A CIO’s Experience During the COVID-19: AiThority Interview With Deb Gildersleeve, Chief Information Officer at Quick Base
Hi, please tell us about your role and the team/technology at Quick Base.
Quick Base has never had its own Chief Information Officer (CIO) before, so my role is unique.
So, now I have the opportunity to blaze my own path, and what I’m most excited about is the opportunity to define the position in a way that’s different compared to your typical CIO job.
Quick Base is in the business of solving problems, not just setting up systems. And, while I’ll of course oversee our own systems and technology, equally important is my role working with other organizations and customers to champion business-IT collaboration.
My goal is to lead other CIOs by example, demonstrating how rapid-cycle innovation can happen when you empower business-IT collaboration and foster trust.
Likewise, I believe that a more inclusive and diverse community of problem solvers is key to fostering rapid innovation, and I’m encouraged by the fact that women represent nearly 50% of Quick Base builders. I want to build on that and help drive an exponential increase in the diversity of our community while continuing to learn and institute changes that will make for an inclusive environment that helps cultivate innovation.
How is a CIO’s role in 2020 different from what it was in 2015? What has brought about these changes?
As technology has rapidly changed and advanced in the past five years, so has the role of the CIO. The name of the game for enterprises is digital transformation. Companies that embrace new forms of technology and automation capabilities are the ones that will rise to the top. So now it’s up to the office of the CIO to guide this transformation in a way that helps their organizations work more efficiently and gather the data needed to make complex strategic decisions.
What tools and technology platforms do you use to work from your remote location and coordinate directions to the team?
COVID has accelerated cultures of experimentation and agility – including the software and tools that keep us connected. Of course, I didn’t exactly have a traditional onboarding experience. But thanks to tools like Zoom and Slack, I was able to “meet” every person on my team in one-on-one meetings and stay closely aligned with my colleagues in the company’s senior management. I have to say that I probably would not be Slacking as much if I was in the office, but it’s been a great way for me to collaborate and coordinate with my team.
I’m still getting my feet wet on actually leveraging and using the Quick Base platform itself, but I see huge potential for it as a system to automate our processes and connect our teams. I know our team across the board has already done some truly impressive work building applications and I want to continue to build on that.
We are witnessing a seismic shift to low-code and no-code platforms. Tell us more about this exciting ecosystem?
Exciting is an understatement! Low-code is on an impressive growth trajectory – in fact, Gartner projects that low-code will account for more than 65% of application development activity by 2024 as companies look to non-coders and line-of-business experts to make process improvements amid a shortage of tech talent. COVID-19 has only accelerated this growth as the business and IT leaders alike are searching for the solutions that they can stand up in days, not weeks or worse, in months.
Not to mention that we’ve seen major funding for startups and big tech get in the game here – a sure sign of the low-code’s continued rise and adoption. That kind of credibility gives us firepower when potential customers are considering our platform.
Low-code tools enable operational agility by providing a platform for consistent communication between business teams and stakeholders to ensure everyone is kept up to date with progress and developments as they adjust to the remote work and telecommuting norm.
Not only does low-code help businesses create data-driven processes, but the technology is inherently designed to facilitate remote work and collaboration, especially relevant as businesses everywhere are getting back to the future of work.
Which programming languages and networking frameworks hold the future of No Code infrastructure?
We don’t have religion here. Our API speaks JSON, because that’s the standard and modern programming languages support JSON quite well. So, whatever programming language is important to our users is going to enable them to be highly successful.
Our vision is that for no-code infrastructure to achieve its promise of democratizing software development, you have to abstract away the networking. Networking is super complex – if citizen developers are expected to set up subnets, then they’re not doing No-Code (or low-code)! Our users should never think about networking other than to know that our app, infrastructure and networking security is industry-leading.
How have Product Development roadmaps evolved with the maturity of AI and Automated Machine Learning models?
While they’ve started collecting data, in many cases that data is just sitting around. And this data can’t necessarily be used for AI if it’s not in the right format and cleaned appropriately. So, before you can realize the full potential of AI, you’ll need to first plan exactly how you intend to analyze the data you have and put it to use in the service of insightful business decisions.
AI promises greater automation, but the truth is, you can’t have automation that streamlines manual work and improves business processes without the complexity and financial investment AI requires.
There are a variety of other solutions, such as low-code platforms, that bring people and processes together within a secure, integrated workspace in the cloud.
Being the Chief Information Officer, how do you define your relationship with the CEO, Chief Data Officer and Privacy Officers?
In terms of our CEO, Ed Jennings, I work with him to align our technology decisions to the path of the business.
As a member of the senior leadership team, I also provide input in our business and product strategies as an end-user and key buying persona for many of our customers. I am working closely with our leaders in security and privacy in our organization to align best practices for their efforts in those areas.
Hear it from the pro: How do modern security and privacy measures impact Enterprise-grade App platform development?
My tenured experience within traditional IT models means I have an up-close-and-personal understanding of the business-IT relationship – including its baggage as well as why it’s crucial to driving innovation. IT leaders are rightfully concerned about governance when new software and tools are introduced.
At Quick Base, we strongly believe that working through IT and not around them is the best way to ensure low-code is adopted in a secure manner while empowering users to innovate and automate processes.
One example is Quick Base Sandbox. The Quick Base Sandbox enables a safe testing environment for business developers to easily collaborate with IT when making changes to new and existing workflows and apps.
What is the Future of Digital Transformation? Which technologies are you particularly keen to explore and adopt for your businesses?
Our biggest focus right now is to provide our customers with the tools and solutions they need to remain on the path to digital transformation, despite setbacks and challenges due to COVID-19. What’s great about low-code is can and has been used to quickly pivot and adapt to new business realities with operational agility.
And now, low-code is being used to help businesses transition to the future of getting back to work, which means something different for every organization.
Nimble and agile leaders will leverage technology like low code to support their own unique future of work reality.
To help our customers during this time, Quick Base is currently offering qualified organizations free access to our platform with pre-built solutions and support. We also recently announced a virtual “app-a-thon” (Application Development Hackathon), which calls on our community to develop applications that will help businesses get back to work quickly and safely. Winners are eligible for up to $250,000 in prizes for the most innovative applications built on Quick Base.
Looking ahead into the next few years, AI and machine learning will remain key areas for the future of digital transformation.
Some companies have already begun to wrap their arms around data in this way to piece together a wider, more encompassing story of what’s actually going on within the business.
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Thank you, Deb! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Deb Gildersleeve has a proven track record of managing relationships across the business, driving new processes and developing and leading teams across all areas of IT. She most recently headed up commerce technology provider Pitney Bowes’s business unit IT after serving as CIO of online marketing place data and analytics company Potoo, where she expanded and transformed the IT team, incorporating agile IT practices and implementing a new CRM. In addition, she served in IT leadership roles at Gartner for nearly 12 years, including managing the integration of global infrastructure and operations for Gartner’s acquisition of CEB.
Quick Base is the trusted platform for continuous process innovation at enterprise scale. As the first cloud application development platform to support safe, secure and sustainable citizen development, Quick Base helps more than 6,000 customers, including over 80 percent of the Fortune 50, continuously perfect the processes that make their businesses unique. Quick Base is a leader in the Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Platform For Business Developers.