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David Moise of ‘Decide Consulting’: “Companies need to ask at every department and every process”

Mid-Sized | Machine Learning — A commercial brokerage used natural language model to extract data from comments entered in the company CRM. When new properties came on the market, the data analytics matched to property to the best targeted customers and told the sales team why. The sales performance went up and all the sales team loved […]

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Mid-Sized | Machine Learning — A commercial brokerage used natural language model to extract data from comments entered in the company CRM. When new properties came on the market, the data analytics matched to property to the best targeted customers and told the sales team why. The sales performance went up and all the sales team loved having good information to share with their prospects.


As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Moise.

David is President of Decide Consulting and their new spinoff, Texas CIO Partner. Decide provides IT staffing and Texas CIO was created to help small to mid-sized companies achieve digital transformations. Prior to starting the company, he was a software developer who worked Accenture, Modis, and other IT consulting firms.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Thanks for having me. My first job out of school was at Accenture doing software development. After that I worked for several other IT consulting firms also focusing on software development. I was always that “that guy” who would always go out with the salespeople to make them look good, write the proposals, do the technical interviews and if a project was going sideways, they would stick me on it to fix it. At some point I realized “I was making a lot of money for other people. Maybe I can do that for myself.” That’s when I started Decide Consulting.

At first, we focused on software development projects. As time moved on, we had more request for “I need a developer” as opposed to “I have a project”. We began focusing on the staffing side of the business.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

This is going to date me a little bit. When I first started programming, I was working in COBOL and mainframes. It was the early 1990s and one day I was looking through Computerworld magazine. I realized there were no articles about COBOL or mainframes. They were all about databases, networking, client/server, and some senator from Tennessee writing editorials about the “information superhighway”. I suddenly realized I needed to make a switch in technology. Not so long afterwards, I realized I would have to do so every few years.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I reported to a manager who ran the Houston office of a consulting company. He grew that office from nothing to over 150 people. This was one of the big reasons this company got bought. He also has a had a technical background and turned his focus towards business. This was a period when I was trying to learn every technology that came out. He taught me to not try to learn everything, but to become the best a one thing.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I would never gone into business for myself with “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig made me a better developer and problem solver. I am a big podcast person. My current favorite is Scott Galloway, “The Prof G show”. He speaks about current events with a big emphasis on technology.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance — This book introduced the concept of the “black box”. Ask a 5-year-old how a bicycle works. They will tell say “you pedal then it goes”. Ask an engineer the same question and the answer will include kinetic energy, torque, gears and more. What we do not understand is a black box. When you open it, you can begin to understand how it works. Within every black box are other black boxes. You just need to figure out one thing at a time and keep going.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

The purpose has evolved. First, here is two facts and two beliefs.

Fact 1: there are over 500K open IT and software jobs right now in the US.

Belief 1: the number of IT and software jobs will double in 10 years. I first started talking about the doubling of IT and software jobs in 2017. So far, we are on pace. Even with COVID. I only see things that will increase demand for tech people.

Fact 2: 19% of the IT and software workforce are women.

Belief 2: The African American and Hispanic populations are unrepresented in the IT and software workforce. (I have not found data to turn this into a fact, but I believe this to be the case.)

So here is the purpose — as we have increased demand for IT and Software people in the US, how do we get more people who have traditionally not been in that workforce. With the current trajectory of the tech skill demand, we as a country are foolish to NOT find ways to get more women, African Americans, and Hispanics into this workforce.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

Texas CIO Partner is an exciting thing for us. In 2020 there were several things happening in parallel:

  1. When COVID first sunk in, we saw a lot of IT managers, directors and higher levels get released for their jobs. Companies held onto their hands-on people but released the higher paying managers.
  2. As the year went on, you read more and more that the companies doing well had invested in digital transformation projects
  3. Those same managers and directors started picking up gigs helping other companies. They were finding them mainly through friends and family.

For Texas CIO Partner, we are bringing these individuals we have known, and some others, and marketing their them to small and mid-sized companies in Texas. We are pitching them as part-time CIOs who can help with digital transformation, ERP selection, IT budgeting, MSP negotiation and more.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?

“Digital Transformation” gets thrown around in many conversations where it should not. The phrase still has merit. In short, how can we make the organization better, more efficient, find alternative revenues through technology.

On the practical side, digital transformation means a company is implementing multiple of the below:

  • Agile
  • DevOps
  • DevSecOps
  • Cybersecurity
  • Automation / RPA
  • Low-code / No-code
  • Cloud
  • Data Analytics / Business Intelligence
  • Machine Learning / AI
  • Omni / Multi Channe
  • Systems Integration

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

All companies can benefit. The ones that can benefit the most would be the mid-sized companies that have experienced growth, still running on the same systems and get their technical information from salespeople.

New technology is coming in fast. Integration projects that took 2 months and 80K dollars to develop can now be done in two weeks using low-code tools for a fraction of the price.

Companies need to ask at every department and every process — Can this be done better? Can technology help?

If you have a software development team and you are ‘Agile-ish’ and not agile, you do not have the transparency into the dev process and that is costing you time.

