Interview with Stewart Bryson – Our New Chief Innovation Officer

October 1st, 2013 by

stewartRegular readers of this blog will know Stewart Bryson, our US Managing Director and in his spare time, Oracle ACE, writer and presenter on Oracle BI &DW development topics. Those of you who’ve met Stewart will know that his first love has always been technology and how to implement it well, so we’re pleased to announce that Stewart is taking on the newly created role of  Chief Innovation Officer, working alongside our CTO, Mark Rittman, and CEO, Jon Mead. So what is a “Chief Innovation Officer”, and what does Stewart intend to do with his new role? I had a chance to put a few questions to Stewart about his new appointment and here is what he had to say.

Pippa Old [PO]: “For those of you who don’t you, tell me a little bit about yourself”

Stewart Bryson [SB]: “I like to say that I grew up as an Oracle DBA. While I’ve watched the Oracle BI ranks grow with the acquisitions of Siebel and Hyperion, I’ve been under the Red Tent for my entire career. Lots of folks come to Oracle BI from the top-down: starting as financial users or developers who are trying to find ways to get the data they need. I charted a reverse path, starting from the data warehouse perspective and moving up the stack to work on products such as ODI and OBIEE.

I was awarded the Oracle ACE a few years ago while I was promoting a methodology we call Extreme BI here at Rittman Mead. It’s an agile approach to delivering content that makes the business user a major component in delivery. It requires a thorough understanding of many of Oracle’s BI products, and I’d like to think my unique experience and capabilities are what have made it successful for us. I think these are the same reasons that folks come to see me speak… to see something a little different in the BI space.”

[PO]: “Many people may know you for your podcasts with Kevin McGinley – will you keep doing them?”

[SB]: “Absolutely. Whether we have 10 viewers or 10,000, Kevin and I will certainly keep doing this. We both look forward to recording the show every time. The premise was simple: folks love to get together and talk about sports, or movies, stock portfolios, etc. So why not have a medium where enthusiasts come together and talk about Oracle BI? When I’m speaking at conferences, I usually have a few attendees come up to me afterwards and say “I love the show.” So we will still do it. It’s just lots of fun.”

[PO]: “Explain the new role of Chief Innovation officer at Rittman Mead”

[SB]: “Over the last four years of managing Rittman Mead America, we’ve had a lot of things to be proud of, both technically and commercially, but it is the technical successes that have been most rewarding . So I’m glad I get to focus on our technical capabilities at Rittman Mead, and work closer with Mark Rittman converting all the roadmap and product knowledge he has into a framework and process that we can use to improve our delivery capabilities.

The BI landscape is changing rapidly, and these changes are causing a lot of internal reflection at Rittman Mead about the approaches we take to helping our customers deliver intelligence. The new acquisitions from Oracle such as Endeca make us question whether our current slate of technologies is right for all occasions. We see paradigm shifts in the general technology market that reverberate through to BI… things like Big Data and cloud computing that drastically change delivery approaches. The advances in engineered systems and appliances have a similar effect. I’m excited that I will be the main conduit through which these approaches are vetted and assimilated… there’s no place I would rather be.”

[PO]: “So how important is innovation to you as an individual and Rittman Mead?”

[SB]: “That’s an interesting question. Jon Mead, Mark Rittman and I spent a long time formulating the duties for this new role, but I would say that Jon and I spent almost as much time coming up with the title. I wanted to make sure that, if I traded in my CEO duties with the US business, it was for the right reason, and honestly, there’s nothing more important in today’s marketplace than innovation. New ideas become old ones in the blink of an eye, and a company like Rittman Mead needs to ensure we evolve to always deliver maximum value to our customers. Innovation, when done right, can change the world… Apple is the perfect example. Rittman Mead is not going to change the world the way Apple has… but there’s no reason we can’t leave our mark on the BI space.”

[PO]: “Rittman Mead has 100 or so employees. Why is innovation so important?”

[SB]: “While 100 employees may seem small to folks working for Fortune 100 companies… it’s almost incomprehensible to me. I think I was employee number five for Rittman Mead… and I’m counting Mark and Jon in that. Early on, our Oracle ACE’s were involved with actual delivery: Mark in the UK, Venkatakrishnan Janakiraman in India, me in the US. But as we grow, we have the unique opportunity to take those minds and direct them toward innovation: what we like to call the “Rittman Mead Way”. I want to take the seemingly limitless technical expertise at Rittman Mead and focus it toward building products and frameworks that benefit our customers in both the quality of what we deliver, but also in the pace of that delivery.”

[PO]: “Will you be focusing on how to improve Oracle BI or new innovative uses of the technology?”

[SB]: “I’ll be focused on fleshing out the “Rittman Mead Way”. This encompasses, at the very core, how we approach delivery with our customers. One of the components that I’m focusing on immediately is producing the Rittman Mead Delivery Framework. Though I can’t share exact details yet, this will involve a series of licensed products that are engineered to deliver immediate ROI to our customers. But also, this will involve a series of accelerators that help our consultants deliver our undeniable industry leadership rapidly and with 100% consistency.”

[PO]: “With Salesforce.com and other vendors offering cloud based services, what is RMs view and strategy for cloud and saas?”

[SB]: “Oracle finally dove in and immersed themselves in the Cloud, and you can expect the same from us. Though I can’t discuss specifics yet… expect some major announcements from us in this area in the coming months.”

[PO]: “Finally, on a personal note, what’s your favourite innovation in the last few years?”

[SB]: “It has to be the iPad. That product changed my life. It’s such an intimate delivery mechanism… it’s now how I consume almost all media: books, news, movies, etc.”

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