This week I’m joined by Dave McCandless who serves as the Vice President of IT for Navis. In our conversation, Dave outlines the complicated challenges facing the shipping industry and how he is leveraging technology such as cloud computing.
While vendors oversimplify the value that technology can bring, the reality can be incredibly more complicated. Dave discusses how cloud and data are playing significant roles in helping their customers. Beyond technology, we dig into the disruption from innovation and technology and when we should plant the tree.
Dave McCandless Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaveMcCandless
Dave McCandless LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davemmccandless/
Tim Crawford: Hello, and welcome to the CIO in the Know Podcast, where I take a provocative, but pragmatic, look at the intersection between business and technology. I’m your host, Tim Crawford, a CIO and strategic advisor at AVOA.
Tim Crawford: This week, I’m joined by Dave McCandless who serves as the vice president at IT for Navis. In our conversation, Dave outlines the complicated challenges facing the shipping industry and how he is leveraging technology such as cloud computing.
Tim Crawford: While vendors oversimplify the value that technology can bring, the reality can be incredibly more complicated. Dave discusses how cloud and data are playing significant roles in helping their customers. Beyond technology, we dig into the disruption from innovation and technology, and when we should plant the tree.
Tim Crawford: Dave McCandless, welcome to the program.
Dave McCandless: Hi, Tim. Thanks for having me on today.
Tim Crawford: So, Dave, you are the vice president of IT at Navis, and we’ve had a number of conversations over the years, have known each other for a number of years, and I’m really excited about today’s conversation, as we kind of poke the bear a little bit and get into some of these hot topics.
Dave McCandless: Exactly. I think we’re going to do some poking that’s going to disrupt the bear a little bit. Happy to be part of that conversation.
Tim Crawford: Great. Let’s start poking. Two of the hot topics today are around hybrid and multi-cloud. Is it hot, in your mind, or is it not?
Dave McCandless: Well, there’s a number of avenues that people tend to go down, with multi-cloud. The one that’s big for me, is the notion of, “Should we be a multi-cloud organization or not?” There’s a lot of hype about this. Of course, a lot of that comes from the vendors. You’ve got to love the vendors because they love to give us new capabilities, new functionality, and if it wasn’t for them working against each other to provide us the best solutions, then we wouldn’t actually make progress.
Dave McCandless: But the big concern that I have about the multi-cloud strategy is, “Can we afford it, as a company?” And I think other companies are grappling with the same. Other industries don’t say, “We’re just going to have all of the solutions possible in our portfolio. We’ve got to focus on a few key ones.” For me, that’s one of the big issues with going to multi-cloud.
Tim Crawford: So can you maybe talk a little bit about, why multi-cloud? Where does it kind of fit in for you, for Navis, and your customers?
Dave McCandless: One of the big areas for our customers, is we do not want to tell them a specific cloud strategy that they should be using internally. A little bit of background here would be useful here, is that as a software solution provider, we want to work within the framework that our customers that best suits for them. So if they’re choosing to deploy in an Azure environment or an AWS environment or Google environment, that should certainly be their choice, and we don’t want to limit that. But at the same time, we then have to be responsive to each of those environments, and we have to, essentially, tool up, to be able to work in those environments to understand those. While it’s useful for them, it could add additional cost for us, if we were able to optimize on a specific solution.
Tim Crawford: You mention that the providers have a role in this too. The Microsofts, the Amazons, the Googles … Can you talk a little bit more about how they fit into this equation and maybe some things that you wish were different?
Dave McCandless: Well, the different part: there’s always going to be that coopetition that takes place, and that’s good for all of us, because we’ll get capabilities. What we’ve seen with other technologies over time, is they tend to morph. Let’s look at the smart phone, for example. Let’s take that out of the cloud paradigm for just a moment, and say that over time we wanted to see applications that could work on either operating system. So the user experience was transparent to what was the underlying technology, for the most part.
