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Innovation:  AI Investment and AdoptionInnovation: AI Investment and Adoption

AI/ML investments are well underway at leading companies and show no signs of slowing. But are these massive investments generating the business results they promise? Your IT peers tell all.

What challenges do you anticipate when employees return to the office?

Top Answer: Over the last couple years of working at home, I’ve noticed that when I have gone into the office, being in these in person meetings takes so much of my energy. It's different from meeting virtually where I have the relaxation of being in my own home and I can go do what I want in between meetings. But in person, you need this elevated level of energy to interact and take in all this stimulation. So one strategy of mine is just recognizing that the other team members will go through that. Since we've gone remote, my IT department is probably the most engaged that they've been in the history of the organization, because this works well for them. They can just do their work and be able to check out. So it will be important to recognize that people are going to have challenges with their energy levels.

Does decision making take longer in a remote or hybrid working environment?

Top Answer: We’re remote and decision making is prolonged, as is the number of meetings it takes to resolve something. It's almost like people just accept that they can always put another meeting on the calendar if they can't get to a decision. To drive closure on some things I’ve started to begin meetings by saying, “We're exiting this meeting with a decision and we have 30 minutes,” because nobody's coming in with the mindset of trying to get to an outcome. They're just seeing it as another conversation that they're having in their day. I've realized I need to start setting those specific objectives because otherwise nothing gets accomplished. There doesn't seem to be a value tied to the time that you're spending in those conversations and the actual output as a result of that. It's almost like there’s this false assumption that we have an infinite runway of meetings and that's become frustrating.

Have you changed your default meeting times to 25 minutes and 50 minutes, instead of half an hour and an hour?

Top Answer: We do that using Google, which allows you to program those times as a default. It’s a good idea in theory but I find that it doesn't work in practice. There are some people who will just talk until they've finished what they need to say, without respect for other people's calendars. I'd be interested in hearing from a company that's been able to have 25-minute or 50-minute meetings where people stick to that time window. That would be a game changer for me in terms of my ability to have back-to-back meetings. There are a lot of direct messages I can get through in 10 minutes if I don't have the distraction of a meeting.

How are you approaching meeting across different time zones, especially within your team?

Top Answer: Samsara is unique in that for our revenue size, we are not globally distributed like a lot of other companies. We're primarily based in the Bay Area and the UK, with a smattering of leadership throughout Western Europe. We have a small concentration of folks in Atlanta and a lot of people have relocated for cost of living purposes and other COVID-related reasons. But everybody is attuned to Pacific time, so our business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. We've recently hired a lot of folks on the east coast and we have not acclimated to them at all. They're working late into their evening to cover up to a 6 p.m. time slot, and I'm not hearing a lot of conversation around that. Now that we've started to expand into other time zones and other geographies from a workforce perspective, it'll be interesting to see how the company starts to acclimate. Even before COVID, it was a very office-centric environment, so it took a large cultural shift to move to remote working. To layer in competing time zones as you're building up those teams adds complexity. And it's not as if you have one person in every major region that helps to cover that overlap between the two. If you just have one person in California and one person in Asia, what do you do with that? That's going to be an interesting problem for us to solve.

How can you fast track your career?

Top Answer: Regardless of what stage you’re in, anyone working in a corporation needs to understand that a career is not only about getting the first job. And it is not about how much time you spend. What matters most is how you convert that time into real experience. When people reach the second half of their career, they may aspire to be VP or C-Suite, and that is the most challenging part. They are often unable to achieve that success because of mistakes made in the first half of their career. In the first five or 10 years, for example, you should focus on learning, not earning. When someone has the top position, it’s because they have done something different from their colleagues. They recognize that the most important and valuable asset they have is their learning ability. You have to continuously upgrade your knowledge. If you don’t, you will not be able to succeed in this competitive market. It’s all about how you invest your time and money. Both can either be spent or invested. Time and money spent can never be recuperated, but when they are invested you will get a return. To fast track your career in a sustainable way, you should invest at least some percentage of your income on upgrading your knowledge.  The most successful people in any field view themselves as self-employed, regardless of the organization. The employee mindset is different. Even if you are not the owner of the company, if you work as though you are, your work will be more effective. So you have to lose the employee mindset, which is not easy in the early stages of your career. You also need to know exactly what you want. If you want to become the CEO of a company, that clarity has to be there. And then you have to figure out how much you are willing to pay to achieve that goal: Are you willing to create goals around that?

If you are a current SAP customer, when do you plan to migrate to SAP S/4HANA?

Top Answer: No plan to migrate soon.

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What advice would you give aspiring CISOs who have immigrated to the US?

Top Answer: Get ready to work twice as hard as the next person to achieve the same thing, because that's reality. That forced me to become very good at my craft. You have to have the mentality that you're going to be the best that you can be, irrespective of the obstacles. Nobody's going to give you any breaks. I realize that's a horrible statement to some people, but that’s the reality you have to deal with to succeed under those circumstances. You have to be exceptionally good at the things that others may just be competent at. 

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How does a hybrid working environment impact meeting etiquette?

Top Answer: One thing I’ve noticed is that I get irritated when people aren't on camera now, which never used to bother me. Before, when I didn't do a lot of Zoom meetings from home, I usually wasn't on camera. Sometimes that was just because it was late at night. Now I default to being on camera on Zoom and I catch myself thinking, “Why isn't that person on camera? I haven't seen them in a really long time.” But before, I wouldn't have cared because the majority of the participants would've been off camera.

Will the future of IoT impact business relationships?

Top Answer: The immediate reaction to this question is "yes, of course", but, I think when we step back a bit, this question is constantly asked and there are many solution vendors out there who are putting their minds together to come up with a solution that hopefully will align the impact/risk of IoT with the business requirements, thus smoothing out the relationships.  I also think company policies around IoT is just as important, not relying solely on technology to resolve people/process problems/deficiencies.

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