On this episode of The Bridge, I’m joined by Gary Sorrentino, CIO at Zoom. We’re talking about how 2020 changed everything and what the future of collaboration and productivity looks like in today’s world.
Zoom’s frictionless communications platform is the only one that started with video as its foundation, and they have set the standard for innovation ever since. That’s why they’re an intuitive, scalable, and secure choice for large enterprises, small businesses, and individuals alike.
During this episode, we talk about the hard questions employers must ask themselves before asking employees to return to work in the office and what the impacts on collaboration and productivity might be from these decisions.
We also dive into how Zoom went from a noun to a verb, its evolution from a meeting app to a platform providing solutions for employees, customers, and developers, their goal of shaping the future of work, productivity and collaboration, and so much more.
Topics covered in this episode:
- Gary’s experience in the technology and finance industries.
- The role of Global CIO at Zoom and the importance of understanding client needs in providing practical solutions.
- The responsibility that comes with providing a technology that has changed how we work since 2020.
- Expanding Zoom’s platform to provide solutions that eliminate or decrease burnout and increase productivity.
- How Zoom had to adapt culturally to overcome challenges during the pandemic.
- The need for upskilling employees to work differently rather than simply training them.
- The importance of earning employees’ commute by creating a collaborative environment that people want to come to.
- The difficulty of measuring productivity for knowledge workers and the problem of proximity bias in the workplace.
Predictions for the next 18-24 months.
ABOUT GARY SORRENTINO
Gary Sorrentino serves as Zoom’s Global CIO, after spending over two years as our Global Deputy CIO. A former Managing Director for J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management, Gary was the Global Head of Client Cyber Awareness and Education.
For over 12 years, Gary was the Chief Technology Officer for J.P. Morgan AWM’s global technology infrastructure initiatives, where he managed its Data Privacy program and was responsible for Infrastructure, Application and End User Technology Production Support. In 2014, he assumed a new role as the lead for their Cybersecurity efforts and developed a firm wide “Protect the Client” Cyber program designed to raise cybersecurity awareness among employees and clients.
With almost 40 years of experience in Information Technology, Gary has served in various other IT leadership positions in firms across the financial services industry. Prior to joining J.P. Morgan in 2005, Gary was Head of Global Infrastructure and Head of Technology Efficiencies at Citi Private Bank, where he was responsible for Global Infrastructure Support and strategic technology initiatives. Other roles he has held include Global Technology CFO at Credit Suisse and North America IT Controller at UBS.
Scott Kinka (00:00):
Hi, and welcome to the Bridge. My guest this week is Gary Sorrentino. This is an episode I have been looking for for some time. Gary is the global CIO at Zoom, a company I’m assuming all of our listeners know, and likely have accounts at, at some point in their business. We’ve been running past each other in hallways at industry events for a little while now, talking about when we were gonna do this. We finally made it happen. I think, Gary, you just got off a plane actually to make this recording, is that right?
Gary Sorrentino (00:31):
I just flew in from Vegas just to make this recording
Scott Kinka (00:33):
I feel honored. I’m honored. I appreciate that. Thank you very much. Gary’s also on the other end of the camera. He’s used to giving the talk and asking questions in many ways. So I’m interested in this Gary, you know, we’ll just jump right into it. First off, tell us about you. I think most people are familiar with Zoom. Maybe not as much about Gary, where you live, what you’ve done, how you got to where you are. Just give us a little bit of background so we know a little bit more about Gary.
Gary Sorrentino (01:02):
Great. And thanks for having me. so my background is, I’m about 43 years in technology now. I’ve been doing this forever. It’s the only industry I’ve ever worked in. I started right out of college and high school, like early 1980. Most of my career’s been on Wall Street, so I did four of the banks. Actually two of the banks are consolidating now. So maybe I only did three banks, so I went through UBS and Credit Suisse, spent time at Citigroup, and I spent my last 14 years with JP Morgan. My background has always been some form of technology, even though I was a CFO for Credit Suisse for a while there. And it’s also been on the cyber side. So I’m a CSO, a CTO and a CO. And around 2019, just before the pandemic around October, I decided to retire 40 years after leaving JP Morgan. And that’s what is gonna be my new goal. How do I fish every day? About a week later, two weeks later, I met Eric who runs Zoom and we had a great conversation and he said, why would you retire? I guess I got all the questions wrong cuz three years later I’m the global CIO for Zoom. but it’s been, I have to tell you, I love my career. I would never change anything, but the last three years have been so rewarding working for Zoom. It was different from the banking industry. This is the first time I’m on this side of the table as a vendor. And it’s been so interesting to use my experiences from the other side of the table to help this side of the table.
