Friday, January 31, 2014

The Successful CMO from the VC Viewpoint

MassTLC's CMO/VP of Marketing peer group leaned in closely at HubSpot this week to hear what a prominent local VC, David Skok, thinks makes for a successful CMO.  Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot facilitated the discussion and also lent his expertise as a CMO of a fast growing startup.  

Michael Gerard from Curata wrote a terrific wrap-up of the event which can be found on the Curata blog here.  Thanks Michael for the great overview.  A few additions to his comments:
  • Arthur Sweetser from Evergage highly recommended the book Predictable Revenue from Aaron Ross.  Aaron spoke at INBOUND and his slides are here
  • Mike mentioned an Excel template for the funnel report David Skok discussed. Here is a link (no form required).
  • You may not get the information on the CMO equity packages from the Curata blog, but if you contact me directly (christine at, I'm willing to share! ;)
Thanks to all that joined us and to Mike Volpe and HubSpot for hosting.  If you are a member CMO or VP of Marketing and interested in hosting the next session, please contact me.

Lastly, we have scheduled the sales and marketing summit for April 4th.  Based off of the CMO dialogue, we are bringing back David Skok for a drill down on "Growth Hacking"; discussing the latest ideas, techniques, metrics, and technologies to design and optimize the sales and marketing funnel.  Details to follow. We are looking for speakers, give me a shout if you are interested!

- Christine Nolan

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to Run a post-mortem with Humans (not Robots)

Thanks to all that joined us at Altisource Labs for our software development advisory board and presentation from Dan Milstein from Hut8Labs on running a valuable post-mortem. It was a conversation we can all relate to on what it takes to be succussful when you are convening a group of people to talk about failure and what went wrong. Dan says "it starts with having to deal with people that have shame".  You may think you won't feel shame, but per Dan, people will definitely experience it when it really happens.  

Dan stressed the importance of having your team adopt an economic not a moral mindset.  Turn it into a dollars and cents conversation and fundamental to success,  make them laugh!

3 tips:
  1. share your personal "bad things"
  2. mock hindset bias to its face
  3. relish absurdities of your system
And 3 givens, which if you start here, good things can happen:  
  1. Realize you are running postmortems to find improvement. You have to leave the room with identified improvements and follow through to make sure they got done
  2. Everyone involved is competent
  3. Everyone involved acted in good faith
A few recommendations from Dan and the audience:
  • Don't look at just the trigger - look at the entire problem cycle (TTR, time to repair) 
  • We don't really care about "root cause'  usually multiple things go wrong.
  • Push people to be creative about small steps.  
  • Don't delay in running the post-mortem after a failure. unless your team has been up all night, even the next day can be best.
  • Make sure the right people are in the room - this can lead to an unsuccessful outcome
What are your tips for running a successful post-mortem? Please feel free to share in the comments section 

Dan's presentation can be found here.  Follow him @danmil @hut8labs


Following the post-mortem discussion, we launched into a conversation on what the group would like to focus on for 2014. There were a number of challenges highlighted below that we can tackle throughout the year.  If you or a company you know are strong in this area, or if you are interested in helping to shape the event, please email me.

  1. Security in the Cloud - March 21st
  2. Open Source - Survey Results Revealed - April 10th
  3. For you gamers, we will be hosting the PAX pre-party at Microsoft NERD the night of April 10th
  4. DevOps - March/April
  5. Data Engineering vs. Data Science
  6. Keeping an engineering organization moving fast. Making the right investments at the right time.  Scaling.
  7. Continuous delivery and testing
  8. Lean startup - applying lean when you aren't a startup
  9. Compliance rules through verticals.  How do you react quickly when new rules and regulations are hitting you from outside organizations.
  10. Tales from the trenches on integrating acquisitions.  
We will be reaching out to CTOs and VPs of Engineering soon for a new peer group.  If you are interested in getting involved with this group, please email me.  Thanks to everyone that joined us, to Dan for presenting and to the Altisource Labs team for the great apps and drinks at Trade.  

