Why Your Old Performance Management Sucks – The Overhaul Needed for Agile Digital Transformations

I despise the yearly performance management process.

Once a year, managers and leaders care enough about their employees’ goals and development plans and must ceremonially record objectives in HR’s performance management system. At a designated mid-year time, the alerts go out to managers to complete their midyear review, and sometime toward the end of the year, they complete a final evaluation.

Performance Management Sucks

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How to Reduce Costs and Delight Customers with Intelligent AI Search

Around this time of year, one of my bosses used to say to me, “Isaac, read the tea leaves.”

I was a CIO at the time, and he wanted me to review the economic forecasts, company financials, and the other executives’ moods to sense what innovations and investments people would be most receptive to over the next 6-12 months.

Delight Customers and Reduce Costs Intelligent AI Search

AI Search is a force multiplier delivering efficiencies and improved experiences

If I were doing this analysis today, inflation, recession, and news of layoffs at high-tech companies and large enterprises would dominate my close-range field of view.

But when I look a little past these economic conditions, I also see how improving customer and employee experiences are critically important for the company. We need to grow by retaining customers and adding new ones while energizing employees on a knowledge and tech-enabled future of work.

These conditions suggest that improving AI search experiences should be at the top of my digital transformation priorities. I know AI search experiences are force-multiplying investments because they impact revenue and cost efficiencies when improving customer and employee experiences.

CIOs can consolidate platforms and reduce maintenance costs

Today, CIOs should prioritize AI search to reduce costs. Recent research published in the report Enterprise Search: The Unsung Hero points to several areas where high-tech and large enterprises can find them. They include

  • 26% only use internal resources for enterprise search implementation, maintenance, and tuning needs, without considering more efficient outside partners with deeper expertise.
  • 85% manually tune search experiences to improve relevancy, and 26% report tuning is a significant effort.
  • 25% or more of respondents report that enterprise search implementations are complicated by many issues and significant delays.

These three points suggest that companies can find cost reductions and efficiencies by revisiting their search experiences. CIOs are likely to find multiple search technologies being used to support search in different business units, customer-facing experiences, and employee workflows. IT and digital transformation leaders can consolidate into a single platform, deploy across multiple business units, and connect experiences from marketing and sales through customer support.

But consolidating to which platform and with what capabilities?

It better be easy to use and deliver speed to value. In the research, only 19% said yes to having the resources and expertise necessary to deliver excellence in enterprise search.

CIOs must also select platforms that help reduce ongoing support costs, and some platforms are just not easy buttons that simplify development, tuning, or maintenance. It’s one reason why many DevOps teams spend too much effort on search experiences and have too few business outcomes to show for it.

The solution: Low-code, AI-search experiences led by a search center of excellence

So how can CIOs reduce costs and deliver improved experiences? Here are three key ingredients:

  1. Research, POC, and select an AI Search platform that delivers better end-user experiences while reducing maintenance costs from all the work to tune result rankings. An AI Search platform has out-of-the-box recommendation engines and uses search analytics to personalize search results based on how different user personas respond to the content.
  2. Improve DevOps productivity to optimize end-user experiences with a search platform that supports pro-code and low-code development capabilities. This provides product managers and DevOps teams flexibility in implementing multiple experiences from a centralized search platform managing both structured and unstructured data. For example, marketers and salespeople can have a search embedded in Salesforce, while customer support has a customized low-code app with richer search features. DevOps teams can then use their preferred JavaScript frameworks to optimize customer journeys by developing personalized experiences
  3. Establish a search center of excellence (SCoE) that enables collaboration between business and DevOps while promoting best practices in developing end-user experiences. Each business unit or department can develop search experiences by establishing a multidisciplinary agile team that includes subject matter experts from the business, user experience specialists, and pro-code or low-code developers. The SCoE supports each team by reviewing architectures, recommending solutions, sponsoring hackathons, and coordinating learning and training events.

Like a good recipe, creating a delightful customer experience requires harmony between a few key ingredients. For search, it’s the intersection of embracing AI capabilities, leveraging low-code development options, empowering customer-driven implementations, and enabling standard best practices. A flexible solution with these ingredients enables stakeholders, product managers, enterprise architects, and DevOps teams to focus on the experience rather than debate implementation details or struggle with ongoing maintenance issues.

The culture shift helps drive consolidation and efficiencies, and CIOs can demonstrate cost savings and how better customer experiences drive growth. A force multiplier!

This post is brought to you by Coveo.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Coveo.