Scott Kinka (02:34):
Super interesting. Tell us exactly what Global CIO means at Zoom. Like what is it that you do every day for Zoom?
Gary Sorrentino (02:44):
Well, so a lot of it is client-facing. And, so a lot of times what I’m doing is working with my peers all over the world to make them understand because there’s always a difference between the buyer and the seller. And, and when you sit on the other side of the table and you know how people sell their products and their services, you always want to be more aligned to what you need. Yeah. And sometimes that’s not actually the case. There are great salespeople in the world and there are bad salespeople in the world. And to understand what the client, the customer, whatever you call ’em in your case needs is a skill. Yeah. And, it’s very hard when you haven’t worked on that side of the table. So, coming from that side of the table, I understand, I know what people on the other side of the table need, and it helps me with Zoom to talk to our clients to make them understand the value that some of these products and services bring to these solutions. I’d like to think I talk a little differently than normal salespeople because I do have that CIO, CTO, CSO-type background. And so most of my days are consumed with talking to clients around the world.
Scott Kinka (03:56):
Fantastic. We’re gonna get all into that. One of the things that I’m most excited about doing on this pause, our listeners know we spend time meeting with technology business leaders. But at the end of the day what’s interesting is we have executives from service providers and SaaS providers and the people who are driving the tech in this room, but they’re all companies as well, right? So it’s super interesting and this one will be even more interesting. You know, a brand that is kind of synonymous with changing the way that we work, frankly, since you started, let’s be honest about what that was. You know, it also had its own challenges. We’ll get to that in a minute, but I wanna start with Zoom. You know, this is a name everybody knows. It’s not a scenario where people are like, Hey, let’s find out what this guy does for a living. But I think hearing Zoom from your voice is gonna be something that our folks want to hear. So I always ask, Hey, gimme the elevator pitch on the company that you work for. Share it with us around Zoom.
Gary Sorrentino (04:55):
So Zoom has grown up during the pandemic. At the beginning we were this meeting app and everybody knew us from the meeting app through the pandemic. But I think through the pandemic, we really did morph into this platform that really is starting to provide those solutions that companies need. So I think the easiest way to talk about Zoom is this, we were this killer meeting app before the pandemic. We became a great platform providing solutions for either employees or customers, even developers. But I really think we’re more of a portal for the future. We really are aligned on how we make companies, employees, and customers successful as we still continue to develop the future of work.
Scott Kinka (05:41):
I love that. It’s super interesting. I often say when I’m giving talks that Zoom is one of those companies that became a verb in the pandemic. How does that make you feel? You know, you’re probably in Websters at this point, right?
Gary Sorrentino (05:54):
It so great when I get invited to a Zoom call that’s even on Zoom cause people will say, I’ll meet you on Zoom tomorrow, or let’s have a Zoom meeting and then I see the URL and I go, Oh. But we’ve become so synonymous with people meeting virtually.
Scott Kinka (06:08):
Gary Sorrentino (06:09):
You know, proud of that. Right? And I think now what we have to do is also make Zoom synonymous with really solutions to make people successful as well as just being, Hey, I remember that name.
Building a Resilient Company Culture
Scott Kinka (06:23):
And I heard you give us a talk a couple of months ago, which really was sort of the genesis of you and I bantered back and forth about doing this pod after I gave it. There were a lot of things in there. I don’t wanna steal any of your thunder, but one of the things that struck me from that, and it’s a question I’ve actually asked on the pod a few times as we’ve gotten into this, with some of our guests you mentioned we’ve become synonymous in a lot of ways with the way that we work. You know, stealing from Marvel, right, with great power comes great responsibility. I find it impressive about the way that Zoom is approaching the market, that you really take the weight of that seriously. And that it’s like what, what is the hell we do at the end of the day? Right? You know, we burnout and repetitive zoom meetings and all the pieces that are. Talk a little bit about how you guys think about responsibility on the back of the technology that you’ve used, frankly, to change the way that we’ve operated since 2020.
