Meeting #4: Social Media Guy Meets V.P. of Electronic Innovation

[Here’s a Bonus to add to the original three Meetings between a newly-hired Social Media guy (disparagingly known as “the Guru”) and the top Execs at Humongous Life with whom he will have to work and around whom he’ll have to navigate. So how could I fail to provide an account of his initial meeting with the titular Head of IT Innovation? It’s been a few months now since Nik signed on and only a few times a week is he shouted at in hallways and the lobby, “Hey, it’s the Social Media Guru” — although plenty of people still call him Rik, instead of Nik. But he’s settling in now, for sure.]

Nik: Greg? It’s Nik. We’ve got an appointment?

Gregor: Yes, we do, although actually name is Gregor. Everybody insists in American way of calling me Greg, but it’s Gregor, as in Kafka’s Metamorphosis… just haven’t turned into Bug yet…

Nik: Good Lord! You’re the first person I’ve met here who seems to have read something besides The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Are you sure you belong here?

Gregor: Vot? ‘course I belong here. You know what agents call this place? The Castle! Dey have intuitive understanding of dis place without ever reading The Castle: They know bureaucracy; they know the impossibility sometimes here of ever getting anything done. And yet, everyone is so nice and helpful here, right? You’ve seen dot?

Nik: Yes, as I’ve been learning these last few weeks. Many very helpful people. Gregor, if you don’t mind, why is your title V.P. of Electronic Innovation? I would have expected something more like…

Gregor: Digital Innovation, maybe? That’s what I asked for, suggested, but IT Exec team not so certain about Digital. They’re good with Electronic… ‘Course, dey know about more den mainframes and COBOL, aware of servers and server farms, and know that server should never run at more than 25% capacity! They talk about Virtualization and Cloud and sometimes Digital. But Digital is not, how you say, in their heart.

Nik: Well, apparently, or at least from what I’ve been told, we don’t have anything in the Cloud.

Gregor: Technically, not true, we have couple things. And few years back some bigwig in Agency Dept. fought war with CIO and used own programmers to build new program, collect and keep data in Amazon Cloud. But he’s kaput now so who knows if program’s still there or maybe moved back onto one of our servers, or maybe just killed. Bigwig win battle, Bigwig didn’t win war. But enough! How can I be nice and helpful for you?

Nik: Well, I didn’t come to ask for anything specific, just maybe some info about future plans for new platforms.

Gregor: Platforms? Like?

Nik: Well, we’re still on Lotus, for example; surely we could go to Gmail? The Company could save a ton on that alone.

Gregor: Gmail in Cloud, Nik. Surely we are not going to Gmail. Gmail in Cloud maybe not so dependable, maybe can get hacked. Besides, then everybody want Google Docs, the whole package. What we do with Word, Excel, all the Microsofty stuff we get with ELA [Enterprise License Agreement]?

Nik: Uh, how about saving another ton of money? Face it, 95% of Word features are known only to Microsoft programmers; nobody here or anywhere else uses more than 5% or maybe 10% of Word. Same for Excel, I bet. Okay, maybe the Corporate Finance guys and a few others need a “full-feature” Excel, can’t they just get a hundred licenses for them? Everyone else will be happy to do their memos and their count-em-ups with Google Spreadsheet…

Gregor: Nik, Nik, poor boy. We have ELA with IBM, with Microsoft. What about all the other goodies we’d lose then? Just to save millions of dollars? Millions of dollars that would wanish from IT budget? Budget must be protected at all costs! And we’d lose SharePoint, SharePoint basis of our whole “Collaborative Future” say CIO…

Nik: Actually, that was second, I mean the second thing I hoped to ask about. At Gigantic Financial, where I was before, we replaced SharePoint — which nobody used, no matter how many got trained on it and had their bosses push it on them — and, anyway, replaced it with Jive, which, by the way, was adopted right off the bat with no promotion, no training…

Gregor: Nik, poor baby, don’t go there. We had big fight here few years ago, Jive against SharePoint. Even everybody here in IT agree Jive much better, real collaborative platform, not doc management system with collaboration “bolted-on,” as Microsoft demo guys say. So, CIO allow tiny Jive pilot, kill it one day before roll out to a couple tiny departments. No, CIO say “Collaborative Future” is SharePoint, not Jive.

Nik: Gregor, look, I’m not stuck on Jive; there are other good collaborative platforms out there: Convo, Lithium, a bunch of them. I’m not trying to dictate tech solutions… God forbid…

Gregor: No, Nik, decision been made; tech solutions made by CIO and Exec team. Decision is SharePoint. You don’t want to fight; better you call yourself Rik, maybe they mistake some other poor schmuck named Rik to get rid of instead of you.

Nik: Once again I’m speechless; I really don’t know what to say.

Gregor: Say? Let’s play instead. We got bunch of nifty gadgets to play with here. Got my own Lab! Lots of phones, tablets, bunch of fun stuff. Microsoft Surface is very good, very fun.

Nik: OK, how about giving employees Surface, then? That would be a big step forward. And it would be Microsoft…

Gregor: Too big step, my friend, much too big step. We’re on XP… and Vista! You want to confuse employees with operating system they never see before? Dey haben’t seen 7, let alone 8. Surface too big a shock; employees go nuts, Exec team says.

Nik: But don’t employees have new computers and tablets at home, with new operating systems? And smartphones and tablets, maybe even Surface for all we know… Oh, hell, forget it, Gregor. I really do thank you for your time, though. It has been, uh, very informative, very helpful.

Gregor: Good. Good. And when you want to play with toys, let me know. I take you to the Lab — codenamed Castle

Here are links to Nik’s previous Meetings at Humongous:

Meeting #1: PR Guy and Social Media Guru at Humongous Life Insurance

Meeting #2: Social Media Guru and Humongous Life Insurance’s Gonzo Redhead of Compliance

Meeting #3: Social Media Guru and Legal at Humongous Life Insurance

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