CIO Leadership Live New Zealand with Sam Daish, Chief Technology Officer at Blackpearl Group

rb_thumb

rbs-img

00:00 00:00:04:10 – 00:00:04:18

Kerry

00:00:04:18 – 00:00:08:06

Everyone, welcome to CIO Leadership

Live, New Zealand.

00:00:08:07 – 00:00:13:20

My guest today is some day chief

technology officer at Black Pearl Group.

00:00:13:22 – 00:00:17:23

Sam has held a number of technology

leadership roles at well-known

00:00:17:23 – 00:00:23:17

New Zealand startups, including Curious,

which was bought by Spark and Xero.

00:00:23:20 – 00:00:26:02

Hi, Sam. Lovely to meet you.

00:00:26:02 – 00:00:26:23

Hey, Kathy.

00:00:26:23 – 00:00:29:07

Hey, everyone.

Thanks so much for having me.

00:00:29:07 – 00:00:30:06

Great, great.

00:00:30:06 – 00:00:31:14

Great to have you on.

00:00:31:14 – 00:00:34:05

Senior leadership live today.

00:00:34:05 – 00:00:35:20

And so let’s get into it.

00:00:35:20 – 00:00:39:21

Tell us, give us a brief history

of your career today

00:00:39:23 – 00:00:43:18

and how did you get your start in it?

00:00:43:20 – 00:00:47:05

Yeah, I have a probably a fairly unusual

00:00:47:05 – 00:00:50:23

background

for someone who’s a CTO at the moment.

00:00:51:01 – 00:00:54:16

So my original career

was actually in teaching.

00:00:54:19 – 00:01:00:04

So I trained as a secondary school teacher

but didn’t do that for very long at all

00:01:00:04 – 00:01:05:01

the hours too long

and the workloads to hide

00:01:05:03 – 00:01:06:00

the students.

00:01:06:00 – 00:01:08:05

Awesome set up that side of it.

00:01:08:05 – 00:01:10:19

But from there I joined

00:01:10:19 – 00:01:14:04

National Bank

at that time and Human Resources

00:01:14:06 – 00:01:18:11

and they got moved to the strategic

planning function

00:01:18:13 – 00:01:21:22

and they moved to the UK and got involved

00:01:21:22 – 00:01:27:20

with Ernst Young and KPMG

and they moved to a private equity firm.

00:01:27:22 – 00:01:31:22

And the private equity firm is where

I first heard some machine learning

00:01:32:00 – 00:01:36:22

driving their technology function

and then had a baby daughter.

00:01:36:23 – 00:01:40:04

And so I wanted to come back

to New Zealand and worked

00:01:40:04 – 00:01:44:02

for Kiwibank as effectively

the CIO and I think

00:01:44:03 – 00:01:47:23

was called enterprise information

or something like that

00:01:48:01 – 00:01:53:16

and moved to zero

to come GM of data innovation.

00:01:53:18 – 00:01:56:18

And then as you said,

it moved to Curious Lady Day.

00:01:56:18 – 00:02:01:21

I function there

and then moved to Blackpool.

00:02:01:23 – 00:02:05:21

So yeah, I do not have a computer

science degree.

00:02:06:02 – 00:02:11:01

I am not a doctor in mathematics

or anything like that, but I hope that

00:02:11:01 – 00:02:14:16

what I bring is a real kind of person

00:02:14:16 – 00:02:18:03

and human focused approach to technology.

00:02:18:05 – 00:02:23:06

And also, you know, reportedly for CEOs

and other, you know,

00:02:23:10 – 00:02:27:02

audience out there,

a strategic perspective.

00:02:27:02 – 00:02:32:00

So, you know,

I really got into that from a strategic,

00:02:32:02 – 00:02:32:09

you know,

00:02:32:09 – 00:02:35:15

angle rather than focus on keyboards

00:02:35:20 – 00:02:39:16

and in the latest application

or anything like that.

00:02:39:18 – 00:02:42:21

And very interesting career trajectory

there.

00:02:42:21 – 00:02:45:02

And I love that,

you know, you started out in teaching

00:02:45:02 – 00:02:48:07

and then made your way into technology

through that route.

00:02:48:07 – 00:02:51:09

And it is quite interesting,

speaking to a number of CIOs,

00:02:51:09 – 00:02:55:08

you’ve actually had quite a few different

pathways into I.T., so you’re not alone.

00:02:55:08 – 00:02:58:23

I’ve spoken to a few

who started out in the police force

00:02:58:23 – 00:03:03:02

and economics, marketing,

finance, and ended up in I.T.

00:03:03:03 – 00:03:06:13

Great that you have

those different perspectives there.

00:03:06:15 – 00:03:12:14

So, look, electro group is a relatively

new addition to New Zealand startup scene.

00:03:12:16 – 00:03:15:13

So can you give us a bit more background

00:03:15:13 – 00:03:20:04

on its purpose and who you’re

targeting with your products?

00:03:20:06 – 00:03:20:16

Yeah, so

00:03:20:16 – 00:03:24:17

Blackpool is all about delivering growth

00:03:24:22 – 00:03:31:09

through data and AI and technology

to small medium sized businesses.

00:03:31:11 – 00:03:36:09

So and where we’re focused

on the US market. So

00:03:36:14 – 00:03:41:09

for us are small, medium sized businesses,

anyone up to a thousand people.

00:03:41:09 – 00:03:45:19

So and the New Zealand context,

reasonably large.

00:03:45:21 – 00:03:48:16

But yeah, we really try to have our data

00:03:48:16 – 00:03:52:11

and our technology

have a direct line to growth.

00:03:52:11 – 00:03:55:16

So there’s no kind of fuzzy matrix

about it.

00:03:55:16 – 00:03:59:17

You can very clearly see that

my sales team are using this

00:03:59:17 – 00:04:05:06

to make more sales, or I could see how

this is adding to my top line.

