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 Benoit Bertrand: Vice-President, Chief Technology Officer, Avanade. Benoit share his top leadership and technology lessons plus key insights on cloud computing from a recent global survey. Benoit goes on to share his views on the World CIO Forum, IT as a recognized profession, IT trends and more.

Enjoy,
Stephen Ibaraki

Benoit BertrandBenoit Bertrand is a Senior Executive at Avanade responsible for solutioning and managing large IT programs for anchor customers across Canada. Prior to this appointment, Benoit was the Director of the Avanade Montreal Delivery Center. The center specializes in delivering Microsoft based solutions for the enterprise in collaboration with Accenture and Microsoft.

Benoit Bertrand is recognized for his pragmatic approach to program and project management and renowned for architecting and delivering complex mission critical solutions. Benoit has over 16 years of experience in IT consulting with Avanade and Accenture where he has held Solution Architect, Enterprise Architect, Manager, Senior Manager, Sr. Director and Vice-President roles and responsibilities over the years.

Benoit holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Sherbrooke.

Highlights:

  • Responsible for the creation of the Avanade Montreal Delivery Center in 2006
  • Chief Architect for the Ontario Wait Time Solution that received the *** Diamond Award in 2007
  • Part of the core team who started Avanade Canada in 2002 and a member of the leadership team since inception
  • Architected the first release of the Avanade flagship asset ACA in 2001

Benoit Bertrand has worked in the following industries: Financial Services, Health & Life Sciences, Postal Services, Resources, Products and Telecommunications.

Specialties
Benoit Bertrand specializes in IT Program & Project Management, Enterprise Solution Architecture, Enterprise Data Architecture, Enterprise Integration, Expert/Custom System Delivery, Performance Testing and Tuning, Software Development Life Cycle, Application Management, Multi-Site Delivery.

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

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:34:
Benoit, can you profile your extensive history prior to your current role and three valuable lessons you wish to share from these roles?
"....In terms of lessons, I'll give you three depending on the role I played throughout my career. Engineer or solution developer – focus on quality....Solution architect – try to architect solutions with simplicity in mind....Program manager – have a clear separation between commercial responsibilities and delivery responsibilities...."

:04:07:
You just described your Avanade flagship, ACA – what is that?
"....ACA (Avanade Connected Architecture) is an application framework that our customers use to accelerate delivery of custom applications (has been around since 2001)...."

:05:04:
Can you profile your current role and the value you are delivering through your products and services?
"....Avanade offers solutions and services in application development (including lifecycle management, enterprise integration, e-commerce, customer service management, enterprise research planning (ERP), technology infrastructure, business intelligence, collaboration to enterprise content management and outsourcing. My goal is to have offerings in all these areas...."

:06:19:
In your current role, what are your top challenges and top opportunities?
"....Challenges: to keep up-to-date with all these quick evolutions in the Microsoft stack....On the flip side we are very focused on Microsoft technology. We really need to understand who the competitors are and what are the differentiators....Growing the next generation of enterprise architects and leaders....To find new exceptional talent....Opportunities: To drive technology innovation....Defining growth strategies....Improving our overall solutions selling effectiveness...."

:07:51:
What are your current projects and what one lesson can you share from each of your major projects?
"....I'll talk about strategic IT roadmap projects.....The lesson from those projects is that we need to do much more of those initiatives at Avanade. This will be a key FY12 objective for my enterprise architect...."

:08:51:
What specific technologies should business and IT executives be embracing today and into the future?
"....Every one that I name will have a cloud dimension to them...."

:11:03:
What are your top leadership tips as Vice President and as CTO and in what ways do the leadership roles differ?
"....At Avanade, being a Vice-president is a level in our organization and CTO is really my function – they are not different....Leadership tips which I really apply on a daily basis....Lead by example....Reward entrepreneurship....Teach your team how to take calculated risks....Encourage work/life balance....Build a succession plan for key individuals in your organization...."

Let now discuss your recent global survey on cloud computing.

:12:55:
Why was Canada amongst the slowest cloud adopters in 2009 but in 2011 we are in the top three?
"....I think the Canadian companies understand the cloud more than ever (because they have invested), and how the cloud can be leveraged...."

:14:47:
Why do 20% of those surveyed purchase a cloud service without the IT department's knowledge and what are the implications?
"....I think it's all about realizing results, the speed that is required in today's dynamic market...."

:16:10:
What should IT departments do about this?
"....We [Avanade] have 5 key things that we think they should start doing....Define and clearly communicate cloud strategy....Conduct a cloud audit....An application roadmap to the cloud....Communicate the strategy and the positive implication of moving to the cloud....Enforce the decisions and policies...."

:17:07:
Can you comment on the current state of security in terms of the cloud; what are the challenges and timeframes for improved security?
"....Security in the cloud is actually much stronger than many internal IT security systems. The fact that those clouds are public – they might get more publicity but they need to be more secure than anything else because of that...."

:18:28:
What is the current state of training for cloud services and what do the stats indicate?
"....There's greater pressure now to innovate versus cut costs and that will help the cloud adoption...."

:19:19:
What are the pros/cons of using a private versus public cloud?
"....Public cloud is about infrastructure, platforms, software offered and run in a shared environment. It has multi customers using it. The private cloud is a service infrastructure, platform, software offered and run in an environment dedicated to a single customer. Private cloud takes two forms: on-premise private cloud and the off-premise private cloud. There are 2 concepts which are implied, one is pay-for-use model and the other is self-serve. What we find is that most companies that say they have private cloud don't necessarily have those two concepts...."

:21:00:
How does the cloud impact employment for IT professionals who are non-developers?
"....To me this question is aimed at IT infrastructure resources. Most of the IT infrastructure people I talked to (the non-developer people) view cloud as a threat to their jobs and this is particularly true to the smaller organizations. To some extent I think it's a reality because for many the profile of the IT infrastructure person changes – it will be more focused on managing cloud vendors or managing associated SLAs and more focused on security....I think for larger organizations, the focus will be more on automating the management of the infrastructure...."

:22:14:
How does the cloud impact developers?
"....The era of waiting days and weeks to get a development environment are over....The types of solutions that are now available to the developer has increased....."

:23:26:
What are your predictions about the cloud?
"....Technology investments are going up in that space....Executives are saying that cloud computing is top of mind in terms of priority....Cloud computing is maturing in the enterprise....We need to be aware of the proliferation of cloud services (cloud crawl)....Avanade believes that companies need to take more decisive action to capitalize on the cloud advantage...."

:24:51:
There is much news about security issues and service outage. What are your answers and solutions to the reported problems?
"....Not every application within the enterprise is a good fit at this time to be migrated to the cloud. It's all about managing risk....It's about the importance of planning how we go to the cloud...."

Let now switch to broader questions.

:26:03:
In general, please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how we can best prepare?
"....The hope for the future is all about accelerated innovation. With new business models, leveraging cloud-based solutions with elevated expectations around user experience....The increase in demand for mobile solutions on different devices....The virtual concepts will become ubiquitous...."

:27:23:
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].
"....From my perspective, forums like this are awesome and excellent ways for networking with peers in the industry...."

:28:41:
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]
"....It helps having a body that regulates. It will help govern our industry...."

:29:54:
If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....Why did Avanade conduct this research?....What are the cloud solutions and offerings that Avanade has in this space?"

:32:08:
I'm going to inject a third question. Where do you want to be personally in five years?
"....Avanade is a very large global organization....This is my first year as CTO and I really want to make an impact on Canadian business. I think I have at least a couple of years in this role to achieve my very aggressive goals. After that I would probably look at (within Avanade) more of a global role...."