Charter Engage: Know IT

Partnering for Success - Application Services

December 20, 2023 Charter
Charter Engage: Know IT
Partnering for Success - Application Services
Show Notes Transcript

Today's discussion is entitled Partnering for Success. As we work with clients every day in the market, they ask us to provide solutions. This is especially true when they’re seeking a custom application vendor. Because at the moment of signing the contract, the product doesn't exist. Everyone's heard the same story. Application development is often like home renovation, usually over time and over budget. Therefore, trust is vital. Customers want to develop a long-term relationship and they're eager to work with a great consulting company that has a solid track record and credibility for delivering projects on time and on budget. 
 Get to know our contributors: Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy and Business Consulting; Imran Abdool, the Group President of Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights;  Allan Wong, Charter’s, Director, Business Development; Ronnie Scott, our Chief Technology Officer,  and Mark George, Charter’s Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets as they lead a discussion about business transformation, data analytics and usage, examples of successes and things to consider when implementing your strategy, choosing technology partners, and the ultimate goals of app development.

“The thing besides mindset is, really, skill set. You have to be multi-talented. You know the expression, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?” There are far too many companies out there that are really good at creating, let's say [an] e-commerce solution. Then every single problem looks like an e-commerce problem to them. So, at Charter, we’re very fortunate because we have multi-discipline teams. We’ve established so many different senses of expertise as well as practices. And that's where it comes in really handy when we get into a customer situation - we see the world in a very different manner.” –  Allan Wong, Charter, Director, Business Development

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Charter Engage: Know IT Podcast – 

Partnering for Success - Application Services 

[Recorded in Mississauga, ON]

October 16th, 2023


Presenters: (in order of appearance)

·       Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

·       Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

·       Imran Abdool, Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights, Group President

·       Ronnie Scott, Charter, Chief Technology Officer

·       Allan Wong, Charter, Director, Business Development



[00:07] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Welcome to the latest episode of Charter’s ongoing podcast series called Charter Engage: Know IT. I’m your host, Mark George, the Director of Energy, Resources, and Industrial Markets. 

Today's discussion is entitled Partnering for Success. As we work with clients every day in the market, they ask us to provide solutions. This is especially true when they’re seeking a custom application vendor. Why is this? Because at the moment of signing the contract, the product doesn't exist. Everyone's heard the same story. Application development is often like home renovation, usually over time and over budget. Therefore, trust is vital. Customers want to develop a long-term relationship and they're eager to work with a great consulting company that has a solid track record and credibility for delivering projects on time and on budget. 

For over 25 years, Charter has built a very successful business as a reseller of networking, IT, security, and collaboration products and services. Last year we made the strategic decision to invest and build a much broader solutions integration business - including adding specialty practices focused on Application Development; App Modernization; Business Architecture; Cybersecurity; Governance, Risk, and Compliance GRC); and Staff Augmentation. To do this, Charter will take responsibility for customers achieving business outcomes, leveraging best-in-class technology and a comprehensive portfolio of professional services to help integrate and optimize across the traditional IT and OT infrastructures. To put these solutions together, Charter will partner with third parties to help our clients achieve their digital transformation and business objectives. For our regular listeners, you know that we spent the last few months in our podcast series exploring topics such as how to work with industry partners to secure a connected worker; how to leverage design thinking to build business transformation roadmaps; and most recently, how to move beyond using spreadsheets to make more informed decisions. 

We've recently started a new series that highlights the broad range of advisory services that Charter offers our clients as part of our overall solution integration business and allows us to feature each of our practice leaders. Today, we're going to focus on our Application Services business. 


Guest Introductions

I'm pleased to introduce our guests: Imran Abdul; Peter Madison; and two of my colleagues, Allan Wong and Ronnie Scott. 

Imran is a Lecturer in Economics and Finance at Western University and a member of Western’s Network for Economic and Social Trends, The Nest Research unit. He also serves as a group president of Blue Crystal Technologies and Business Insights. His commentary often appears in the national media, including CBC National News; The Globe and Mail; and the Toronto Star. 

Peter is the Managing Partner of Zodiac. He's been in the business of building high-performance teams and automating everything worth automating (I love that Peter) for the past couple of decades. He's a technologist who's worked in a variety of different disciplines, from architecture to program management. He is highly experienced in helping organizations accelerate their delivery practices and is equally comfortable talking about business strategy as he is about IT. 