00:04:05:08 – 00:04:09:13

And so that’s where we are focused, that’s

where our products are focused,

00:04:09:15 – 00:04:16:00

that’s where our technology is focused,

that’s where our data is focused.

00:04:16:01 – 00:04:17:12

So as

00:04:17:12 – 00:04:20:23

CTO, then, you know,

you delved into a little bit of it there,

00:04:20:23 – 00:04:26:13

but how are you really and the rest

of the team enabling that mission,

00:04:26:15 – 00:04:27:04

your work?

00:04:27:04 – 00:04:33:08

What I love about working

for a smaller company like Blackwell,

00:04:33:09 – 00:04:36:18

although definitely had us, Xero

00:04:36:18 – 00:04:40:10

and Kiwibank as well, is

00:04:40:12 – 00:04:43:09

really starting with the customer

00:04:43:09 – 00:04:46:15

and everything flows from there.

00:04:46:17 – 00:04:50:18

So at Kiwibank

you have a very clear vision

00:04:50:18 – 00:04:53:08

of making New Zealand

a more prosperous place

00:04:53:08 – 00:04:57:02

within a new Zealand owned bank

and have a real focus.

00:04:57:02 – 00:05:03:00

Their Xero had a really clear focus

on, you know, making accounting,

00:05:03:02 – 00:05:07:07

paying less, sorry but joyful for,

you know, small business

00:05:07:07 – 00:05:10:06

who did not get in the business

to do accounting

00:05:10:06 – 00:05:13:13

and make it a wonderful tool

for accountants.

00:05:13:15 – 00:05:17:11

And so like Palu,

I really try and bring all of that

00:05:17:11 – 00:05:21:06

experience around that customer focus.

00:05:21:08 – 00:05:25:18

And then the starting

point of our technology.

00:05:25:20 – 00:05:30:18

So, you know, what

data does a small business owner

00:05:30:18 – 00:05:33:23

or a Cyrus laid out or a marketing leader,

00:05:34:01 – 00:05:37:01

they need to help grow their business.

00:05:37:06 – 00:05:40:18

How do they want to interact with that

00:05:40:20 – 00:05:43:01

and what tools do they want

00:05:43:01 – 00:05:46:17

to integrate was because,

you know, as we noted,

00:05:46:19 – 00:05:51:07

technology’s an enormous space

and there’s lots of tools out there.

00:05:51:09 – 00:05:55:01

And sometimes you just want something

to plug into something else that

00:05:55:01 – 00:05:56:22

that you use.

00:05:57:00 – 00:05:58:02

And so

00:05:58:02 – 00:06:03:02

from a technology perspective,

how did the customer in mind

00:06:03:02 – 00:06:06:08

hold some good outcomes

for our shareholders of mind?

00:06:06:10 – 00:06:09:01

And then how can technology

00:06:09:01 – 00:06:12:11

enable that to happen?

00:06:12:13 – 00:06:15:13

And you can come up with quite a few,

00:06:15:15 – 00:06:19:03

you know, innovative

ways of approaching that problem.

00:06:19:03 – 00:06:23:06

So I’m sure everyone who is listening,

you know, AI

00:06:23:07 – 00:06:26:17

is a big part of our focus at the moment,

00:06:26:19 – 00:06:29:00

and that enables

00:06:29:00 – 00:06:32:10

a lot of simplicity for end user,

00:06:32:12 – 00:06:35:06

but that enables a lot of

00:06:35:06 – 00:06:39:20

work to be done behind the scenes

and then have a really nice

00:06:39:22 – 00:06:43:22

for you simple workspace for a user.

00:06:44:00 – 00:06:49:02

So I guess what

I and my team try to bring to Blackpool

00:06:49:04 – 00:06:53:06

is that experience and technology,

00:06:53:08 – 00:06:56:00

but applying that to very clear

00:06:56:00 – 00:06:59:00

business problems

or business opportunities

00:06:59:04 – 00:07:04:17

and the problems

that customers are facing day in, day out.

00:07:04:19 – 00:07:08:04

So I don’t I don’t think, you know,

the team is unusual that way.

00:07:08:04 – 00:07:11:10

I think a lot of technology firms would

00:07:11:12 – 00:07:14:12

describe themselves

as taking that approach.

00:07:14:18 – 00:07:19:05

And what I like about Blackpool

and the size that we are is,

00:07:19:07 – 00:07:23:00

is there’s no line really between us

and the customers.

00:07:23:00 – 00:07:27:20

So, you know,

I am interacting with customers every day

00:07:27:22 – 00:07:32:03

and a bunch of my team

are interacting with customers every day.

00:07:32:05 – 00:07:37:22

And so that gives you a nice insight

into actually what is working for them.

00:07:38:00 – 00:07:40:09

What I thought was super simple

00:07:40:09 – 00:07:43:09

they thought was slightly

confusing and difficult.

00:07:43:09 – 00:07:46:01

And you know, what I regard as confusing

00:07:46:01 – 00:07:49:22

and difficult in that

regard has been very clear.

00:07:50:00 – 00:07:52:12

So, yeah, getting as close to

00:07:52:12 – 00:07:55:17

the customer as possible is really

00:07:55:19 – 00:07:59:05

what I push the team to do

or lead the team to do,

00:07:59:07 – 00:08:04:16

and then applying their incredible

expertise in relation to that.

00:08:04:18 – 00:08:07:00

So given what you’ve just said there,

00:08:07:00 – 00:08:12:01

it sounds like,

you know, as CTO that you really have

00:08:12:03 – 00:08:15:04

a role

in influencing the organization, then

00:08:15:07 – 00:08:20:07

I expect the wider leadership team as well

would that be fair to say?

00:08:20:09 – 00:08:23:02

Yeah, I’m super lucky because

00:08:23:02 – 00:08:26:08

I guess

maybe as my background indicates, but

00:08:26:10 – 00:08:30:19

I’m interested in lots and lots of things,

so I’m lucky enough

00:08:30:19 – 00:08:35:07

to be a genuinely kind

of curious curiosity about stuff.

