Hi friends! I disappeared from the blogosphere for a while, but I’ve been as busy as ever. Last April I made my biggest career jump yet… I joined Cisco as the VP and CTEO of the Collaboration and Communication Group.
You may ask “What is a CTEO?”
Well, CTEO is a new position that my boss and I made up at Cisco. Many of you have heard of a CTO, which is a Chief Technology Officer. We’ve done something new here at Cisco, which is that we combined the traditional CTO team with the User Experience team in Cisco’s Collaboration Group. So, my team consists of about 20 CTO office types of people responsible for technology directions, architectures, and innovations. In addition, my team has about 80 user experience designers and user researchers who create the user experiences for Cisco’s Collaboration products. As you know, I’ve been passionate about the intersection of Experience and Technology for many years, so this combined role is a dream job for me, and I think the broader organization is catching on to the importance of CTEO.
Why did we combine User Experience and Technology? In a field like collaboration, the ultimate goal is to provide people with a great collaboration experience that improves how people work together. In collaboration, user experience drives technology needs and technology advancements enable great experiences. CTEO helps reinforce the importance of the intersection of Experience and Technology throughout the organization.
In my view, CTEO (both the individual and the organization) has a number of roles:
- Innovation: CTEO must promote innovation across the organization. It is natural for a business to become focused on near-term business needs, threats, and opportunities. CTEO must constantly be on the lookout for mid- and long-term technology and market threats, disruptions, and opportunities. Note that innovations cannot only be done by CTEO team members, but CTEO members must promote innovations by members of the broader organization and promote co-innovation with customers and industry partners as opportunities arise.
- Architecture: CTEO must promote an architectural approach across the business group’s various product lines to create platforms that can be leveraged across businesses and to provide interoperability for a broader solution offering. The organization may consist of a number of product lines that may not naturally work together. While it may be impossible to force all the products to work together instantly given the demands of the business, an architectural approach helps the various business groups continue to move forward in their own business while working towards a greater solution.
- User Experience: CTEO must contribute and promote user research and user experience design in the individual products and in the product portfolio. User research helps the business understand true customer needs and helps direct the business product portfolio accordingly. User research also provides usability testing for products to ensure ease of use. User experience design provides actual visual, interactive, and industrial design for the various products. This includes providing design consistency across the portfolio of products.
- Process and Culture: CTEO must facilitate the process and culture of the organization to promote innovation, architecture, and user experience. Because CTEO does not develop products itself, it is very much a position and organization of influence and must work well with the broader organization and must enable the broader organization. Note that having great designers is not sufficient to create great experience products; rather, creating great experience products requires the broader organization to work towards this goal. To be successful, we need the whole organization pushing for innovation, architecture, and user experience.
Well, this is my definition of what a CTEO does. What do you think? Is CTEO an important role in an organization? I am the CTEO for Collaboration. What other industries could use a CTEO? What would you do if you were CTEO for a day?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new role!