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How to Win Stakeholders as Helpful Partners in Digital Transformation

 “Some are true collaborative geniuses. These maestros win over stakeholders to buy into visions and customer value propositions without getting sucked into appeasing everyone’s wish lists.”

Digital Trailblazer Winning over Digital Transformation Stakeholder

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Yes, it’s Agile --> Three Useful Questions that Block Scrum Teams

In Chapter 5 of my book, Digital Trailblazer, I share several of my stories of helping organizations define their agile ways of working. If you’re married to a framework, it’s hard for leaders to develop agile cultures and mindsets. And while empowering self-organizing teams is fundamental to agile, it doesn’t mean that agile leaders shouldn’t establish and adopt self-organizing standards.

Your Agile Way of Working by Isaac Sacolick


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15 Inspiring Resolutions for Digital Trailblazers, CIOs, and CDOs on Digital Transformation

New year’s resolutions help you reflect on the past and think about some objectives and changes you want for the upcoming year. I think they are useful tools for self-reflection, even if many of us forget about them once the pressures of the new year take over our days and cloud our longer-term thinking.

Resolutions for Digital Trailblazers, CIOs, and CDOs on Digital Transformation

This year is a little hard to figure out with the wake of the pandemic behind us, the threat of a recession looming, and the need to drive transformative change growing exponentially over time. Just look at Southwest Airlines’ failure during the holiday week for an example of an enterprise that didn’t transform fast enough, and maybe others like Meta’s overdrive to the metaverse and arguably risking today’s business. CIOs and CDOs (both chief digital officers and chief data officers) are facing a challenging year. 

It won't be easy to forecast and read the tea leaves this year. Digital Trailblazers will need to drive their organizations while also considering how to recession-proof their digital transformation strategies.

Do you need to author your own resolutions, or can you learn from others? I believe in the latter, so this year, I reached out to influencers in my network to share a resolution. You’ll find my resolution at the end.

  1. Protect revenue with AIOps: “Savvy CIOs will use technology to deliver extraordinary customer experiences in 2023 and help their organizations protect revenue. AI that can prevent and resolve outages at scale will be a key part of those CIOs’ arsenals.” – Mohan Kompella, VP of product marketing at BigPanda
  2. Improve service and team health: “Stop worrying about vanity metrics like how many nines your service is available. Resolve to set well-defined, realistic reliability and performance targets at the individual service level and use automation to ensure service health and avoid team overload.” – Kit Merker, chief growth officer, Nobl9
  3. Accelerate customer-driven innovation: “My entire career has been in customer-facing roles, even when I was CIO at Salesforce. I’m coming into this year as the new CEO of Propel Software, and my goal is to accelerate our pace of innovation so our employees, customers, and stakeholders can be more successful tomorrow than they are today. Our next chapter is about taking a maniacal customer focus and scaling it so we can serve thousands more effectively and efficiently.” – Ross Meyercord, CEO of Propel Software
  4. Accelerate hybrid working: “Make this the year you embrace the global technology revolution: remote work, automation, and diverse teams. Go beyond the limits of your city, your existing installed capacity, and the local talent. Don’t let limitations of the past be the stopper of your best ideas!” – Arturo Garcia, CEO, DNAMIC
  5. Embrace low-code solutions: “In 2023, IT leaders will have to figure out ways to do more with less, which will require new solutions. To tackle this challenge, IT leaders should resolve to embrace high-performance low-code tools. This will help meet critical business needs amidst the increasingly fast-paced innovation and complexity demands, improve developer productivity while reducing developer frustration, and deliver technology solutions customers expect.” – Patrick Jean, CTO, OutSystems
  6. Integrate customer with employee experiences: “Many companies have spent the past few years fine-tuning their internal processes. This year, I anticipate that organizations will spend more effort and budget connecting internal backend business processes with external customer-facing processes to reduce the chaos of managing interactions across multiple channels for customers and businesses.” – Stanley Huang, co-founder and CTO at Moxo
  7. Overcome customer experience bottlenecks: To deliver top-notch customer experience and reinvent offerings, overcome three hurdles: (1) lack of contextual engagement, (2) pervasive information silos, and (3) inordinately high IT dependency. These bottlenecks inadvertently lead to higher turnaround time for customer service, mishandling customer complaints, error-prone processing, growing operational costs, and dwindling customer loyalty. Anurag Shah, VP and head of products and solutions at Newgen
  8. Shift-left and double-down continuous testing: “As developers, engineers, and QA professionals increasingly prioritize mobile experiences, IT teams need to be laser-focused on developing quality mobile apps and features while also resolving app quality issues across the SDLC. Shifting test left and right throughout the development lifecycle by employing a devops test toolchain will facilitate a better developer experience while also reducing risk and increasing ROI.” – Marcus Merrell, VP of technology strategy at Sauce Labs
  9. Tame infrastructure chaos: “Due to the increasing complexity of infrastructure, my team’s resolution for 2023 is to help businesses tame the chaos of infrastructure. IT and DevOps teams can deploy and manage environments more easily, businesses have better visibility and understanding of costs, and developers can increase productivity.” – Edan Evantal, CTO of Quali
  10. Expand Reliability Mindsets to Business Teams: “With this new socio-technical definition of reliability, we predict teams entirely outside of engineering will prioritize it in their process and culture. Consider a customer-facing team, like sales. When landing new clients, the team must ensure continuity even if people are out of the office. They need consistency in their messaging and engagement to prevent any deals from falling through the cracks. They must manage unplanned work interfering with planned work, just like engineers dealing with incidents. The reliability mindset, along with processes and tooling, is the best way for these teams to uplevel these skills.” – Jim Gochee, CEO of Blameless  
  11. Accelerate to data lakes: “Enterprise adoption rates of lakehouse technologies are skyrocketing. We’re seeing lots of movement in companies embracing open source, file and table formats. Will data warehouses go away in a year? We can’t say yes for sure, but trends are pointing in that direction.” – Tomer Shiran, co-founder and CPO, Dremio
  12. Prioritize Your Day: “Do not succumb to the siren songs of ‘easy wins’ or ‘urgent matters.’ Instead, I will focus on what’s important. I will organize my schedule so I can do something important every day.” – Marko Anastasov, co-founder of Semaphore CI/CD.
  13. Focus on a healthy lifestyle: “My 2023 resolution is a health conscience one and will align with the seasons. My resolution is no carbs or sugar (including alcoholic beverages) after sunset - so after around 8 pm during the summer and 5 pm in the winter. If I decide to partake, I must do ten pushups before each drink post-sunset.” – Kashyap Deorah, CEO of HyperTrack 
  14. Attack #data #integration complexity: #DataSprawl - Tyler James Johnson, co-founder and CTO at PrivOps.
  15. Commit to lifelong learning: “Every day, write a little, read more, and invest even more efforts to reach out to people and learn from them. Ask questions, refine your perspective on how you should spend your day, and tune your longer-term vision.” – Isaac Sacolick, President of StarCIO and author of Digital Trailblazer, Driving Digital, and this blog, Social, Agile, and Transformation.

Also, see my latest post on enlightening books to read in 2023 and join the community of Digital Trailblazers.

Books on Digital Transformatio


Join the Digital Trailblazer Community

Digital Trailblazer Community

At the end of every chapter in Digital Trailblazer, find the URL to get access to my community and supplementary content for aspiring transformation leaders.

The Digital Trailblazer Community is free for a limited time, so I hope you’ll read the book and join us!

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My Enlightening Books to Read in 2023 for Digital Transformation Leaders

I know Digital Trailblazers commit to lifelong learning, and recent Pew research shows that 75 percent of adults read books in any format - either print, digital, or both. So, while we all read blogs, watch videos, and listen to podcasts, there's much to learn and an opportunity to relax with a good book. 

So, as in past years, I am sharing my top book reads of 2022. There are five I am calling out as must-reads for digital transformation leaders, and others depend on your interests and cover agile, innovation, AI, and the metaverse. I also added one special topic about humanity.

Isaac Sacolick's 2002 Book Reads

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A Huge Thanks to My Fantastic 2022 Supporters and Digital Trailblazers

Before I say goodbye to 2022, I want to thank the people and companies that contributed to my successful year.

In 2022, I published over 130 articles, and my top subjects were about data science data governance, dataops (29 posts), digital transformation (25), agile ways of working (19), and DevOps (15). Most of my writing appears on this blog (54 posts), InfoWorld (41), and the rest on eight other websites. The best way to keep up with my writing is by subscribing to my monthly Digital Trailblazer Newsletter.

I also spoke at 60 in-person and virtual events, with the most popular keynote on how Digital Trailblazers are the secret to successful digital transformation. My speaker page has a list of upcoming events. I also published 23 short videos on the Driving Digital Standup

I want to thank the many people and companies that published, sponsored, and contributed to my work in 2022. 

Isaac Sacolick Publishes Articles and Keynotes  in 2022

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