00:08:35:09 – 00:08:39:22

And so being CTO at a company

like Blackpool,

00:08:39:22 – 00:08:44:13

I get involved

in all of the technology stuff obviously,

00:08:44:15 – 00:08:50:14

but also thinking about how do we resource

the entire organization,

00:08:50:15 – 00:08:52:14

what does our go to market

00:08:52:14 – 00:08:56:08

product strategy look like?

00:08:56:10 – 00:09:00:06

I even take a look at the ads

and the marketing that we’ve gotten.

00:09:00:08 – 00:09:03:14

What’s the customer onboarding process?

00:09:03:16 – 00:09:06:03

How do we process staff?

00:09:06:03 – 00:09:09:05

How are we going to talk to investors?

00:09:09:07 – 00:09:10:15

So I’m

00:09:10:15 – 00:09:15:10

really fortunate that for me,

I get to play.

00:09:15:10 – 00:09:19:10

I get so many fingers and so many pies

00:09:19:12 – 00:09:22:06

and apply some of that experience.

00:09:22:06 – 00:09:26:03

I’ve got through working at Zero

and Kiwibank private equity

00:09:26:03 – 00:09:30:00

and consulting firms

and professional services firms.

00:09:30:02 – 00:09:33:13

I think all of that provides useful

00:09:33:15 – 00:09:37:06

battle scars that you can draw on

00:09:37:08 – 00:09:41:22

about things that you’ve messed up

in the past that you don’t want to repeat.

00:09:42:00 – 00:09:44:06

So yeah, so it’s a very rewarding role.

00:09:44:06 – 00:09:46:10

I have.

00:09:46:10 – 00:09:48:20

Yeah, very, very fortunate.

00:09:48:20 – 00:09:51:22

And of course, and with that

00:09:51:22 – 00:09:56:23

focus on the US,

I, I know that you have an I.t team

00:09:56:23 – 00:10:00:17

that’s based in various places

around the world

00:10:00:19 – 00:10:04:13

and so can you talk to us a bit

about the challenges

00:10:04:14 – 00:10:07:13

of having an I.T

team spread across the world

00:10:07:13 – 00:10:11:22

and what are those challenges

and what are the benefits?

00:10:12:00 – 00:10:14:15

Yeah, it’s a common situation now.

00:10:14:15 – 00:10:19:15

A 2 to 4 teams

distributed across the globe

00:10:19:17 – 00:10:23:02

and so I’m always really interested

in other people’s experiences

00:10:23:02 – 00:10:24:02

with that as well.

00:10:24:02 – 00:10:30:01

And I try to touch base with

as many people that are in the situation.

00:10:30:03 – 00:10:35:20

So I think the the main thing for us

00:10:35:22 – 00:10:38:17

is to not think of the teams

00:10:38:17 – 00:10:42:06

as being outsourced, but rather

00:10:42:08 – 00:10:46:14

they are fully part of the team

just in a different location.

00:10:46:16 – 00:10:49:22

And so, you know,

we have some of the team here in

00:10:49:22 – 00:10:53:06

Wellington,

we have some of them in New Plymouth.

00:10:53:08 – 00:10:57:17

We had some of them in Dubai,

we had some of them in India

00:10:57:17 – 00:11:00:17

and we have some of the US.

00:11:00:19 – 00:11:05:12

And so there is no difference

between those teams.

00:11:05:12 – 00:11:08:22

None of them are outsourced teams.

00:11:09:00 – 00:11:12:19

They are all just in a different location.

00:11:12:21 – 00:11:14:03

But to make that

00:11:14:03 – 00:11:18:03

like Rio rather than just an airy

fairy comment,

00:11:18:05 – 00:11:20:18

I think the some of the trucks

00:11:20:18 – 00:11:23:18

or trips that I’ve had

00:11:23:20 – 00:11:27:17

and that we carried through on

is about time zones.

00:11:27:19 – 00:11:30:19

So time zones are difficult

00:11:31:00 – 00:11:34:00

or they present an opportunity

and depending on what you’re

00:11:34:00 – 00:11:35:04

trying to achieve.

00:11:35:04 – 00:11:38:19

So that’s you’re trying to achieve a 24

00:11:38:19 – 00:11:41:19

seven operational coverage.

00:11:42:01 – 00:11:46:07

Then having people in different time

zones is actually super helpful

00:11:46:09 – 00:11:48:21

because someone doesn’t

have to get up at 3 a.m.

00:11:48:21 – 00:11:53:03

to restart something.

00:11:53:05 – 00:11:55:13

And then if you’re in that situation,

00:11:55:13 – 00:11:56:14

what you really need

00:11:56:14 – 00:12:01:10

is some very clear processes

so that everyone approaches the problem

00:12:01:10 – 00:12:06:10

in the same way for the same problem

and some very clear escalation.

00:12:06:12 – 00:12:09:08

So as they do get into an area where it’s

00:12:09:08 – 00:12:12:14

outside their knowledge,

they know who to draw.

00:12:12:16 – 00:12:16:04

So it can be a real advantage

from from that perspective.

00:12:16:04 – 00:12:22:06

And I think looking at it as an advantage

is the right mindset to

00:12:22:08 – 00:12:23:18

then if you’ve got more of a

00:12:23:18 – 00:12:28:09

product team

where you’re really trying to,

00:12:28:11 – 00:12:32:21

you know, generate lots of ideas

and having lots of code

00:12:32:23 – 00:12:37:11

working and working on the same problems

at the same time,

00:12:37:13 – 00:12:40:04

where possible, try to align

00:12:40:04 – 00:12:43:04

the working hours or at least have,

00:12:43:07 – 00:12:48:05

you know, 3 hours

where everyone is online at the same time

00:12:48:07 – 00:12:53:08

and can have a conversation like this

rather than just relying

00:12:53:08 – 00:12:56:19

on email or Slack or whatever

00:12:56:20 – 00:13:01:02

your messaging platform of choices.