Gary Sorrentino (07:22):
So, I think we think about it in a couple ways. One, it’s ever expanding the solutions so that we eliminate some of those problems. And you’re right, people do get burned out on calls and, and even ourselves, we have to sometimes sit back and figure it out, okay, even if we’re trying to figure it out. but we leverage the platform a lot better than most people. But it is about figuring out what tools and features do people need in order to stay productive, but maybe don’t always need to be on video. Like our chat system, we now just do something different in chat where if we’re in a meeting and there’s a chat, maybe I don’t have to attend that meeting. What I can do is I can read the chat later. I can learn to work asynchronously. And so I think part of what we’re looking for is how do we build out a platform because everybody’s gonna work differently and there’s a different generational world. Look, me and you we’re of a certain generation and we work a different way than maybe to some of the Gen Zs. I will tell you some of the Gen Z ways of working this constant, we don’t need face-to-face communication. We can work asynchronously. Yeah, I’m clearly they’re, they’re, they’re wicked smarter and they’re teaching us new ways that we need to. And what I love is they always ask why. And I love when they ask why cuz for a person like me, I don’t wanna say because I want to either have a real reason or change it. And so I think that that’s one of our values. One of our values is listening to our customers, listening to our employees. And how do we build solutions into our platform so that we eliminate or we can decrease some of the burnout. People can work in different ways. I know me, I learned during the pandemic, I don’t really work as well from nine to five like everybody else. If you’re looking for that thoughtful nail, if I’m working on a presentation or a speech that’s gonna be 10 o’clock at night with a cup of coffee, because I find at that point in my life I’m thinking clearer. You know, I have better thought processes, I’m not being interrupted. And so I think we are looking for ways to expand our platform so that some of the things you mentioned, we can help people either eliminate if it’s a, if it’s a negative, or make it better if it’s a positive.
Scott Kinka (09:41):
A hundred percent. And I want to, I’m going to cycle back to the concept of busyness, the concept of productivity, in a minute. Because I think that’s a particular struggle as we change the way that we work. You know, when we’re in this we’re, we’re still living in the post World War II, industrial boom ethos of working and that doesn’t really match the way at least the ethos of management doesn’t match the way we’re working today. That I think there’s some maturity that we’re gonna need to build. But I’m gonna come back to that cause I want to take a step forward. You know, we generally on the pod talk to technology business leaders and we say, Hey, you know what, you’ve done a lot to change the way other people work. But you guys are a company yourselves, right? So this’ll be really interesting for people to hear, the name that became synonymous with changing the way that we work also had many of the same challenges probably that they did in March, April, May of 2020 in the ensuing years. Tell us a little bit about the things that you guys ran into, not technologically, but culturally and what did you do to overcome them?
Gary Sorrentino (10:47):
So first let’s just talk about this. Tech people in general are very resilient. Yeah. So we’ve learned about weekend work, we’ve learned about working asynchronously. We’ve worked, we learned about, look how many times do we do some of those workroom calls when there’s problems on weekends over audio? So we have learned to adapt. So unfortunately having a tech company as an example is hard cause we don’t actually think like the normal business side. We have a different side of the brain thinking. but it really is about, we learned how to collaborate. Especially most of us who work globally. You know, global’s great. You start a project eventually, no matter who you work for, they do allow you a couple hours of sleep at night, not a lot, but when you wake up in the morning, that ball was further down the field than when you left it in a positive way. And so that’s what’s in tech DNA, but to tell you the truth, we’re still figuring it out. At the end of the day, like every other company, I think one of the things that we did well was we listened to our employees and we adapted and we listened to our employees and we adapted. As the pandemic started moving forward, we listened to our clients and we listened to our employees, we added up that newfound knowledge and we adapted. So one of the things that we did in a couple of the groups is we want people to have that connection. Me and you’ve met so we have a connection. But it’s always great to have that little, Hey remember you get to the conference room five minutes early, how was the kids? How’s baseball? What’d you do over this weekend? I shot a bad golf score. You know, things like that. Right? So we started having meetings that are 25 minutes long. Now that’s not new to the industry, but what we did was we put the, I dunno what you wanna call it, the chit chat at the first five minutes. Yeah. So the meeting starts at 12:05. If you get on the meeting virtually or in person from that first five minutes, that is all about bonding, that is all about learning about each other, right? Recreating some of those things that we might miss by not being in the office. Now why do we put it at the beginning of the meeting? Because you’ve put it at the end of the meeting, it never happens.