Alan is the Director of Charter Software Development Practice. He's been in the professional services and software consulting world for over 20 years, working across the globe with a cross-section of corporate and public sector clients. 

Ronnie is our Chief Technology Officer. And he has over 35 years of IT experience including senior consultative roles for various industries across New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. He brings a strong technological background. But at the same time being very business-oriented as we build our service delivery approach to the marketplace. 



So, when I was preparing for our podcast today, I was looking at the work that Imran, Peter, and Alan have done together on a number of projects over the last few years. We asked them to join us today because their services align with the three pillars of the business transformation journey and we're going to develop that more in today's podcast. We believe that a successful business transformation involves people, process, and technology. And as you'll hear, Peter does the organizational readiness piece plus the value realization plan. Imran, does the Monte Carlo simulation, turning BI in the planning and projection models to help guide the digital transformation process. Ultimately, they are part of the Charter ecosystem, and thus, the title of our podcast, Partnering for Success. 


Business Transformation

So, let's get started. Peter. Business transformation is hard work. It requires innovation, passion, and the desire to iterate. To ultimately challenge your own ideas about your own business. It's obviously not for the faint of heart. You do a lot of work in this space. We value your thoughts, then, on the importance of change readiness and acceptance, and, perhaps more importantly, how to measure success as organizations go through this transformational journey. 


[6:55] – Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

Well, it's an interesting question, right? Because a lot of times, organizations stop on the journey, where they’ve decided “Hey, we’re going to introduce some new capabilities; and we're going to bring in new technology; and we're going to change how our organization is going to do everything.” Yet, they've started from a perspective where they've already got a solution in mind. They’re bringing the technology in because it's the latest, coolest thing they heard about on the golf course and they haven't gone back and thought about, “Well, what does my business actually need to do? How do I create value with my customers? What are the processes and practices in place today that I'm looking to improve on, and to make better, and to help to deliver that higher value to the customers?” And until I can start to look at my organization more holistically, and start to understand that, I won't be able to take a step back and think, “Well, how am I actually going to measure the outcomes I’m looking for?” It's not just about the bringing in the technology, as you put it there, Mark, it’s about the people, and the process, and the technology all working together to create better outcomes for our customers.


Data Analytics

[7:52] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

And in the work that you've been doing, Imran, obviously you talked a lot about the importance of data and analyzing the data because otherwise, people, process, and technology are just three words that are on some executive’s PowerPoint chart. Maybe help us to understand how the data can back that up; how to use the data; where does it come from; and then, how best to apply it? 


[8:17] Imran Abdool, Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights, Group President

Yeah absolutely. So, first off, these views represent my own and not necessarily the views of Western. That's a great question. 

I've heard a saying that goes, “Data always has a seat at the boardroom table.” And I think that that couldn’t be more true in today’s world. There's so much emphasis on evidence-based decision-making. And this is not just for pragmatic reasons, it's also about liability management, you know - the sort of business environment where you can shoot from the hip, a generation ago, and say, “I think we should do this.” You need to have solid evidence. You need to have pilot projects. You need to have survey data. The investors of today, they want to see that plan that’s backed up by evidence. You know, unless you're talking about a very small niche group of investors, very, very few people are going to give their money to companies unless there's a clear plan with clear benchmarks and execution strategy. So, you’d be missing out on a huge part of the capital markets if you didn't make use of data, not just for your customer success, but also for your own success to grow your company. 

And one of the important things, I would say, is knowing how to work with data well is important. Because you can also work with it in the wrong way. One of the things I tell my own students, we have a joke in finance called “garbage in, garbage out.” If you put the wrong parameters into the model, you're going to get very wrong answers. So, if you don't use the predictive analytics software properly or other statistical software, you know, you can get very, very skewed results. And if you run with those results, you’re going to be in trouble. 

So, data is powerful, but it has to be used correctly. And it has to be seen as part of a whole package, that Peter had talked about, this holistic view. You know, “Does the data, you know, fit with what the firm's capabilities are?” Like, the data may predict we do a certain action, but, “Do we have the capabilities to do that? Does it fit with the risk appetite?” So, you have to see it as part of a whole package. But that's what comes to mind. 


