Future of Work: Cindy Jutras, Founder and CEO of MintJutras.com

I reached out to Cindy Jutras (www.mintjutras.com), a self described “data junkie,” because she focuses on how enterprise companies consume technology. This is important because Information Technology folks wrestle all the time with “To what degree do they move their infrastructure to the cloud?”

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Similar to some of the other women I recently spoke to, Cindy has a degree in Math and Physics with a concentration in Computer Science. She also spent many years at Aberdeen Research, which at the time was one of the premier research companies.

Cindy’s focus is really on how people use technology; “Consume” and “Consumers” were two terms Cindy used often during our discussion indicating that she tries to see things from the point of the view of the person using a given technology. She also makes the distinction between interacting with a device vs. just consuming information from a device. This made me think of the iPad as something you interact and create or be productive with vs. the Kindle which is mainly an information consumption device.

In some ways, though, I would describe her as a loyal skeptic, meaning she is extremely loyal to her work and her clients, but always ready to challenge why someone might need to play with the latest gadget or participate on the latest social network.

She was one of the few technologists to tell me “the iPad doesn’t do it” for her. “From a consumer standpoint, I’m not a big consumer of technology.  I don’t own an iPod.  I don’t own an MP3 player.  I don’t look at technology from a consumer standpoint as much as I do from a business standpoint.  So, it really depends on which perspective you’re looking at technology.  And when I look at technology, I don’t – as I said, don’t look for technology as the next gee-whiz thing  I would only buy an iPad if I thought it was really going to contribute to my ability to do my job and build my business.

While I might be reading into her personality a little bit too much, I see this as an important trait and one that probably contributes to her success, especially because more and more people will be skeptical of social networks, like Facebook, who often changes their privacy policy.

One online community Jutras frequents focuses on Six Sigma, which is something that I had been heavily involved with at Intuit. She said that she likes conversations that focus on certain performance improvement techniques. When it comes to company community websites, Jutras rightly pointed out that they often talk about technology and present their technology as the be-all and end-all, but they don’t focus on the actual business benefits.

Our research at Human 1.0 has also shown that men tend to focus more on functional related information vs. what’s the customer really going to get out of their products. This is similar to the “tell not sell” chant we often hear in management circles.

Jutras prides herself on her ability to “educate” her customers and help them clearly define their own needs. I can easily see how easy it would be for her customers to talk through their business issues with her and work towards defining their own requirement.

In terms of future trends, she sees a big opportunity for companies to leverage enterprise data using their mobile technology. “What’s not pervasive now is being able to directly interact with enterprise data from that mobile device and actually take action.  Most people want to be able get their alerts and notifications on their mobile device; but nine times out of the ten, once they have that alert, they turn that Smartphone into a dumb phone.  They pick up the phone and call someone, and they have someone else actually take the action or investigate the issue.

During our conversation, I noticed that Jutras did a great job on shying away from buzz terms such as Social Business. Her approach is “to look at business issues and needs from what these social streams can bring, and that’s connectivity, and collaboration, and openness.” This is especially true if you start dealing with individuals in more traditional industries such as manufacturing because “they tend to view social as something people do on their personal time.” They do want to collaborate.  They do want to monitor activity.  But to them, that’s not social. Which is, again, highlighting the importance of knowing your audience and customer.

Cindy mentioned a blog that I never knew about — Laurie McCabe’s, which focuses on small and medium size business processes and technology.  When we spoke about LinkedIn and Twitter, she indicated that her view of them have changed over time. LinkedIn Groups first seemed more useful, but now there seems to be a lot of self-promotion and advertising, and Twitter seems to attract a group of people just focused on building up their Klout scores. I tend to agree with this.

And of course the Big Data term was brought up in our discussion. Cindy stated “if companies start to recognize that they need a better job of managing that data, reaching the data, and handling the data, then they’re going to find that the only way they can do that is through some of these technologies, whether it’s accessing it over the cloud, whether it’s through a mobile device, whether it’s monitoring activity streams, or commentary, etc.  By looking at what – understanding what problem they need to solve, and then searching for the technology that can help them solve the problem, then they’ll arrive at that destination, technology-enabled, and also solving a problem.”

Cindy focused at the end of our discussion on the changing role of the IT leader, who has to identify and focus on specific business problems and has to work better across the organization with such groups as marketing. They also need to really live the life of a customer and understand the tasks or needs of that individual. By focusing on these, companies can help people become more efficient in their work.

Cindy is very customer focused and appears to be very efficient in how she manages her business. As I could see from our discussion, her years as an analyst have paid off and really helped build a successful consulting business.

Trends discussed:

  1. “Walking with your customer”
  2. Importance of identifying and focusing on business benefits and issues vs. talking about technology. Most successful IT people will also understand business issues
  3. Downsizing of CIO and CTOs
  4. Users of social networks like LinkedIn are becoming too promotional and marketing oriented
  5. Enterprises need to leverage mobility for an ongoing relationship
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