Dave McCandless: I think that cloud providers will go in that direction as well, so we’ll start to see more common interfaces, more common standards that happen across those various providers, and that will be good for the industry in general. Of course, that doesn’t help the providers because they don’t want to become commoditized, and then it just becomes a pricing issue. So, we’ll see more of this as they emerge.
Dave McCandless: One of the big advantages of having this cloud commodity, if you will, is we can start to do spot pricing on computer horsepower. If I need to get, say, 1000 VMs next weekend because there’s a big sale, like a Black Friday type of arrangement, it’s going to be easier to go out to the spot market and say, “Which of these providers can I get this service from, for that particular need?” So there’s the yin and yang of, I want to be differentiatable, but I also want to have commoditization.”
Tim Crawford: So it’s not just about arbitrage between each of the different cloud providers, but it also comes back to what your customers are looking for, and maybe some specific technologies or functions that each of the providers offer?
Dave McCandless: Exactly. They’re going to be running a business which is greater than just the solution they deploy for Navis. Any one of our customers who are the world’s larges maritime shipping companies that are providing the movement of the containers through their facilities, they’re running a business which is not just the Navis application. They have hundreds of applications they’re running, so they’re going to make choices for their business and not just based on what we do. They’re going to choose the cloud provider that makes the most sense for them.
Tim Crawford: You know, when I think of cloud providers, and especially in your business, Navis, and thinking about shipping and thinking about the global nature of the work that you do, how much does the global nature of the cloud provider play a role in the decision making amongst your customers?
Dave McCandless: It’s a very challenging industry. To give a little background, again, I mentioned that we manage the process for the shipping terminals. What happens is they’ll make a huge investment in the equipment to move the containers around, and it’s our software that optimizes the movement of the equipment that moves the containers. So it’s a very niche market, in that sense.
Dave McCandless: One of the big challenges that our customers have, which is somewhat unique to our industry, is that these terminals are not in a location that’s easy to get to from a cloud service. They’re not necessarily close to where Amazon and Google are building their best data centers. So there’s the issue of the speed of light, the latency concerns that happens. What if I’m doing my compute off-premise, and then suddenly I have an internet disruption, what does this mean in my ongoing operation?
Dave McCandless: So they’re very late adopters in this process, but they’re starting to see their other pieces of their business that they’re doing, that are becoming more [SAS 00:06:34] friendly, are starting to creep into the business. So it’s an evolution for them to get there, but I think we’re going to be slow adopters, in terms of our industry.
Tim Crawford: When you think of innovation and you think about some of the changes around cloud coming to things like IOT and [Edge 00:06:51], especially in the shipping industry, and thinking about containers, do you think that changes the game demonstrably for your business? Or do you think that that is just another piece in the pie?
Dave McCandless: I think it will change, if we can get past the issue of, it’s off-premise. And that, again, it’s a big piece for us. It really ties into a lot of IOT think, which is, you have to have autonomous vehicles. You have to have vehicles, and any other piece of equipment, that can act without the creator connected to the mothership. A lot of that, for example, with drones, is they have to be able to return to a point where they’re safe. If they lose connectivity, they need to be able to land, and to land into a safe place. That’s just one example.
Dave McCandless: But we have to be able to create that ability within our customer base. So we’re evolving that business. It’s a huge business to get there. The entire world of IOT as it meets the world of shipping, as it meets autonomous vehicles in general, is really going to see a tremendous upheaval here. And I think we’re going to chip away at it, but I think within the next 10 years, we will have solved a lot of these bigger problems.
Tim Crawford: Very cool. So moving on from the cloud technology specifically, and shifting our conversation a little more toward the data that you’re leveraging. We often talk about how data is … This seems like the new buzz phrase, rather than buzzword. What is your take, and how does cloud play a role in this concept?
Dave McCandless: I’ve been a big data advocate my entire career. I started at Bell Labs and I was looking for how to connect various communication switches to talk to each other and to aggregate the data that we’re getting back to a central command. And then I worked out through many years that I spent at Oracle, where we were trying to port Oracle to different operating systems. And really got a feel for how the different businesses around the world were trying to grapple with, “If only I could see all the data that’s at my hands.” We merged that into a community of, “Let’s create some pretty massive data warehouses, with a lot of specialized technology.” They’re obviously very expensive to manage, and there was a lot of care and feeding of the data.
