We ran yesterday Part 1 of the interview with Bruce Rogow. Part 2 below focuses on his time and learning at Gartner and since
As I mentioned, he is a throwback to the time of really big IT thinkers and analysts with big ones who vendors and yes, even their employers could not push around.
The Gartner Years
Gartner Home Depot’d the IT decision industry. Gartner in 1987 was aimed at Wall Street and the vendors. It had a minimum of user clients. Gideon Gartner talked about wanting to primarily serve users, but the company was not relating to users except for residual values and mainframe decisions.
Back then, a technology decision was client researched or they called a consultant. If a NNC client needed to select an email and office system, they engaged NNC, Index and Andersen to evaluate selecting IBM PROFS or Digital’s All-in-One. They spent nearly three years and $5-10 million of in-house and consultant resources and finally decided the winner for the future was to be Wang.
Gartner was much smaller than Yankee, IDC or Dataquest. Each played to a niche following rather than broad market. Gideon Gartner said don’t ask users what they want as they don’t know they need us until we make the market. Gartner’s goal was to be the highest quality, most provocative, pre-packaged, mass-marketed, ultimately big box, Home Depot for an expanding body of in-house decision makers.
Gartner thrived allowing all IT decision makers to first turn to a $20-30,000 continuous service for the latest analysis rather than engage consultants. The decision process sped up and got cheaper, changing the IT game.
Also, Gartner analysis was done by a highly experienced professional rather than by an inexpensive, inexperienced, volatile staffer. Unlike the competition, Gartner invested in analysts who knew what they were talking about and world class sales staff.
About that time, an un-virtuous cycle emerged. Increasingly, DOacies took on the management consultancy role recommending immediate, drastic change whether the client, vendor or product was ready. Remember, I believe it takes five to seven years to get ready.
Worthwhile enterprise scale but immature products like SAP got dumped on organizations almost bringing companies to their knees. Firms turned to their DOacy for management consultancy and guess what? The DOacy recommended the DOacy do more and outsource rather than hire expensive staff. Today, firms are paying the price as they lack in-house skills.
Some argue the WEB changed this. Not really. The Web was pasted onto what firms were doing, not requiring full end-to-end business change. Gradually, firm genes/DNA for change disappeared.
The IT Odyssey Years
As I visited folks in the 2003-2016 timeframe, a zero-sum game mentality had taken hold. Over a decade of relatively flat growth, extreme cost pressure and diminishing resources, IT searched for safe, best practices. Risk and ambiguity were banished. Mediocrity set in. Now firms struggling to innovate find making needed changes difficult in their cultural context. Increasingly, senior execs recognize they need totally different cultural DNA.
We faced a similar, but less complex situation in 1973 and 1982. Business and technology disruptions demanded drastic changes, but folks were trying to tweak their way to the future. Today, executives struggle with prudent investments to make new markets, change cultures and educate their people.
Most IT organizations face a Myth of Sisyphus challenge. One CIO calls it "achieving escape velocity." Incoming changes are coming faster than they can deal with the gravity of legacy and conversion.
A big DOacy client expressed frustration saying she hasn't seen anybody in the last two years from their DOacy who understands context and has the depth to be of meaningful help. “They can't answer critical questions. So, we turned to Azure and then AWS. They understand what they're doing, but don't understand what we're doing."
Pundits and vendors complain firms don't move fast enough. Business users complain IT doesn't move fast enough. IT organizations trying to transform themselves are drowning in demands and complexity. An overriding understandable management framework is needed to examine readiness, set priorities, build capabilities across an updated version of NNC’s Four Growth Processes.
Without such a framework, firms are increasingly vulnerable to drive-by-shooter vendors and pundits sprinkling simple answers throughout the firm. An underlying structural framework is needed such as described in George C. Marshall: Organizer of Victory: 1943-1945 by Forrest C. Pogue. Marshall had to organize the WWII victory in a complex situation on many fronts.
I don’t see management frameworks emerging from the big spenders, academics, vendors or consultancies. Short term, vendors and DOacies thrive on the avalanche of piecemeal approaches they call “solutions”. There is little interest in developing a framework. Long term, the chaos will slow down new capability adoption.
In the 70’s, management frameworks emerged, highly supported by clients and vendors. While I was head of research at Gartner we established technology decision frameworks: The Industry Scenario with discrete probabilities, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), Hype Cycles, Magic Quadrants, as well as Symposiums and Executive Service to convey these broadly. All are still around today.
Gartner “Probabilities” (p=???) highlight how IT thinking changed over time. In the 1984-’93 era, no “p” was allowed > .4. If the p>.5, the clients already knew it. No value added. Analysts were forced to be edgier with more risk. Since ’95, clients wanting to avoid risk, uncertainty and ambiguity demanded p>.7. But we’re no longer in a p>.7 world.
