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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Shiproom / Episode 23 / TruGreen

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- Welcome to the Shiproom you're on the air.

According to NASA there are over 63,000

square miles of lawn in the US

and no organization has done more

to make every inch of them to look green

than TruGreen, I'm joined today by

the CIO of that company Ayman Taha.

Thanks for being here with us on The Shiproom

- Thank you for having me Brad.

- A lot of tech leaders point out one of the

biggest factors that slow down,

you know what could otherwise be a rapid

digital transformation, is culture.

How do you navigate those hesitations

as a leader and how do you utilize the cloud

to make TruGreen stay competitive?

- When you talk about digital transformation

you can not discuss that topic

without talking about culture.

And quite often you'll find the conversation about

digital transformation is very focused

on digital, the digital side but the

transformation aspect of it is dropped.

- It's the buzz word not the hard work

- Exactly and when you do that

you tend to focus more on the toys,

on the tools, on the IT, the technology side

but you forget that the technology and the tools

are here to enable a transformation of some sort.

So I think the cultural aspect is the one that

we usually, we need to start and should start with,

before we even start talking about the digital

or the shiny objects or the tool if you like.

I said to everybody on my team

listen guys we are technologists at heart

but we will not start any conversation

with anything about IT or technology.

We have to start with our business objectives

otherwise we will be in the classic scenario

of you go buy a shiny object and good platform

and now let's go look for a problem to solve.

That's the position we don't want to be in.

- That's somebody calling on the teams phone

check this baby out.

You're on The Shiproom here with Ayman Taha

Who's this on the phone?

- Hi my name is Zelena Groen.

So I'm in the middle of training to become

the next mascot of the

Greenland National Soccer team

I heard you had TruGreen on the show

and I was hoping Ayman could help us out

with a little problem we're having

- I'll try.

- Doesn't the Greenland National Team

wear red and blue?

- There's a lot of backstory to my character

that you don't understand Brad

but the real problem is that FIFA

won't let us into the organization because

it's too cold for our fields to grow grass.

That's where I thought TruGreen could help out.

- Oh my!

- Back to the grass problem we want to try out

some different grass types to see if any of them work.

but the names are super confusing

and some of them don't even sound real.

I was hoping Ayman could tell me

which of the following grass types

are real and which ones aren't

I call the game Grass or Pass!

Tall Fescue?

- Grass

- Easter Island Rye?

- Pass

- Creeping Bentgrass?

- Grass

- Southeastern Scrompulence?

- Pass

- Dichondra Grass?

- Pass

- Fantastic!

Hopefully one of them will work

but before I go I have one last question.

Every company and tech leader is getting feedback

from their workforce about how they want

the most modern tools to do their job,

when you get this feedback how do you

evaluate what tools to deliver to them?

- Gone are the days of Big Bang type of deployments

and nobody can wait for 10 months

to a year to even beyond

to deploy one application if you will.

So the approach that we usually take is multiple number one

priorities, but in order for us to do that

we are very realistic in terms of the scope,

in terms of prioritization, in terms of really

adapt to more and more of incremental growth

if you will or incremental build.

So you don't have to have everything day one

- You have this concept of distributed agility

but integrated quality.

- Absolutely and it helps also with

change management as well.

Any implementation change management probably

more difficult and more risky than

the implementation itself.

- So you've really focused on modernizing

the way everyone at TruGreen works.

- Yeah, yeah.

- What did you see happening in the market

that led you to believe that you need

to push this transformation and make

yourself, and you know your organization,

more competitive and how did you do it?

- If you look at digital transformation in general,

unfortunately there is an

element of buzz that's still living around it

and it's, so it's all about, you know,

digital transformation, it's all about

the website, the mobile app and it cannot be

further from that.

That's why part of the strategy we put for that

technology when it comes to digital transformation

is digitizing internally,

is a pillar of that strategy so

around the digitizing internally

this really doesn't touch, necessarily,

the shiny objects, the glamorous world that

you would see online.

Things we're doing on the finance side for example

we're modernizing our back end,

some of our back end processes and we're automating that.

We're also looking into areas of how we can

collaborate more, create an environment for

our associates, not just IT and the business side

but even within the business to business if you will

we're looking for more areas to collaborate

and Microsoft Teams is a great tool or a platform for us.

Teams sometimes it probably gets the connotation

of being yeah it's just a collaboration tool.

It's really far more than that.

Not only that it's not just the basics,

sharing files, sharing presentations,

being able to be in an online meeting

and you start looking about all the other applications

and the integration of the other applications

that are coming into teams.

