Value of Education in Tech
On this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast – The Power of Tech Education Series, I am joined by Eric Fusilero, Vice President of Global Enablement and Education at Splunk. This is Part One of a new video series to talk about the state of technology education and why it is pivotal to both organizational and end user success.
Our conversation covers:
- The significant need for continued education to support cybersecurity, data, protection against threats, other parts of the technology industry
- The trends in education that help people stay knowledgeable about what’s current in the IT industry
- Why it’s so important for companies to invest in the future success of their employees and IT professionals
- How companies can create a culture which nurtures upskilling, reskilling, relearning for their professionals
It’s a great conversation, and one you won’t want to miss. To learn more about Splunk, check out their website here.
Watch Episode 2: Splunk is Championing Careers in IT and Cybersecurity here.
Watch Episode 3: Hear from a Peer – Dustin Eastman here.
You can watch Epsiode 1 here:
Or grab the audio on your streaming platform of choice here:
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Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Webcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this webcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we ask that you do not treat us as such.
Daniel Newman: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Power of Tech Education podcast series. I’m Daniel Newman, your host, principal analyst, founding partner of the Futurum Group and Futurum Research. And we’re going to be doing this series talking a little bit about the importance of education, how it drives growth and innovation in the tech ecosystem. It’s going to be three parts, so I’m hoping that if you’re tuning into this one, you plan to tune into the other two, but we love everybody, even if you only make it for one. But pass this one along.
Today, I’m going to be joined by my guest, Eric Fusilero. He’s going to be actually part of all three of these podcasts, but we will have some other guests join us for these episodes. So hold on tight, strap in. We’re going all in on education and the influence to tech. But first of all, Eric, welcome to this show. Since this is part one, love to have you do a quick who you are, and talk a little bit about your background and why education and technology are so important to you.
Eric Fusilero: Yeah, so Eric Fusilero joined Splunk about three years ago. Always have been in the education enablement space, always in high tech. It’s interesting. I began my career in engineering like many folks do. And then as I moved through my career, I ended up in an enablement role and never left for a lot of different reasons. One is, I was amazed and I was so impressed by the lighting up of light bulbs, if you will, in people’s faces when they became better at something or more knowledgeable about something, and I couldn’t give it up. And so I’ve been doing this at a number of companies, both looking at in terms of customers, partners, as well as employees around all different roles, whether you’re on the sales side or all the way through the support side and engineering side.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, Eric, I completely agree with you. I taught graduate school for a while and trust me, that’s a labor of love. When you’re an entrepreneur in a growing business, nobody teaches in higher education for the money. But there was something about having those conversations, and I did a lot of strategy, and a lot of digital transformation courses, and I always loved the way I felt after spending those hours. And like I said, people make jokes about those that can’t do and those that can’t, teach. But I’m telling you, there’s something incredibly rewarding about knowing that what you’ve learned is being passed on; the high tide rising all boats.
Eric Fusilero: Yup.
Daniel Newman: And technology, it’s all about paying it forward. We wrote the book “Human Machine.” The whole thing was about augmentation versus displacement. And if we do education well, we will augment and make society better and technology will be a catalyst. If we do it wrong and we don’t focus on up-skilling and making people more capable-performing, we create risks in the industry that would actually set us back. And by the way-
Eric Fusilero: Absolutely.
Daniel Newman: …it would be bad, idiocracy bad. So let’s jump in and start. I think a little bit of… I gave you a little foreground there, but just talk a little bit about what you are hearing and reading that is in your mind indicating that there’s a really significant need for continued education to support cybersecurity data protection against threats, and of course, any other part of the technology industry.
Eric Fusilero: Yeah, I don’t think we can read anything these days without the notion of a skills gap coming into the conversation or a talent war. This has been going on for years. I mean, you could look at a number of different reports around the fact that with technology accelerating the pace that it is, people are having just a hard time keeping up. And the fact that when you look at it from a business perspective, they’re having a challenge just in terms of as people are leaving. So in this current world of the Great Resignation, whatever you want to call it, they’re having problems just identifying folks to backfill those roles as an example. So this whole talent gap continues. And you’ve got CEOs who are worried about the viability of their companies because not just technology disruption, but as I always say, there are people behind that technology, and so if you don’t up-skill and maintain the skill level of your folks, that technology disruption is going to have huge impact on your company.
