The Transformative Impact of Acquisition

Full Transcript

Scott Kinka:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Bridge. We are thrilled that you are with us today to our listeners and actually to our guests. Mike Nowak is a returning guest with us. Mike is with BCMOne. Mike, tell us a little bit about your role there to remind our listeners.

Mike Nowak:

Scott, it’s great to be with you and thank you for having me again. Sure. My role, I’m the CRO of BCMOne. I’ve been with the company here four years. It’s been an awesome journey. I oversee the strategy of BCMOne, I have a hand in sales, operations, acquisitions and go-to market execution for the company. So great to be with you.

Scott Kinka:

We’re going to get into all of those things today, and we touched on all of them in our pre-show, but before we get into that before we get into business, let’s double-click. So we’re going to go back. Mike was, and you were guest number two on The Bridge, which our producer Gene just reminded me of. We recorded in July of ‘22, so it’s April of ‘24, so it was almost two years ago. We’re now on episode 54 or something along those lines. So you are not only, I think, the second returnee, but you’re also the first one from where it’s been from the first. I’m not even sure we knew how to do this.

Mike Nowak:

I was wondering,

Scott Kinka:

We recorded the first episode. We might’ve had to reschedule three times because the tech wasn’t working, so that was pretty amazing. Welcome back to the pod.

Mike Nowak:

I had so much fun on it, Scott. I said, did I do something wrong because how come I wasn’t asked back again?

Scott Kinka:

Well, we’ll get into that because we did have BCMOne on one time in between, and we’ll explain why that is and why you weren’t necessarily the guest on that one. But you did an unbelievable job, and we’ll harken back to some of the things that you said because it’s really great to get a backward look. However, I asked a fun question about whether you would prefer to be number two in a rock band, the bass player in a rock band or a running back on your favourite football team or something along those lines. And you told us about your love for the Detroit Lions, and you predicted back then a great year, upcoming year, and while it didn’t result in a Super Bowl, I have to give you some credit for your football prediction skills there because it was the best Detroit Lions year in many decades.

Mike Nowak:

It’s unbelievable. And our fans were waiting for so long, Scott, it was just a joy to have a playoff win and we got two of them, two playoff wins. It’s like the holidays amazing.

Scott Kinka:

Well, maybe you’ll be at that point where the Eagles were, where playoff wins we’re just racking up, but we weren’t getting over the hump for a decade and a half. So it’s fun at the beginning when you start winning playoff games, and then when you’re like, how many times are we going to go to the conference championship and not make it to the promised land? It’s so hard to. We got our one, and we’ll take that. We’ll take that. So, all good there, and at the end, I’m going to come back to something else that you said in the middle of our last episode, but we’ll come back to that at the end of this for now. Well, here’s what I want to catch up with you on. So we had you on your episode two in between, we had Geoff Bloss on, and we had him on, Geoff’s the CEO. We had him on the right around the acquisition of Pure IP, which was a big moment for you guys and for those who are not familiar, Pure IP at that time was probably one of, if not the best-known Teams, voice integrator globally and early entrant into the Operator Connect program. Certainly, one of the earliest who is doing direct routing just really understands that market and it’s become core to the overall BCMOne offering since then. So that’s the reason why you didn’t end up in the interim there, but now we get to have this fun two-year distant episode. But I’m curious; let’s just chat a little bit about Teams at a high level. Just how transformative has the Pure IP acquisition been for the conversations that BCMOne is having on a day-by-day basis?

Mike Nowak:

Significant, absolutely significant. I think it’s been transformative because I think there’s so much movement there for one Scott, and I feel like we’re really good at it. I mean, especially when you take our skills and your target market, and you can spend your time on it, that target market is the same as the target market of our other core service of managed connectivity. It’s been awesome for us, for our identity, and it compliments so well, and we’ve been able to execute with it and take an acquisition that was based in the United Kingdom in New Zealand and bring it to the US channel and integrate it to our sales Teams with policy and sales operations and wholesale support. It’s been awesome.

Scott Kinka:

I mean Mike, I know I am very active in the field, and we’ve engaged on deals together, frankly, with those mid-market customers. How often are you still? Many of our listeners are CIOs, so I think they want to see themselves in the stories that we tell about other customers. How many of the customers that you’re meeting with in the mid-market and enterprise are still in? The executives love their Zoom meetings; three-quarters of the companies are in Teams, and we still have this insert PBX name or hosted provider floating around. Is that still a situation where most businesses find themselves?