00:13:01:04 – 00:13:04:04

And you probably need to either

communicate.

00:13:04:04 – 00:13:08:16

So whereas you might just be on a swap

some ideas at the office,

00:13:08:17 – 00:13:14:06

you actually need to write those out

so that everyone is on the same page.

00:13:14:08 – 00:13:17:05

One of the habits that we have got into

00:13:17:05 – 00:13:23:01

is using video recordings

more than I ever have done before.

00:13:23:02 – 00:13:28:07

So rather than trying to write down

everything that you want to communicate,

00:13:28:09 – 00:13:34:05

actually do a three minute

video just like this. And

00:13:34:07 – 00:13:35:01

that allows you

00:13:35:01 – 00:13:38:02

to capture that tone of voice

that you don’t get

00:13:38:02 – 00:13:42:21

on a written format

that allows you to issue expressions.

00:13:42:21 – 00:13:45:13

You know, for someone to know

when you’re having a laugh, you know,

00:13:45:13 – 00:13:48:10

when you’re being a bit sarcastic

or ironic, which

00:13:48:10 – 00:13:52:22

which might not come across at any level

or a slight message.

00:13:53:00 – 00:13:58:16

So yeah, the shared working times

and where you need to communicate

00:13:58:16 – 00:14:04:08

outside those shared work

at times using a variety of mediums,

00:14:04:10 – 00:14:08:12

voice, video, writing stuff down.

00:14:08:14 – 00:14:11:04

We use a lot of

00:14:11:04 – 00:14:14:17

we use me around the locks

or mapping out a process

00:14:14:17 – 00:14:19:22

and people

being able to comment on a asynchronously.

00:14:20:00 – 00:14:22:11

But I think at the heart of it

00:14:22:11 – 00:14:29:01

is really a mindset around

how do you think about people

00:14:29:01 – 00:14:32:21

that are not working

in the same place as you?

00:14:32:23 – 00:14:35:12

Do you regard them as a fully fledged

00:14:35:12 – 00:14:40:22

member of your team

or do you regard them as someone

00:14:40:22 – 00:14:45:00

who is working in a different way

somewhere else?

00:14:45:02 – 00:14:46:17

Yeah, absolutely.

00:14:46:17 – 00:14:51:06

And look, how do you attract talent then,

given that it is a start up?

00:14:51:07 – 00:14:53:00

You know, it’s not a household name. Yes.

00:14:53:00 – 00:14:57:06

Although given that you’ve worked

at places like Xero and Curious

00:14:57:06 – 00:15:00:14

and maybe at a household name

in the next few years,

00:15:00:19 – 00:15:04:21

how do you attract talent

when it is not a well known organization?

00:15:04:23 – 00:15:08:07

Yeah, the easiest way is through

a personal network like that.

00:15:08:07 – 00:15:13:01

That is by far

the most effective and the easiest.

00:15:13:03 – 00:15:13:22

So, you know,

00:15:13:22 – 00:15:18:08

I work with a guy, David Hunt,

a contractor with us, who I used to work

00:15:18:08 – 00:15:23:11

at Zero was

and there’s a few other people like that

00:15:23:13 – 00:15:26:05

where we’ve had the most successful hires

00:15:26:05 – 00:15:31:04

is where it’s a personal recommendation

from someone with worked

00:15:31:04 – 00:15:36:09

with within the past

or someone that’s currently in the team.

00:15:36:11 – 00:15:39:05

So that that’s the easiest

it’s the most effective.

00:15:39:05 – 00:15:43:10

If you could do that

every time, that that would be brilliant.

00:15:43:12 – 00:15:46:20

But you know, in New Zealand

we get a lot of success

00:15:46:22 – 00:15:49:09

just through straight advertising.

00:15:49:09 – 00:15:52:08

I think as long as you articulate

00:15:52:08 – 00:15:55:16

the opportunity that you’ve got,

00:15:55:18 – 00:15:59:07

people will respond to that opportunity.

00:15:59:07 – 00:16:02:23

If that’s something

that they want to get involved in.

00:16:03:01 – 00:16:06:18

And I think technology

is one of those spaces

00:16:06:20 – 00:16:10:10

that not being a household name

00:16:10:12 – 00:16:13:10

is maybe an advantage like.

00:16:13:10 – 00:16:14:23

So it feels like in

00:16:14:23 – 00:16:18:22

you are doing something

that’s a bit different, that’s a bit new.

00:16:19:00 – 00:16:22:19

I that that is attractive to many people

and many people

00:16:22:19 – 00:16:25:22

want to be part of a start up vibe, right?

00:16:25:23 – 00:16:27:03

Absolutely.

00:16:27:03 – 00:16:30:03

So just, just,

just on that then, you know,

00:16:30:03 – 00:16:34:05

New Zealand is has some very well-known

startups studies

00:16:34:07 – 00:16:37:07

that are household names

and indeed you worked at many of them.

00:16:37:08 – 00:16:39:17

So do you think it’s a good place?

00:16:39:17 – 00:16:42:06

And in terms of supporting startups

00:16:42:06 – 00:16:46:04

and if not, is there

anything that can be done better?

00:16:46:06 – 00:16:48:07

Yeah, I think yes and no.

00:16:48:07 – 00:16:52:05

So I think the the advantages

00:16:52:05 – 00:16:55:05

we’ve got,

there’s some amazing people here.

00:16:55:07 – 00:16:59:22

You know, they’re they are really smart

people, was really good experience

00:16:59:22 – 00:17:06:00

who are really well connected

and know how to take an idea and turn it

00:17:06:00 – 00:17:11:12

into something that is a viable business

or at least is worth a shot.

