
Salesforce you’re not trained on STP you know Identity Management like even if
it’s a homegrown system of open-source platforms it’s something that you have
to train train engineer is on yes so so I think part of it is just making sure
that from a growth mindset and the learning mindset that they are able to
bring the newer technology space and somehow build a build a workforce that
is available for nested enterprising platform technologies okay excellent
great answer and my my last question for you well as we wrap up here will be when
you think about the IT organization of the future and the sort of skill sets
that CIOs are looking for now and the sort of the way the
labor will divide up what are the what are the most important skills that you
think that young IT professionals can bring you into the ones who are you know
maybe watching and listening to this and thinking I’d like to be a CIO someday
what are some of the skill sets that we need in that future IT organization as
we roll forward because transformation is never going to end and change
management is never going to be resolved it’s it’s just sort of a rolling forward
transformation right I think teach them you know how to write algorithms and
data science and you know platforms that come configured platforms the biggest
thing that they have to have is adaptability you know like when you’re
looking at multidisciplinary skills is what is going to take you to the next
level you want to be so like you know today I’m going about this technology
tomorrow I’m going to be working on that part of the business and the after
tomorrow it’s going to be something else I mean if the technology innovation is
so the pace at which it’s moving the adaptability is so important and the
change management of your own personal carrier is also equally important and
it’s never going to be one thing like I think when we started off it was like
boy if I knew enterprise systems you know I could become a CIO or if I was
more customer-facing I could become a CIO you have to know technology like I
cannot be in this job if I didn’t know technology enough right
and so have to understand the business strategy enough to figure out how
technology can enable them and so we technology is so broad these days that
you know the consumer technologies are very different from security technology
is very different from enterprise technologies and you know like in a
company everybody knows IT like everybody knows technology these days
they think they do because of the phone in their hand everybody thinks they
could be a CIO right then you have to be better at it better than everyone else
which means you have to be really adaptable and really embrace change as
it comes along excellent well I think that’s a
wonderful answer and it’s been terrific talking you talking to you today 3 I
really appreciate your time thank you for joining us thank you so much yes yes
well I told you it would be you know everybody comes into this a little
nervous eyes like it’s just a conversation okay so if you’re joining
us late and you want to watch this full episode you can find it posted tomorrow
at and the audio podcast from my conversation with three kohli will be
available on Apple podcast Google Play and SoundCloud and I hope you will plan
on joining us for our next episode of CIO leadership live which will be on
Monday October 29th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern and I’ll be joined by bask Iyer who is
the CIO of VMware so thank you very much for joining us today and we’ll see you
again next time

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