Mike Nowak:

I think so, Scott. I think it’s what I’d call a mixed environment. Still, there’s just like any curve, and there are folks who are aggressive with where they want to take their business. There are other folks that have what I’d call obligations that they can’t get to make a centralized decision, and there’s sometimes baggage you’ve got to deal with, maybe from prior decisions that you made or so forth, but it’s a mixed environment. I would say we’ve been extremely busy with the folks that want to plow forward with Teams. That was really big in 2022 and into 2023. And then what we’ve seen towards the last part of the last part of 2023 and going into this year was WebEx. WebEx had emerged, and there’s a compelling reason for folks that if they’re not going Teams or WebEx, those have been kind of the dominant ones that we see, but still a massive amount of organizations that have ideas where they want to go, but they can’t free up the time, or they don’t have a compelling reason to act yet. We have these mixed hybrid environments and folks who are experimenting with maybe one of the platforms.

 

Adapting Communication Tools in the Wake of COVID-19

Scott Kinka:

So you mentioned the name there, which I think that a lot of people forgot about. I mean, unless you’re a call manager or a customer, we’ll come back to Microsoft because I have a few more questions there, but let’s explore Cisco. I mean, I’ve spent much of my career in the Cisco voice ecosystem, and they have multiple products, and they’ve had the premise-based products, and they had the BroadSoft acquisition, and they were driving service providers, and they were trying to bring ’em together, and it was certainly a policy, got many friends over there, many who were still there. I think they’ve always felt like they needed to unify that strategy faster, better, more plainly. But I think as a result of that, they frankly didn’t take advantage of COVID-19 in the same way that perhaps Microsoft and Zoom did. What’s now driving WebEx back into the conversation in your mind?

Mike Nowak:

Yeah, I have some strong views on this. Okay. I think if you look at it, there’s a commonality that Zoom, Teams and WebEx all have, and that same commonality is what’s driving WebEx. Actually, today, when you look at the positioning of a product, convenience can be a dominant driver for success, and I think you could argue Zoom and Teams were extremely convenient for folks to jump into during the pandemic, and I think Cisco invested heavily into WebEx. It didn’t have the convenience factor of Teams or WebEx. I’m not here to say that WebEx has a better feature set. It may or may not, but one thing that I have seen, especially in the last call it six months especially, are organizations that do have, especially the bigger organizations that have on-premise call managers that have worked well for them for years. They have extreme convenience in moving to WebEx, and Cisco has packaged it in a way that makes it convenient. And I’ve seen folks do that because of the incentives Cisco provides. So I don’t know if I would say I see WebEx eroding team space as much, but I’d say Cisco’s done a nice job on their convenience play, and it’s driving a lot of sales.

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, I said maybe it doesn’t erode the Teams market share, but it helps ensure the legacy Cisco market share, perhaps in that model. Is it just convenience there, or have they made it inconvenient to stay with the call manager platform and not adopt WebEx as the front end?

Mike Nowak:

I think that’s probably a wise way to say it has made it, and I’ll give them credit and say they’ve made it attractive to move to WebEx.

Scott Kinka:

That was a beautifully politically correct, crafted answer. I’m the one now who’s going to get the text message, the angry text message after this one dropped. But it’s okay. I mean, we know Cisco had a lot to contend with that they had to bring together, and they’ve got multiple distribution communities. They have VARs out there who have been driving call managers for so long trying to convert over to get, and this was also about them getting into the annuity business where the others were already in a subscription side; they were in a maintenance selling maintenance against annuities. It was a very complicated problem to solve, but I do think the fact that you guys, as a powering provider to the big collab stacks, sit here as the CRO and tell me that Cisco’s entering these conversations at least implies the strength of the brand and the strength of the embedded base even though they didn’t take advantage in the same way of the covid opportunity, convenience opportunity that the others did for them to be entering back into the conversation is an interesting one. And do I think about the way that you power these WebEx opportunities in the same way that I think of you powering Teams opportunities? So it’s a WebEx front end, but you are on the back end from a dial tone perspective.

