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Forum on World Class IT - 359 Interviews and Podcasts

Welcome to the Forum on World Class IT podcast series, a collection of exclusive interviews with Chief Information Officers and other IT industry thought leaders. Learn from the experts on how best to establish a truly World Class IT organization.

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July 9, 2018: Tom Keiser, Chief Operating Officer at Zendesk

  • An overview of Zendesk’s business and the growth the company has experienced going from a startup to a $500 million public company in eleven years
  • Tom’s responsibilities as COO which include IT responsibilities such as business analytics and security, as well as operational responsibilities such as go-to-market and customer-facing functions
  • Tom’s perspective on the ever changing customer service world and how the company has been able to evolve by focusing on having an agile foundation while making sure the right technologies are in place.
  • The difference in how CIO’s of traditional companies with monolithic systems and modern companies with cloud-based technology are trying to incorporate new technology to keep up with the competition.
  • An overview of Tom’s adjustment from a retail company to Zendesk, as well as Tom’s perspective on how the CIO role has been reinvigorated over the past year going from back-office focused to customer-focused
  • How reporting directly to the CEO has benefited Toms career by allowing him increased access conversations around value from the standpoint of operational improvement, and Tom’s advice for how CIOs can take on additional (CIO Plus) responsibilities, including leveraging the unique position of IT within the organization
  • Tom’s advice to older companies looking to leverage modern technology, which includes trialing new software to see what works best for the company.
  • Eye on the Trends: AI and machine learning

Tom is the Chief Operating Officer of Zendesk, a cloud-based provider customer service and engagement platform with nearly half a billion dollars in revenue. Tom joined Zendesk as Chief Information Officer, and has transferred many of those responsibilities to his role as Chief Operating Officer. In addition to IT, security, and analytics, Tom is primarily responsible for operations, go-to-market, and customer-facing functions.

Before joining Zendesk, Tom was the Executive Vice President of Global Product Operations and Chief Information Officer for Gap. Prior to Gap, Tom was the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at L-Brands. Additionally, Tom invests in and advises a number of technology startups.

Tom received his Bachelors of Science in Systems Science from the University of West Florida.

Tom currently serves on the board of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area.

The World Class IT principles in yellow were the focus of this interview