If your Agile software development team and not using DevOps, you are not getting the QA done that you need and wasting time releasing your product.

If you do not have security in your DevOps, you are Solarwinds.

If you do not have apps or data in the cloud, you are spending too much time and money on your own servers and at a security risk.

If you are not integrating CRM, operations, Accounting and getting timely reports about everything, your executive team is guessing instead of making decisions on facts.

We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.

One of our people helped a petrochemical company when they decided to spin off a business of the company into its own entity. It was done to maximize shareholder value. The spin off needed independent software and support contracts, which kept many people busy. But is also had to re-evaluate its IT strategy. Many things were in place because they were part of a larger organization. As their own entity, everything needed to be questioned. The fractional CIO role was part of that strategy. They were not burdened by the existing relationship with the parent company and allowed them to stay lean.

Another person helped a company with a machine learning project based on their CRM data. The company executives were bombarded with messages on ‘digital transformation’ but were uncertain how to proceed. The individual knew they were sitting on a gold mine of data in their CRM. ML was a good way to monetize that data.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

Again, new technology is coming in fast. Many companies do not know where to start or getting bad inputs. One company wanted to create a mobile app for certain functionality that was one their website. They solicited input multiple from sources and had this list to choose from:

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA), React, iOS/Android native, Xamarin for the mobile side
  • .NET, Java, Python, Node, Ruby for the API side

These options are all over the map. Several of them would did not exist as options 5 years ago. They were afraid of making the wrong call and subsequently were stuck. All the people giving them input were doing so based on what they had worked with or the new shiny toy they wanted to work with. No one asked the company what they were trying to accomplish. How the mobile app fit in with a technology road map? What were the overall goals they had?

An organization can bring in McKinsey, Deloitte or one of the other big consulting companies. They will ask the right questions and you will walk away with a roadmap that will benefit you. They are expensive. However the billing structure is proposed, you can expect it to base based on 500 dollars/hr. for staff. Even more for senior staff and managers.

The people we bring in at Texas CIO Partner ask the right questions, cut through the fluff, and leave companies with the confidence they have the right technology roadmap and can begin executing on it. Many of our CIO have previous experience at the high-dollar consulting firms.

Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.

We put together 5 examples of projects that we helped our clients with or they did on their own. Hopefully these will inspire some ideas.

Small Company | Low-code tools — A recruiting company has a huge database of resume and profiles of people they have connected with over the years. They also have a CRM with contacts that do the hiring. Keep in mind a manager looking for a job is a candidate one day and a prospect when they start. Using the data and some low code tools build into Office 365, they built a series of web tools that allow them to customize marketing of candidates. If they have a good Python Developer, they can easily send a note to Software Managers at companies that use Python. It allows them to micro-target their sales efforts based on their own data.

Mid-Sized | Machine Learning — A commercial brokerage used natural language model to extract data from comments entered in the company CRM. When new properties came on the market, the data analytics matched to property to the best targeted customers and told the sales team why. The sales performance went up and all the sales team loved having good information to share with their prospects.

Large Company | Agile / DevOps / Integration / IoT — A medical device maker had devices that had to be turned on and set by visiting a doctor using a magnet and a windows-based program. The same device now sends data to the patient’s phone and subsequently to the doctor and cloud. Patient monitoring takes on a whole new dimension. The company suddenly has huge amounts of new data for research purposes.

Mid-Sized | RPA — A retailer created a bot that monitored social media. Whenever a collection of words or hashtags were posted, the bot captured the posts. Inside sales was notified of the postings and would follow, direct message, and respond to the poster notifying them of a product in the retailer’s catalog.

Small Company | Drones / Data Science / AI — A data scientist and drone enthusiast combined the two. He programmed the drone to take pictures of a roof on a house. The data was highly accurate. He automatically knows all the dimensions, type of roof, how many damaged shingles and how damaged they are. Insurance companies are using his company constantly for hail claims.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

The short version is — Hire Smart People. Give them tools. Give them purpose. Get out of the way.

Hire Smart People — smart people who are problem solvers are all over the place. Think beyond hiring Computer Science grads from top schools. Those people are smart, but you are suddenly not diverse. Find people who performed well in their online program or technical bootcamp. There are assessments that measure problem solving skills. Use this as a gate keeper.

Give them tools — Computers, licenses, and time. Allow people to experiment with pet projects. Have someone do a “hello world” app with machine learning. Publicly recognize people when they take an experiment over to “real project”.

Give them purpose — Millennials and Gen-X are motivated by way more things than money. They want to be part of something. They want to make a difference. When we were placing people at a medical device company, part of the pitch was ‘you will help people not have to take anti-depressants’. That is way more appealing than ‘you will help fracking companies save money on the fluids they use.’

Get out of the way — enough said.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Problems that go away by themselves come back by themselves.” This applies to technology more than anything. If you are trying to find a bug and having trouble recreating it, you are not trying hard enough. There is always a reason you got the error. Keep turning over stones and looking at something else until you find it. This relates to the black box from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

How can our readers further follow your work?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmoise/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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