Mike Nowak:

It is, and I think you kind of look at us as an agnostic player in this. We have the certified trunking resources, so Cisco CCP certified provides trunking into WebEx just like where operators connect for Teams or Zoom. I think the marketplace is the status. We’re agnostic. Usually, our role is to make sure that you actually do recognize that the feature set that you’re getting is going to come from that voice platform that you pick, but all of our trunking services will work the same, and folks want that assurance that we’re certified and fully interoperable and that’s what we provide. So we’re agnostic, and it’s really the same way, and we do, oddly enough, have some of these are again very large organizations. They have Teams WebEx on the same trunks that we provide and on-premise equipment. And so you can get some unique hybrids, especially these very large companies.

Scott Kinka:

I’m going to come back to that blend in a moment because I think that’s a bigger conversation. I don’t want to miss the, I’m going to also be politically correct with this. I don’t want to miss a question about the Cisco zealotry, right? That’s out there, maybe. What I mean by that is, do you find that the Cisco WebEx conversation on the front end is not just convenient for the end users? But generally, my experience is that people who were running in call manager were the legacy guys running, switching, routing, firewalling, and sort of came over and took over the telecom in there. So one, there’s just kind of a lot of zealotry, maybe the wrong word, but let’s just say culture around Cisco. That’s one. And then two, there’s also just a honking big pile of devices that have the Cisco logo on them in these giant enterprise businesses. Do those also lead to the convenience factor, not just the UI and the familiarity for the end users, but also the engineering resources that continue to manage Cisco and the end user devices remaining out there in the field?

Mike Nowak:

I would say first, for the listeners in the home, can you define zealotry?

Scott Kinka:

The zealot would be the person who’s going to go to the MAT for the particular thing that they’re in love with. Generally, it’s associated with religious love. In this case, I generally mean that for people who are Cisco lovers, it is religion, let’s call it what it is. We’ve all met those IT guys, some of whom are probably listening to this call. You come here to learn.

Mike Nowak:

You come here to learn. I just learned something. That’s great. Yeah, there you go. I think there are folks who are true believers, and Cisco is nice.

Scott Kinka:

A true believer in the xry there. I like the combo excellent choice.

Mike Nowak:

They’re true believers and folks like them. And I think it’s opened the doors we just presented to a very large manufacturer that has a trucking division. It has. It’s a manufacturing company with a trucking division, and the manufacturing organization says we are going to use Teams. We are going to deploy this summer, and we’re going to move all 3000 users over. The trucking company says we want to stay with Cisco. It’s easier for us to do it. We like the environment, and we frankly like Cisco best. They’re going to fragment it now. That’s how they’re going to do it. And that group has zealotry, for I’d say, Cisco on that side.

Scott Kinka:

Got it. I love it. Now you’re making me feel a bit like I’m going to check. I’m going to be on dictionary.com after this, and I used that word properly. Did I doubt myself?

Mike Nowak:

I don’t mean to call you.

 

The Evolution of Workplace Communication: Strategic Shifts Toward Hybrid Technologies

Scott Kinka:

No, no, you’re good. Anyway, I’m having some fun. So let’s explore that situation because that one’s interesting, right? I mean, I think there’s this idea because I read a Gartner stat coming out of the back of COVID, and I can’t believe we’re still having these COVID comms conversations in April of 24. But the reality is that it’s the technology cycles, particularly on the legacy call managers. Many of these things have been in for 12 to 15 years, so it’s not like two years is going to cure that. But the stat basically said that comms expenses increased 30 to 40% during COVID because of duplicative expenses in similar tools. And we’re running into those situations now. The challenge is you have different user groups like the one that you just mentioned who feel for different tools, and we’re doing at Bridgepoint, we’re doing a ton of consulting and just walking people through the, what are the actual features that matter? If you had to rate phone usage, file sharing, chat and email in terms of order of communication in your business, what are all these things that ultimately drive the decision that a business makes? That said, you guys deal in large international businesses, where, frankly, there’s not a significant amount of calling between regions except in specific cases that you can handle just by making sure that the international dial plans are right. Those types of things. I want to make sure that I understand what you mentioned a little while ago. So you’ve got a customer who’s got a call manager. Cisco is making it convenient to go to WebEx. You’ve got a group that wants to go to Teams because they’ve adopted that; maybe they’re more chat-centric, file-sharing-centric, et cetera. You’re splitting the trunk. I mean you’re porting a hunk of numbers that are probably right now are running on a PRI into that call manager. You’re grabbing the whole hunk of numbers. Some of them are going to the OC platform, and you’re turning those phone numbers up literally inside of the Team’s admin portal, and others are terminating on WebEx, ultimately driving down to the premise-based PBX, which is potentially remaining in place. Is that the way I should read that?