And then you begin to look at all these reports. So cybersecurity, you mentioned Daniel, right? And I follow that space quite a bit. There’s an ISC squared cybersecurity workforce study that basically highlights the fact that the demand for cybersecurity skills is growing faster than even the growth that’s occurring in the cybersecurity workforce today by 2x. And it’s not as if global attacks are going away. It’s actually increasing. I mean, over the past couple of years there’s studies that show that, whether it’s by the volume, whether it’s by the frequency, but also the sophistication of the cyber threats is going to have a huge impact on business.
And the question at the end of the day is how are we going to address that? It can’t be simply done by technology. There’s people behind all of that. And so I think those are just macro perspectives in terms of the talent gap, the skills gap that we’ve got of which technology education and just the mindset that we have to continuously learn is so important.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I 100% agree with you, and I love that you point out… There’s a lot of concerns over the last few months we’ve seen OpenAI come into focus and all of a sudden Chat. And then you’re saying, “We’re going to break the search model, and then we’re going to break the business model, and then we’re going to break the… Well, we’re not going to need to educate or write papers because you’ll have this app write a paper or this site will design a…” And then you go… 20 years ago, 10 years ago when social media broke through and people all of a sudden there’s a whole new industry that grows; a whole new set of jobs, a whole new marketing and PR function that changed, a whole new way to reach customers. And so this is just going to be another dynamic that’s going to change industries, and change jobs, and change career paths.
But people see it in two ways. Change makes people super uncomfortable and so changing, for instance, the institution of higher education shifting to an institution of continuous learning, I think it’s like… I saw Alvin Toffler I think is the quote, but something about “The future is going to be defined by those that can learn, unlearn, and relearn.” I don’t know the exact quote. I don’t want to get it wrong, but it’s a great quote, and it always makes me think. I went to school for business. I got an MBA. I studied finance marketing. And I’m saying I’m a high-tech analyst now because I could basically go in, learn, understand, synthesize, and discuss technology.
By the way, every year I have to learn something new. It’s not like you’re done. You know what I’m saying, Eric? We’re never done. We’re constantly learning. So as I mentioned, the old rite of passage was you went to university, especially if you want to be in tech, right?
Eric Fusilero: That’s right.
Daniel Newman: You’d go get a degree. Get a EE, and go get computer science, and you’d go build silicon or software, whatever you do. There’s still something to be said for that, but there’s got to be new and different education programs. Because like I said, the people that got a EE 20 years ago, it doesn’t matter. It’s a totally different place. Talk a little bit about what you see as education now that helps people stay up on tech, and stay relevant, and make sure that they are never replaceable.
Eric Fusilero: Yeah, I mean, what’s great about it is one reason why I’m still in education and learning is because it’s a drastically different world today than it was let’s say 20 years ago. Because 20 years ago or so, that’s all you really had. You had to go to a physical classroom in a building on a campus as an example. Now, if you look at it in terms of how do I up-skill? How do I prepare myself for the next role? How do I just continuously learn? There are so many opportunities. I mean, think of this in terms of if you want to go after certifications, which is something that’s been around for 20+ years, you can go after those because there’s many companies who are offering those for free. There’s industry certifications. There’s technology certifications. You can just pick and choose what those are.
There’s this plethora of this explosion of online learning platforms that didn’t exist before. So you have things like LinkedIn Learning, you have Coursera, you have CompTIA as an example. You even have universities who are reaching out and offering many of their favorable courses online. That didn’t exist before. And then you’ve got all these learning providers today who have specializations in certain domains like cybersecurity, like Science Institute, (ISC)2, which I mentioned before as an example. And then you have technology companies as well. So even if you don’t go to school, there’s plenty of opportunities. But at the same time, schools are realizing that they’re not going to… They can’t just have everyone sign up and take a class. That’s why they built continuing education programs. That’s why they put their learning online as an example, so that they can actually scale their knowledge to folks who need it.
Daniel Newman: I think that brings up a great point. And by the way, I’m pretty sure you can get an MIT education now for free. Obviously, again, this is almost a bet by the market that it’s still more valuable to go to the school and pay the $60,000 or $70,000 a year and get the actual degree. But if you want to be knowledgeable and you want to learn, it’s really the modern era of the library. Nobody ever said you can’t go in the library and read all the books and consume all the knowledge. Of course, having the ability to digest and synthesize, and of course things like MOOCs and things that are being built that are educational-driven applications like LinkedIn Learning where you can learn stuff, get certifications, move quickly, stay relevant… This industry will be turned on its head. I’m telling you, it’s going to happen quickly because like I said, if you want to be a cyber expert, college is going to teach you fundamental human skills.