Dave McCandless: Those of us who grew up in this, just said, “This is very cumbersome, there’s got to be a simpler way to get there.” That was the push that we did, was to find that simpler methodology.
Tim Crawford: Data’s not new. And as you mentioned, data has been something that you have kind of focused on, as part of your career, over the years. But what’s different today, and what are some of the things that your customers are clamoring for, that some of the newer technologies like cloud and maybe some others, are really playing a role into your strategies, and the Navis journey?
Dave McCandless: Our industry is not unique in the openness of the data frontier, if you will. There’s data that people are trying to pull in, we can have much better insights with the data that’s available to us. If we look at health care, for example, there’s a huge amount of value you can get, if you can get the data to the point of service. We’ve experienced this with a number of our industries around, say, travel, where we’re able to pull more data together to give a more richer travel experience. We’ve seen it with social media, that it wants to share data, for better or for worse. There’s a lot of bad actors in that process, as well.
Dave McCandless: But for the goodness of data, if we can get those insights and pull them together, they add value to our entire ecosystem, not just our company. But if I’m looking at what we do for our Navis customers, it’s, “How can we bring those insights into how they can optimize the various pieces of their business?” If I look at shipping, for example, the notion of … Just a simple anecdote, if I can delay the delivery of a ship, because it’s going to arrive at a more convenient time, I can save money for that shipping operator to not go as fast, they can slow down and save fuel. If you multiply that times the 10,000 large vessels that are traversing our ocean every day, that’s a pretty significant footprint, in terms of what’s our carbon footprint but also the costs as well. That’s just one anecdote that you can take across the entire supply chain.
Dave McCandless: If we can put these data in the hands of the people that are operating the multiple capabilities, we really can start to optimize the business, in a way that we couldn’t do it before.
Tim Crawford: Kind of taking your example, but is it possible to take it even a step further, and talk about, if we’re talking about containers on a ship, talking about the actual containers themselves, where their final destination is, thinking about all the different modes of transportation, thinking about the products that are in the containers. Is it possible to bring all that data together, and is this really just a technological problem, or are there other complications that come into the mix?
Dave McCandless: Let me start with one of the complications, it’s knowing, “Where is my container?” A lot of this is because it’s the open model, as opposed to the closed model, of FedEx knows every time packages scanned into their process, they know exactly where it is. Our business, it’s an open model. There is no gating factor that says, “Where’s everything?” So it relies on, essentially, an association of people that can share that data with each other, across the entire globe.
Dave McCandless: So there’s a great capability need to actually track the, “Where is my container?” From a technology. You putting a tag on a box, right now it’s just done by a lot of optical scans and serial numbers that are placed on the container themselves. But now we start to move into the software realm, and say, if I can actually solve the problem of, “Where is it?” Now I can be better optimized around how I’m going to use it.
Dave McCandless: Another anecdote is, we see a lot of sales that happen around, say, Christmastime, where we have plenty of extra packaging, or around Halloween, where we have lots of extra candy. The model there is, it’s better to have more product on the shelves than to run out. And because of the inefficiencies in the supply chain, you order more than you’re going to need, so that you make sure you don’t run out. The results of that is, we have a lot of extra sales. Which is great, if you want a lot of candy on November 1st. But it doesn’t make sense for the manufacturers and the consumers, because they’re paying for that fee somewhere else. It’s not a charity. Somehow that’s fitting into the model.
Dave McCandless: So these are the kind of anecdotes, the things that we can change, throughout the entire ecosystem, that having more data and more insights will allow us to have.
Tim Crawford: Are there other complications that come into place, like unions, like just the fact that you’re talking about different cultures, you’re talking about different views of data, and maybe privacy plays into this too?