We need at least two things:
· New IT management roles to coordinate the avalanche and assure material contribution at strategic, tactical and operational levels.
· Frameworks or Pathways to manage the journey from today to our goals.
Vendors and DOacies claim to have Roadmaps, but these basically say “Buy now from us. Then buy more.”
NNC developed baselining frameworks for each growth process at excruciating detail levels. But, NNC didn't know how to provide an operating model for change.
NNC client, Charlie Feld, took the NNC framework and made it an operating model. He pioneered it at Frito Lay as CIO and it became the basis of his executive management service.
We need someone to develop a framework and somebody to operationalize it. The IT4IT group is developing an ERP for IT, but, it's not getting the pickup it should be.
Reflecting Back and Looking Forward:
Legacy firms no longer seem to have the pride, fun and passion within the work that I got to experience in my career. Today, the pride, fun is pasted on by adding a distilled water foosball area to the gym catered by our Michelin 3-star chef. CEOs need to put fun, pride and passion in the work.
Mentors have been critical for me. I was blessed with brilliant mentors. My first career life mentor was General Douglas MacArthur. Invited to sit next to him at a lunch, I asked “as an ambitious high school student, what do you recommend I understand?"
“Find and go to the Camelots. They’ll be where the world is changing. I’d rather clean a latrine in Camelot than be a five-star general of something that doesn't matter. Camelots destroy themselves from within, so constantly be searching for the next.” I’ve been blessed with seven.
When interviewing people in IT odyssey visits, I ask "Who do you consider a mentor or sage advisor?" The typical paraphrased answer during the 2002-2015 period: "I don't need no mentor. I'm frickin' smart. Don't need old stuff that didn’t work."
What a level of arrogance (or ignorance). There is hope. Since 2016, the answer is becoming… “guess I should get one.”
Pundits constantly demand legacy firms be more like dotcom digital firms like Amazon, Netflix or Uber. They fail to recognize business context. Dotcoms were born digital without legacy products, markets, customers, staff and cultures.
Many have been built with OPM (Other People’s Money). UBER has lost over $17bn without a glimpse of profitability or way to recover the $17bn. Fortune or Forbes articles give dotcoms a pass focusing only on valuations and funding rounds vs. profitability? What legacy company today would be allowed to lose $17 billion? Dotcoms are playing another game. Legacy firms must craft, execute asymmetric strategies to be competitive.
In current culture, people feel entitled. “I don't want to ride in a taxi. I am entitled to an Uber. I expect to linkup with all my buddies and get Facebook for free.” Long term, this could be a major issue.
People spend 1-2 hours daily watching TV and pay $200/month for cable. Facebook suggests "We may need to charge for the eight hours daily you spend immersed in our site." The Entitlelistist impaired set their hair on fire and demand Congress end this dastardly threat.
Why does this matter:
· A culture of expecting free or non-sustainable services sets in and that can’t end well.
· Businesses need to make profits and not just live off OPM.
· Our best, brightest, most creatives are caught up in what may never be sustaining, profitable ventures.
· Many flit from one non-sustainable venture to another, not re-inventing sustainable, profitable businesses.
· Legacy businesses cry for new talent.
Both factors are dysfunctional at best. We need to restore understanding that if wanting to go to the future, we're going to have to bring money. Many best and creatives are caught up in Ponzi schemes based on the greater fool theory sticking it to the last investor.
Any Downturns in Life?
Yes, a huge one. Until leaving Gartner, my life had been one Camelot after another. Then, I made a catastrophic mistake thinking I could be an angel investor. I started Rogow Opportunity Capital, an angel capital firm. Someone should have just shot me that day to avoid the disaster.
As an active member of a group and part of the team taking on tough challenges, I excelled as a “Happenator”. When choosing investments, being on boards and indirectly being involved, I was hopeless.
What haunts me most is not the failure I had. It is that I had attracted many fine people to invest in these ventures and how much hard-earned money they lost. I'm still friendly with all of them. But, every time I sit down with them, I'm embarrassed for what I did not do well enough.
My Greatest Career Pride:
I joined Gartner at $13mm in revenue. Our management team grew it to $110mm and handed it off to a more fit-for-next-purpose team. I worked with Gartner as an Executive Fellow until 2016. According to the NY Times, over 100 early Gartner staff became millionaires. Today, Gartner has:
- Revenue approaching $3.3bn
- Market Cap of $12.75bn
- Profit of $6.3mm
- Staff over 11,000
- Customers over 12,000