Data Usage

[10:19] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

And Ronnie, as you work with clients across the country, I'm sure one of the subjects that comes up (probably at almost every meeting) is “How do I use my data better?” I'm getting, you know, McKinsey has done some stuff, some work you and I have looked at. [1] 70% of OT data is not being used. In fact, I was with one Chief Operating Officer the other day and he said less than 5% of our OT data we’re using as we make decisions in our company. That has got to stop. 


[10:51] Ronnie Scott, Charter, Chief Technology Officer

Yeah, thanks Mark. I think the messages we’re already hearing align with the kind of messages that we’ve been portraying for quite some time - and talked about in these very podcasts. This idea of you need to know what you’ve got is your starting place. This idea of assessing where your business is at,  what data you have, is absolutely critical. If you don't know what you've got, how can you use it well? 

And, the second part is that if we just put this data into some big pull somewhere, and we just forget about it, you’re losing all the value that you’ve been building up and you’ve been attributing. So, you're going to find this place of “How do I get that data? How do I find the data I’ve got? How do I determine what's the valuable bits in there? How do then analyze that and produce those really good outcomes?”

And so, it's all about the process. And that's the people, process, and technology. It’s all good and fine to say, “Hey, I’ve got IoT things that are gathering all this data.” But if you're not understanding how that's going to affect the people you’re serving; and the people who are part of your organization; and your stakeholders; if you're not thinking, “What's the process of getting to that data and analyzing it?” the technology is a waste of time. 


Business Transformation – Successful vs. Unsuccessful Approaches

[12:08] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So, Alan, that's going to set the table for you. Because, ultimately, everybody in our podcast discussion today is having some sort of a business transformation discussion with companies and organizations today. Including, in the public sector. Given some of the things that you're seeing in the marketplace, then, what are the things you're seeing that make a business transformation successful? And what are some of the things that you're seeing that, quite frankly, are probably not making them successful? 


[12:39] Allan Wong, Charter, Director, Business Development

Very good question there, Mark. Thanks for even asking that. So, let's take a step back. You're talking about business transformation, digital transformation, and it's hard to do. It’s easy to screw things up, it's easy to fail. There are plenty of studies out there to prove that point. And one of the easiest mistakes to make is to jump right in and start looking at the whole thing as a technology problem. And this is why this whole concept of process, people, and technology together, that we choose to go to the market with, is so brilliant. 

You take a step back. What you really want to do is that you want to stop talking about technology (like what Peter was saying and like what Imran was saying,) “Let's look at what the customer really needs first.” Define the framework. Look at what you can actually do. So now you have the front end of this whole definition, the process. You have business architecture. You know your risk and tolerance. You know the security requirements and all of that stuff. 

Peter and his team would come in and say, “OK, now, so that you know what you want to do, let's figure out how to measure success.” Because there are far too many people out there, executives and otherwise, they're looking for ways to come back to the shareholders or the investors and say, “You know what, we embarked upon this thing here. I can show you that this is successful.” All of them don't have that piece. That's what Peter’s team could do for us. And then, of course, once the project gets going, they are there to engage the clients; engage the users; [and] prepare them for the actual change that is to come. 

And then the bookend, the other end of the bookend is now that if that sculpt technology piece goes in perfectly and delivers what it supposed to deliver, then you’re going to have a lot more data, [and] a lot more insight into what's going on. What are you going to do with the data; the feedback and the whole loop and improve your digital transformation? That's what Imran was talking about. Let's gather the data. Let's come up with some really useful model to help you continue the process. 

And in the middle of the two pieces of the bookend is where we come in with technology.  Now that we have things to find what success looks like; we have the whole organization prepared to accept the change; now we're going to write the software. We're going to connect all the pieces together. Like Ronnie said, we’re now going to amalgamate the data; create the Big Data Strategy; and finance the one, true source of data. Then our clients can start asking questions that they didn't even know they had before. That's success to us. 


Choosing a Technology Partner

[15:19] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So, all of us agree, people, process, technology, are the three pillars of business transformation. One component of technology, likely, is the need to build some sort of a custom application or set of applications, some sort of single view, single screen dashboard to, kind of, pull all the data together. How do I pick the right kind of company to do that work for me? Because there's lots of companies in the market that say they know how to do that. So, Peter, let's start with you.

Today's talking about partnering for success. A customer wants to pick the right company to help them [in] software development, whatever you want to call it; software consulting, whatever definition you want to use. How do I pick a firm like that? What kinds of things do I need to ask them? Or, well, let's just leave it like that. 


