Chief Subtitles

by Wiemer KuikNovember 2, 2018

He looked at me with complete amazement. Bewildered. After doing the track for Business Process Management with me as lector he was used to me being a bit weird. But this one caught him off-guard.

We were discussing his BPM thesis today. Good work, ticked all the boxes for the HU University (interesting set of rules they have) and more important: it was useful for him and for his employer. Translating BPM to software development, online retail, big scale (one of the largest one in the Netherlands). Creating a relevant software development capability model, applying constraint analysis to find the bottleneck, and applying six sigma, value stream mapping and most of all common sense: very good work. I was impressed, smart kid. So when it came to the part of the grade, the final score for his work, I asked him: what would You give this thesis? Amazement, complete silence. And then he gave a very accurate list of went well, what went wrong, and where he cut a few corners. And the score he gave himself is what I had in mind.

When we had the official University part done we came to the real reason I do this work.

What could we do better in this work to have the enormous quality stand out better, to be easier to see for your managers, to not only be right, but also get other people to see the light. What can you do to expose the true business value of you technical correct analysis.

The true value is still hidden in the Tech. The problem and the solution are there, the enormous impact on the software development is there. And then if you say that in your company Business = IT,  just add the business reason to implement this solution as well, make a mini business case. Make it easy on the business side, on the decision makers. Make it a gift. Get from being right, to actual implementation.
Subtitles. Business subtitles.

We were invited by one of our customers. He wanted us to convince another part of the company that what we are doing on making his contact centre smarter would be very useful for them as well. Applying AI, machine learning to make their contact centre, almost largest one in NL, smart.

Voice recognition, voice to text, keyword extraction, data enrichment, domain harvesting, automatic script selection, all the good Tech stuff this team of brilliant Trifork youngsters does. And as always: we do demos to show that it works, very few slides. Real life demos rule. And I strongly believe my team members should do the presentation, not me. They do the work, they get to show the results in front of the customer.

And he did great, the customer really saw for the first time that all this AI stuff is real, here, today, something he can start doing right now. And whenever I saw one of the audience members with a puzzled look in their eyes I chipped in. Reframing the tech just shown, rephrasing the tech speak in business terms. Simplifying for the rest of the world what these smart young tech kids find so logical, so normal, that they skip the first part and start in the middle. And sometimes lose the audience in the process.
Subtitles, Business subtitles.

The last big presentation was on Thursday this week. We had the final presentation of day 5 of our accelerate for AI workshop. This A4AI is our 1-week approach to show the customer in just 5 days how their own data, combined with machine learning, can give a completely new set of options.

New options to solve real business problems. Problems related to growth, to costs, to revenue and market share. How a new pair of data glasses to look at business problems can help with true digital transformation.

The team did all the pre-work, and I invited all the developers to be there. You do the work, you present. All of you. No AI development can be any good without understanding the customer. What better way to understand your customer than just listen to the customer while presenting findings. Listen to the discussion, participate, live feedback loops. And as the first part of the presentation moved forward, with good findings, and some fancy Python scripts, some cool machine learning techniques, I chipped in as always.

Whenever the customer seems to lose track, gets lost in all the new Tech, I translate, simplify, reframe. During lunch, celebrating the success of the teamwork, they started to make fun of me. Again. Wiemers does his subtitles again. Chief subtitles.

Don’t you love it as your team starts making fun of you… And I guess I wear that title with honour. With pride. We have this great team of AI-machine learning experts, brilliant boys and girls. They do amazing work, solve real, big problems. Business problems. Show off all the tech skills in the process. And whenever the customer does not get that right away, I chip in, explain the business relevance. They will learn to do this themselves. By default. Until then: Master of the simplification, Chief Subtitles. Me.