This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I have an interview with Dirk Schrader, MBA, PMP, CRM Certified Professional.

Dirk SchraderDirk Schrader has worked on over 50 large scale IT projects over the past 17 years including in Finance, Telecommunications, Distribution, Manufacturing, Not-For-Profit, Pharmaceuticals and Government sectors.

Major clients include Telus Mobility, Rogers Communications, House of Commons Gov't of Canada, General Dynamics, CYBF, MDS Laboratories, Wyeth-Ayerst, Molson's, CIBC, Gov't of Saskatchewan, Cyanamid and others.

Dirk believes in realizing superior IT ROI through rigorous design and development process and technology innovation where appropriate. Dirk has experience working with distributed development teams including offshore developers to help leverage IT budgets.

2007-Present: Chief Technology Officer (CTO) CRM Dynamics Ltd. http://www.crmdynamics.ca

1998-2007: Director/Senior Consultant ESolday Inc.

1994-1998: IT Consultant

Education:

  • Microsoft Certifications: Microsoft Certified Solution Provider; CRM Applications; CRM Installation & Configuration; CRM Customizations
  • MBA from Richard Ivey, London, Ontario
  • Information Studies Degree University of Western Ontario

Awards:

  • 1998 Young Entrepreneurs Award Mississauga Board of Trade

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:36:
Dirk, can you profile your history prior to your current role and three lessons you wish to share?
"....My love of IT led me to an undergraduate degree in information technology, but I quickly realized that I knew a lot about how technology works, but not a lot about why businesses use technology....Lessons: IT is successful when you focus on the business objectives....We can overcome adversity through perseverance and hard work....Focus on something you love, which will help you get very good at it and will therefore lead to success...."

:04:34:
Can you profile your current role and your objectives?
"....Currently I am Chief Technology Officer of CRM Dynamics Ltd. which specializes in CRM implementations the world over....My objectives are to continue delivering projects on time and on budget, while maintaining 100% growth per year...."

:05:14:
What are your insights on Hosted Solutions (cloud computing) versus on-premise solutions; specifically in regard to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Exchange?
"....Hosted solutions, based on the evidence I see with our customers, will account for 75% of all solutions in 5 years. CRM and Exchange are in the forefront of this trend...."

:07:37:
Can you detail the evolution of CRM systems from Act and Maximizer to Siebel, SalesForce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
"....The trend of CRM systems for the past 15 years has been greater functionality, interoperability, and flexibility for rapidly decreasing costs...."

:09:52:
With your strong background in technology, what are your views on the evolution of devices from a sales context such as with laptops, smart phones, and tablets? What are the pros and cons? How does the evolution of devices compare against the generational change of people?
"....Having the right device mix in your solutions means that the technology supports the customer instead of getting in the way. The new devices also benefit from a more tech-savvy generation of users; as we all incorporate smart phones and tablets into our daily lives, it becomes more natural to include these devices in our business dealings as well. This technology trend is converging on the user sophistication trend and means we are in a golden age for CRM adoption...."

:11:16:
What are your recommendations on Technology versus People – technology adoption, change of behavior, supervision; specifically in context of CRM?
"....Too many projects today define their objectives in terms of the technology, instead of in terms of business goals. So start with the benefits and explain how your end users will improve their lives by using your solution. The technology will then come secondary and your user community now has a vested interest in the project’s success...."

:12:01:
In your current role, what are your top 3 challenges and top 3 opportunities?
"....Top 3 challenges: managing growth....balancing resources against time....effectively integrating distributed development teams....Top 3 opportunities are different sides of the same issue...."

:13:00:
Dirk talks about some of his major prior projects and shares a lesson from each.
"....Almost all the projects that we've been working on include some aspect of CRM. One thing I'd like to explain first is how Microsoft CRM works and what makes it uniquely interesting in terms of IT solutions...."

:20:02:
How has your educational background shaped and supported your work?
"....The combination of IT and MBA, or technical and business background, has been critical to understanding how best to implement technology from a user standpoint...."

:20:30:
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how we can best prepare.
"....In the next 10 years, 75% of all IT projects will be 'hosted solutions' or 'in the cloud'....CRM will become as critical to an organization as their accounting or ERP system is today...."

:21:26:
Why should IT executives attend the IFIP World CIO Forum or WCF? [Editor's note: For more information go to: www.worldcioforum.com; Call for papers; WCF news in the IFIP Newsletter].
"....Today we all need to complete from a global perspective. Meeting your peers in your industry on a global footing is becoming more relevant to your business than meeting with unrelated industries in a close geographic location...."

:22:27:
What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession like medicine and law, with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and recognized credentials? [See www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
"....Computing and IT is too broad a category to require everyone to have a professional designation like lawyers. But I definitely agree that there are areas of IT that would benefit from having a professional designation...."

:23:23:
If you were conducting this interview, what 3 questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....Is offshoring a threat to IT in North America?....Given the relentless progression of Moore's law, and that a single desktop computer in 2020 will have the computing power of the human brain, what is the long term future of IT?....How can technology business leaders help ensure the success of their organizations?...."