Although open source tools might pale in comparison to Kryptonite and radioactive spider bites, and battling legacy systems isn’t nearly as cool as bringing down supervillains, these modern-day tech heroes had plenty of valuable insight to share about how to lead a successful digital transformation.
Finding Technology Fit for a Superhero
To kick off the discussion, moderator and Acquia Vice President of Products Girish Bettadpur asked each of the panelists who their favorite superheroes were growing up. For Brian Mackey, director of marketing tech and data services at IBM, the answer was easy: “Batman, because he wasn’t born with any special powers, but had the best tech. I always was excited to see what new tech he would use to augment a normal guy.”
Shifting gears from superhero tech, to enterprise tech, Mackey said before he joined IBM, the company was tied up in legacy systems that couldn’t be integrated with modern-day dashboards and other marketing tools. For IBM, the challenge was to find a CMS that could be used by nontechnical marketers to easily create, publish and manage webpages, while providing the industrial strength that a tech behemoth like IBM could turn to for a variety of use cases.
The entire panel agreed and added that Acquia’s open source technology not only makes things easier for their marketing and tech teams, but shortens the time it takes to churn out content at scale as well.
Showing Your Team a Better Way
“Superman,” said Tom Solodyna, senior director of global software development at Nasdaq, when asked who his favorite superhero was growing up.
“I always wanted to be the center of attention. So Superman fit very well,” Solodyna said. “Everyone had to watch him. That transitioned into computer science and at my first startup I’d be like ‘Oh I can fix that,’ and I’d go off three-four days and be like, ‘Yep, I built it.’ Took me about 10 years to realize sometimes buying is better than building. And now I have to convince my team that buying is better than building.”
For Solodyna, the challenge at Nasdaq has been to take 3,000 Nasdaq websites that were on two 10-15-year-old disparate platforms, and bring them onto one, easy-to-use platform. And persuading stakeholders wasn’t easy.
“The customer’s not necessarily the client that’s paying for the website. It could also be the sitebuilding team that we have in-house,” Solodyna said. “You have to take input from all the different sides to see not just what the biggest bang for the buck is, but also what you think long term benefits are going to be.”
With Acquia and Drupal, the long-term benefits were clear — the ability to quickly and effectively keep tabs on thousands of websites around the world without having to manage any hardware. Today, by employing Acquia, Nasdaq has successfully moved 1,500 of their websites onto the platform, with plans to transition the other half over by next summer.
The Perks of Being A Digital Platform Hero
When Kelvin Lim, the manager of digital operations at Roche Diabetes Care, was asked who his childhood idol was, and his answer, the Invisible Man, surprised the audience.
“I’m shy and just want to hide behind the scenes,” Lim said.
Lim acknowledged that in his current role, he’s needed to learn how to be visible to support his team and Roche’s stakeholders, which turned out to be the most rewarding part of his job.
“I go in knowing (my teammates) are people I could hang out with. I also manage the team that does website support, so we are helping site owners day in, day out,” Lim said.
The rest of the panel agreed — the “people” they work with are the the most rewarding part of their jobs.
“At Nasdaq, we touch a lot of different companies,” Solodyna said. “You end up getting a lot of time with some very influential people that you get opinions from.”
Mackey said in his first job he was “putting his headphones on and coding (his) brains out for 8-10 hours a day.”
It wasn’t until he went onsite to a customer to see the real-world applications of IBM’s tech that he really fell in love with being a digital platform hero.
“That just really ignited it for me,” Mackey said. “I was just so much more energized to do my very best — seeing what I’d done put to use.”