Dave McCandless: Absolutely. You mentioned just a couple elements of just our business of how we’re trying to make sure that we’re evolving the workforce. We tell our workforce later, that the notion of how we get to the point of solving the problem across the chain, making new jobs appear so that they replace the jobs that are going to disappear. The optimization process is something that’s going to take a substantial amount of people’s time. We just haven’t reached that point with, essentially the technologies we’re using now.
Dave McCandless: But in terms of the real challenges with the data, if I focus back on that. It’s that, how do we start to create the safety zone that I can share data with you, you can share data with me, we’re going to put it in a central place. We look at the cloud as a great place to do this, and we’re starting to see that providers are getting better at making this process easier for us.
Dave McCandless: Setting aside all the discussions about the bad things can happen, let’s talk about the good things that can happen. I’d like to focus on that for a bit.
Tim Crawford: Okay.
Dave McCandless: So, the one area that we focused on years ago, as we started about seven years ago, we were looking at data that we could use across our own enterprise. And we’re looking at all the different data sets that we had. I, as an IT guy, focusing on what that data was, and looking at these many systems of record that we’re using to run our IT business. We really wanted to find out how could we start to optimize our internal IT operations?
Dave McCandless: We’ve got servers that potentially are sitting idle on the weekends, how could we move workloads on those servers so we’re balancing those out? Looking at the week as not as seven days, but as 168 hours, and each one of those hours has the ability to be optimized based on what resources are available. So changing that mindset around, How do we optimize for every hour within the week? And not only look at them as sets of hours of the week, but look at what was the third hour of every Sunday morning across the last year? How did we make that a better day to be utilizing the resources of our company?
Dave McCandless: The same way the airlines are doing this every day, by trying to manage their yield. How can we bring that yield management concept into our IT operations? That was the genesis of why we started this journey.
Dave McCandless: From that, we went to different solutions. So, we tried an on-premise solution that didn’t work out so well. Then we did a cloud-native solution that was more just moving to a cloud-specific solution. We didn’t like that. And then we found the emergence voila, of essentially, Snowflake, for us, which is the definition of what data in the cloud was all about.
Tim Crawford: This is such a fascinating and complicated set of problems that you’re trying to solve for. Some might look at it from the outside and say, “Oh, well this is easy. Just bring all the different data elements together, and voila! Put some magic sauce in there, and you’re good to go, right?”
Dave McCandless: Well, the old school, for me, was people said, “Well, can’t I just connect these systems together and then I can share the data and I have one great reporting tool in the system, and then I can bring all the data in.” And Navis had tried to manage connecting things together. There was always just sitting at home and trying to get your printer to talk to your PC sometimes could be a challenge. Imagine getting your ERP solution, your CRM solution, and your HR solution, and if you’re running a big manufacturing plant, you’re running a maintenance to repair an overall facility, and saying, “Yeah, I’m not going to be able to connect these systems together to get to the data. We’ve tried that, that didn’t work. I’m not going to dump all this in a big warehouse, because just the extract translating load process is going to be overwhelming.”
Dave McCandless: That’s what we’ve all tried to do for the last few years. But if we’d gotten it right, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I think we’re at the precipice, if we can do this with the cloud, we can leverage what we’re doing with Snowflake, which is to get data in. We’re leveraging a great tool, which is from Sigma Computing, which is the ability to look at the massive number of spreadsheets that exist in the world. Probably millions, if not billions. And be able to leverage this data back to the cloud interface. They’re no longer just silos of information. When I say silos, it’s actually what’s sitting on someone’s desktop that the rest of the company can get to.
Tim Crawford: Yeah.
Dave McCandless: How can we start to get that data out? There’s so many things that we could do. I could go on for this for hours about the tools that we’ve been using and the impact of our various technologies that are really making this a reality today for Navis.
Tim Crawford: That’s a big piece, Dave, is the … I know you live in this day-in, day-out, but this is a big piece for every CIO, is we may think we know where most of the data exists. But the reality is, we don’t. And we don’t manage it. It may be in those spreadsheets, it may be in that little database that’s sitting on someone’s desktop or laptop. It may be even on their mobile device. So how do we start to bring those together in such a way where people come out of the woodwork and say, “You know what? I’ve got a piece of data that actually would be valuable to this process.” Rather than us as IT leaders having to go and try to hunt it down and collect it together.