[16:18] – Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

I think you want to find a partner that, well, to find people to talk about what we're talking about around this table – who’s going to understand that it’s not just going to be about the “You're going to give me a set of instructions [and] I'm in going to go away and build this thing that fit exactly my needs.” It’s going to have to be somebody who's going to be able to partner with you and understand that right at this moment in time, that we start on this journey together, we don't actually know what the end solution is going to exactly look like. We're going to have to create something that's going to give us some understanding so we can learn and use that to determine where we can go next. 

So, from here we can start to look at, “How do we build out the right solutions?” You need to find a partner who is willing to work with you in this fashion. Otherwise, you’re just allowing the partner to come to you and say, “OK, here’s the solution. This is going to solve all of your problems.” And there's many partners out there who will quite happily do that and tell you, “Here's a set of levers you pull that are going to solve all your problems; give you all the answers you’re looking for;” [and] sprinkle a little bit of magic fairy dust on top; “and, we’re ready to go.” But we all know from the decades we’ve spent around this table with technology, that it never goes that way and it doesn't really look like that. And it really comes down to, “Is this the people were going to be able to work with to start to build the solution that’s right for us here, and the situation we’re in, and get to where we want to get?”


Technology Partner Domain Expertise

[17:34] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

One of the things that we’ve seen, quite frankly, Ronnie is helping us build out in Charter, is our domain expertise. The notion of coming out of the industry, whether it's on the OT side from a building automation environment, or on the oil or gas side from a gas plant-creation perspective, that domain expertise is very important. In fact, you could probably teach some of the other people some of the technical skills, but that's hard to teach. What’s your view of that, Imran?


[18:06] Imran Abdool, Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights, Group President

It's not always easy to replicate best practices. And sometimes there are techniques that work in one domain exclusively. Like, the techniques that would work in oil and gas may not necessarily work in aerospace. Sometimes there are best practices that you can apply across industries, but other times you need someone who has serviced clients exactly in that industry and who knows the intricacies. 

For example, just the availability of data can be quite different across industries. The cost structure of firms can be very different across industries. Some have high fixed costs, others high variable costs. So, pick a firm that's not trying to just give you some sort of like slapstick solution, somebody who really understands the intricacies of your industry; who understands your particular challenge. And the first step to fix the problem is left to correctly identify the problem. But I would say also pick a firm that is willing to have that, sort of, spirit of a partner. Because often as you're fixing a problem, you discover other problems along the way. And you need a firm that has that flexibility, has that capability, and is dynamic enough to respond to the problems that come up. 

So, in summary, industry or domain-specific skills are very, very important. Try to find a firm that can relate to your industry; who knows the data; who knows the limitations of the data; who understands more about the industry structure, the typical firm structure - that's very important. And not somebody that tries just to give you some generic package that they re-skin for your industry. That’s critically important. 


[19:38] Allan Wong, Charter, Director, Business Development

I cannot agree with Imran more, because he just highlighted two major points, here. Number one is mindset. There are far too many companies out there, they're going there because they want to do certain things [in] certain ways. They see the world that one specific way. They’re going to force the solution to that particular pigeonhole. That's a disaster in the making from day one. 

And the second thing besides mindset is really skill set, now, right? You have to be multi-talented. Because you know the expression, right, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” So there are far too many companies out there that they're really good, for example, good at creating, oh, let's say [an] e-commerce solution. Then every single problem looks like an e-commerce problem to them.

So, at Charter, we’re very fortunate because we have multi-discipline teams, here. Like you said earlier Mark, we’ve established so many different senses of expertise as well as practices. And that's where it comes in really handy when we get into a customer situation, we see the world in a very different manner. 


[20:32] – Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

I think that one thing I would add to that, because you brought up structure and you were bringing up the domain expertise. The other piece that pulls those things together that's important is understanding the taxonomy of the companies you work. Within those different domains, there’s a very specific language that they talk. And one of the things we bring to the table, around, is that we can talk in the language across all organizations. And so, within an organization, there is always going to be a different language in parts of the organization. But when you get into specific domains, they have very particular ways that they talk about things, in the way - and those tend to be common across different domains within an industry. And being able to understand that is a very key skill to have. 


