Ira Bell: Today we talk with Alex Brown, CEO and Founder of 10th Magnitude. In this discussion, we talk about updates to 10th Magnitude’s Agility Quadrant 2.0 and how an ice cream shop is leveraging digital transformation to be successful.
Ira Bell: Hello. This is Ira Bell, CTO at 10th Magnitude and today with me I have Alex Brown, CEO and Founder of 10th Magnitude. Alex, welcome to the pod-call. It’s good to be recording this session with you today.
Alex Brown: Thanks Ira, I’m really excited to be here.
Ira Bell: So, Alex, first and foremost, I wanted to congratulate you and all of our colleagues at 10th Magnitude on winning not one, but two Microsoft Global Partner of the Year awards. This is the third year in a row we’ve been in the winner’s circle, right?
Alex Brown: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. And the team is unbelievably proud and excited to be recognized this way, winning the three-peat, we’re raised in Chicago, the three-peat is an important concept here, so very exciting for the whole team. And to see the acknowledgement of all the work, the thought leadership, and the client success that they’ve been able to drive has just been a great honor for them.
Ira Bell: Something we can definitely be proud of, for sure. So, Agility Quadrant. I think maybe it would be if we could start off by just having you talk about the differences between organizational agility, and technical agility, and why that’s so important in this context.
Alex Brown: Sure. So, working in the Agility Quadrant, the concept here that we are working to support our clients on, is how do they overall become faster, more agile, and more competitive in what is a very rapidly evolving marketplace. So, the two factors they really need to think about in order to accomplish that goal are technical agility, which, if you look at our Agility Quadrant chart, it is essentially measured by the y-axis, and that is the ability to implement, execute, run and manage technology at a much more rapid pace. So, it’s essentially cloud and technology automation, is essentially the key driver of that axis.
The second piece is organizational agility. So how rapidly is your organization, the people and the structures, able to see, acknowledge, and respond to new customer need, or new competitive requirements? And I often think about this as, essentially, the people side of the equation. And it is really enabled by, and the foundational piece of that, is DevOps, both from a tool perspective, but more importantly, from an organization perspective. Are your people enabled, and have you reduced the silos that typically inhibit the ability of teams to collaborate and drive change very rapidly? So those are the two primary vectors we think about when we engage with a customer and are working with them along the Agility Quadrant journey to make them faster and more competitive.
Ira Bell: That makes total sense. Each are good in their own right, but it really takes a harmony of both, intersecting, for companies to be successful today.
Alex Brown: Yeah. And I think that’s an important point that our customers have grasped and is important for everyone to understand. It’s only when you have both the technology enabled by the cloud and the speed and the agility that that brings. But it is only when that is coupled with reducing the silos, improving your organizational agility, especially adopting that DevOps mentality and tooling. It’s only when you put the two together that you’re really able to aggressively move along the Agility Quadrant space.
Ira Bell: So, Alex, can you talk a bit about what inspired you and the team to bring about these changes to the Agility Quadrant?
Alex Brown: Yeah, absolutely, so if you recall version one of the Agility Quadrant, which was very important in helping our team organize and our customers understand the value we were bringing to them. It spoke about the journey along the Agility Quadrant from a series of technical disciplines that we maintain internally, and that our team is focused around, from a perspective of, kind of continual improvement, learning, and education. What we found was, that internal structure, when we exposed it to our customers into the market place, was somewhat successful, but not fully successful in communicating to them the journey that they would be under. We inadvertently defined their journey on 10th Magnitude terms. So, that was a bit… that needed a bit of improvement.
What we have done since then, is we have been able to redefine the journey along three primary transformational activities that are very focused around the customers activities and the customers skills and that they need to develop for themselves. So, it becomes much less about us and much more focused on customer need and the customer journey.
So, if you look at what we’ve done, we’ve taken what were previously kind of 10th Magnitude skill focused four skill focused areas. And we’ve expressed that now we’re kind of Modern Enterprise Framework. So, as you adapt and transform your enterprise to become more agile, and to move along the Agility Quadrant horizon to become a disrupter, there are 3 primary transformations that each organization needs to go through. They’ll need to go through Data Centered Transformation, this is the core of the move from premise-based computing to cloud based computing, and a lot of the automation that comes along with that.
The second piece is around Application Modernization, so how do our customers think about re-engineering, and re architecting aspects of their application infrastructure that will enable the agility and the speed that is required to become a disruptor? And then finally, it’s surrounded Data Estate Modernization, so how does an organization think about collapsing their silo data into a more unified cloud based structure that enables much more rapid decision making that enables much more rapid access to data across the entire enterprise that products team, development teams are gonna need to drive the types of modern applications, modern client focused applications that are required for success in the competitive market.