Dave McCandless: You hit on the soft spot. We have to go back to the owners of the business and say, “What is the most important data you need to run your business?” And try to get them out of the think of, not what you’re sharing today, but what you could be sharing? And it’s going back to the finance group and finding that one group of people that hold all the secret sauce in their spreadsheet they’ve been managing for 30 years, and they tweak, and it’s got all the formulas. And the business would come to a stop if they weren’t doing that one thing every week to make sure that they were closing books, or they were completing the sales pipeline. They were getting some automation process done.
Dave McCandless: It’s finding those nuggets. We look in from the journey that we did, and we came up with the concepts. We had a number of different concepts here, business concepts. One of them we found, was fascinating, was called Bring Your Own Question. We’d like to see the world morph to a place where there’s an IT service, and it’s not so much an IT service, it’s more of a business service, where people can come in and say, “I’m trying to solve a business problem and it would be very useful for me if I could get to this kind of information.” So you have essentially, information custodians who can say, “Oh, well let me take you over to this realm of data, which has the data you’re looking for, which would help you create that insight, that’s going to make your business run smoother.”
Dave McCandless: If I can give you some examples, we do it from an IT perspective, because we’re talking to CIOs. We talked about utilization: how can we match the utilization of our equipment, and also match it up against our inventory. What is our equipment that we have, that we’re managing from an IT asset perspective. But also work with our finance team, that’s managing these financial assets. Because we all know in the world of IT, finance is very happy when a financial asset gets fully depreciated, it has no more value. That may be the core system you have running your IT group.
Dave McCandless: So it’s bringing these groups together and having that discussion about, what is important in the realm of IT?
Dave McCandless: Take this out to the world of IOT now, where we start to have devices we’re bring in by the millions, and integrated into the same architecture. If we can bring the same paradigm for managing these types of devices into this framework, then we can easily move to the next step with going to IOT. It’s not so much of a revolution, it’s just an evolution of what we’re doing now.
Tim Crawford: I’m absolutely fascinated, because I think the upside here is incredible. For everyone involved. Everyone from the companies like Navis to shipping companies, to the consumers. Everybody wins when all of this comes together.
Dave McCandless: Everybody wins. And as we start to share, the more information … The example I used before about smart phones is, when the smart phone arrived roughly a dozen years ago, what we saw was an aggregation of applications. It wasn’t an integration of applications, it was an aggregation of applications of phones. And we’ve all learned how to be essentially, the integrator of the data that comes from one app to another. I make a reservation for a car, I’ve got to translate it to my calendar. Wouldn’t it be great if my car service cloud could actually put that into my calendar? Okay, we’re getting there, at that point.
Dave McCandless: Take the same paradigm to data now. What if we can bring data to one places so people can say, “Oh, I’ve got this huge dashboard of data. Now I just have to be smart about creating the insight.” I think we’ll be amazed at the kind of people in business, that once we give them these tools, the people that we don’t think as being able to create insights, will start to come up with phenomenal insights with our business.
Tim Crawford: Let me put a bow on that, talking about technology, before we move on to the next subject, which is: this conversation, even though we’re talking about technology, has been focused on business outcomes. And that’s one of the pieces I don’t often see discussed amongst CIOs and IT leaders, is: how do we impact our consumers? Which could be a B2B relationship. But how do we impact our customers, how do we impact the business? It’s not a technology conversation for tech’s sake. It’s a business conversation.
Dave McCandless: It is a business conversation. We, at Navis, started a process that I spearheaded years ago, which is to reach out to our CIO community of our consumer companies. We often have the conversation about, how do we, as a solution provider, get engaged with our customers? At this point, our customers are the CIOs that are driving the businesses of these very large ports, these shipping operations.
