September 22, 2023
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Women technology leaders facilitate transformation, inclusion and innovation across industries – SiliconANGLE

Women technology leaders facilitate transformation, inclusion and innovation across industries - SiliconANGLE

Today, diversity, equity and inclusion have become critical aspects of the business world, no longer just a checkbox item. 

A few of the many benefits of DEI include more creative and effective problem-solving, a 35% increase in productivity and engaged and happier employees. Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion can gain a competitive advantage, as it helps them better understand and serve a wider range of customers, employees and partners.

This topic is a frequent theme of theCUBE’s “Women of the Cloud” interview series, which highlights the impact of women in technology and how they are accelerating innovation, helping to transform their businesses and effect change across industries. The series also touches upon important areas, such as cloud migration, the digital transformation journey, the power of data-driven insights and evolving culture through technology shifts.

This feature is part of SiliconANGLE Media’s ongoing series highlighting “women of the cloud” within the Amazon Web Services Inc. partner ecosystem.

Diversity, inclusion and driving new opportunities

One of the hidden, relatively unknown areas of discrimination is in the form of home titles. Although not invisible, due to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, racial covenants are still present in millions of home titles across the United States today. Angie Perez Thomas (pictured), area sales leader at AWS, told theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s livestreaming studio, that she met with the COO of a real estate firm in the Pacific Northwest who wanted to identify and modify home titles and deeds with decades old discriminatory language and restrictions.

“Partnering with AWS and using our cloud technology, our teams together were able to build an application that [enables] homeowners … to look up their title and analyze it for discriminatory language and submit it for modification,” Perez Thomas said.

Although this process could be done manually, AWS teams made it possible to modify titles and deeds at scale. 

“It’s truly incredible what cloud computing has enabled all of us to accomplish together, and I think of it as our catalyst for change,” she said, adding that it’s the collaboration between customers, AWS and its partners working together that is key to accelerating that change. 

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Angie Perez Thomas:

Veronica McCarthy, senior sales manager, ISV at Amazon Web Services Inc., emphasized in a conversation with theCUBE that the important aspect of building technology is to ensure that diverse ethnicities are represented, because consumers are diverse and unique in how they’re going to interact with the technology. 

“It’s not a monolith out there consuming our technology, so let’s make sure we have that diversity in the decision-making and building the tech … and work backwards from our end users,” she said. “I read a study recently that if you don’t have at least 30% diversity in the room when you’re making decisions, you are statistically not going to make the right decision, which is incredible. Companies do better when there’s diversity of all types in the room.”

Unconscious bias is another reality that can negatively impact the workplace, manifesting in various ways, such as race, gender, age, appearance and social class. It can influence how individuals perceive and interact with others, affecting decision-making processes in both personal and professional contexts. 

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Veronica McCarthy:

“I think [unconscious bias] is embedded in our culture, and that’s something that we constantly have to combat,” said Tia Wiggins, head of North America Partner Sales Strategic Services and Deal Acceleration Team at AWS, in a recent interview with theCUBE

She believes that leaders such as herself need to commit to finding ways to advocate for others. 

“How do I create opportunities? How do I address it? How do I create those pathways for others and remove those barriers?” she added.

At the same time, it’s important to know when to walk away because a door closes or opportunities shrink, Wiggins added.

“Believe in yourself, that you’re worth it to go find another [company] that’s better aligned and where people actually celebrate you,” she said.

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Tia Wiggins:

Transformation reshapes the industry and drives speed-to-delivery for developers

Before the pandemic, the grocery industry was one retail sector that tended to lag behind others as far as digitally transforming itself. Today, with platforms such as Instacart, grocery retailers are reshaping themselves by reaching consumers in ways they like to shop, whether it’s online or in the store.

“We help grocers like Publix, Wegmans, The Fresh Market — hundreds of grocers — build out their own storefronts, their own mobile apps that we are actually powering for them,” said Jeanette Barlow, vice president of product and retailer solutions at Instacart, during an interview with theCUBE.  “Certainly, we have the traditional full-service shop, but we also have virtual convenience that can enable delivery in minutes and in certain geographies and demographics — that’s really important.” 