00:17:11:14 – 00:17:12:23

And Wellington is

00:17:12:23 – 00:17:16:01

small enough

that there are a lot of networks

00:17:16:01 – 00:17:19:19

and connections

where you can draw on these ideas.

00:17:19:21 – 00:17:23:21

And I think as New Zealanders,

we’re quite willing

00:17:23:21 – 00:17:27:22

to share our ideas and our experience.

00:17:28:00 – 00:17:32:12

And so it’s not hard to, you know, ping

someone as I could,

00:17:32:12 – 00:17:34:08

we catch up for a cup of coffee

00:17:34:08 – 00:17:37:13

and then have a chat

and can I bounce this idea of you?

00:17:37:15 – 00:17:41:10

So I think A it’s a real advantage

00:17:41:10 – 00:17:44:14

when it comes to testing an idea.

00:17:44:16 – 00:17:47:05

I think it’s hard to raise

00:17:47:05 – 00:17:50:05

money in New Zealand at the moment.

00:17:50:10 – 00:17:53:02

So, you know, if you’re looking for a bit

00:17:53:02 – 00:17:57:02

seed capital

that that can make it difficult.

00:17:57:04 – 00:18:02:23

And I think one of the other things that

00:18:03:01 – 00:18:06:00

New Zealand makes a little bit

difficult is

00:18:06:06 – 00:18:11:06

I think our larger enterprises

who have the money to buy these startup

00:18:11:06 – 00:18:16:05

products and services

and our government departments

00:18:16:07 – 00:18:20:09

tend to opt for the known name

00:18:20:11 – 00:18:26:03

and that tends to be an incumbent

and that tends to be an overseas provider.

00:18:26:05 – 00:18:30:22

And so, you know, it just feels safe to go

with some of those bigger names

00:18:30:22 – 00:18:33:22

that is now well-established names,

00:18:34:00 – 00:18:36:19

whereas there could be a huge benefit

00:18:36:19 – 00:18:41:01

of working with a startup

who’s willing to adapt their processes

00:18:41:01 – 00:18:45:20

and their product and their services

and work super hard for you

00:18:45:22 – 00:18:49:00

as an enterprise And man,

00:18:49:01 – 00:18:54:23

there is so much open tech

and as a service tech

00:18:55:01 – 00:18:58:18

out there

that like you’re not using lower grade

00:18:58:18 – 00:19:02:23

technology or anything like that

from the start ups also knows

00:19:03:01 – 00:19:07:04

the based on us, the most innovative,

the most leading edge that

00:19:07:08 – 00:19:11:05

some of the incumbents have kind of quite

got round to turning on to a product.

00:19:11:05 – 00:19:16:04

Yeah so so yeah there’s some incredible

advantages, you know, around the people,

00:19:16:04 – 00:19:20:21

the connections, the talent,

the mindset, the culture.

00:19:20:23 – 00:19:24:09

But then there are some difficult things

around raising money.

00:19:24:11 – 00:19:29:01

And if you’re focused on the enterprise,

getting the attention

00:19:29:01 – 00:19:34:15

of those larger enterprise

customers can be can be hard.

00:19:34:17 – 00:19:36:16

Now, you mentioned culture there.

00:19:36:16 – 00:19:39:22

And of course, you know, startup

culture is something that attracts

00:19:39:22 – 00:19:43:14

a lot of people to work for for a startup.

00:19:43:16 – 00:19:46:06

But what’s that transition like when

00:19:46:06 – 00:19:50:08

when a startup starts scaling

and becomes a big player like Xero?

00:19:50:08 – 00:19:53:12

Now is do you lose

some of that startup culture

00:19:53:12 – 00:19:55:16

and not knowing,

you know, people by first name?

00:19:55:16 – 00:20:01:13

And how how do you plan to hang on to

that as you grow black pro

00:20:01:15 – 00:20:02:11

Yeah, yeah.

00:20:02:11 – 00:20:05:11

It’s and there’s some good things

about moving

00:20:05:11 – 00:20:08:11

to enterprise kind of scale.

00:20:08:11 – 00:20:12:02

You know,

there is some additional robustness

00:20:12:02 – 00:20:17:14

and maybe, you know, you’re able to use

a bit of time to, to establish

00:20:17:14 – 00:20:22:04

processes around how to do stuff,

which makes onboarding people easier.

00:20:22:06 – 00:20:26:06

And so it’s some of that stuff that as you

grow,

00:20:26:08 – 00:20:31:15

you want to embrace like some of the good

stuff you want to embrace.

00:20:31:17 – 00:20:34:00

I think the the main

00:20:34:00 – 00:20:39:12

thing that I hear

and probably experienced, I guess around

00:20:39:14 – 00:20:42:14

a larger organization versus a startup

00:20:42:16 – 00:20:46:09

is simply the pace of decision making.

00:20:46:11 – 00:20:51:05

But the more layers

there are an organization,

00:20:51:07 – 00:20:55:18

the more information gets lost

as you move between layers.

00:20:55:20 – 00:21:00:17

And that makes it harder for everyone

to make a good decision

00:21:00:19 – 00:21:04:00

and it makes it easier to all

rather than make a decision.

00:21:04:00 – 00:21:05:12

I’ll ask a question

00:21:05:12 – 00:21:09:12

which then has to go through several

layers before you kind of get an answer.

00:21:09:14 – 00:21:11:22

So I think, you know, the trick

00:21:11:22 – 00:21:14:23

really to capturing that kind of style

00:21:15:01 – 00:21:18:23

and spirit and energy and momentum

00:21:19:01 – 00:21:24:07

is keeping organization Super Slack’s,

you know, as flat as possible

00:21:24:09 – 00:21:29:05

and having very direct lines

of communication

00:21:29:07 – 00:21:32:20

rather than having barriers

to communication.

00:21:32:22 – 00:21:36:06

So, you know, exactly indexed everywhere.

00:21:36:06 – 00:21:41:07

So you know, I developed I should feel

completely comfortable talking to the CEO

00:21:41:09 – 00:21:46:06

and the CEO should feel very comfortable

talking to a developer in this case.