Dave McCandless: I’ve created a council of bringing them together, so we can all talk about, what are the problems at a CIO level? And what’s great about this conversation is, as a CIO, you’d appreciate it, and so will all our other CIO listeners, we have our own cadence and our own language that we use, and we don’t have to go into the details about what that means. It’s almost like we have some inside jokes that can take place. We can cover so much ground from that perspective.
Dave McCandless: From that, we can glean the insights and say, “Do this thing, because it’s important. Take your data to the cloud, because it’s important, or don’t take it to the cloud, because we have no desire to leave our on-premise capabilities for the next years.” So that’s where we’re starting of the see that value of coming back to our customers. And I think others can model that same. If you can reach out to the CIOs at the companies that are actually developing those solutions, and that’s because we’re essentially a B2B solution, that really helps us out in terms of focusing our roadmap.
Tim Crawford: Yeah. And I like that. It’s something that I’ve done in my past, having worked across a number of different industries. And somebody from the outside might look at it like, “But wait a second, you’re competitors.” Well, maybe. But at the end of the day, rising tide rises all boats, right?
Dave McCandless: Exactly. Well, I can tell you that, just to use a couple examples, when you have a terminal operator that would be a customer of ours in Rotterdam would be receiving a ship that’s coming in that’s going to do a vessel call that’s originated in Malaysia in a port in Malaysia or Singapore, they’re not in competition with each other. They actually need to collaborate on sharing the data about what’s on the ship, when’s it going to arrive, what do I have to look for when it gets there? They want to have as much data as they can because they’re not competing, as two parts of the world. If they were in the same geography, they might be competing.
Dave McCandless: So it’s the come-and-play as part of the discussion, save the things that you don’t want to let other people know because you’d like to keep that as part of your value-add, if you will.
Tim Crawford: Yeah.
Dave McCandless: But come in, and let’s be part of the community, because then we can look at these … The other thing we can leverage there is we can leverage our vendor conversations.
Tim Crawford: Yeah.
Dave McCandless: We can go back to the vendors as a larger group and say, “Wouldn’t it be great if you added this to your capability?”
Tim Crawford: Yup. And that’s a great segue into our next topic, which kind of moves beyond the realms of technology, and arguably what’s probably the most important component of any organization, which is: the people. What’s your take today on the organization, the direction of the work force? I know you have a real passion around this and where it’s going, both in your family but then also in the teams that you’ve led. Maybe talk a little bit about your perspective on this.
Dave McCandless: Yeah. Work force of the future, I think is the big umbrella that we talk under this. And there’s some great discussions out there that are happening about jobs that are going away. Obviously that’s the big scare tactic the news likes to tell you, “Your job’s going to go away, so therefore your life will be abysmal.”
Dave McCandless: Cognizant has put a number of good documents together about what the future jobs are. They’ve defined 42 jobs that will exist in the future, many of which don’t exist now. The idea is that, if the discussion is about the jobs we’re going to have, let’s enable a workforce to either take on the new jobs that don’t exist now, or the jobs that are going to morph, based on what we have.
Dave McCandless: For me, it’s knowing, what is the process of the evolution? And I get involved in that, but I go to the next level, is, how do I promote the process of that evolution so it’ll be more of a profit to other people, to say, “How can we get literature in the hands of the people that need to see that, so they’re making the same upgrades?” So I’m not just living it for Navis, I’m trying to live it for, essentially, the larger ecosystem, as big as you want to call that.
Tim Crawford: I think there’s some interesting historical lessons that we can bring into this. So, for example, when I think about the workforce of the future, and I think about conversations that happen in technology where folks say, “Well, this technology’s going to replace jobs.” Well, sure. But if we look through the history of mankind, I can think of two examples, where this same conversation came up.
Tim Crawford: One was the assembly line. When the assembly line came up, we started to remove the manual aspects of some workers. Or the tractor. The tractor in the field, also removed some jobs. But in its wake, it actually created a multitude of new jobs that didn’t exist before that. And those jobs are very different, and in some ways, much more valuable.
Tim Crawford: And I wonder if you see a similar transition happening within the IT ranks or within the data ranks, even, as we go forward?