Technology Partner Differentiators

[21:17] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Ronnie, one of the things that Alan and I've seen a lot in this software development as we've been working together is some of the firms seem to try to differentiate themselves with a hammer and nail thought, too. You know they talk about. This tool or that tool they talk about low code, no code a lot of that is formed and because I think like a business person every day but you live in this technology hammer and nail world. maybe share with our listening audience somebody your thoughts on can they be differentiators. Are they important for Charter? Are that important for charters messaging or is there something, there's a different twist because the approach we're taking may be unique in the marketplace. 


23:49 Ronnie Scott, Charter, Chief Technology Officer

That's a really good question and I think it's actually a little bit of a hybrid. There are some things that you expect your supplier to be good at and you expect them to be outdoor reporting and repeats and do sustainably efficiently and well. But if that’s all I’ve got. Is that just the hammer? then you get into this case where something changes or they encounter a customer whose needs are slightly unique and that we floundering, or they try to reach your application into their shape and I think they can be very detrimental to the outcome. So you need someone who's both sound. Stable, resilient, scalable, but also heads that dynamicism. The ability to be able to say, here's a real need that requires me to think differently outside the box. And then some of the fun we've been having the charter and when we kind of started this whole application development thing, we started building our own in-house stuff, it was kind of like. Well, the tool sets we have aren't working for us. How do we find the tool set? And in that case, we went out and found a tool set from Microsoft, that case and said OK, let's give 48 hours to see if this plans, let's just turn it off, let's see, let's put some data in there and see if they can give us the result and the interesting part. Was it did and it was like OK this is where the bee sting and and you and I keep coming back to that start small fails quick kind of approach fail fast kind of approach so that we can allow ourselves to adjust to the customer need but not over commit ourselves to. You know some of those horror approaching Superd about where a large mandible starter for $1,000,000 project and $3 million in there saying the stock of the scale is not going to work and so it's finding there how do I learn? How do I scale but then how do I build it repeatedly? Resilient Lee another way that will suit the customer over the long term. 


[25:54] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So, Peter. I want to build a new business. I know what customers I want to pursue. I’m ready to change. I'm not afraid to change. I've got support top to bottom in my organization. Where do I start? 


26:18 - Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting 

So you got a set of identified customer, we know that we want to go up stop marketplace. So the first thing you hinted kings will depend very much on business or demeanor in that we want to test out marketplace so that you meant to do that you get a new bill to put something out into that marketplace that you can learn from. So your first goal is what I believe true than what I believe about my customers. 

And so I want to put something out there that's going to give me an understanding as to all my initial assumptions, correct? And then use that to bring back the learning to say are we going in the right direction, Can I build from that my stop ability engine around actually stopped. Create the capability to grow the business in that space. So this is a fine looking tool. I'm thinking about from where you ask questions like I got other men to fight, I've gotten organization already. I'm looking at approaching a new marketplace. I think Grafton Opportunity.



[27:14] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator


My businesses in transformation. I'm trying to figure out where I want to be in three to five years. How do I get there? But more importantly, I'm poking at where you start because you know, especially in large organizations, private sector and public sector, they’re out going. Well, I got a $10 million budget and I got out allocate a million just to do the test drive. Well, that's money that you don't necessarily get back. And so if ultimately in our podcasts, Ronnie and I and A lot of our guests have really been saying that best base to start is small and you're poking at that. So thank you for that. 


27:59 – Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

When I look at it from that perspective, then it's one of the common things organisations do to is set up some kind of incubator or some part which can operate in a different fashion from the rest, the organization. This is one approach. There is danger in that because if you go and set up an entirely different culture, going to look at how am I going to bring whatever. Learnings I get from that back interest my organization that does not prove that. And so you almost done a activity at that point because they're off using whatever tools they using, they got all the capabilities during their learning about that new marketplace and then I'm going to be operating simulator specially organization. So that itself is going to be a transformation. Start to look at incorporating and then we've received some very large scale disasters like that thing counts in work organizations run this extent where you got 7 lines of business, you stand up the 8 which is going to teach you all about how we're going to transform it now. But now you’ve got 8 lines of business.


[29:00] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator


And loads of data and ram. That they couldn't analyze before. Now they've got even more they can analyze, right? 


29:04 – Imran Abdool, Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights, Group President

Just to build on something. Peter said that came to my mind. We talked about the value of information. So putting a pilot project covers so important you to verify it, but you think are the initial conditions of the marketplace. 