00:21:46:08 – 00:21:50:06

I think one of the good examples

that I’ve experienced

00:21:50:08 – 00:21:54:16

of that is when I first joined Xero,

00:21:54:18 – 00:21:57:12

there

were these things called broad boards

00:21:57:12 – 00:22:02:04

where Rod Jury would swing by your desk,

ask you what you’re working

00:22:02:04 – 00:22:07:02

on, show me something cool,

and then fire three ideas that you about.

00:22:07:02 – 00:22:09:04

You know what you should do differently.

00:22:09:04 – 00:22:14:14

And sometimes that’s like super

uncomfortable and some people hate that.

00:22:14:16 – 00:22:18:00

But the, the amazing thing about it

00:22:18:02 – 00:22:23:03

is, you know, the CEO of the space company

00:22:23:05 – 00:22:26:18

understood what you were working on

and in that moment had

00:22:26:18 – 00:22:31:19

some ideas about it, which could be bad

or could be, you know, game changing.

00:22:31:21 – 00:22:36:19

But an either way, there’s

an exchange of ideas and information.

00:22:36:21 – 00:22:38:04

And so I think that’s

00:22:38:04 – 00:22:41:19

that’s the kind of thing that happens

naturally in a small organization.

00:22:42:00 – 00:22:46:20

It is hard in a big organization

and simply,

00:22:46:22 – 00:22:51:08

you know, you need to get out there

and have conversations

00:22:51:09 – 00:22:55:09

with people and not fall into those

00:22:55:11 – 00:22:57:17

layers of communication.

00:22:57:17 – 00:23:01:00

And absolutely my $0.10

00:23:01:00 – 00:23:05:05

or so look, I has very much been

00:23:05:05 – 00:23:09:17

the buzz word of 2023, you know, even

though it’s been around for a long time.

00:23:09:17 – 00:23:13:12

And of course, you’ve worked in roles

for many years, so

00:23:13:12 – 00:23:17:16

and keen to get your thoughts on

how you see it evolving.

00:23:17:16 – 00:23:20:20

And, you know, is it

that productivity silver bullet

00:23:20:20 – 00:23:22:14

the companies have been looking for?

00:23:22:14 – 00:23:29:04

And is there anything you think CIOs should be cautious about when it comes to? I

00:23:29:06 – 00:23:31:00

Yeah, it’s exploded, hasn’t it?

00:23:31:00 – 00:23:35:23

It’s really exploded

into the public consciousness.

00:23:36:01 – 00:23:40:11

And yeah, I was lucky enough

to be involved in what we call a machine

00:23:40:11 – 00:23:45:18

learning back then,

which is a different kind of buy

00:23:45:20 – 00:23:49:02

in 2010

00:23:49:04 – 00:23:50:09

or 2008.

00:23:50:09 – 00:23:56:00

So I had a private equity firm

where we were trying to identify

00:23:56:00 – 00:24:00:21

the really relevant news stories

to the targets that we were going after.

00:24:00:21 – 00:24:07:00

And those are and summarize

all of that information.

00:24:07:02 – 00:24:11:22

So yeah, I’m kind of lucky in that

I’ve been living on the air.

00:24:11:22 – 00:24:16:18

I will say, you know, ten years

00:24:16:20 – 00:24:18:19

so I can understand how challenging

00:24:18:19 – 00:24:23:00

it might be for someone

that is just being asked to look at it.

00:24:23:02 – 00:24:26:04

So it is radically different.

00:24:26:05 – 00:24:32:04

But the the difference between

pre check GPT,

00:24:32:06 – 00:24:35:15

if you like, is the most recognizable

and post

00:24:35:17 – 00:24:39:08

GPT t is truly different.

00:24:39:10 – 00:24:46:06

It is truly a different world and people

shouldn’t downplay the difference.

00:24:46:08 – 00:24:46:22

One of

00:24:46:22 – 00:24:50:11

the differences

is the ease of using the tool.

00:24:50:16 – 00:24:53:18

So previously to build

00:24:53:23 – 00:24:56:21

a tool like that or use a tool like that,

00:24:56:21 – 00:25:02:10

you had to be a developer

in some way or a technologist in some way.

00:25:02:12 – 00:25:04:18

And now you know it’s a text.

00:25:04:18 – 00:25:09:05

You and everyone can type

into a text field

00:25:09:05 – 00:25:13:02

or just about everyone

could type into a text field.

00:25:13:04 – 00:25:16:14

And so it’s that how

00:25:16:16 – 00:25:19:10

that has also radically changed

00:25:19:10 – 00:25:23:19

those now freely available to everyone.

00:25:23:20 – 00:25:27:01

And that’s the big difference.

00:25:27:03 – 00:25:32:07

And so I think, you know,

I like many people and probably almost

00:25:32:09 – 00:25:34:21

all of your listeners use

00:25:34:21 – 00:25:39:19

these tools on a daily

or at least weekly basis,

00:25:39:21 – 00:25:43:15

and it does enhance work productivity.

00:25:43:15 – 00:25:49:14

You know, what could have taken me an hour

or something to sift through the net

00:25:49:14 – 00:25:56:16

and learn something churchy

pretty can summarize for a very rapidly.

00:25:56:18 – 00:25:57:16

So I think

00:25:57:16 – 00:26:00:06

the trick really is trying to work

00:26:00:06 – 00:26:03:06

out, well, how am I going to use that

00:26:03:07 – 00:26:06:06

for the benefit of my customers?

00:26:06:06 – 00:26:11:12

You know, what would make a difference

to a lot of my customers

00:26:11:12 – 00:26:15:05

to be able to do something like that?

00:26:15:07 – 00:26:18:03

And what is the difference

that I can provide or

00:26:18:03 – 00:26:22:02

my company can provide

that is not just cheap too.