Mike Nowak:

It’s in how it’s done. The skill comes in SPC resources and SPC commands, which are our cloud-based SPCs. So we know that one of our core competencies is our worldwide SPC cloud-based SSPCs, and we can deliver your traditional TLS trunking into operator connect Teams, or UDPSRTP encrypted trunks for those acronyms to their call manager at the same time. And so big use case that happens in these bigger companies, they’re never going to make a hot cut. They don’t just cut it over. They’ll say, let’s bring over some of North America and the other so that we may start off with powering their call managers and Avayas on-premise, and they buy a thousand trunk lines or call paths, and they start to peel off and have us point to operator connect for a portion of ’em. And then the question is, do you want us to do some magic to five-digit dial between the two foreign systems? And maybe they do, and maybe they don’t. But that’s kind of how it starts. And I see we have these old PRI circuits out there that folks still have, and the rates have gone up. No one wants to carry them and have maintenance on them. So the rates continue to go up; they want you off of them, and you don’t know where you don’t have your final decisions, and you don’t do anything. You’re paying massive costs. Our point would be just futureproof yourself, just get to BCMOne, futureproof yourself, get those trunks and let us power your call managers and Avaya systems PRI handoffs if needed, and you can just flip to WebEx Teams or do a partial. It’s really easy to do those SPCs, or it would allow us to drive all that.

Scott Kinka:

So you used that example you gave, which was a business transformation, right? It was like they’re not going to flip the switch, they’re going to keep the premise-based infrastructure going and then move to, are you finding that there are opportunities where the permanent state is some combination of Teams and WebEx or I mean they’re going to go there?

Mike Nowak:

Indeed, a case that was near and dear to my heart was a university in the northeast. I was heavily engaged in it, as it was a passion project. I would say they’re going to keep their Avayas on-premises for admissions as long as they can. Any admission calling that comes into the university, they’re going to keep that, and then they’re going to, and billing, billing, and admissions are how they’re going to handle that. And then they’re going to, or I guess they’d call it accounting and then they’re going to put faculty and staff on Teams, and then they have a big portion of their staff on WebEx because they had these HCS seats, they had to get a home for them. So they had this hybrid that’ll all collapse into Teams eventually, but that on-premise equipment, they don’t have any plan to shift it, so they’ll always be a permanent state. And so think of them having SRTP secure trunking into the on-premise gear, and then the rest of it is WebEx, Teams until they push the button to flip it to all operator connect.

Scott Kinka:

So, aside from the five-digit dialling work combos, which are generally done in dial transformation at the SPC level, are you getting asked to help them with directory integration and things like that so that the same users show up on Teams, the Avaya users show up in the Teams directory? And are these the kinds of things that you guys are getting involved in helping from a consultative level during the business transformation?

Mike Nowak:

We do. We do. I call it managed Teams. Okay. I don’t think our marketing team officially agrees with that name yet.

Scott Kinka:

It’s legitimate now, it’s locked in. We’re going to call it that. Just printed it with the press.

Mike Nowak:

We’ve had to do it for many years, so we built up a team, a worldwide team of specialists, in-house. What we find is that large enterprises, such as the Fortune 500, the London Stock Exchange, and the top 25 types of organizations, have skills in-house. They have folks in-house who will be pretty arrogant about their skills, and they don’t want any help. But as you start to go into probably more of a mid-market play, there are more folks that say, I want to get there. I don’t have the time to do it. Can you just handle it? And so this is where it’s a lot of the work on the front end is it’s dial plan set up, it’s call flow set up, it’s preference is set up, and then it’s like once it’s in, can you do my moves ads changes for me and I just want my IT staff to call you and be confident in it. So they might want to interview us, but it’s something I didn’t see, I didn’t recognize, and I didn’t frankly leverage very much when we first started to get to know peer IP. Is that the firepower of that? But there really is a need, especially in that mid-market of day-to-day management of it.