From Trello to Smartsheets and this one of the

things that I think Microsoft is very unique about.

There is no fear of the competition

Really I give you guys, Microsoft, a lot of

kudos on that.

You're just not going after the basics,

you're not going after the what everybody else have done

So that shows really a lot,

that shows the vision, shows the--

- The openness.

- The openness exactly, that it's not just

we cannot confine the world in our own box if you will.

- So you work in TruGreen headquarters

in Memphis, Tennessee. - Memphis, Tennessee yeah.

- And you lived and worked for years in Arizona before that.

- Correct.

- But you were born in and raised in Egypt.

- Alexandria, Egypt.

- I'd love to know a little bit more about

Alexandria and there's some common

Egyptian phrases on these cards.

- Oh! Okay.

- And I'm hoping that you could read the

Egyptian phrase, right and then give us the

literal translation and then tell us

what it actually means.

- Oh wow

It's a funny one too.

So the translation here, the literal translation, is

walk into a funeral, but do not walk into a marriage.

So there a lot of different meanings to this one

you know the closest thing is

don't get involved in things that you shouldn't.

So a literal translation the unlucky one

finds even bones in tender meat

yeah so yeah, that's about you know

something unfortunate is always going to happen

to people with bad luck.

- Yeah they just got bad luck.

- Your luck is not gonna take you far.

- You know one of the things I love

that you and I were talking about,

just a few minutes ago is

the way that you guys are using

artificial intelligence to actually transform

how you interact with customers,

enable your technicians.

- We're lucky that we have a repository

of interactions already, our plan is to use

them as knowledge bases, to start our journey

on the machine learning and the artificial intelligence.

Once we started to get exposed to the power

platform, we started to learn more and more

on what power apps, what AI builder,

cognitive servers, it's really great.

- Tell us about this scenario where

a technician or a customer can actually take

a picture of a lawn and then the AI does work

that actually gives guidance.

- When the season for us starts we hire,

we onboard a lot of associates,

we do a lot of training, seasonal workforce if you will

and some of them are not really familiar with

certain types of weeds, pests in the yard,

even plants, you could be moving to a new house

I don't even know what kind of grass that is.

I knew at the time that Microsoft had a

really robust platform around facial recognition

can we use that?

- Can you apply that to grass?

- Can we apply that to grass?

So as a customer you could be walking in

your yard you come across an object

you don't know what that is, so you can

point your phone camera with our consumer

mobile app TruGreen mobile app

and you take, you scan that, it will tell you

what kind of object that is and it will also

suggest for you, give you some recommendations

about treatments, what to do and all that.

Soon after we started to think, well,

why can't we deploy that also to our technicians as well

so if I'm a technician and I come across

something that I don't know traditionally

what I will do is, I will pick up the phone

and try to reschedule

somebody else to come and take a look at it,

somebody with more experience

but for us now what I can do is

I can get that information and if it's a complex

situation I can even bring my supervisor

from the branch, I can bring him with me on site

- So there's an expert who is actually

helping you through VR on your phone.

- Exactly.

- That's incredible.

- Exactly.

- So while we've been talking here

we have a chatbot that listens to the conversation

and then actually formulates what the

12 most interesting questions are from our conversation,

we call it the database dozen

but just to put you at ease a little bit

we have a couple of shrubs and some shears

and we're gonna trim this into something beautiful

while we're going through the database dozen.

What tells you more about a person

their charitable contribution or the state of their lawn?

- The state of their lawn, this is one of my peeves

- Oh really?

Does it bother you that you're

helping to grow delicious salad for rabbits?

Are there any colors aside from green

that like to see on a lawn?

- I like blue.

- If weedkiller kills a four leaf clover

how many years of bad luck do you have?

Which smells better a freshly mowed lawn

or freshly baked brownies?

- A freshly mowed lawn

- Would you wash a grass stain out of

your clothes or just leave it because

it gives you street cred?

Do you root for sports teams whether or not they

play on real grass or turf?

- I do.

- All right, that's it!

Well I can tell you

oh wow that looks great, look at that.

Mine, I was trying to do a heart

- That's an open heart surgery

- There you go, it's horrible.

Hey, so before you go, if people want to learn

more about what you're doing, you personally,

you know TruGreen where would they go?

- Definitely go to TruGreen.com

- Thanks again for being here Ayman.

- Yeah, absolutely. - This has been a lot of fun.

Thank you very, very much

- Thank you for having me Brad.

- They're really sharp so we gotta be careful

actually it smells really good

it's rosemary, holy cow these things are dangerous

I don't think they should trust me with these.

The Description of The Shiproom / Episode 23 / TruGreen