Dave McCandless: I do. Just to go with your examples, the one big that comes to mind is the evolution from horses to cars.
Tim Crawford: Oh, of course.
Dave McCandless: We had such a huge industry based on horses, but you could argue that the car industry is so many magnitudes of size larger. Or we changed our transportation paradigm to go from trains to planes. The aerospace industry is substantial, based on what it was 116 years ago, when we had our first flight. There’s a passion for me around those areas, when I start to talk about learning about these different areas and how do we motivate people to get there? I want to focus on that a little bit, but let’s come back to the higher level.
Dave McCandless: There will be a change in terms of what people are going to be able to do in the future. We, as a society, have to first of all, get people motivated to say, “It’s not that your job is going away. We’re going to find something that’s going to be more value for you.”
Tim Crawford: Right.
Dave McCandless: And that’s a really hard message to tell people that grew up in a society or a part of society where that’s all they know, or that’s all they’ve been exposed to. I think those of us who lead at the business level or at the social level or at the government level, have to be able to take this on and say, “We are passionate about making this happen because it’s for the good of society.”
Dave McCandless: I’ve been involved in other organizations. I just recently stepped away from one that I helped co-found, which is called Bay ICT, which we’re trying to bring a combination of leadership within industry and leadership within community, to come together to fill that gap for who is the one object that’s missing there, is the job seekers. People who are looking for jobs.
Dave McCandless: We have talented people who may not have the talent they need. Or we have people that are emerging from high school and college, that aren’t ready for the workforce, because the workforce has specific skills. We keep hearing about the millions of jobs that are going unfilled. A lot of them are high-technology, certainly a lot in cyber-security. How do we bring those people and give them that capability to get there, whether it’s the hard skills they need to do the job, or the soft skills to integrate in the world?
Dave McCandless: I think to your point, we’ve got to make this change global so that people don’t go back and say, “Oh, look at that, I’m no longer going to be able to build this car, because it can be on an assembly line, I’m losing my job.” It’s not going to case. We have to make that happen, as a society.
Tim Crawford: Do you think that we, as IT leaders, have to some degree, done ourselves a disservice by focusing too much on the hard skills and getting people that have certifications in specific aspects, rather than bringing those soft skills to the table in terms of relationships, in terms of creativity, in terms of imagination? Do you think we have caused some of that over the last few decades?
Dave McCandless: Well, we probably have, but I think there’s been a business driver to do that. I believe if we were less focused on profitability, which we all are in business, we could pick up a little more slack, and say, “We’ve got a little more time to bring those people in.” There’s a big argument that says, “How can we make our work force more diverse? Both from a gender and a background perspective?” We just have a lot of legacy that’s pent-up, and we can’t just move it overnight. It’s an evolution to get there. We have to be more adoptive of this and recognize that there are people there that can be brought into this workforce.
Dave McCandless: I think there’s a lot of things we can do now to start the process. There’s the old expression, “When’s the best time to plant a tree? Well, it’s 20 years ago, or today.” So, let’s start planting the trees now, that we failed to do years ago, as running the business because we were so focused on getting to the solution, rather than the elegance of managing it for society.
Tim Crawford: I love that. So as we wrap on this episode, what excites you most? As you think about the myriad of different opportunities that exist within Navis, but then also bringing the organization and the people into the mix. I know you have a passion around transportation, you have a passion around people, you have a passion around STEM and apprenticeships. What excites you most about the role of the IT leader today? And where does technology fit in, if that’s a piece of it?
Dave McCandless: For me, the big passion that I have is to change the work force of the future. I think, as an IT person, I can continue to do what I’m doing, which is to bring new technology to a company to hire great people, put great leaders in place within my division, and say, “You run with this. I’m going to give you the opportunity to be me. What do you need to do to take on my job, because frankly, I want to go off and do the things that are more interesting.”
