Listening to Asheem Chandna of Greylock Partners describe the future is like riding in a time machine. As a pillar of Silicon Valley's investor community, Asheem has a privileged role in partnering with entrepreneurs to help create the future.
"The mobile phone has changed the game and every business is going digital," says Asheem. "It's driving a huge secular change in how companies engage with customers."
For CIOs, that means shifting focus from "systems of record" to "systems of engagement." In the past, CIOs could afford to spend most of their time solving internal technology issues and managing internal "customers." But that's no longer the case, says Asheem. The company's customers are now the CIO's customers as well.
The rapidly expanding universe of digital devices and platforms creates thousands of new channels for interacting with customers. In the past, customer interactions were limited by time and distance. Now those constraints have largely vanished, thanks to the ubiquity of digital technology and broadband networks. Customers now expect companies to interact with them anytime and anywhere.
"You can be in touch with customers continuously, through all of these new channels of engagement," he says. "If you don't adapt to this new way of doing business, someone else will come along and capture your customers."
I agree totally with Asheem's assessment that we're seeing a secular trend. "In the old days, we spoke about the big fish eating the little fish. Today, it's the fast fish eating the slow fish," he says. The "new normal" puts tons of pressure on CIOs to deliver practical technology solutions. It also creates incredible opportunities for smart and agile CIOs to provide courageous leadership through turbulent times.
As an investor and entrepreneur, Asheem genuinely understands the deep value of visionary leadership. Greylock Partners has invested in new consumer and enterprise leaders such as Airbnb, AppDynamics, Cloudera, Docker, Dropbox, Facebook, LinkedIn, Palo Alto Networks, Pure Storage, and Workday. Clearly, Greylock is keeping a sharp eye on the future.
I'm delighted that Asheem agreed to share his keen insight and knowledge with us. Many of us try to predict the future, but Asheem seems to have a special gift for seeing around the corner and over the horizon.