IoT creates Challenges and Opportunities

Artilce by: Martin Bakal, WW Agile & Embedded Software Solution Offering Lead, Product Management + Design, IBM Rational Software
IoT creates Challenges and Opportunities

One of the big changes the electronics industry is facing is how and when to automatically collect data from ranges of devices and pass them to other machines. This is generally called M2M (Machine to Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things), I recently attended a talk on this subject. The link to a blog with the slides is located at

Overall session was very well attended and the speaker was by Peter Coffee from The general theme was that IoT/M2M is being used in many different ways today from finding pre-failure events to enhancing the experience with applications. Most of the issues involved in implementing this technology aren’t and there are companies that can support this type of implementation.

The biggest issue overall is trust. We have to trust the data will be used in our best interests. I personally see this all the time when I try to set my browser to not pass data back to servers, turn off GPS on my phone, etc. Do you want your TV, refrigerator, car, etc to be passing around information and the larger question is when/how does it benefit the end user?

In terms of building these smarter devices the general idea is to connect, measure, think and then act as needed.. To really accelerate the usefulness long term there are still some technical issues.
1)     We have to rethink networking. Our current packet metadata only includes where we are going not where we came from. There also is no concept on time stamping. This means apps only looking for proximity type data or time relevant( in nanoseconds) have to open the packet to act.
2)     Environments could be relaxed to allow lossy data – Data coming through could paint a picture without needing every packet and then falling behind
3)     Enable negotiation not just transactional data – When we here about stolen data in the news the primary issue is every source is trusted once something gets in the network and these types of devices open more holes. The systems need methods to require authentication internally.
4)     Need to connect to people not just add additional data and confuse them.
5)     Battery life – do we want smaller devices to chew their batteries just to pass this type of information around.
6)     Need to take a system of systems approach and understand what the architecture is and why we are building it, not just connect devices because we can. Connecting devices without a purpose just leads to cost with no benefit.

Overall the opportunity to gain more insights and respond quicker to events is huge and the changes will keep coming. This is especially true in the realm of fixing devices, monitoring the roads, etc. The larger issue is how quickly we are willing and able to make these changes and not disenfranchise people along the way.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MassTLC Launches Internet of Things Cluster Planning With 3 Compelling Themes - and 200 Guests

Article by: Chris Rezendes, INEX Advisors

The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) took another step forward, contributing to the establishment of the Eastern MA Internet of Things Cluster with an informal planning and networking session on January 9.
The event was graciously hosted by Foley Hoag’s Boston Seaport Office.
Peter Coffee from shared an engaging overview of the leading SaaS vendor’s view on IoT, and an interesting survey of technical requirements and opportunities related to IoT.

We had the honor of moderating an energetic Q&A session with the audience and Mr. Coffee.
Based on the quality of people, and the diversity of businesses they were representing, we have little doubt that the Eastern MA IoT Alley – stretching from the NH border across Eastern MA to the RI border – will be busy in 2014.
And along with busy, leading the way in a few key dimensions of IoT rollout as evidenced by the topics elevated by the crowd, spurred by Mr. Coffee:
1. The weaknesses in the current internet infrastructure. Coffee did a great job of highlighting a number of the key technical/ architectural norms extant today in network infrastructure that represent barriers to realizing the fullest potential of IoT.  Included in his list, were three key requirements for IoT that will challenge current infrastructure that we helped identify in our work with 100 early leaders in IoT core technology, solution development and implementation work at Cisco’s IoT World Forum Steering Committee meetings last year:
a. Self-identifying, describing, negotiating devices – context awareness
b. Event-based network architectures – including support for broader distributions of autonomy beyond the network edge/ gateway to remote devices themselves
c. Secure bi-directional communications – support for the future network architecture that will be more distributed, and resilient
INEX takeaway: These challenges are enormous opportunities for new technical approaches to become significant businesses. They are also the ‘re-set’ that should create opportunities to explore future business models.
2. IoT is not a solution, or a market. We have often written or spoken that IoT is a collection of markets.  Coffee went a little further, and we liked it.  His position, and one that we support and promote:  IoT is a tool.  A tool that can help people, and businesses and governments achieve more of their aims – truer aims – faster, with greater impact, at lower cost and or higher margin, depending on the mission of the deployer.INEX takeaway:  In other words, IoT is about MUCH more than an ad platform.  We have been saying this for two years, and getting into a little trouble for it. While Coffee did not go this far, we did hear his clarion call for authentic value creation. It was brilliant.
3. The primacy of subject matter expertise. Lest we forget, IoT is largely about the instrumentation of the physical world. Within that framework, IoT will aim to instrument, connect and better manage collections of physical objects – assets, inventories, areas of operation – that might have zero, or near-zero instrumentation and/ or automation to-date. Perhaps for good reason. The point:  The people that are legitimate experts in those physical operations need to be recruited, respected, rewarded in IoT.INEX takeaway:  Yes! Thankfully, a trusted voice from Big IT is changing the conversation about value – shifting it from myopic focus on data science and business analysis to accounting for subject matter expertise in physical operations. We have experienced the value of this community in mission critical, real time, line of business applications and operations in every single project we support.
It was a great event, and Sara Fraim and the team from MassTLC should be lauded for getting nearly 250 people to register for the event, and nearly 200 to show up for it.  And they stayed for the networking! Could have been the sushi, or the bar, but we think it was an opportunity to trade ideas with a wide range of peers on the next frontier in tech – and a hell of a lot else IoT will enable.
The tech community in Boston has been maligned for being less than collaborative.  Not last Thursday night.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Intersection of All Things: MassTLC Internet of Things Kickoff