Scott Kinka:

No question. I mean, the first place people don’t realize that we are in the way of getting the Teams calling set up is like if your ad’s a mess, we’re not getting numbers. We have to make sure that Microsoft is clean first before you go neatly into the operator connect portal to drop down a user and attach a phone number to them. Right. I have just two quick questions. One, this could be a yes-no. Does this side-by-side also include doing bakeoffs? If you had a customer who was like, I can’t win the Teams versus WebEx or the Teams versus Zoom conversation one trunk group, stand ’em up next to each other, give ’em three months, they’ll pick one, you guys will transition everybody over to the other. Do you ever run into those scenarios?

Mike Nowak:

Yeah, I mean, I just see it where folks sometimes will run ’em at the same time where they may be a Cisco environment, and some kind peel off some resources for Teams, and we don’t care. It doesn’t matter to us. We just need to know what trunks you want us to point over to it. I have seen it where an IT group may gravitate to one or the other, and they want to run it themselves, and I’ve seen groups do that. They want to have it their way, and they may have the rest of the company on something they don’t like as much.

Scott Kinka:

Perfect. I have one more question on the Teams side, and then I want to jump over to your network aggregation and your network management business for a moment. I have a question there that I want to reflect back on your answer from a couple of years ago, but before we get there, let me ask you a question about Teams. I mean, there’s a little bit of fervour going on around this whole topic of the bundle, and Microsoft’s going to not include Teams anymore in the Office 365 bundle, or that’ll be optional. And I love the way you said it earlier: they took advantage of convenience, right? Zoom was free, and I guess you could say Teams to some extent, and they had to catch up during COVID. I mean, you couldn’t even have a video conference that had more than three or four people on it. When COVID started, they moved quickly. Either way, it was convenient because I didn’t want to say free; you were paying for a bundle that included it, but it was a similar thing, right? Do you think that this bundling thing is really something or an unbundling thing, I should say, that will affect Microsoft’s market share or do people understand that differently or incorrectly, let’s say?

Mike Nowak:

Yeah, I think it was a lightning rod topic, I guess in the earlier April, but I think when folks realized what the finite points of this is and the term grandfathering, I think is the critical statement. So, if you already had the inclusive bundle worldwide, you’re grandfathered in. So, the second point is how many of these grandfathered folks never turned on the phone? A massive portion of the world has done that. So when you look at Microsoft, I think folks there are very sharp. They’re three steps ahead. In a lot of cases, I don’t sense their blood pressure has gone up. I don’t think they enjoyed the entanglement, but there’s a massive amount of investment in dormant phone seats, and then you got copilot. I heard Microsoft say it this way: is that copilot? Do you really want a fragmented AI strategy? Why would you want your voice-calling meetings, conferencing, and everything else to be separate and not integrated with your AI? And so I think there’s a strong belief that copilot will drag that in any way, and there are some results there. So I think it may be a little noise. I think it’s maybe more noise than what it really amounts to.

Scott Kinka:

Got it. Yeah. Yeah, there are multiple topics at that level of fervour. Know what I mean? In the marketplace, I just finished taping the episode that will air before you, and it was just us capstone in like four episodes in a row of trying to unpack the whole Broadcom VMware thing, which is something real, but you couldn’t shake your keyboard at Google without bumping into that topic over the course of the past six weeks. Alright. Did we just jump over quickly to your network, the managed network business, and the aggregation business? I mean, you guys have a really global footprint from a network provider perspective, and when we talked a couple of years ago, you were talking about how busy you were on that because the footprint of businesses had changed sort of post-COVID. It was not that we were necessarily closing brick and mortar, but brick and mortar and the big locations were becoming less important. People were going home. Some of those home locations were important. They were trying to build strategies around them. How do you bring them into the fold for the executives? That whole story. We’re not all the way back to work. I don’t think we ever will be, but certainly, businesses that have real brick-and-mortar storefronts are back to work. How’s that changed yet again, your network business, sort of the footprint of the network business?