And this could be good or bad. You might realize it's more demanding. You think you might realize that that means you can fine tune, but you also may realize that. You know what your what you think the customers wanting what they actually want. Made-up of actually put that pilot budget out there. So that's really important value information. If you spend $1,000,000 to save $300, it’s well worth it, right? So, I think that’s really important, just just making sure you assess those additional conditions up to come back to the data question, huge important. 

Once you get some of that initial data that's going to, it's going to reinforce either you need to change your assumptions, need to change your game plan or can you go forward with this. 

Just to give you a really simple example. You know during Covid, if you had launched in person service like a salon or something prior to cool but you might have thought this is going to work great. Thank open comes along and realized he was dropped off Internet, right? 

So, that feedback effect is really important in data facilitates that feedback loop. I would say its very very important to to do that pilot project, collect the data and analyze the data correctly. 

And one thing I always tell my students as we analyze data, you have to ask yourself, does this make sense? So in finance you're talking about, you have a bunch of data about a stock. It could put called time series data. They might have this prediction that the stock is going up but up. But there is there a logical reason that fits that prediction? Is the industry becoming more concentrated? 

Do for example, are we reducing cost? So Dang, it tells you one thing, but you also have to double check does it logically makes sense. And you have to be very careful when you have a small sample size or you clear samples not representative. If you do a project for one client is a very small sample, 

so you have to be careful as. Just how you interpret that, right? So insert Lee. The data is very important, but you need to know how to work with it properly because if you do it wrong, up healthy production put too much further back when you started. And that's why you need the company more experts who know how to work with that property. 


31:34 – Ronnie Scott, Charter, Chief Technology Officer

I’m going to just pause for a moment because one of the big things I've encountered in dealing with customers is I don't know what questions to ask. I've got all this data, I don't even know where to begin, and one of the things that has changed recently that I think is both overhyped but still one of the most interesting. Opportunities we have is artificial intelligence. We are getting the data and beginning to ask different kind of questions that are more about outcomes rather than tell me XYZ and how they met together we beginning to see a new ways of getting to that data that aren't as necessary to have one person who knows everything about your business start form and Steve about people who begin to ask questions about your business and those questions leads new questions and you question and then we get some really interesting iterations and I know that the team here chatter be looking at AI and I’m very excited about what that may do for us.


32:36 – Allan Wong, Charter, Director, Business Development

Absolutely true, so Ronnie, I liked the word you used earlier, overhyped because when you look at the newspaper every other day is something you know kind of crazy about AI genitive aion including something about. We ask AI Who should play the next Iron Man? And they tell you that these three major characters should be the one. So that's just fluff. We all know that. 

The key issue here right now is data privacy for major corporations. They can't just take their information and pass it out to your genitive AI out there and Chat GPT. They have to find a way to actually harness that energy within the corporation. So you're right. Within Charter, we have 2 experiments going with 2 password taking. One is very strongly down the Microsoft paths using Microsoft available technology to provide AI within the organization. And the other one is what we call I’m going to use chat GPT very loosely double quote “chat GPT in the box.” We encase this thing inside the firewall, within the customer’s environment so that not even the questions will leave the company. We even keep that private. So you're right, that's the only way you can actually harness AI within the environment. 


[33:58] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So all of this kind of triggered a question in my mind. So let's say I get alignment on my assumptions and feel very comfortable with the business case. The data supports it. I'm brought the right team in that kind of sees my vision. Alan, the question becomes for you. Do I make or buy? 

Do I need to retrofit some sort of external application to fit my new business and the business drivers to get that data and I've got the right team in place with the right technology? Or do I have Charter build it for me? How do I make that decision?


34:46 - Allan Wong, Charter, Director, Business Development

Very good question. So, there are many ways to to decide that. Number one way, in my mind, is the following - if you're building a solution that your entire business lives on, that defines you, that differentiates you, and that's your first contact point with your client, chances are you want to own that lock, stock, and barrel. You don't want to rely on a third party to control your licensing, to control how you can actually modify and customize the functions and features within that application throughout the bath. If that's the case, off the shelf is out of question. Do you want to build up? You want to use that as your competitive advantage to beat up your competitors. Now if its something in the middle, like specially in the back end, You want the convenience, you want the availability of data so that, for example, 

You want your back-end people to be able to come up with all kinds of AI reports. Without having to go to a developer and say can you write me a new report? And that's the right mindset. So there is a happy medium in the world somewhere in the middle where your external facing major applications are custom made. Preferably by us - but at the same time we built the entire infrastructure at want data this assessor accessible that you can use something like a Microsoft platform to do internal VI report so that your internal people can have the freedom to do whatever they need the data. That is the ideal world.