Scott Kinka (12:51):
A hundred percent.
Gary Sorrentino (12:51):
And if a senior leader at Zoom came on and said, Hey, why don’t we start this meeting early? No, no, because everyone’s required to be at the meeting 1205 and from 12 to 1205 is our time. And I think one of the things that Zoom did differently than what I was used to is we planned things, whether it was yoga, whether it was, I don’t know, having a cup of coffee whatever those things were. We did ’em during our time from eight to five because they were important. We didn’t do ’em at six o’clock to take time away from family. We did it during the business day because it was important to us and important to our employees. So we continued to adapt. And I think that’s one of the things companies need to do. Listen and keep adapting. Listen. And even today, right, we’re moving to some model. Every company’s gonna figure out what hybrid means to them. And really they should really figure out what flexibility means to them. But I think along the way, listening and adapting is the most important strategy they can have right now. And that’s what we did.
Scott Kinka (13:57):
I love that advice. Let me parlay that for a minute into a little bit of the talk that I heard you give a couple of months ago. You were particularly challenging to the people in that room. You know the room was full of, without getting into the details, the room was full of business leaders most of them in technology. And it was a global audience and you effectively offered the keynote. And in that talk you basically challenged leaders to think differently. That was really the phrase you, you wrapped around that. Can you share I’m not asking you to redo the whole talk, but what are the main things you’re challenging? If you’re out talking with customers every day, where are you, what are you challenging them to think about?
Gary Sorrentino (14:37):
So, I think the first thing I’m challenging to do is to upskill their employees. And I use that word because it’s different from training.
Scott Kinka (14:45):
Gary Sorrentino (14:46):
We need to teach people, we’ve put a lot of technology in place. We’ve made a lot of changes the last three years for the positive. But did we each, did we actually teach people how to work differently? And I think that upskilling really is the difference between teaching them skills. Like, so for instance, say me and you were gonna, we’re gonna author an article, okay? Well you’re busy. I’m busy. And if we had to put that on the calendar, that article would come out long past the next time I retire. But if we could learn to work asynchronously, so we put the chat together and what I say is I think the article should have these five main items you said scratched out two. But I’m gonna add these three. Okay. I’ll take the first three, I’m gonna write paragraphs. Okay. I’m gonna take the next two. I’ll write paragraphs, right? When I’m at my 10 o’clock thinking better time, I’m writing my paragraphs, you write yours, but maybe we don’t author well. So we’re gonna bring a writer in also to kind of tighten it up and make it more concise. A third party into that article will happen. But we have to teach people and we have to upskill and develop people on the way to work. You know, it’s unique. I was in one of them, I was in the Middle East and we were talking to one of the EDUs and one of the things they try to do with their students is they teach ’em how to learn. They teach ’em how to take notes. They teach ’em how to attend a session or a lab and effectively get more out of it. I went to school in the US school system. I think you did too. I can’t remember a class that said, here’s how to learn, here’s how to take effective notes. Those are always things you had to learn on your own. And I think today, if we can upskill our employees and unleash the goal is to upskill your employees, unleash human capital, and unleash that potential in your company, you’ll have much better, happier, productive employees. And that’s the first thing I challenge ’em with. Okay. The second thing I challenge ’em with is you really have to earn people’s commute. Now think about that. It’s one thing to just send ’em a note and saying, Hey, will you come back to that place that you used to come to all the time? But that goes under, we call it magnet and mandate. I challenge people and leaders to say, are your employees getting up in the morning and saying, I need to go there, I want to go there. Or are they saying I have to go there cuz I’m forced. And what that really means is can we bring back a workforce of knowledge workers into an environment from 2019 and expect them to work in a new way based on an environment that was not set up for the new way of thinking or working. And so it’s really about how do I earn that community? How do I make that place a place for collaboration? You know, a destination for collaboration. So when I get up in the morning, I say today, today I need to collaborate. We’re at the beginning of the project. It would be great to meet in person and I want to go there because they have things I can’t do from home. And so today I’m gonna go in and have a meaningful day with my colleagues. But let’s go back to my first one. You have to upskill people to understand, here’s what I do when I’m going into HQ to collaborate. I can put on my mail and my chat. I am having a meaningful day collaborating with my peers and colleagues and I’ll get to your mail later.
