I was recently interviewed for a local paper and reused questions from a list I came across in the past. I liked the original author's questions and wanted to share it with you:
Working for IBM, what made you interested in technology?
As my career shifted from business operations to strategy and performance improvement, the technology used to power transformation became an essential component of the solutions I propose to clients. As the head of corporate strategy for NBC Universal, I frequently partnered with my CIOs to deliver better business performance. In my current role, technology is the enabler for better customer and employee experiences. I guess I have never really abandoned my roots as a technology geek, see “Dagan is years ahead of his time”.
What have you found most important to successfully transform businesses?
Business transformation has utilized a plethora of methods and tools over time, such as Lean Design and Six Sigma. However, those are the tools to transform a business, whereas to transformation you need to understand your customer’s customers. When LivePerson provides a solution to T-Mobile you are helping them deliver better care for T-Mobile customer care. In creating mobile messaging as a customer service option you have taken that next step to understand how their customers experience the brand and gain insight into how that experience will change. Therefore, in my view, in order to successfully sell business transformation it is essential to understand your customer’s customers. Utilizing journey mapping, customer life cycle models and design thinking in the process.
IBM is transforming its legacy sales to become a cloud and cognitive technology company. What do you think are the shortcoming of software sales?
I don’t think there is a shortcoming to software sales, however, software no longer stands on its own. Companies expect comprehensive business solutions, not standalone software, so that workflows and managed services can be bundled into a single package and allow flexibility and scale during periods of peak and lows in demand. Within IBM I am responsible for creating highly complex business solutions for my customers which typically requires a combination of software, consulting, strategic outsourcing and financing to create a consumption-based pricing model.
What are you most curious about?
I am most curious about woodworking – which has become a very passionate hobby of mine (and have sold a few of my custom made furniture pieces). It merges design, mathematics and craftsmanship. I enjoy seeing how small parts come together to create strength and beauty. I will be at the Fine Woodworking Live conference this weekend in Bridgeport, MA!
How is mobile helping transform brand and consumer connections?
My perspective on mobility is broader than most people: mobility is how we work, how we play and how we interact with one another. The consumerization of employee experience is driving more reliance on mobility to transact and interact. I think your question highlights the importance of the digital connection between the brand and its consumers but I believe that this can be extended within the enterprise as well. The use of chatbot and cognitive/NLP to create better self serve tools is very accessible. Recently, I have been working with a client to create these exact solutions and even prototypes of a Q&A bot in 15 minutes using Watson conversation (see recipe here: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson/2016/12/build-chat-bot/ )
If you connected the dots in life, what had the most impact on you being where you are today?
I was studying at a technical high school in Israel with an 86 year old physics teacher, Professor Giron. At our first class, he had us meticulously glue the covers of 4 composition notebooks back to back. If one was misaligned he ripped the set and made you start over. Once this was completed, he had us painstakingly take a rule and draw a red line 4 squares away from the margin on all 160 pages. If one line was off not perfectly straight, he ripped up the set and made you start from the beginning. Once we had finished drawing these lines, he had us number each page with crisp clear numbering. Prof. Giron taught us the importance of taking our time, of being thoughtful about our work but most of all, how to learn (“how to fish” rather than “helping us fish”). That grueling year with Prof. Giron prepared me for the rocky road ahead. The following year my family transferred to the US and instead of beginning my senior year of High School, I enrolled in College in NJ and through cross registration at a college in NY, I graduated with B.Sc. in Math & AI within 18 months.
Everything I have done in my career I attribute to this valuable lesson from Prof. Giron. I am a voracious student: through training and collaboration with leading experts in a variety of fields, I have become (x) an Agile coach that led Capital One through the largest Agile implementation in the company’s history, (y) a Lean Six Sigma practitioner and instructor; and (z) a cloud-based Solution as a Service (SaaS) expert.
What do you think motivates someone to do their best?
There is not one size that fits all. Understanding what drives individuals is important as a leader and as a seller. Some people appear to be motivated by a set of values (money, fame, etc) but the underlying driver is usually a form of recognition – by their peers, family, friends. Myself, I am motivated by a challenging and dynamic environment – in a customer-facing scenario you never know where you will end up no matter what the starting point is.
What company do you most admire and why?
Amazon and Jeff Bezos’ Day 1 concept. Here is a company that re-invents itself so fast that it creates new markets that did not exist. Selling extra computing capacity to others. Using amazon.com purchase data and insights to radically transform ad sales and audience targeting. Producing content to compete with Netflix which is Amazon’s largest cloud services customer. All brilliant.
What have you been an owner of in your life?
My career. Unlike others who suffer from inertia and remain complacent at the same job for 20 years, I have created my own path, focusing on specialties that I am passionate amount (sometimes changing my focus altogether and recreating myself), companies that are thought leaders and roles that challenge me. I believe my diverse background has made me more well-rounded, more adaptable to new challenges and more passionate about the work that I do.