Dave McCandless: And the notion of, we talked about STEM as a focus, how do we change the world, how can we, as industry people, influence this? We’ve got so many smart people in the IT industry. There are millions of them. I would say billions someday that we’re going to have, when everyone becomes more IT savvy. How many cell phones exist in the world, right? Billions of cell phones at this point. So people are getting technology as part of their daily use.
Dave McCandless: How do we change this so that we get more people that are comfortable with the technology? Because a lot of people are still uncomfortable with it.
Dave McCandless: That’s going to continue to be a big push for me from a STEM perspective, of how do we make this a, essentially, at the toddler level, to get people ready in high school? If you were a musician and you started off and you showed that you had an excellence to play the piano at three, your parents knew how to get you through to be a concert pianist by the time you were 25. If you were a soccer star at the age of two, you knew how to go to camp, you knew the coaches who were in, you knew how to get on the fast track to go play college soccer. Or even football, or basketball. Where is that for STEM? Where do we have that process that says to parents, “Here’s what you need to do for the 16 years between 3 and 18, to make sure that your student shows up and you can fill that job?”
Dave McCandless: We all hear the stories about people who come out of college with technology degrees and they’re making more than their parents ever made in their lives.
Tim Crawford: Yeah.
Dave McCandless: And they don’t even graduate, because they’re getting sucked out by the Googles, and the Facebooks of the world, out of Berkeley before they even graduate. So that’s the big passion that I have.
Dave McCandless: But from a technology perspective, I want to see where this goes from a cloud data warehouse, and how do we start to get data more out, and really be, if you will, the evangelists for this message is, running your data as a cloud-based organization, a cloud-database organization, has so much value in the future. That we just don’t even see yet.
Dave McCandless: It’s like I handed you a smart phone in 2007 and say, “Go ahead. Run your life with this.” You’d look at me and say, “How do I do that?”
Tim Crawford: Right.
Dave McCandless: Well, give us 10 years and we’ll show you exactly how it happens.
Tim Crawford: Well, and you look forward to today and how could you live without one?
Dave McCandless: You can’t. Right. Exactly.
Tim Crawford: Yeah.
Dave McCandless: So what’s the thing that we’re not going to live without 10 years from now, that either we see now but we don’t recognize, or it hasn’t been invented yet?
Tim Crawford: Yeah.
Dave McCandless: Let me leave with just two other technologies that I’m really excited about. First of all, is automation. I love the notion that we are going to be working in a world where we coexist with machines that take care of us. We’ve been working with machines that take care of us, since the first machine was invented. So, this is not a new thing, there’s a lot of fear that’s spread by people the say, “Oh, yes, we have cars that are running out there without drivers, and unfortunately we’ve lost some people in the process.” Well we’re losing a lot more people on the roads with people that are actually driving the cars.
Dave McCandless: So there’s a mismatch between the reality of what the statistics are and the fear of what people are putting in the process. So I think automation will be such a tremendous value when we start to talk about vehicles, we’ll change the paradigm of, it’s not going to take me an hour to drive home anymore every night. It’s not going to take people six hours to commute because they can’t afford to live in the community where they’re working. So automation’s a big one.
Dave McCandless: The second one is the notion of the interaction with what we call chat bots. The notion that I’m going to interact with a robot that’s going to, and it’s a robot, that’s going to have a conversation, with help, where I go … Siri, Alexa are two essentially ground-zero versions of this application. They’re going to morph so much that we’re going to reach the point where we don’t know when we’re talking to a human or not, and this is going to free up so much time for people to actually focus on the problems that the machines can’t solve.
Tim Crawford: I love it. I love it. Dave, we’re going to have to leave it right there. You and I have known each other for a number of years, and we didn’t even get a chance to talk about the software factory that you’re building. So I hope that you will come back to a future episode, and we can kind of delve into that a little bit.
Dave McCandless: I love it. Another passion that I want to talk about. Thank you, Tim. Appreciate today.
Tim Crawford: Dave McCandless, thanks so much.
Tim Crawford: For more information on the CIO in the Know podcast series, visit us online at CIOitk.com or you can find us on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Don’t forget to subscribe, and thank you for listening.