Jeff Kempiners, VP of Avanade, Top-ranking IT and Business Executive reveals collaboration research results

This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview, Jeff Kempiners, VP of Avanade in the US, and a top-ranking IT and business executive. Jeff is a founding director to the Global Industry Council ( IP3-GIC).

Jeff KempinersAvanade has more than 7,200 professionals in 22 countries, including more than 230 in its Canadian business, which has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal. Recently, the company grew its business by 25%.

A seasoned leader, Mr. Kempiners has more than 12 years of experience in IT management and consulting. Mr. Kempiners joined Avanade in August, 2000 as a Solution Architect in the US-Central region. Most recently, he served as Avanade Canada Capability Director for Infrastructure and Application Solutions, and then Chief Technology Officer and General Manager. In August 2010, Mr. Kempiners took on the role of Vice-President in the US operations. Prior to joining Avanade, Mr. Kempiners was employed with Accenture in a variety of roles, including Systems Analyst, Project Manager, and Engagement Manager for large customer accounts in all industries.

Due to his international reputation, in July 2010, Jeff was nominated as “Founding Director” to the Global Industry Council (IP3-GIC), a first of its kind focusing on Computing as a Profession which will further align computing with organizational strategy and business agility driving innovation, entrepreneurship, business growth, regional GDP growth, high yield investment opportunities, and regional economic development. Global GDP is nearly 60 Trillion USD and the global program for computing as spearheaded by IP3 and IP3-GIC will be a catalyst for a more than a 20% increase in global GDP in the next 10 years to 80 Trillion USD. In September 2010, as a recognized international authority in technology and business and for his founding role with the GIC, Jeff was invited to the World Computing Congress (WCC), IP3-Day Industry Panel discussion on IT professionalism. This is the first time industry heavy weights have come together in this fashion for this historical inflection point. The formation of the IP3-GIC is widely supported including by the world’s largest computing alliance, GITCA, which is expected to surpass 1000 member organizations in 2011 representing 6 million computing professionals and business leaders.

IP3 is part of a UN-founded, UNESCO-sanctioned body and as quoted from IP3 about the IP3-GIC:

“Global Industry Council Directors are specially nominated and invited to serve within the UNESCO-sanctioned body as internationally recognized luminary executives, thought leaders, and visionaries and for their strong history of providing substantive contributions to global business, industry, society, education, and governments.”

“IP3 is establishing the IP3 Global Industry Council (IP3-GIC) as the principal forum within which leading ICT employers can engage with IP3 and influence the development of the global profession, identify and agree-upon standards, and nurture continuous improvement in alignment of those standards.”

“It is the intention that IP3-GIC will be a prestigious organization comprised of recognized thought leaders from major organizations (both private and public sector) with acknowledged experience and expertise in information and communication technologies, and that an invitation and a subsequent seat will reflect the global third party validation that is only possible through a 50 year old body with UN roots.”

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

Jeff, you recently completed a survey on collaboration. Can you profile the context of the survey first: audience, intentions, and so on?
"....They were generally business leaders and IT decision makers and they were all members of the C-suite and spanned 17 different regions including: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and in a variety of different categories including: aerospace, defense, financial services, media, telecom....The purpose of the survey was to give us an updated point of view and perspective around how organizations are viewing collaboration technologies and the impetus for change to allow for more advancement of collaboration technologies...."

Jeff, can you define what is meant by "collaboration" and how this ties into social media?
"....Tools that help information workers and people in the workplace do their job more effectively....We see it as social media for the workplace...."

What is the history of collaboration?
"....It really is important as you look through the history that we not make the mistake of assuming that just because it is a new technology that enables collaboration that it will be a time killer. I think that we've learned through the past couple of revolutions in collaboration technologies that's not necessarily the case. It's important that we provide these tools for our employees...."

Can you quantify the measurable benefits to people from collaboration?
"....We've seen a strong correlation between organizations that embrace these technologies and their ability to find and retain the top talent. Moreover, we've seen a correlation between those that embrace these technologies and the 'top places to work' lists that are published by a number of publishers...."

Jeff talks about the top collaboration tools today and what surprised him from their recent survey.
"....Canada specific rather than global (excluding email which we assumed to be 100%)....Phone calls (91%)....Teleconferencing (77%)....Corporate portals and online team sites (57%)....Instant messaging (49%)....Shared drive for saving documents - 83% said this was mission critical to their organization....Shared drives are more ubiquitous than we think..."

How can organizations justify the adoption of collaboration tools?
"....If we don't provide them with those things, they are going to do those things anyways, but they will use the public internet free tools to do so and I can see that as a pretty substantial security risk...."

What are the challenges with collaboration; what are the concerns?
"....The number one fear was that this may be an opportunity for information workers to avoid or shirk responsibility or to delegate away all their tasks to other people...."

How and why have organizational priorities changed and how will this change the work environment?
"....A high pressure to save on costs and a low pressure to innovate (September 2009 survey)....A high pressure to innovate versus to save on costs (March 2010 survey). This was an interesting organizational shift for us and this was ubiquitous across the globe...."

Where do you see this area heading in two and five years?
"....5 years out I think we are going to see device conversion come along with collaboration in some very interesting ways. In the 2 to 3 year range I think we are going to just see companies playing catch up. They are going to be enabling presence awareness, dabbling in things called communications enabled business processes...."

Can you describe the user experience in three years?
"....We will go device independent and add a 'stateful' nature to our devices....I really want to see that user experience load up and converge in a 'stateful' behavior of what it is I want that device to be...."

Perhaps much can be learned from the gaming industry in terms on how products are developed and the processes they use and there could be movement from that area to the business area. Many of the best practices they use could work very well. Any comments?
"....The way we solved it was that everybody got onto X-Box live and we all joined the same game and we had our conference call via X-Box live....An interesting and creative use of the technology...."

How can organizations best prepare?
"....You really have to embrace the technologies that your employees are demanding today....The time to act and to innovate is certainly now...."

Why should IT managers care?
"....Part of being a leader in the IT world is not fearing change....In IT we cannot fear change and survive for long. You have to embrace it and move forward...."

Jeff shares a story about collaboration in general.

Where can they find out more? What are the best resources in this area?
" your top tier vendors....Talk to your employees....Your very best resources are the young men and women who grew up with these things who used them extensively in universities, and who wish to use them extensively inside your organization, and they are going to have the very best ideas on how to run a communications enabled business and you should tap into that if you have it at your disposal...."

Can you provide an update of your work involving local certification and professionalism programs?
"....One of the things that we like to do is to keep the highest percentage of certified employees on our chosen technology platform which for Avanade is the Microsoft technology stack....We also like to look at certifying our processes as well (IEEE certifications, PMP style certifications etc.). We do our best to make sure that we stay engaged with these organizations because we want to avoid the bubble think concept...."