The company is ready to deploy its advanced connected store technologies, initially announced earlier this year. The technologies span a range of solutions, from intelligent payment cards to efficient scan-and-pay systems. 

“It’s a lot of very interesting work we’re doing, and we’re very, very fortunate to be able to partner with some of the best and brightest grocery retailers out there,” Barlow said.

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Jeanette Barlow:

Another sector benefiting from cloud technologies and the performance, scale and speed to data insights it can deliver is the developer community. In today’s fast-paced digital world, customers have come to expect frequent software updates and new features. Releasing software quickly allows developers to meet these expectations and provide users with the latest improvements, bug fixes and enhancements. When developers deliver new features and innovations faster than their competitors, it can also accelerate competitive advantage by attracting and retaining customers.

“There is some really amazing innovation that can happen for your internal developer community leveraging the cloud,” Courtney Kissler, chief technology officer at Zulily LLC, told theCUBE.

With tooling and data-driven insights, for example, developers can learn how long it’s taking to deploy software, which Kissler pointed to as “a learning moment” that catalyzes higher confidence in the ability to deliver.

“There are ways to leverage cloud technology that also makes it innovative for the internal developer, and you might even say the internal customer,” she added.

This internal experience must go hand-in-hand with the external end-user experience for both to be successful.

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Courtney Kissler:

Building trust through a journey of change

Today in the age of digital transformation, every company has to be a data company. Data is gold to an organization, and whether it’s a grocery store, retailer or automotive company, they must have the ability to glean insights from data quickly to make strategic decisions that will push their businesses forward.

AWS provides one of the most popular solutions for those seeking entrance into the ever expanding digital landscape, offering a comprehensive suite of services and tools that allows companies to get the most out of the cloud, according to Sherry Karamdashti, director of startup sales at AWS.

“AWS helps them build and deploy at scale so that they’re able to reach their customer more broadly,” she told theCUBE. “It helps them with the backend functions like deploying products, maintaining that security and these user controls that become part of the AWS solutions so they don’t have to worry about it.”

Looking forward, succeeding in today’s world really requires taking an end-to-end view, according to Karamdasht. 

“At organizations today, people are drowning in their data and don’t know how to use it to make decisions,” she said. “We are seeing an intersection of data, machine learning, analytics and databases, so I think we all have to get smart about it and help our customers work their way through this journey.”

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Sherry Karamdashti:

And the journey is just that — a multiphased, multistep process. 

“It’s an internal disruption that can be a very emotional journey that has to start with trust, because you transform so much of the business,” said Rochelle Manns, vice president of cloud platforms at Converge Technology Solutions Corp. Converge works with companies to help them with their cloud adoption needs. 

Sometimes cloud adoption can seem slow for businesses, but it must be a well-thought-out process to work effectively, according to Manns, in a conversation with theCUBE. By speeding through the process and only looking at the direct profits received from data centers without considering the human resources inside can be disastrous.

“When we have wins against competitors that have been in the cloud space and that’s all they do, I take that as a personal stamp of endorsement, because we’ve shown and demonstrated to those clients that we’re the right ones to take them on that journey,” Manns said.

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Rochelle Manns:

Massive migration accelerates new ways of working

Cloud migration is intended to provide organizations with the opportunity to leverage the advantages of cloud computing, enabling them to become more agile, cost-effective and innovative. For Blackstone Technology Group, migration to the cloud also resulted in a cultural shift.

“When you go from your data centers and migrating to the cloud, it’s a tremendous effort for any company,” said Megan Hayes, managing director, chief operating officer and chief product officer at Blackstone. “We migrated over 240 applications to the cloud and shut down four data centers. That’s a tremendous effort that the team went through.”

This brought with it extensive internal cultural changes, as many teams and leaders had to come together to figure out how to work through the migration.

“[Cloud migration] enables this creativity and this uplift that they haven’t seen from prior ways of working, and I think that just creates a huge amount of ways of thinking about how we’re going to work going forward,” Hayes told theCUBE.

Here’s theCUBE’s complete interview with Megan Hayes:

Watch more of theCUBE’s Women of the Cloud coverage below:

Image: SiliconANGLE

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