- 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!
- Easter Island Rye?
- Creeping Bentgrass?
- Southeastern Scrompulence?
- Dichondra Grass?
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.
- 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.
- That's incredible.
- 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.