Ira Bell: That’s really eye-opening Alex, thank you for that detailed coverage. One of the things that has really stood out to me is when I’ve heard you say an organization doesn’t have to be a software company to think and act like one. Would you mind explaining that to our listeners?
Alex Brown: Yeah, absolutely, this I think is really fascinating because as software becomes more and more embedded in the day to day operations of an organization and in their customer interactions. It becomes and much more critical part of how you deliver services of products to your customer. And therefore, it requires you to begin thinking and behaving much more like and agile software organization.
Let me give you a couple of examples that have occurred to me over the past few days and see if it helps crystallize things. So, over the weekend in Chicago, it was a lovely summer weekend. Saturday night it was probably 85 degrees and my wife and my daughter and I went out for dinner, and so after dinner my daughter, surprise surprise, suggested that we would be go out for ice cream, so we walk down the street, and we went to a “Jenny’s Ice Cream” in the heart of the uptown neighborhood in Chicago. And as you could imagine at 8:30pm on a summer night in Chicago it was jammed. I was delighted to see that Jenny’s was moving people through that place at a very rapid pace, and they were doing something that I never seen before. Typically, you now, in the old days you think about, you get to the ice cream store, you get in line and you wait to get the head of the line. They now have three ways to get your ice cream, and two of these ways were enabled by technology and one was a traditional wait line, get the front of the line and have the server provide you with some delicious ice cream.
So, the second way was, they had somebody out front with an iPad, and they were actively taking orders from people who are waiting in line, and if you knew exactly what you wanted to order and you do not need to consult with one of the people or one of the servers upfront, you could order through his iPad and then skip to the head of the line go right to the cash register and collect your yummy ice cream creation. So that helped open up a whole new way for people to get to the front of line without having to do the interactions to the counter which was much more rapid. So, that was awesome.
Second interesting thing that I saw was that while we were eating our ice cream, I observed a number of people from food delivery services coming right to the head of the line picking up their order no cash no transaction needed to occur. They just picked it up and went out the door delivered it.
So, all of a sudden, Jenny’s had three ways of kind of receiving the orders and clearing people through the queue very, very rapidly. So, when I got there what looked like we would be waiting in line for 20 minutes, turned out to only take us 4 or 5 minutes to work through the line. It was awesome. That was all enabled by technology and software, some of which Jenny’s clearly had procured or built internally, and some of which was through new business models that were enabled by external partners who are using software. These delivery services turbocharge their businesses, but the net result was Jenny’s, while it is still fundamentally about ice cream and an ice cream producer, was using software to really radically rethink and change the business model.
So, that was awesome. And you think about a giant enterprise like McDonald’s, the same thing is going on there where they’re having to rethink kinda how they interact with and take orders from the customers and they’re doing that through software. While they’re still fundamentally an organization that is all about delivering awesome a customer experience, and amazing hamburgers and food.
They are using technology both their own and through their partners, so if you think about now, you know, a third-party organization like Grub Hub and what their software-driven organization has allowed them to do in terms of their interactions with McDonald’s, it is forcing McDonald’s to rethink how they use software and how they think about getting new products to market so that they’re behaving much more like a software company in order to keep up with these changes in the market.
I think those two examples are fascinating, you know, food service organizations that remain focused on high quality food products and a delightful customer experience, but they have rethought how they use technology, how they take advantage of software, how it changes the way they interact with their customers to really provide a superior experience, and it’s changing the way the market behaves.
You know this has been a great conversation, we are lucky and privileged to have you on the team and I’m looking forward to many more conversations in the future. Thank you.
Ira Bell: Well that’s really fantastic, and I think that it just goes to show where 10th Magnitude can help customers fill that gap when there is one. So, with that I’d like to thank you very much for your time Alex. It’s a pleasure to serve on the Executive Team at 10th Magnitude under your leadership, and I hope we can have you as a guest on a podcast again soon.
Alex Brown: No, this has been a great conversation, we are lucky and privileged to have you on the team and I’m looking forward to many more conversations in the future.
Ira Bell: Thanks Alex.
Alex Brown: Thank you.
Ira Bell: Thanks for listening to the art of digital disruption. At 10th Magnitude we’re proud to create the path for organizations to stay competitive and disrupt their industries. And for more information on innovation and how you can disrupt your industry, visit www.10thmagnitude.com/agilityquadrant and download our latest whitepaper.