Scott Kinka (18:09):
Yeah. I mean we’ve had this debate even internally in our organization about defining expectations around communication modes, right? Like you mentioned chat earlier and you know, that’s one of those things that people either do exceptionally well or they’re awful at, right? Because I’m gonna send you the email and then send you the chat to tell you that I sent you an email. Like it’s just one of those things where I believe that businesses have to say our modes of communication are the following and your expectations of return should be this. Email to me is external communication. You know, items that require effectively recording, meaning I got this approval, I had this broader group, this was an announcement that required feedback that we had some kind of iterative log of. But outside of that, if I’m trying to get somebody, it’s chat only. I tell people I respond to emails in 24 hours during the business week, unless you get a return message from me, don’t send me an email that says, can you chat now, that’s just, it’s alien to the concept. But I do think that’s one of the big takeaways I wanted though. I wanna lump on something though that you mentioned earlier, cause you were talking about I love the earning commute thing. I will definitely steal that and put that in the opener on LinkedIn so we make sure we get some attention to that. But we talked a little earlier about the concept of busyness and then you just talked about the idea of earning people’s commute. Let’s try to put those two things together. You know, when people, when businesses are asking users to come back to the office today, is it because they want to use the real estate that they have and justify that? Is it that they really don’t have a good way to measure people’s productivity other than to see how early they arrive and how late they leave? I mean, is that really what we’re down to at this point? I just feel like we haven’t gotten over our 1940s and 50s era. You know, you’re productive because I see you sweating longer, you know what I mean? As opposed to basing it on output. Is that a fair way to think about it? Does that make sense to you?
Gary Sorrentino (20:19):
You know, I’m gonna agree with you. I think today, looking at the office, we studied for a long time at the beginning of the pandemic. The office was designed around the warehouse. You put people next to each other, work passes, whether we’re building a car and I cut the wheel on and you put the right and then we called them a foreman. Well then we decided to put the office. So let’s just put a whole bunch of cubes together. Alright? And then let’s pass the work and let’s call it a middle manager or a manager. So we took what works for workers and we tried to make knowledge workers because it was the way that we work, and I agree with you, a lot of it is we needed to see people were there, but that doesn’t make them productive. Right? At the end of the day, sometimes that makes them less productive because sometimes the interaction is good, but sometimes the interaction is not always business related. And the goal would be how can we make people work the way they need to work? But it’s different at the beginning of a project than at the end of the project and in the middle. Right? So there’s different ways to work. And so I think today, I think I agree with what you said that measuring productivity is hard. See, the warehouse is easy, right? If you are the middle guy in the warehouse and the cars aren’t coming out, we know where the problem is.
Scott Kinka (21:31):
Gary Sorrentino (21:32):
When you are working on thoughtful presentations, you’re working on clients, you’re trying to give good experience and service to clients, it’s very hard to measure. Maybe the best client took six hours of your day and you only worked on one client yesterday. You took care of a lot of smaller clients and you worked on 20 clients. What was the best day? And I think that’s where we gotta get the cycle of what’s a meaningful day, what’s a productive day, and how do we value both? And I think leaders are having a problem with that because we did what you said before, the pandemic, a lot of it was, who’s here, who’s working, who’s here past six o’clock, who’s here early in the morning and now this is becoming that other buzzword proximity bias today.
Scott Kinka (22:19):
Yeah. For those that maybe aren’t as familiar with that topic but are following along the conversation, can you define proximity bias?
Gary Sorrentino (22:27):
I think proximity bias is easily defined on now that we’re coming outta the pandemic and, and people are coming back into the office, if there is a increase, a bonus, a promotion, am I gonna give it to the people I see every single day as a manager who are coming in because that’s what I value or am I gonna give it to the someone who might be working remotely and we need to have equality and parity and inclusion going forward. And that’s very hard for managers to look at. Yeah. And I think today we’re facing that, I guess proximity bias and favoritism might be the right way to look at it. But do you favor the people who are most physically close together? Cause that’s the way we did it before. Or can you fairly evaluate everybody who works for you and with you based on an assumption of productivity? And I think that’s a little bit harder today. And so that’s why I think proximity bias is becoming very important.