Last Thursday over 200 people came together for MassTLC’s first program on the Internet of Things. With a keynote discussion given by Peter Coffee, VP for Strategic Research at and follow up Q&A moderated by Christopher Rezendes at INEX Advisors, attendees were given a glimpse into what IoT REALLY means and the abundance of opportunities that exist. You can see Peter’s presentation here.

A main take-away was that IoT is all about creating new value, not necessarily new products.  Companies must recognize in the end they are selling profitability and their products are just the vehicle to obtain that.

Given the projection of 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the winners in the IoT space will be those that provide the best experience for the customer. People expect more from services than they have in the past and they respond much quicker to displeasure.  Thus, creating a true need for faster response time from the provider. Or even still, acting ahead of the customer and ensuring a seamless experience.

So how does it all begin? There is a need re-think many things, first how we network. Today we focus on where we are going and what do we have? This needs to shift to where we were?; when?; and how long will it be useful?

Next is the need to enable negotiation, not just transactions. Devices must be connected to people and their behaviors, not just other devices. This creates a need for people to trust software, to have the ability to only interact with the thing they want to interact with and not worry about how or why it works.

The program concluded with our attendees participating in an exercise to map out the region’s IoT industry, adding their companies to the four main buckets we identified: Sensor Technologies, Software, Platforms, Networks & Connections. Check out the map here and make sure to email Sara at if you want to add your company name.

MassTLC Welcomes InterSystems as a Global Sponsor

MassTLC Welcomes InterSystems, Developer of Advanced Technologies for Breakthrough Applications, as a Global Sponsor

Cambridge, Mass.-based InterSystems Offers Innovative Technologies for Big Data, Analytics, Connectivity, and Healthcare

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., January 14, 2014 – The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC), a leading technology association and premier network for technology executives, announced today that InterSystems, a global provider of advanced software technologies for breakthrough applications, has joined the organization as a Global Sponsor, a category that includes IBM, HP, Cisco, and other leading companies in the technology sector.

“It is a pleasure to welcome InterSystems as a Global Sponsor, and we appreciate this expression of their support of the Massachusetts technology sector. InterSystems has already been an engaged partner in our Big Data, Software Development, and Healthcare clusters, and we look forward to their continuing involvement,” said Tom Hopcroft, President and CEO of MassTLC.

“MassTLC plays a key role in fostering economic growth and innovation in the region’s technology sector, as well as cultivating the next generation of technology leaders. We are pleased to contribute to this important mission as a Global Sponsor,” said Robert Nagle, Vice President of Software Development for InterSystems.

About InterSystems
InterSystems is a global software leader with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and offices in 25 countries. InterSystems provides advanced technologies for breakthrough applications. InterSystems Caché® is an extremely fast and massively scalable database system. InterSystems Ensemble® is a platform for rapid integration and the development of connectable applicationsInterSystems DeepSee® and InterSystems iKnow® are technologies for conducting real-time active analytics with structured and unstructured data. For more information, visit

About Mass Technology Leadership Council

The Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) is the region's leading technology association and the premier network for tech executives, entrepreneurs, investors and policy leaders. MassTLC's purpose is to accelerate innovation by connecting people from across the technology landscape, providing access to industry-leading content and ideas and offering a platform for visibility for member companies and their interests. For more information on MassTLC, visit