Mike Nowak:

I think I would look at it. There are a couple of indicators I’d look at. One is that we have a lot of footprints with a lot of locations, and you look at whether you are seeing a behavioural change where folks are shutting off offices. And oddly enough, I would’ve thought you probably would’ve seen more of that. Scott, I haven’t seen that. So I think that’s what I would’ve missed. I would’ve thought a lot more. I guess I’d call it the shrinkage of footprints. I haven’t seen that. What I have seen is that cost has probably become a bigger issue for organizations. There’s probably more pressure to look at cost and multi-vendor multinational vendors. Multiple MSAs are becoming a cost issue for folks. It’s a soft cost issue and vendor consolidation. So I think where we are pretty fortunate about is the idea we can provide, and we’ve expanded out with direct fibre providers in a lot of the world to complement our expansive Pure IP reach. So I think that’s where we see it, but we haven’t seen the office closures that I guess I would’ve thought we’ve seen, but we haven’t necessarily seen downgrades. I think, if anything, you’ve seen upgrades from data demand and, probably, on our side, more appeal to financial companies and healthcare companies that are going to scrutinize their network provider, especially.

Scott Kinka:

And that’s an interesting one because that kind of scrutiny generally happens way above the layer two portions of the network. So, just clicking back on that, we’re in a market now where you can buy your network intelligence completely separately from your access provider, or you can get them together. What’s the driver for you guys right now? Are you providing fully formed private networks? Are you providing access, and are you seeing over-the-top intelligence for edge security networks being put on top?

Mike Nowak:

The majority of it is third-party, over-the-top folks who have made decisions. I mean, we’d like to be a part of that if we can. I, I’d like to say customers like us, once they get to form a relationship with us, we lead with our Versa service versus SSE. That’s what we lead with. But it’s not been uncommon, and I’d say it’s probably been more dominant if folks have found their provider and then they want us for the connectivity side, and that’s fine with us. That suits us just fine.

 

Revisiting Timeless Classics and Predicting Future Trends

Scott Kinka:

Got it. Got it. Okay. Well, I mean, that was a brisk 30 minutes that we just ran through to get caught up. It is so great having you back, and it has been great to catch up after two years, but let’s end with some fun, and we’ll look back two years on one particular topic. So, a couple of things. We’ve added some new questions to the end of this. The first one is a little bit more business-oriented, but what are you reading right now? What’s on the end table, and anything that you can share with our listeners? 

Mike Nowak:

Yeah, indeed. It’s interesting. I was just talking to someone about this. I’ve always tried to stay current, and I would say what has changed for me in the last, I’d say several months is I’ve gone back to revisit some of the books that I really enjoyed that I may refresher on, and it’s a difficult read for me, but one that I’ve been going back and forth with is the Art of War and the Art of War is for me, again, it’s a difficult book.

Scott Kinka:

There’s a copy of it. I’m only looking over here because it’s in that pile right there, Gene. I literally keep it directly under the Holy Bible right there under the box now to the right of that, right? It literally goes the Harvard College, the College handbook, college handbook, the writing handbook, which nobody needs anymore with AI, but I lived in it, the Bible and then the Art of War literally just below it and then I think there’s one of the Harry Potters underneath there someplace. I have no idea. Anyway, it’s a great read, but it is not light reading.

Mike Nowak:

It’s good stuff. There is a skinny version that simplifies it, but I love the idea though, the stuff that, I guess the takeaways from there and energy without strategy is chaos, and I’ve really been stuck on that lately. Energy without strategy is chaos and I maybe too fundamental, everything is strategy and no waste of time, but I love what you can learn out of the book.

Scott Kinka:

That’s amazing. And that, in and of itself, it’s a whole episode. I will definitely, when I do the intro to this episode, point to the book over my shoulder and mention that you mentioned that whatever it was close to, I guess, now probably 20 or so months ago, we asked for a prediction from you, and you had a couple of things in there, but one of the things that you were highly focused on was business automation. You are like, we’re going to be 18 months from now, and we’re 18 months from then. We’re going to be having an awful lot of conversations about automation. I think we’re having a lot of conversations about AI today that are generally centred around automation, but to connect back to that, do you feel like you’ve been validated?

Mike Nowak:

Well, I think I made a mistake, and that I should have said AI, and I didn’t capture the right.