Rethinking Productivity and Collaboration in the New Era
Scott Kinka (23:21):
Yeah. I think the latter is probably the bigger risk, right? Like you can sort of shine a light on the idea that we need to be inclusive of all of the work styles and you go, alright, well favoritism because I can have a coffee with you is one thing. I can probably work really hard to avoid that. But the idea that I have absolutely no way of measuring you when you’re not here is probably the harder one. I wonder, Gary, do you feel like this may be opening up Pandora’s box with the amount of time that we have left, but does this get further complicated as AI really reaches into the workplace? I mean, is the worker who can bang out five articles because they use ChatGPT in two hours more productive than the person who spent nine hours in the office and banged out two instead of five. You know, how are we gonna measure that over?
Gary Sorrentino (24:09):
Well, I look at it two ways. One, who is using AI to leverage productivity? In other words, I get where you’re going on that, but I guess I gotta look at it this way. What was the value creation, and using the tools, whether I use Google Searcher or ChatGPT, what was the value creation that I created? And today you’d be remiss to not use the tools. Now I’m not saying just do it in ChatGPT and cut and paste it. But just as an example, I wrote a paper on salespeople, using storytelling and I started to write, it hasn’t come out yet, right? And I was on a plane trying to write it because I figured I’ll use the slack time and you know, you see that little blinking cursor and you know what it is, that first line is the hardest one to write because we are better editors than we are authors. So I said, you know what, let me ask ChatGPT. And I asked the question and then I did a couple Google searches and I grabbed a couple art and I put ’em and I said, okay, I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree with that. Next thing you know, I’m so productive. So am I wrong for using productivity tools and my access to knowledge or to information to turn it into knowledge? I don’t think so. But, I think today, you’re right, we have to figure out, if we don’t have a fair way of measuring productivity, this is gonna really make it harder for leaders to decide, right? Who are our superstars? Who are people who are creating value for us, our company and our customers? And how are they doing it?
Scott Kinka (25:37):
A hundred percent? Wow. Super insightful. For those who have not seen one of Gary’s talks, if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend that you do that cause it’s just really a thoughtful and challenging way. We’ve been adopting this phrase, intellectually honest on some of these chats we’ve been having on the pod. You know, frankly the way of looking at our business is, Gary, as you’re thinking about, what’s next? I’m gonna ask it two ways and to the extent that you can share obviously philosophically what’s next for Zoom? You shared quite a bit with us about platform sort of starting in meetings and extending across this is all public stuff, but to really wanna hear it from you. Where’s the next step you guys are taking actively as a business?
Gary Sorrentino (26:24):
Well, we just announced a lot in EC and so I think incorporating AI at the user level, most companies, most technology we’ve been using, machine learning, predictive analytics, AI, whatever we called it, we’ve been using it in the background in a very controlled manner to give people results. Centering me on the screen, making sure my lighting is correct, translation, transcription, okay. But that was in a controlled environment. Now we have to give this tool, this function, this solution to the users. The greatest thing is it now understands people, it understands, you know? We can talk to it now and with that’s gonna come responsibility because now we have to teach people how to use it in the right way. But I think from the Zoom perspective, how do we incorporate this? Again, remember it’s always about making meeting people productive and effective. So how do we incorporate that? Look, I’m having my meaningful day with you cause we’re in West Palm and you don’t want me to be on my phone and your phone cuz that’s not a meaningful day. Okay. So now we’re having a meaningful day, but now somewhere around 6, 7, 8, 9 o’clock at night, we go back to our normal lives at work and there’s 200 chats about something.
Scott Kinka (27:40):
Gary Sorrentino (27:40):
Okay. Maybe my meaningful day wasn’t as meaningful, suddenly. Right? But what if we had components that can now say, summarize that for me. Yeah. Hey, wait a second. Now tell me who the top talkers were. Wow, this stuff is really important that they talked about and they chatted about today. Let’s call a meeting. That solution that will help me be more productive, that will not make me think that the meaningful day with you was a penalty. It was a productive, meaningful day because now I have help to take care of some of the repetitive tasks. And I think we announced a lot of that down in EC and it’s on the web and please read about it. But I think that really is how we make people more effective at their jobs.
Scott Kinka (28:28):
Gary Sorrentino (28:29):
And that’s where I think Zoom is going. And it’s always been one of Zoom’s mantras. How do we add solutions that’ll make ’em effective at their job? How do we make it so that when they get into that hybrid situation, we get inclusion and parity back? And so I think those are very important for us moving forward.