[36:22] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So Peter, let's say now we've got the right business strategy in place. The data is in place. We've got the right technology in place. And we’ve made the Make-or-buy decision. (I’ll simplify it that way.) Ultimately, how do I know I have the right team? What kind of signals should I get back from my solution integrator so that I feel like they are going to be done on time? They do understand the budget, but more importantly, they understand the values of what I'm trying to bake into my business transformation. I'm sure you have some thoughts on that. 


37:06 - Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

So I create, I'm talking about this somewhere early. When we look at the teams would not engage if we're looking to engage them and more agile fassionola delivering to a series of business outcomes. I'm looking for what is the data that I can pull back to see how you're getting focus on getting regular light update so they communicate. Well, they tell you what direction they're going to take us in, how I might seeing that progress. I would be looking for them to really like the next bit of value, but mostly a regular demo of it. I want to see what progress you've made.

[ ] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Get it through the MVP process, through it quickly and make sure that everything that's coming together in the background. 


37:51 – Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting 

Meet your requirements prototyping of that show the value is good and it often avoid MVP because it could so misconstrued inside of organizations because people especially from business side. If you say Oh yeah just give me the MVP but I want the real product so that. You want a problem so like that all the time, but it's like I want to be able to see what is the next incremental value and be able to do little tuning. I want to demo to be what that looks like. I want to be able to show that you are going to continue to iterate and incrementally build on top of that so I can see the progress on ongoing basis. But if you are delivering solution to what I don't need to do is still wait for six months never talked to me and come back with something that doesn't my business needs that isn't actually going to allow me to do what we need to do. I don't have regular and visible updates to that and so that I can call strapped because we were saying. Find Learn more about the environment for it and touch instructions. 


[38:52] - Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Well Ronnie. You made that point earlier, but you can't be afraid to iterate, right? What did you call it? Fail quickly or fast? Fail fast and pivot, right? Because it's not for the faint department. We said that in the introductory comments to the podcast. 


39:09 – Allan Wong

Well, let me add to that. There is Peter just started the conversation really, really well here and and you know we had shorter. So we tend to lean into the nautical theme quite a lot. So there's an expression that something along the line of when the sea is calm everyone can steer the boat. So for me to find the good part. Is when you when you run into issues, when you went into failures. How this report not behave they run for the hill today actually is not stone warrior and saving up to fix it or do they sit down but he's OK this is what is happening. We're going to keep our eyes on the end and go here. I'm going to make sure we go to life with this will fix the problem together. Will figure out how to improve on it later. That means it has to be there, right? So that's important. 

39:57 – Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

We talk about watermelon metrix and how Netflix. Is this concept that is being on the outside and then on the inside. This is actually not working. We want to know as soon as possible ll 


[40:13] - Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator


Well, and the data has got to be there for us to back that up. 


40:18 – Imran Abdool, Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights, Group President

100%. Just just developing on something Allan said about the need for a ____. One of the things we're seeing post covid with a lot of big companies is there isn't from that supply chain in house. They want to make sure we control our something critical to them. And if this software that you need is mission critical, You want to own that. You want something to be off the shelf, you call the support line, they put you on hold or you get a ticket and They may answer you back a week later. It’s a form of risk management. So the more mission critical that is, the more you want to make sure that fits your business and you know how to use it. And you have a partner that's with you down the road. Absolutely, absolutely critcal. You also want to partner who help you work with that AI. In today’s world, you generate here from almost everything. I think that almost a decade ago, GE did a paper called the Industrial Internet where all these industrial machines generally deal about its airplane engine, so they should refrigerator. 

You’re soft of awash with data. And for a lot of companies that if they're small to medium, they may not know how to work with the data. 

And that's why you need a company that's not just built the app but can also help you say, OK, here's what the data is saying, here's some insights that are mission critical. Or an opportunity that you want to make sure you can execute on. So that's where a partnership is also being with you as the data comes in, from your operations. Because You don’t want to miss a critical opportunity. You have to pivot, be dynamic.