Scott Kinka:

Well, I honestly think you got the number one. I mean, to be frank, I’m going to flip it back on you. I think you actually had it more right than everybody who’s talking about AI. And the reason I say that, and we’ve talked about this in a lot of episodes, is that AI is like the new cloud these days. I was literally with our board a day ago, and I looked at them, and I’m like, listen, not you guys, but we’re talking to customers every day who have board edicts who are like, go do ai. I don’t really know what that means, but okay, I’ll go get some. It is kind of the same idea we were running into in the cloud years ago. People moved all these workloads that didn’t need to be moved because they had these corporate edicts around. Go get us some cloud. I liked that you said automation 20 months ago because the reality of it is, you were down in the business case that we’re actually solving with these technologies. Is that kind of what you were thinking at that time? Was it just sort of the business process optimization piece?

Mike Nowak:

It’s got just market pressures. It’s always to make decisions about what’s happening today, but as Wayne Gretzky said, you skate to where the puck’s going to be, not where it’s, and you look at indicators of where things are happening, but if you look back then it was a very high cost of labour, lack of labour, and then you looked at challenges to keep up with productivity, and so it was just begging for some kind of productivity boom, and you see that gap and you look, we’re going to fill this and is AI going to fill it? I think it adds a lot of value for productivity, of course, and optimization. So that’s a way, but you see indications of it. But anytime, I always think market forces prevail. You have high-cost labor. Folks are going to find a way to solve that issue, and that’s led to a more advanced automated society that we have.

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. All right. Well, I mean, it was a good one. I’m going to give you a yes on that. Your prediction was spot on. Last one, and then I’m going to let you go. We’ve talked quite a bit about the business effects post-COVID, and I’m not having fun with COVID when I say this, but let’s just say the next big alternative, future disruptive event occurs. Maybe AI takes, maybe Skynet descends on us. I’m not sure which one that is, but our lives are forever changed. One application works on your phone still. You get to pick which one. I didn’t ask you that last time. I don’t believe, Right? You did. I did ask him that. Oh, I did ask him that. In addition to the three, yes.

Mike Nowak:

I probably didn’t have a good answer for it, but I’d start with what do I spend all my time on the phone? And besides email, I guess I would say it’s my escape, Scott. I like to look at what’s happening in the sports world. I mean, I’m a huge Detroit Lions, and if we’re at the end of the world, my teams probably aren’t playing anybody, but man, I just miss it.

Scott Kinka:

You’d go watch the old games.

Mike Nowak:

Yeah, I don’t know if I’d watch the old games. I don’t get into it as much. I like to see what, again, I’m a big believer in what’s going to happen next, and the NFL draft is tomorrow. NFL draft is another holiday for me, especially as a Detroit Lions fan that we’ve had godawful teams. That was your only hope, right? But you get into the indicator, man, if we could just get that edge rusher or that cornerback, we finally, we could break through. So I’d just miss, besides family and friends, I’d miss my escape into the, especially the NFL. I don’t gamble with it. I don’t do fantasy football, but I just like seeing what’s happening with the teams, and I miss that quite a bit. I still would.

Scott Kinka:

I love it. Well, I think there’s an equation between you reading the Art of War and being an NFL aficionado. It’s probably appropriate. Well, enjoy your holiday weekend with that in mind, then. As an Eagles fan, I had to be this way, but it’s not really a holiday here because we rarely draft in the top 10. I think we’ve had one or two of them in the past couple of decades, but I shouldn’t say that. It’s always exciting because our general manager is a wheeler and dealer, so he ends up finding his way into the top 10 at some point after he’s playing games on trades. So it will be fun. What’s the top need? Here’s the prediction for this year’s position that the Lions draft first.

Mike Nowak:

If they could find the right character person, they’d take a cornerback. I think

Scott Kinka:

A cornerback.

Mike Nowak:

The lions have been picking for folks that fit their culture and that’s why I think they’ve been doing better, Scott. But cornerback is what they’d take if they can get the right kind of guy.

Scott Kinka:

Well, and given where they finished, there’s no odd pick thing where there’s a trade or anything. Right? I mean, they’re picking in the high twenties, right?

Mike Nowak:

Yeah, 29.

Scott Kinka:

Okay, got it. Alright, well it, that’s a year of success, man. If you’re picking 29, it means you had a really good early winter. That’s good. Good for you, Mike. It was an absolute pleasure catching up with you again, and I can’t wait until we do this again 22 months from now.

Mike Nowak:

Absolutely. Thank you.

 

 

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