The Intersection of Technology and the Future of Work
Scott Kinka (28:46):
Yeah, I mean I think AI is particularly valuable as people are realizing it sort of in context, right? It’s gotta be fed with something. There are so many misnomers, dystopian futures, iRobot, all this nonsense. That’s a whole other conversation we could have about the singularity and whether we should start regulating this thing. We don’t have time for that today. But I think the reality of it is people need to understand that AI is particularly effective or machine learning particularly effective only based on the inputs that you provided, right? And when we start thinking about things like our schedule, I mean, your example’s a perfectly good and incredibly salient one. You know, you spend your day and you come back and you go, okay, whatever tool I’m using, what do I need to pay attention to? Because you’ve been reading everything. I mean, just really a massive opportunity to increase productivity certainly will challenge the way we think about hard work. And business leaders obviously really need to think about that in terms of how they value their employees on a go forward basis. It’s a debate that I think we’re gonna spend a lot of time in. The intersection of technology and the way that we work is at its all time height. And it’s not gonna slow down, but I am gonna ask you to put your hat on now, now it’s a scary moment. You know, 18 to 24 months. Give me some kind of shameless prediction, doesn’t need to be about tech? Although knowing you, I’m sure that it will be. What’s coming down the pike that everybody needs to be thinking about?
Gary Sorrentino (30:11):
So first I gotta start that with, in my whole career, I think this is the best time to be in technology. Okay? And I think this is when technology’s gonna make the most impact on what we’re talking about. The future of work is now, right? I dunno what the future they’re waiting for. It’s now. And it really is about how do we get a better experience from an employee standpoint, from a customer standpoint. How do we make people more effective? So I think 18 or 24 months down the road, my goal, my advice, my prediction is people have learned to work in a new way. Solutions have been built up to make people effective. You know, you said harder work. We’ve talked about being smarter, not harder for how many years, and I don’t know, I don’t think we’re working any smarter a little bit now. But before 2019 really didn’t change. People were working the same way. They weren’t leveraging the technology or the solutions we gave them. So my prediction will be that people will pick up solutions. Zoom is one of them. They will start to leverage the full value come 18 or 24 months. I think what consumer technology taught us, we can pick up apps that change the way our personal lives work and we can move forward with them with minimum instructions and maximum value. And I think that’s gotta come into the corporate life, the enterprise, the different businesses. We have to make it so that this new generation who grew up on glass, okay, they need to feel that, they need to feel that why do I have better technology at home than the company I work for?
Scott Kinka (31:46):
Gary Sorrentino (31:47):
And so I think 18 to 24 months, I think we’re gonna look back and say we’re probably not gonna be on parody with consumer technology because they don’t have some of the rules that enterprises have and that companies have. But we are on parody of delivering it in a simple, easy to use leverage manner. And we’re gonna start driving different impacts with intelligence now. So it’s not harder, it’s smarter, not harder. It’s about impact intelligence and having solutions that people can really upend their effectiveness. And that’s my goal. I dunno if it’s advice, but my goal
Scott Kinka (32:23):
I love that. And it just gives you so much to think about when you’re looking forward. We had a guest on, I’m trying to recall, last season. I think it was when Tim Allen was on and he said he spent the six months after the pandemic broke, just teaching people to use things they already had of course. Which I think was particularly compelling. We’re not there yet. To your point. And I agree with it’s yeah, people know where the buttons are and we’ve certain, certain things meetings in particular have become ubiquitous, right. but yeah, the rules around it and how we measure how we work inside of it is really sort of the next great challenge. And then you’re gonna disrupt that whole thing with ai. All of it’s gonna move the ball forward. That’s a really great insight. Two more quick questions. I’m gonna let you go. Assuming we have an extinction dystopian level event in this world and your phone’s working, there’s only one app left. What’s the critical app on Gary’s phone you can’t live without in that, in that future?
Gary Sorrentino (33:21):
You know, so I don’t know if it’s an app, but it’s a type of app. I’m clearly a continuous learner. I like to learn more. And so to tell you the truth, there’s two parts that I need in my life. One, I didn’t have a chance to read papers and everything was traveling a lot. So getting digital information is important to me. And I think those are coming. And then entertainment apps look, I’m a big do-it-yourself person, right? I’m not embarrassed to say I love some of the videos that teach me about how to use tools I already own in better ways, right? How to do things in a different manner. And so I consume them when I’m trying to get break time sometime. I just need something that’s gonna disconnect my brain from work for an hour, right?
