In order to succeed, technology firms need to do two things: they must innovate, and they must achieve operational excellence. On first glance, it might seem that both these things are similar in nature. After all, they seem mostly technical in nature. Many start-ups have limited access to multiple technical perspectives, so end up putting one person (a CIO or CTO) in charge of both aspects.
However, after a bit more reflection, it can be seen that these are two quite different beasts.
Innovation is characterised by things like invention, exploration, hypothesis development and testing, and unstructured thought. Innovation efforts are typically driven by a Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Operational excellence, on the other hand, is characterised by process definition, predictability, repeatability, and consistency, and is usually the domain of a Chief Information Officer (CIO).
Several decades into the IT revolution, it is obvious that in order to succeed, companies must pay equal attention to both these things.
An Interim CxO is a senior executive, equally well versed in both innovation and operational excellence, who works with other C-level executives to optimally align technological innovations with strategic aims.
An interim CxO is a tech expert and interim executive combined, which is useful in several scenarios:
- To help a start-up with technology leadership (and instant credibility with potential investors)
- Helping a company with some market share to transition into a rapid growth cycle
- Stepping into an established organisation to rapidly replace a departing CTO or CIO, shore up technology efforts, or help groom a permanent successor
An interim CxO can:
- Fill gaps in knowledge and expertise during the early-stage of a company
- Save start-ups significant sums ($100k or more) by avoiding costly mistakes (eg. building the wrong features, selecting the wrong technologies, persisting with the wrong team members)
- Deal with inefficiencies and properly deploy strategies for companies that are still identifying product/market fit or those seeking to accelerate growth
- Help transition an early-stage start-up from undisciplined development practices (“cowboy coding”) to consistent, repeatable, scalable processes with balanced teams
- Balance the need for a bird’s eye view of the technology landscape with the need to get involved “hands on” to make things happen
Statler’s interim CxO service can be responsible for some or all of the following:
- Technology decision making and risk management
- Defining application and database architecture
- Integration and API architecture
- Establishing and embedding software development processes
- Managing staff and matching talent to company requirements
- Staff budget management
- Managing offshore development teams
- Providing input to product, market, sales strategy
- Development of KPIs and KPOs for agile development teams
We can provide practical assistance where you have gaps in your daily work load, for example in the following areas:
- Evaluating emerging technologies
- Application usability testing
- System integration testing
- Application security reviews and penetration testing
- Assisting you switch infrastructure from “on premises” to the cloud (AWS or Azure)
- Managing cloud infrastructure budgets
- Sourcing and forming offshore development teams to meet short term needs (eg. mobile or web application development)
Even as we enter the decade of the 2020s, half a century or more into the IT revolution, many companies still somehow fall into the trap of mismanaging software products.
Products with high potential fail to reach their market, whilst others outlive their useful life. Gaps appear in product portfolios. Outcomes at a product and portfolio level seem inefficient and unpredictable.
Not unheard-of, it is nevertheless rare for Product Managers to have trained specifically for the role. People and teams managing digital products are frequently shoe-horned into the role from other backgrounds, often business or technology. Landing suddenly in an unfamiliar world, with only confusing and contradictory advice available, they often retreat to modes of operating familiar from previous roles.
A technologist, drawing on a background as a developer or engineer, will persist in seeing product management through the lens of software development life cycles, agile methods, continuous deployment models, and bug fixing.
A marketer, on the other hand – MBA-qualified and with a track-record in a discipline such as market research, business analysis or traditional above-the-line advertising – may find brand management, customer targeting and segmentation intuitive, but miss the unique challenges presented by the rapid evolution of technology as it transforms society and entire industries.
The key to success is bridging the gap between these two views.
We can help your business with the following:
- Competitive and growth strategy
- Customer and market segmentation
- Are you solving the right problem(s)?
- Product vision development and communication
- Product opportunity assessment & feature prioritisation
- Coordinating business units (marketing, sales, engineering)
- Optimising org structure for agility and strategic alignment
- KPO & KPI development for product people (wherever you decide they “live” in the org)
We can help your business with the following:
- Help Product Managers discover and understand your corporate goals and constraints
- Coaching Product Managers to write better user stories
- Product roadmap development
- Capturing and communicating non-functional requirements
- Project diagnosis and rescue
- Monthly executive reporting