00:26:22:04 – 00:26:25:10

So anyone can sign up for free

to check everyday.

00:26:25:12 – 00:26:26:10

So just see.

00:26:26:10 – 00:26:29:10

As I say, that is not adding any value.

00:26:29:10 – 00:26:33:15

What is the difference

that I could do around that?

00:26:33:17 – 00:26:38:02

And that’s where I think

you need to bounce around a lot of ideas

00:26:38:04 – 00:26:42:06

with the team that you have,

but also talk to quite

00:26:42:06 – 00:26:47:09

a wide range of people

to get different perspectives on it.

00:26:47:11 – 00:26:49:19

And this

00:26:49:19 – 00:26:53:05

is where talking to people

that truly understand

00:26:53:08 – 00:26:57:04

AI is really beneficial because there’s

00:26:57:04 – 00:27:00:04

some things that I’m really good at

and there’s some things

00:27:00:04 – 00:27:05:13

that it’s not very good at and often

those are slightly counterintuitive.

00:27:05:13 – 00:27:10:07

I think it would be good at something

that’s not.

00:27:10:09 – 00:27:16:02

And so getting a realistic view of

that is super useful.

00:27:16:04 – 00:27:20:16

I have one of my pet peeves

00:27:20:18 – 00:27:23:22

is when I was at a large organization

00:27:24:00 – 00:27:26:23

and the CEO would

00:27:26:23 – 00:27:31:01

say would come to me and say, Hey,

I had this presentation from these people

00:27:31:01 – 00:27:36:10

when they tell me that we can do this,

so we should do that.

00:27:36:12 – 00:27:40:05

And you kind of go, Yeah, in theory

they’re right.

00:27:40:07 – 00:27:42:07

Then our situation is that

00:27:42:07 – 00:27:46:13

is these problems, are these

the things that we would need to overcome?

00:27:46:15 – 00:27:49:11

But it’s being presented in a way

that makes it sound

00:27:49:11 – 00:27:53:21

just easy and super attractive

and is super attractive.

00:27:53:21 – 00:27:57:10

It’s just not as easy

as it’s been portrayed lately,

00:27:57:16 – 00:28:00:06

especially when they don’t know

what’s involved

00:28:00:06 – 00:28:03:06

to integrate the flashy thing

that’s being presented.

00:28:03:11 – 00:28:04:11

Yeah, that’s right.

00:28:04:11 – 00:28:09:14

And so it’s not that the TV is bad

or anything like that, but you need

00:28:09:16 – 00:28:11:23

some realism in there

00:28:11:23 – 00:28:14:21

to understand where your business is today

00:28:14:21 – 00:28:17:15

and what differences you can make.

00:28:17:15 – 00:28:20:21

It always tied back to a difference

00:28:20:21 – 00:28:25:06

for a customer

or a difference for another stakeholder.

00:28:25:08 – 00:28:29:20

So, you know, one of the project

that I was really excited about,

00:28:29:22 – 00:28:34:17

really keen on Curious,

was where we were using machine vision.

00:28:34:20 – 00:28:38:06

So computer vision

and there was lots of that.

00:28:38:06 – 00:28:39:19

Like we also got asked

00:28:39:19 – 00:28:44:00

to produce something and it was quite easy

to produce a proof of concept.

00:28:44:02 – 00:28:48:12

But the reason why I liked this one is

I was working with a waste management firm

00:28:48:14 – 00:28:52:01

who operated landfills

and they had recently

00:28:52:02 – 00:28:57:00

had an incident where someone had seen,

I think it was a bicycle and the landfill

00:28:57:00 – 00:29:01:14

would decided to jump on the landfill

and try and retrieve the bicycle.

00:29:01:15 – 00:29:06:01

And there are these enormous

various movers driving around.

00:29:06:01 – 00:29:08:03

And so that could have killed it.

00:29:08:03 – 00:29:11:21

And so identifying

when someone was getting too close

00:29:11:21 – 00:29:18:12

to that barrier or breaking down

like that is a very quickly,

00:29:18:14 – 00:29:21:03

you know, benefit that you can solve

00:29:21:03 – 00:29:25:19

for the customer and the health and safety

and the staff at that site.

00:29:25:21 – 00:29:28:21

So it’s not just all

we should use solution,

00:29:28:21 – 00:29:32:04

it’s actually

we’re trying to make the area more safe.

00:29:32:06 – 00:29:34:15

How might we do that with AI?

00:29:34:15 – 00:29:37:22

So, you know,

you start with some problems,

00:29:37:22 – 00:29:41:15

bring in some people that really know

the tech and have a really good

00:29:41:15 – 00:29:45:11

free flowing conversation.

00:29:45:13 – 00:29:47:03

But yeah,

00:29:47:03 – 00:29:51:23

this whole large language model space

that is at the interface

00:29:52:01 – 00:29:56:17

that is really like AI is literally going

to transform businesses.

00:29:56:19 – 00:29:58:05

Yeah, absolutely.

00:29:58:05 – 00:29:59:17

It’s so fascinating.

00:29:59:17 – 00:30:01:08

We don’t know where it will end up.

00:30:01:08 – 00:30:04:20

You know what

it will like this time in 2024.

00:30:04:20 – 00:30:10:01

It’s it’s going to be a fascinating space

to watch and look and some

00:30:10:02 – 00:30:13:23

you are also responsible

for black crows i.t.

00:30:14:01 – 00:30:19:04

And so, you know, you spoke earlier about,

you know, the flashy presentations

00:30:19:04 – 00:30:22:10

and people not really understanding that,

yes, in theory

00:30:22:10 – 00:30:26:03

something looks good, but in practice

there’s a lot more to consider.

00:30:26:05 – 00:30:31:07

So what do you value then when it comes

to dealing with vendors or partners?

00:30:31:07 – 00:30:35:05

For Black Pearls, it

00:30:35:07 – 00:30:39:04

Yeah, that’s a really good question.

