Get to know CTO Mike Christopher

Following Mike Christopher’s appointment as CTO at Panoramic, here is a Q&A to learn more about Mike.

How do you stay up to date on current trends in technology?

“A combination of user groups, podcasts, and following tech news on TechCrunch, Hacker News, and various Subreddits.”

What is your stance on the ongoing issue of data privacy?

“I think it’s fantastic that consumers are aware enough of the issues related to data privacy. For the last 20 years, they’ve been slowly giving away their privacy to corporations. Now, people are finally starting to understand what that means and taking their control back which is remarkable.

I am a huge proponent of data privacy and being on the forefront of implementing it in a way that I can be proud of. At the end of the day, I can sign off and say ‘Yeah, that’s how I want my data to be handled.’”

How do you deal with the unexpected? 

“That’s an interesting problem for any manager. The world is full of things that are constantly changing. If I’m doing my job right, nothing is truly ever unexpected. If there’s something that is 100% unexpected, then I have failed to do an important part of my job – planning for the future. 

I can’t always predict the precise way that things will go, however, I can try to predict macro ideas of what’s going to happen, and then when it happens, I am well-prepared for it.”

What was the last book you read? 

“The last book I read is called The Next Hundred Years by George Friedman. The premise is: If you go back to 1900 and look forward to 2000, you would be able to predict the large-scale events that happened over the course of 100 years. You can see the massive market shifts in the US, what’s going on in the Middle East, a minimum of one World War, you can see China’s rise to power, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. Friedman takes this approach and applies it to 2100. I don’t know that I 100% agree with the conclusion he gets to, but it’s really interesting how he thinks about it from a macro-socioeconomic perspective. It really made me question what constant forces in the global economy are going to force the world into a particular picture? What does that picture look like in 2100? And, what is the path to get there?”

What is your favorite service/company?

“Amazon and AWS. Their constant and consistent ability, over the last 10 years, to innovate and build better, cheaper versions of services that their competitors offer. They know how to lock people in, and continue to eat up market share. From a business and technology perspective, their execution has been fantastic.

It’s a brilliant model. They basically let a competitor grow to $10 million in ARR. Then, they move in, release their own version of it, and grow their business. Sometimes, with their own technology. It’s a fantastic business model.
It’s also been really interesting politically to watch it play out. We’re actually seeing companies making technology and putting clauses and license agreements to prevent people from doing that. South Park was right, again.”

What changes would you suggest for a company that wants to adopt a more tech-driven workplace? 

“Success starts with defining what your goals are and what you’re trying to accomplish. I’ve seen a lot of companies say ‘throw money at technology and it’ll fix all of our problems,’ and it never works. It’s a recipe for disaster. If you can find a piece of your business to allocate resources to, you can fix the problem that you are trying to solve. It could be as simple as combining the same three Excel reports every week into one, or it could be something as complicated as fixing an ERP process. 

I suggest starting with something simple, something bounded that you can understand the complexity of and throwing limited resources at that, having one person on the team work on getting that 10% or 20% better. When you can show a little bit of progress, all of a sudden the value to the organization can be tremendous.

At the end of the day, we are becoming a more data-driven society and data-driven world and it’s great, but it is also not the end all be all of somebody’s job. If everything was 100% data-based, then why would we have people?”