[41:58] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

You must have listened to our Moving Beyond Spreadsheets podcast, because that was our message. That, you know, historcially, we’ve run our companies on spreadsheets. And with all this data flying at us, I think those days are gone. And the leaders, no matter what industry, are going to figure it out quickly. How do I use this data? How do I integrate with the data? How do I transform my company using that data? And those that do will be the industry leaders.


42:31 – Imran Abdool, Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights, Group President One point I’d add to that, Good leaders also understand you know, when they don’t understand something. What they don't know is they can have outside help. Because you can have a lot of data. And one of the points that I would emphasize, if you analyze that incorrectly, you can run into a lot of problems. If you data is not representative, if it’s not collected properly, if you get outliers, have gaps in the data? If you don't know how to look at these things data integrity, you can very get the wrong results, that could lead to problematic businesses decisions. A good leader can so step back and say you know what, yeah, there's a lot of data. This is complicated. Maybe bring in an outside partner who knows how to look at the data, make sure I get this right, for someone to double check that. Because again, it's it's very powerful, but it could be good or bad, if you don’t work with it correctly.


[43:26] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So. We're going to get ready to, before I flip it over to Allan to do kind of a wrap up and conclusion, there's one thing I think we should just reconfirm. That business transformation’s a journey. And technology is important, process is important, having the right people are important. But overall, probably the thing that brings it all together is?


43:58 – Ronnie Scott, Charter, Chief Technology Officer

Well, for me, it’s about outcomes. Exactly. And I will say, you know we've tried to really hone that messaging down. And if you’re uncertain about Digital Business Transformation, you'll see that there are four things that as a company you should be at as outcomes. You might know more once, but before that you would generally summarize them down to are things that improve your agility, things that improve your experience, things that improve your scalability, and things that improve your resiliency. And the more that you get, the more your business will be transformed. So, keep coming back to whomever you’re working with. Are they improving your agility, your experience, your scalability, and your resiliency?


[44:54] – Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator


So, Allan. Every day you have the responsibility to grow, expand Charter’s application services practice. What would you like to see differentiate Charter in the marketplace, but more importantly, when you think about partnering with a client, partnering for success, what does that mean to you and the Charter team?


45:20 – Allan Wong, Charter, Director, Business Development 

Well, I’m going to echo what Ronnie just mentioned earlier – is the outcome. Charter has a long history of Satisfying our clients. Doing a great job. Earning a seat at the table as their partner. And this is the mindset that we have going into a project. And, we also understand that, once again, that process, people, and technology are three Equally important parts in contributing to success. Now, if we start back with the MacKenzie report out there, stating that there are 10 major success factors in Digital business transformation, of the 10, only two are related to technology. The other ones are about engaging the right people and setting up the right processes. So, I believe we're on the right path. This is all differentiated. We look at the pie as a whole, we carry more than just one hammer. And where there to stay with our clients We’re there to be the long term partner. So that is the reason why we bring success to our clients’ digital transformation. 


[46:27] - Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator


Well, it's now my pleasure to thank Peter, Imran, Allan, and Ronnie, for the insight you provided to our listening audience today. We hope today's podcast has when invaluable, and thank you for taking the time to tune into our podcast series, Charter Engage, Know IT. We wish you a very productive day.



[1] McKinsey & Company. (2018, October 29). The keys to a successful digital transformation | McKinsey.



Peter Maddison, Xodiac Inc., Technology Strategy | Business Consulting

Peter is a passionate technologist who works with senior leaders to help align their organizations to customers' needs. He has hands-on experience in leading teams through adopting DevOps practices, cloud migration and many other complex change initiatives. He brings a knowledge of the strategic execution needed for success at the different levels of an organization. Peter currently spends his time helping organizations break down barriers and create clarity and purpose by providing expert coaching and consulting. Peter is active in the community, writing and speaking about aligning security and compliance, data practices, and technology delivery with value streams and flow.


Imran Abdool, Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights, Group President

Imran Abdool is the Group President of Blue Krystal Technologies and Business Insights and a university lecturer. In Canada, he has previously lectured in Economics and Finance at the University of Windsor, University of Western Ontario, and McMaster University. He is a former Instructor at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth in Baltimore, Md., USA. Mr. Abdool is a past member of the Assistant Deputy Minister's Office for Financial Sector Policy for Canada, at the Department of Finance Canada. Imran's commentary on economic and financial matters has appeared numerous times in the national media, including the Globe and Mail, CBC National News, and the Toronto Star.