00:30:39:05 – 00:30:41:20

Transparency is probably the main thing.

00:30:41:20 – 00:30:46:01

Know like if you can have a nice,

transparent, forthright conversation

00:30:46:03 – 00:30:49:19

with people that then lets

you know very quickly

00:30:49:19 – 00:30:51:08

whether you’re on the right space.

00:30:51:08 – 00:30:54:01

So you know,

00:30:54:01 – 00:30:59:02

I like to share where Blackpool was at

and what we’re trying to do

00:30:59:02 – 00:31:04:16

and what challenges we have and where

we don’t think we have challenges

00:31:04:18 – 00:31:07:13

and be pretty open about that

00:31:07:13 – 00:31:11:07

and, you know, not share in a saying

that’s

00:31:11:09 – 00:31:13:22

commercially sensitive,

you know, because we are listed.

00:31:13:22 – 00:31:17:18

So there’s various things

that you can talk about but be as open

00:31:17:18 – 00:31:21:17

and honest

as you possibly can about what problem

00:31:21:17 – 00:31:25:09

it is you’re trying to solve

00:31:25:11 – 00:31:27:00

and really push

00:31:27:00 – 00:31:30:07

the the vendor

or the person you’re working with

00:31:30:09 – 00:31:34:13

to be equally transparent

about what they can help with.

00:31:34:13 – 00:31:39:07

And what they can’t help was because

if you’re on the wrong page about that,

00:31:39:10 – 00:31:42:10

it’s going to come unstuck at some point

00:31:42:11 – 00:31:45:08

in better not to waste everyone’s time.

00:31:45:08 – 00:31:47:01

And if

00:31:47:03 – 00:31:50:14

you’d like, let’s try and get past that

00:31:50:15 – 00:31:55:06

in all sounds that you know,

over the long term or the medium or long

00:31:55:06 – 00:31:59:14

term, you come back to those transparent

00:31:59:14 – 00:32:02:14

and honest and forthright people,

00:32:02:15 – 00:32:07:05

even if you go, Hey,

actually that’s not going to work today.

00:32:07:07 – 00:32:11:03

But if you’ve had a good conversation

with them, you keep them in mind

00:32:11:03 – 00:32:14:06

and you come back in three months

time or six months time when you

00:32:14:06 – 00:32:18:06

now have that problem

that they were able to solve.

00:32:18:08 – 00:32:21:20

So, so much of it is about that honesty

00:32:21:20 – 00:32:25:08

and transparency.

00:32:25:10 – 00:32:29:22

I have a bit of a preference

for New Zealand startups,

00:32:29:22 – 00:32:33:13

so where possible,

I like to give their first bite

00:32:33:15 – 00:32:36:21

of the cherry

about solving a problem for me.

00:32:36:23 – 00:32:43:15

And I guess it’s because as a as a personal drive, I want to see that New Zealand’s

00:32:43:17 – 00:32:47:03

I want to see New Zealand prosper,

00:32:47:05 – 00:32:49:09

an incredible place to grow up

00:32:49:09 – 00:32:52:17

and love and work with us.

00:32:52:18 – 00:32:56:21

The reason I came back from

the UK is the reason that we decided to

00:32:56:23 – 00:32:58:21

bring our daughter here.

00:32:58:21 – 00:33:02:19

You know, I just want,

you know, that requires companies

00:33:02:19 – 00:33:06:20

like Blackpool

to spend money in New Zealand

00:33:06:22 – 00:33:09:15

and that doesn’t make you take

a substandard solution.

00:33:09:15 – 00:33:11:02

I’m not saying that at all.

00:33:11:02 – 00:33:14:15

But yet you have give New Zealand startups

00:33:14:15 – 00:33:19:03

an opportunity to,

you know, and say why they can do stuff.

00:33:19:03 – 00:33:21:11

We absolutely.

00:33:21:11 – 00:33:25:08

So look, and as we head into 2020 for some

00:33:25:10 – 00:33:29:15

what’s important for you in the year

ahead.

00:33:29:17 – 00:33:30:09

a few things.

00:33:30:09 – 00:33:33:15

So on a personal level

00:33:33:17 – 00:33:37:14

my daughter starts high school so yeah,

00:33:37:20 – 00:33:44:19

that’ll be a big attraction

for me and our family.

00:33:44:21 – 00:33:49:06

I’m also determined to up my fitness,

00:33:49:06 – 00:33:53:01

so I’m going to spend a bit more time

doing that.

00:33:53:02 – 00:33:55:22

And from a business perspective,

00:33:55:22 – 00:33:59:22

you know,

we will be launching an additional

00:34:00:00 – 00:34:03:19

AI powered product in Blackpool.

00:34:03:21 – 00:34:09:09

And so that requires us

to have some new capability

00:34:09:10 – 00:34:14:12

and that’s really exciting

that gives the team an opportunity to grow

00:34:14:14 – 00:34:18:00

and opens up a whole new customer

set for us

00:34:18:02 – 00:34:20:03

and we need to be really on point

00:34:20:03 – 00:34:25:04

was how customers interact with it

and the quality of their

00:34:25:06 – 00:34:29:08

AI powered solution

that we’re going to be providing.

00:34:29:10 – 00:34:33:16

And of course we need to get the marketing

right product right to go to market,

00:34:33:18 – 00:34:37:15

the customer support, the onboarding,

all of that as well.

00:34:37:15 – 00:34:42:10

So this is an exciting time

to launch a new products and

00:34:42:12 – 00:34:45:09

2024, a good time for that.

00:34:45:09 – 00:34:46:06

Here’s hoping.

00:34:46:06 – 00:34:49:11

Well, we wish you all the best with it

some day Chief

00:34:49:11 – 00:34:53:11

technology Officer Black pro group

thank you so much for your time today.

00:34:53:13 – 00:34:54:20

Thanks, Casey. You really enjoyed it.

Source: www.cio.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *