#215: NCR: From Cash Registers to Omni Channel Retail

Welcome to Episode #215 of CxOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman, industry analyst, and
your host of CxOTalk. CxOTalk brings the most amazing people together,
the most innovative in the world together, for an in-depth conversation about topics
such as transformation and leadership, and the impact of technology on our organizations,
and our society. And today, it’s going to be a fascinating
conversation. We are speaking with Eli Rosner, who is the
Chief Technology Officer of NCR. Now, some of you may know NCR as National
Cash Register Company, which is how they were founded about 130 years ago. And so, we’re going to talk about that evolution
and what the company is doing today. Eli Rosner, thank you so much for being here! Thanks for having me! It’s a pleasure! So, Eli, tell us about NCR, how big the company
is, and what the company does. And you’re CTO; what does that mean? Yeah. So, the company, as you said is about 130
years old. I just want to be on record stating that I
was not there when they founded the company. Over 30,000 employees all over the world,
thousands of customers. We are serving clients in three primary segments:
financial services, hospitality, and retail. As such, we are having customers all over
the world in retail banking, in all kinds of stores, whether it’s a specialty store,
a grocer or petroleum, or in quick service restaurants, stadiums, cinemas, etc. My role within the company is the Chief Technology
Officer, [though] I actually wear multiple hats. One of them is the standard array with Chief
Technology Officer role, where I’m accountable to set the overall vision and strategy of
the company, and where we’re going from a technology perspective. The other part of my job is that I’m accountable
for all the software engineering within the company, so it’s like a glorified role of
VP of Engineering, so to speak. Lately, I’ve also had the added accountability
of being accountable for the project management practice. At NCR, where solution management is what
we go to market with, we separate between solution management and product management. There’s a different group that we call the
“Industry Solutions Group” that does that, and we work in close collaboration with them,
as all the products we develop are becoming part of the solutions that we go to market
with through the ISG group. So, you are running the products, and you’re
responsible for the technology vision. And, I think that when I was researching NCR,
the fact that the company is so old, 130 years old, of course, you’re not doing the same
thing now that you did 130 years ago, and so, how do you take the company through that
kind of a transition? It’s a very exciting challenge to understand
a company of that magnitude. You know, NCR is an iconic American company,
so I just want to make sure that I’m very clear that it’s a privilege and an honor to
be part of that transformation and reinvention of an American icon. The company has an unyielding heritage in
innovation. It’s one of the first enterprises in the world
that actually held sales conferences. So, the entire sales practice, and the best
practices around selling are very active in the company. And, the company was also into manufacturing
everything that they did in-house. So, they were not outsourcing a lot of the
manufacturing; everything was done in-house many, many years ago. Well, in August 2005, a significant event
happened in the company, where Bill Nuti, our CEO and Chairman as of today, joined the
company as a relatively young CEO, I think he was around 40. Bill took a company that had a perception
positioning in the marketplace as a hardware and services company, and started a very exciting
reinvention journey. And that reinvention journey has been going
on now for the last ten years, and now we’re going into the last leg of it, which is the
next ideas between 2015 and 2020. And, the reinvention process, in the first
five years, we streamlined all the manufacturing of the company. We laid the foundation to fuel the growth,
and between 2011 and 2015, acquired several software assets in the neighborhood of 3.6-3.7
billion dollars in all the divisions that we serve. And now, we’re going into the last phase
of the reinvention, which is very exciting, to pivot the company to a leadership position
into a platform-based business model that serves our only channel that delivers omnichannel
solutions. So, we definitely want to hear about what
you’re doing now. But, can you give us a sense of what was driving
this ten-year reinvention that you just mentioned? Why did you do it? Yeah, it’s a fair question, you know. And, I’ve got to take you back to 2005-2006. Bill Nuti is a unique person. He’s got the ability to see around corners. In 2005, Bill Nuti sat down with the executive
team and set a vision for the company that we want to lead how the world connects, interacts,
and transacts. Now, you know, when you think about 2005,
the iPhone was not around. We were still carrying portable DVD players. E-Commerce was about 8% of what it is today. So, if you think about the depth of the vision
that Bill had regarding repositioning the company to a global player and omnichannel,
you can get an appreciation of the strength and the depth of his ability to foresee the
future. Today, when we look at those three verbs,
“connect,” “interact,” and “transact,” and people are talking about the Internet of Things,
people are talking about platform-based business models; or there’s co-creation of value that’s
happening through interactions, interactions between pairs in different ecosystems. You can just see how that vision was far-reaching,
far-looking, and still applicable as of today. What Bill realized, is that there are significant
changes; cyclical and macro-trends; that are happening in the economy, in the world, in
the way that services transition into the front-end. You can think about different industries that
went through this transformation of becoming more self-service and handling more of the
transactions than the consumer. You can think about people standing in elevators
pushing some buttons to take you to some floor; you can think about gas stations, think about
Blockbuster replaced by Netflix and things like that. So, Bill saw that digital transformation that
is happening on the edge points and handing off the service over to the consumer, and
moving the transactions over to the consumer. That was why he felt the need and the necessity
for long-term sustainability, and that’s where he changed the vision and positioning of the
company. So, you talk about these edge points, and
that’s important because that’s the source of data that runs through your platform. So, maybe describe this from the outside in,
perhaps starting with the edge points and the types of data, and then you mentioned
omnichannel, and you said platform-based, and so maybe take us then through those pieces? Sure. Regarding the edge points that we have in
each of the industries we serve, think about the financial/banking sector. We have ATMs, interactive service terminals,
and kiosks. In the retail, we have a flexible checkout,
personal self-scanning, and all kinds of tablets for the associates to help cue in the stores,
specialty stores specifically. In the restaurants we have mobile points of
sale, we have kitchen controllers, we have handhelds, different payment mechanisms, digital
signage, various types of sensors, etc. Those are all the edge points that NCR is
delivering today in its hard work arsenal. So, if you think about the type of data that’s
generated across all those edge points, we are, by the way, running, just as a benchmark,
probably 650 million transactions every day for our edge points around the world. The number is likely to be higher, but I’m
trying to think conservatively here. And think about us as consumers, where a company
like NCR has access to information about us: where we eat, shop, bank, travel… I mean, every time you use the delta barcode
to check in, it’s our product that you’re using. If you check in at a kiosk in an airport,
it’s our product. We use an ATM for the most […], you know,
close to a million ATMs around the world, in millions of points of sale around the world. So, people are using us almost on a daily
basis, and we collect a wealth of information about transactional data, inventory data,
sales, loyalty programs, coupons, you name it. All this data is collected. Of course, transactional data at every restaurant
and point-of-sale, where the transaction is held, so there’s a wealth of information that
we’re collecting from all the edge points about actions that ask that we do as consumers. So you’re collecting this vast amount of
data, because NCR has got machines, devices, controllers, sensors, pretty much everywhere. That data comes in, and what do you do with
that data, now? Yeah. A lot of things. So, first of all, we are building a centralized
database of customer and consumer preferences, things that you like to do, so that we can
provide the data back to our clients and other companies. As you get service in those service points,
either at a retail bank, or a store, or a restaurant, we provide you with better service,
with better promotions. They know what the expectations that you have
are, and we can also help make the transaction across all those channels seamless in the
sense that that’s what all the channels are about, right? It’s like a 360° surround-sound music around
you. Regardless of where you are, you always hear
the same music, so to speak. So you can start an activity at home, on a
desktop, you can do it on the go on a mobile device, you can do it before you get to the
store, while you’re getting into the store, while you’re in the store, as you left the
store… So, all this data enables us to provide better
customer service to the consumers, who are our customers’ customers. So I think you need to elaborate that piece
of it. So, you’re collecting this data, and then
tell us who your customers are because you mentioned your customer’s customer. So, tell us who your customers are, and then
how does the data enable them to provide that omnichannel customer experience that you were
just describing? Our customers are retail banks, stores, and
quick-service restaurants, stadiums, and cinemas. Our customers’ customers are the consumers. It’s you and me, and everybody else who’s
listening to this call today, here. So, think about a retailer situation, where
you know where you shop, what you’re used to buying, the things that you buy more frequently
… We also have connectivity with other ecosystems like the weather so that we can help our customers,
for example, know when they can apply some kind of promotion, if there is any food that’s
sensitive to weather conditions, etc. So, think about it. When you go to a site, and you want to purchase
items: since we know your shopping patterns – it’s very similar, by the way, to what Amazon
does, are people who bought that also bought that, as well as that. So, we’re running similar correlation engines
for our customers, as well as enabling them to get access to all the transactional data
around it. When it does, they get to know you better. Let’s think of a light example. I believe that this tells the story significantly. If you go to a specialty store that you’ve
been buying from for some time, and you put something on your shopping list two weeks
ago, where you say, “You know, I want to be notified when there’s a specific tie or a
shirt that I was looking for at that store,” well, then you get a notification that your
item is available. As you get into the parking lot, our technology
enables the specialty store to know that you’re around, using beacon technology. As you get into the store, you can be identified
by a sales associate who is pulling all the information about you, your buying patterns,
your preferences, etc., then they can approach you and say, “Hey! Mr. Rosner, you were here two months ago. You bought a pair of jeans; you were looking
for a particular type? We have it in stock. And, by the way, there’s a great t-shirt that
can go nicely with the jeans you purchased a couple of months ago. If you’d like to see that, it’s all ready
for you in measuring room #5.” So you go to the room, and it’s all ready
for you to test. So, here’s a very specialized service that
we can provide because we know your buying preferences. As they’re helping you, they can say, “By
the way, there’s a special promotion for this item and the other item. We know you like purple, so we have a lot
of variety concerning shorts in purple now. Summer is coming, why don’t we go take a look
at those products?” And that’s how they cross-sell you and up-sell
you in a very personalized manner. So, you are supplying the source data. And then the platform that essentially provides
that correlation mechanism with all of these pieces of source data. That is correct. We have a technology platform that enables
us to collect and stream all this data, structured and unstructured data. We run some of the correlations, some of our
customers take the data as-is and run the correlations on their own or complement our
engines, and doing all the activities that I described earlier. And, are you providing the data to other software
providers, or are you selling this service directly to that customer of yours, but namely
the store or the retail chain? It depends on the type of the agreement that
we have concerning our ability to access the data. So, in cases where we have the license to
use the data in an aggregator, in an anonymized manner, we do that, and we provide it to third-party
companies so they can improve the service for our customers as well. And in all cases, our clients have access
to the data. What about the privacy issue? Because of course, it enables a lot of convenience
for consumers, because, “Hey! The store is going to give you, or recommend
to you some item that there’s high confidence in which you’ll be interested in it.” But at the same time, how do you avoid collecting
so much data, or being too intrusive that it becomes creepy? Yeah. Look, at the end of the day, the control of
how much data is exposed to the consumers, or pushed to the consumer, is all within the
supervision of the consumer themselves, and our customers. More specifically, all the programs that we’re
providing are an opt-in basis, meaning you have to opt-in and agree to get the service. You’ll be amazed at the amount of data that
specifically […]. Oh! It looks like Eli Rosner’s connection has
died. So, Eli Rosner, if you are out there in the
ether, then please just reconnect. In the meantime, I’m looking through some
of the comments on Twitter. [unintelligible]
Oh! Are we back? […] I think he’s going to reconnect. So, I’m looking through some of the comments
on Twitter right now, and Zachary Genes … [bell] Oh! It looks like we have Eli Rosner back. There you are! Welcome back! I don’t know what happened! [Laughter] You know, such is the way of the
internet. So I was just saying that Zachary Genes, who’s
listening, just tweeted out … Every time you check in at a Delta Kiosk, you use our
product. So your data sources are pretty much everywhere. But you were talking about the privacy implications,
and I also want to speak about the data science behind this. I’m not a data scientist, but [is there] any
insight that you can share with us about how you’re doing this magic? Yeah. So look, data privacy is a top concern, as
you can imagine, for us, specifically with all the data breaches that happened lately,
to quite a few of the large retailers as well as banks. And so, data is always protected, data is
obfuscated whether it’s a […], you know in storage, or in transport. And, the ultimate decision about what data
to show our customers resides within our customers’ hands and the relationship that they have
with their consumers. We will never give out data that is unique
to a particular person. We will always provide information in an aggregated,
anonymized manner. So that’s how we protect the customers’ privacy. So your customer is the bank or the retail
chain. They are the ones who are interacting with
the end-users, ultimately. Or, they’re the layer in between. So, it’s your machine, but it’s traversing
their policies, their privacy policies, their customer relationship policies, and so on. Exactly. And in most cases, the data flows in integration
or through the CRM system that our customers have just likely described. So we’re providing a service that indirectly
touches the end-consumers, you and me, but it always goes through the systems of our
customers: the retailers, or the banks, or the restaurants. And that’s what I was wondering about earlier
because obviously, there’s a close connection here between what you’re doing with the data,
and the personalization that the retailer, or the bank, is doing using their … could
be their call center, could be their CRM system, what have you. That’s correct. So, the banks will use, the banks, the retail,
the stores, whatever it is, they have their own CRM system in most cases. They get access to the data, you usually opt-in
to a loyalty program with them, and it’s in their discretion as to how you actually run
this program. You provide them a mechanism to collect the
data, and we provide it to them. Now, what about the data science? I’m assuming that you’re, and I shouldn’t
say that I’m assuming because I don’t want to make assumptions about anything, but what
kind of analytics do you provide? Do you employ data scientists? Do you think about predictive analytics, or
is it just correlation? How do you think about that data in a forward-looking
way? It’s a practice that we’re investing quite
a lot of money at NCR into. It’s a practice that gets a lot of attention
all the way to our CEO and leadership team. We are hiring, we have data scientists on
board, and we’re actively recruiting to anybody who’s listening, or knows anybody
who’s interested. We’re absolutely actively recruiting people
with those skills. They’re not easy to come by these days. So, we are doing all types of correlations
with the data. You can be thinking about very simple correlations
of just raw data collection, but you can also think about unstructured data that we’re collecting
from social networks in our customer service department, etc. So, we put all the data in a data platform
that we have that’s based on the Hadoop file system, and then we use streaming mechanisms
to be able to put the data in a data lake that enables us to look at it from all kinds
of angles. We look at it through any possible filter
that you may be thinking about. We’re also, in some cases, integrating with
machine learning, or intelligent pro-communicative services engines. If you think about Microsoft, LUIS, Language-Understanding
Intelligence Service, from Microsoft, we’re now thinking about integrating with systems
from IBM Watson, Salesforce Einstein, Google Deepmind, etc. So, the fact that we have surrounded all our
data, and all our capabilities with an API or an educational program or an interface,
specifically to the technical […] potentially a RESTful API, enables us to now interact
with all those other systems. More specifically, we are interacting with
the machine learning and cognitive science that are provided by those large players I
mentioned earlier. That’s interesting. So, you’re aggregating this huge amount
of data, more than 650 million transactions every single day, and it sounds like you’re
in the middle of a strategic project for you to think about what other platforms can you
integrate with, and what is the best way of taking advantage of that data? That is correct. Yeah, just to be accurate, Michael, we are
running through our systems almost 650 million transactions per day. We don’t collect all our data in our systems. It really depends on the arrangement that
we have with the customers concerning what they allow us to obtain, or not. The integration with other ecosystems is a
crucial element of our strategy here, where … I think a lot of companies have recognized
that the platform-based business model is getting stronger over the last several years. As a matter of fact, if you look at the large
market-cap companies, 100% of them are all practically platform players, and being a
platform player based on a platform-based business model means that you’re opening
up your systems and enabling others to co-create value together with you. So, that’s one of the key strategic pivots
that Bill Nuti’s taking the company towards: positioning the company from a leader in omnichannel
solutions, to a leader in omnichannel, platform-based business model solutions. Yeah, that’s fascinating. And, it’s true. The essence of a platform is making something
of value available to others so that there is this shared creation of value. Maybe, can you talk more about that? I think this is just such a fundamentally
important point, and it’s a point to which not every software company, and not every
company gets. We still have a lot of businesses that are
focused on, you know, “This is our island, and we’re going to protect the border.” You know, I don’t want to be political here
at all. So let’s just … [Laughter] … Let’s not
talk about borders and walls, so maybe just talk about ecosystems and platforms. [Laughter] That’s easier these days. So look, you’re right. There’s a significant shift in the industries
around us from a pipe-type of a business model, to a platform business model; and let me expand
on what that means: A “pipe” business model means you’re manufacturing, you’re distributing,
consuming, you’re servicing, done. So, it’s very transactional in nature. If you look at the large marketing companies
around us, and you can name companies; everyone knows Google, and Apple, and Facebook, and
all those; AirBnB and Uber; but, you can also think about Nike, who developed a complete
platform. Here is a manufacturer of sports equipment
that is now penetrating and working with the health ecosystem, right? Now they’re providing and integrating with
all kinds of health systems. So, the big difference is that with a platform-based
business model, you bring in producers of content, and consumers of content, into a
place where you create a pull, you create a magnet, because you have a lot of data to
bring them in. It’s interesting for them to join, you facilitate
the interactions between them, and eventually, they transact. They form a transaction. The role of the producer and the consumer
interchanges even during the transaction. Let me give you an example: Uber. As a driver, you are producing a service. As a passenger, you’re consuming the service. When you get the right [point] when you’re
done, you’re now producing content, which is feedback on the driver, etc. and the driver
becomes the consumer of this data. What Uber did; Uber doesn’t have any cars,
right? And they don’t actually produce much content,
but all they do is bring content from producers and consumers, and enable them to collect
together to co-create value on the platform. And you can see it with … You know, Facebook
doesn’t create any content. We create the content. We’re producers of content as well as consumers. Think about AirBnB: same business model. So, as we reflect on that shift from a pipes-
to a platform-based business model, where you have the creative feedback loop between
the participants on the platforms, the players on the platforms, this is what our customers
are looking for today. So, we have to provide them with the capabilities
to extend their systems to put down the barriers to entry to enable them to open their systems
up to other partners, developer partners, and other ecosystems. This is so that they can play with everybody
else and still provide a unique value, the relative competitive advantage, but they still
can play and extend their reach to other ecosystems. I want to remind everybody that you are watching
Episode #215 of CxOTalk, and we’re speaking with Eli Rosner, who is the Chief Technology
Officer at NCR. And right now, there is a tweet chat going
on using the hashtag #cxotalk. And, you can, and I hope you do participate,
and you can direct questions about any of this to Eli, and we’ll try to answer your
questions live right now. So, Eli, you were talking about the bringing
together of the buyers and the sellers to create value. So, can you give us some examples on your
platform regarding the use of the data that you’re providing, and the capabilities that
your platform offers? Sure! So, think about a consumer sitting in their
living room, and they’re using our mobile banking application. We have integrated with the sports systems,
so you know there is an NFL game coming up. And, you get a notification on their mobile
device that if you open a credit card account with a financial institution, you will now
get a discount of 100 dollars of a large screen TV. So, here is an example of where NCR has a
competitive edge in the sense that we’re collecting data from three different verticals: retail,
financial, and hospitality. We’re unique in that sense, and by putting
this data together and creating the correlations between them, we’re providing a very robust
service. So, you go ahead and open the credit card
account on your phone; you get a coupon that you can later on go to a retail store and
redeem. As a matter of fact, we’ve just shown an excellent
demo that integrates virtual reality capabilities to you in your living room, so all you do
is put on the goggles, and you go into a virtual sales room. A salesperson on the other end is picking
up a set of goggles, and now you’re together in a virtual room looking at different types
of TV’s. You look at those TV’s, you eventually place
an order for the TV, and we’re integrating with a delivery service, so you don’t have
to leave the comfort of your living room. The TV is delivered to your house. Now, you’re watching the game, the NFL game
that you bought the TV for, or whatever. And then during the game, we see that your
team is winning, or whatever, and we send you promotions to a specific restaurant, where
you know you like to eat, and we send the same message to your friends who enable you. Our technology allows you to open a tab to
a bunch of your friends, you open a tab from the comforts of your living room; you haven’t
left home yet; before you even meet them at the bar. And, you met them at the bar, or the restaurant,
our technology there is used to collect all the data, the tab is open, everybody gets
a QR code; everybody eats. And at the same time, we can also distribute
promotions to all those participants that you invited to your open tab. So you can see that I took you on a very simple
use case of a person that sits in their living room; signs up for a promotion from a bank,
for retail, for a TV, then purchasing it; you know, with integration with the sports
system, etc. Then we’re delivering it to your home, you
going to a bar or restaurant, open a tab using our technology, and then we send you more
promotions, etc., etc. And then, as you’re done, by the way, a couple
of days later, as you use your mobile banking application and get a receipt that you spent
$150 in a bar or restaurant, wherever that is. It’s a clickable item; you can click and get
a detailed account of the transactions of what you bought at the bar. So, let’s say there’s a type of hamburger
or a beer that you like. You click the beer, and you say, “Where can
I find that beer now around me?” By the way, we can send you promotions to
a particular location where you can find that specific type of beer that you’re looking
for. And this is how we create the feedback loop,
and putting data from all the three verticals into an interesting scenario use-case, and
you can see how they think on things to be developed over time. Yeah, and all of the data that you’re collecting
feeds in, so over time, the entire thing becomes richer; and as you have more data sources,
and more customers, the whole thing, the platform, becomes larger, which then serves all of your
clients. Exactly! What you just described is the pull. So if you think about “pull, facilitate, and
match,” which are the three activities that a platform provider needs to happen, and they
have to create the pull for consumers and producers to want to come and play on the
platform. They, later on, facilitate interactions between
the producers and the consumers. Eventually, they find a match, and they enable
you to transact between the producer and the consumers, and then they can change roles. The more data they have, the more people who
want to use the platform, the more people use the platform, the better service you can
provide because now you have access to more data. And that is the […] that creates the power
of the platform. Now, one thing that we haven’t touched on
too much, which I think is important in this: We’ve been talking a lot about the technology
aspects of this, but again, NCR is a 130-year-old company. Anytime you have a company that is undertaking
really such a dramatic change as you’ve been describing, it’s never easy, and it requires
cultural shift as well. And so, would you share with us some of the
business experiences, the internal business experiences, and transformation experiences,
and cultural [experiences], that you have been involved with over this last ten-year
period? Yeah. You know, there’s a saying that culture eats
strategy for breakfast, and it’s true. You know, the technology aspects of what we’re
trying to do here are fascinating, very challenging; but at the same time, they’re not the hardest
part. The hard part is actually like what you’re
saying: It is the culture change. I call it the “DNA change” that has to happen
within the company, and it has to do with A) opening yourself up to looking at what’s
going on. It’s an outside-in type of thinking. Start with the customers’ needs, start with
what others are doing, benchmark yourself all the time. The second component is regarding the stronger
need and desire for innovation. So, we’ve established a process of design
thinking at the company. We’ve trained hundreds of associates who are
ready, and we will apply the training across the whole company. It’s a very innovative process for creative
design. The teams love it, the teams … You know,
they’re usually heads-down when implementing solutions. When you give them the environment and provide
them with the tools to actually innovate, great things happen. You know, we’re a company with a very deep
heritage in innovation, but applying the design thinking process is a major cultural change
that we’re driving within the enterprise, all the way from Bill Nuti’s level and down. We are building a world-class headquarters
in Atlanta, in Midtown, adjacent to Georgia Tech. We’re going to move in at the end of the year
2018. We have two towers there. These are going to be state-of-the-art headquarters
with anything you can imagine of restaurants, a gym, open space, recreation areas, whatever. Anything that anybody could ask for is there. Our proximity to Georgia Tech will enable
us to attract and hire the right talent, and it’s a very, very exciting move. So, it’s a performance-based culture, innovative,
design thinking, outside-in thinking, benchmarking, and putting ourselves in a place where we
can get excellent, very easy access to incredible talent. You mentioned that design thinking has become
critical, and so I’m assuming that design thinking is a catalyst, in a sense, to help
drive the kind of culture change that you’re looking for. But at the same time, there’s a little bit
of a “Which comes first?” Because how do you create the cultural acceptance
and understanding of the lessons that design thinking will bring inside the DNA of the
company? That’s a hard thing to do. It’s a hard thing to do, I agree. You know, I found that the best way to achieve
results in those situations is by showing people the art of the possible. So, there are different approaches to getting
those initiatives done within the company. One says, “Let’s do a broad adoption of
the whole process, and go all-out, and make it happen.” And the other one is more of an Agile-type
of an approach, which is the methodology that we use here not just for development, but
thinking about everything that we do. It’s all about being agile, failing fast,
etc. So, what I mean by that specifically with
regards to design thinking: We took a very small team of people, and we said, “Let’s
start it, and based on the outcome of the design thinking, we’re going to do a 90-day
challenge.” So we put the design thinking process for
two or three days, we went out, we validated with the customers … And again, we’re
talking about a very small thing. We’re talking about probably something in
the neighborhood of a single scrum team; six, eight, at the most ten people. Those people go out into a mentation phase,
and within two months, two to three months, we have a working proof-of-concept. When people see the outcome, the video of
that 90-day challenge, the excitement, and the word-of-mouth that they get from the other
employees, it’s like … It catches fire. It’s just … I can tell you that in the beginning,
we had to pull people to come into the training. Today, our waiting list could be six to nine
months until you could get the training. And by the end of 2017, we will probably train
another thousand employees on the design thinking process. It’s very exciting, all the way from the top. We have an interesting question from Twitter,
from Kate/Rabbit, so I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. And, she says, “When you’re focused so
heavily on the customer, how do you introduce change?”, changes, product changes, “into
the mix?” Because, obviously there needs to be a balance
between being customer-centric, and at the same time being innovation-centric coming
from inside you. So, how do you balance that? The cure to that is balance. Input to what we develop as a company, and
it comes from anybody in the business, and any significant external source possible. We’re absolutely innovating together with
our customers. We’re inviting them to all types of innovation
events: hackathons, datathons, codeathons, whatever you want to call those. So, the voice of the customer is crucial to
us. And, even as we go through our Agile development
process, we invite our clients to participate in the design reviews of the products that
we develop. So, that gives us the power to deliver a product
that we know will have some market adoption. Now, I’ve got to tell you, there are many
ideas that we play with, that we toy with, that don’t get to an implementation eventually
at the end, and it’s okay for us. We learn from it. For example, the virtual reality thing is
not something that we’re going to go to market in 2017 [with], as an example. Nevertheless, it opened people up to understand
the art of the possible, of what can be done. And as our sales force has now gone out, and
showing that NCR is a thought leader, and an innovative company, we can talk to them
about what can be done with machine learning, with a recommendations engine, with chatbots,
with artificial intelligence, with virtual and augmented reality. So we show that we’re thinking about all of
those things, applying them, and balancing our investment in innovation based on a framework
of 70 – 20 – 10. So, 70% of what we invest will be applied
to production in the next 12-18 months, 20% will follow a year later, and 10% is the dreaming
stuff that’s going to happen three to five years from now. But, we all know today with the pace of technology,
you can’t plan for the next five years. You’ve got to plan for the next two, three,
four quarters with the pace of technology. We’re investing in a very balanced approach. We have about five minutes left. So, you mentioned salespeople, and salespeople
are going out to present this broader vision. But, regarding the cultural dimensions that
were just talking about, sales seems to me a great one, and a challenging one, because
if you have a sales force that historically sold very transactionally, they sold … “We
can sell you this thing out of the price book, and that thing out of the price book,” and
it’s essentially just a tool. And now, you’re selling something that’s broader,
and that’s more strategic. So, that requires the sales force to thinking
differently, and that’s just one department out of the company. So again, I’m still interested in how you
undertake and make that change, and make that leap successfully across such a large corporation. You said you employ about thirty thousand
people. Yeah. That’s correct. It’s a very fair question, and I’m not
going to sit here and tell you that we’re done with our transformation process. You know, the challenge that Bill Nuti and
the leadership team took upon themselves ten years ago, eleven years ago, and now we’re
in the last phase takes courage. And it’s a complete transformation of the
company in all the groups. It’s sales, marketing, professional services,
human resources, finance, technology, you name it. Product management solution management, everybody
is changing. You know, to support the sales organization
in the transformation, we are putting people in leadership positions that understand what
is it that you’re trying to do, but I think the most important point is that we are right
there with them in the field. So, my team, myself, and the leadership team
are out-measured based on the number of interactions we have with customers, and me specifically
as the leader of the technology, and the visionary from a technology perspective for the company,
I visit customers a lot. I don’t think there are two weeks where I
don’t visit one of the customers. Sometimes, it’s for good reasons, sometimes
we deal with crises, but we try to turn it into lemonade, so to speak. But, we’re listening to the customers, we’re
right along the salespeople as they go out and sell. We love going out with the sales team, showing
off, and helping them. And as they hear us telling the story and
the pitch about the company, they are trained during that process. And I got to tell you, a lot of people are
stepping up, upgrading their skills, the leadership is encouraging it, and it’s happening. It’s very exciting to see it happening. So, it looks like the support, but it’s more
than support. It sounds like the leadership of the company
takes this … That is one of your core, strategic priorities. And that’s the glue that sort of propels it
forward. That is correct. Sales enablement is one of the top strategic
enterprise business initiatives, driven all the way from the top, from Bill Nuti to our
new president Mark Benjamin, and down to all the leadership there in the company. We have just about a minute left, and I’ll
ask you as a final question: What advice do you have to others who might be faced with
this kind of massive cultural and technological change that you’ve been describing? I would say first have the courage to do it. Second, it’s not all going to be rosy. Prepare yourself for some failures and stumbles
along the way, but as we all know, what matters is not how many times you fall, but how many
times you stand up. Be creative, keep an open mind, look at what’s
happening out there. I got to tell you; there are so many players,
companies that are becoming truly successful around us. Learn from other people’s experience, apply
external experience where you can support people. Always assume positive intent, as you work
with employees that are going through this transformation, assume positive intent; over-communicate,
lead through a transformation. Leadership courage is what Bill Nuti had ten
years ago, and that’s why we’re on the verge of such an exciting transformation we’re going
through. I love that. Assume positive intent. And you know, isn’t that in some way the
essence of building a successful platform, because you’re sharing the wealth? Exactly. Couldn’t say it better! Okay! Well, thank you so much! Eli Rosner, CTO of NCR. Thank you so much for being here, and sharing
your experience with us! Thanks so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure! Everybody, you have been watching Episode
#215 of CxOTalk. We will be back next week. Please go to our facebook page, and “like”
us! [Laughter] Have a great day, and we’ll see
you soon. Bye-bye!

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