Gary Sorrentino (34:08):
Because what I don’t want to be is bored and I still got those balls in my head. I just wanna be able to let them settle for an hour. And so I think about those, and then I think about the entertainment apps, you know, I love some of the things that have happened around the world or some of the great concerts that I can’t see again. And, and so yeah, YouTube’s a big app for me too because sometimes I just like to see Bono and Bruce singing together that I can’t get on hundred percent somewhere different. And so entertainment and continuous learning, those are the two apps I can’t live without.
Scott Kinka (34:39):
Joshua Tree Tour, 89, JFK in Philly. It’s no longer there. God Rested Soul, Saw, U2. I was a freshman I think in high school at that point. It was amazing. And then they got to the end, it rained that day. Bono had bruised his arms, so it was in a sling. And he said, I can’t play my guitar, but would Bruce Springsteen like to play my guitar right here in Philly? You know? Not quite like Bruce walking out in New York, but I’d say Philly’s a close second given the amount he played down here as well. He came out on stage. Amazing. I’d love to relive that. And you can, frankly, I’ve watched it on YouTube multiple times. That’s an amazing thought. Last one, and you may have already answered it a little bit, given what you’re talking about, not being able to consume information in the way you’d like to or at the level you’d like to, but is there something is there some business tone or some work of fiction that’s on your end table right now that you’re enjoying that you’d like to share with our listeners? I like to know what people are reading.
Gary Sorrentino (35:41):
Well, who reads physical books anymore, right. But Right.
Scott Kinka (35:44):
Gary Sorrentino (35:45):
I like to keep, like I said, continuous learning. I like to keep up with the Harvard Business Review, so I read them a lot. But, we’re actually working on, I’m actually working on a couple of different pitches about upskilling and training and learning. And so I’m rereading, what is it? Zen and motorcycle maintenance. Right. And I’m rereading that again in my life. I just downloaded it on my Kindle again. Okay. So that I can reread it. So that’s my most current. I think people discount books and literature that were written a while back, but some of them really have meaning even in today, they were so far ahead at a time when they were first written. And to reread some of these just like re-listening to that concert. Rereading them puts you in a different frame of mind than I think. Now I’m reading that book in a much different frame of mind than the first time I read it when wow, that was in the late seventies or eighties I think. I’m rereading it again, but with a different mindset. So it’s almost like a brand new book to me.
Scott Kinka (36:44):
Totally. Yeah. I have one of those for me. I think I’ve bought and handed out physical copies, maybe 50 of ’em, of the emotional intelligence QuickBook to people over my career. And 20 years old, it still works, you know what I mean? The worksheet still works and then for some reason I don’t read, I’m with you, I don’t read anything in physical copy anymore. But if I buy that, I hand it off as a hard copy. I’m like, you should have a copy of this on your bookshelf and it should be scribbled full of notes. Right, right. You know, when I’m having that conversation now. I really appreciate that, Gary. This has been incredibly insightful and everything that I had mentally cracked it up to be. So I hope our listeners enjoy this as much as I have. It’s been incredibly enjoyable. And, just one last thing and I guess the answer is really easy. If anybody wants to see a little bit more about some of the talks that we were referencing here, how best to do that is there, just search up Gary Sorrentino on YouTube? Like what’s the best way for them to get a little bit more you?
Gary Sorrentino (37:45):
So,I hope I’m like you, I never actually look at the stuff I do on video after . That’s just a pet peeve. But, yeah. I think YouTube and LinkedIn are the best places to go right now. I’ve been very fortunate that there are a lot of different events that I’ve spoken at. I think the one most, if you wanted to look for the most concise, I did World Government Summit a couple months ago. And that was a very 20 minute concise challenging people. And I think that would be one that I hope the listeners would look at because it really is about how I can push people’s buttons so that they think differently. And that’s what my goal is, right? I don’t always have the right answer, but I hope I have the right question and I hope I have the right challenge. And so I think that would be the easiest one to look at. But there are several out there.
Scott Kinka (38:34):
Perfect. So we’ll search some of those up and especially that one, make sure that we get it in the show notes for the listeners who inspect it that way, so they can check that out. But this has been Gary Serino, who’s a global CIO of Zoom. I’m Scott Kinka, your host here on the Bridge. And for those of you who spent the time to listen to this, we’re really grateful for the time that you’ve spent. We hope you learn something and we’ll catch you soon on another episode of the Bridge. Thank you.
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