It’s anthropological in its nature, but the actual ability to stay relevant and understand threat detection, intrusion, SCIM management, data stream and analytics, geez, so much to do. You cannot get that in school. You’re going to have to be constantly in classes, constantly learning. By the way, I love that. It rises…the whole society gets better if we buy into this. But talk a little bit through your lens about the companies. You talked about companies can’t survive if people don’t stay at it, but there’s got to be more tangible, measurable… I’m going to the board and saying, “Why are we spending so much on education?” And Eric, I’m going to use a quote that I think you remember. “The CFO walks into the CEO and says, ‘What if we spend all this money training our people, and they leave?’ And the CEO looks back at them and says, ‘What if we don’t and they stay?'”
Eric Fusilero: That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. And it just came up in a meeting I just had literally months ago on that same point. I’m like, “Guys, companies are…” I think there’s two sides of this perspective in terms of why is it so important. And you can look at it in terms of supply side versus demand side, but you have to step back and look at this just in terms of the ecosystem that we all operate in, which are a set of companies; either in terms of companies that are receiving a service or a product or companies that are actually building it. But again, I’m going to go back to the point that regardless of either side that you’re on in terms of each of those companies, there’s people inside.
And so if you look at it in terms of just companies in general, why are they in business? They want to grow. How are they going to grow? They’re going to deliver stellar products and technologies. They’re going to deliver stellar services and customer experiences. Otherwise, no one’s going to buy their technology. No one’s going to remain loyal to their top technology as an example. So that’s the ultimate perspective because you want companies to adopt technology, renew technology, expand uses of their technology as an example. So that’s the macro view in terms of a company entity.
And then there’s the people side, which is at the end of the day, the part that sometimes get overlooked because at the end of the day, how is that product getting built? Engineers. How is that service getting delivered? Support engineers, folks in the field, professional services as an example. Anyone that touches a customer of yours that you are serving is driven by a set of roles. And so investing in your folks to one, deliver on that experience, deliver on that outcome that you want your customers to have, but also looking at it from the perspective that it’s going to help them become better, which is in essence why people stay in companies. It’s because the end of the day, yes, pay is great, but investing in their future success, investing in their confidence as an example, and just feeding their motivations, I think is a great outcome that we should all have.
Daniel Newman: So how do you balance that risk though? Because the one thing is, we saw this in the talent wars, and obviously, we’ve come full circle with the talent wars really quickly. It went from not enough talent, companies ridiculously overpaying people, fighting for… I said there was one capable person for five jobs, and now it feels like with tech shedding a little bit, we can probably debate how right or wrong a lot of all this activity is, but we can just stay in the facts that it’s happening. All of a sudden now there’s one job for three people. So you went from five jobs for one, to now, one job for three. And so obviously, companies had to look at that inflection as like, “Well, we make people too good.”
So what’s the other side of that story? How do companies make sure that they make it easily accessible? They educate their people. They make them absolutely the most competent, capable in their field, but how do you sustain that loyalty when you get people and when you rise them up too much, and suddenly they become really attractive? I mean, you can’t – proverbially speaking – money-whip with everybody. The company will go out of business. You can’t pay the price prices, Eric, that the market was paying for people during this talent war period. And the chickens are coming home to roost on that right now.
Eric Fusilero: Yeah, I mean, it goes back to your point, which is, you had the CEO saying around, “What if you train them and they leave? What if you don’t train them and they stay,” kind of thing. We’re always going to run into this problem because at the end of the day, companies are dynamic. They’re not stable. You have people coming in and out as an example. You have people in many cases leaving not because maybe the investments in education, but managers as an example, the culture.
And so I don’t think there’s a silver bullet in terms of how do you stop that. At what point, do you stop investing in your people? I don’t think you ever do, because at the end of the day, you’re going to have to balance. Again, you’re going to have to balance this dynamic structure that you’re living in. But again, I think it’s important if you want to sustain them… Gone are the days where people retire from the same company that they joined. People shift to many different companies. They shift to different roles because they have seen in some cases the end of that road for them, or they just get bored and they grow. And so that’s a great thing. And so people don’t… I think that always investing in people, realizing that their motivations, that their aspirations change is something that’s not going to go away.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, absolutely, Eric. Well as we wrap up episode one, I’m very excited for the rest of this series, but talk to me a little bit about you as a talent expert, as someone that focuses on technology and education, whether you’re talking to Gary, the CEO of your company, or you’re talking to CEOs across other companies that are not only looking at technology and products from Splunk, but that are actually looking at, “Okay, how do we educate and make sure that we’re able to maximize our investments?” What advice are you giving to these big tech, big company, these leaders? And I’m guessing it would trickle down to smaller companies as well.
Eric Fusilero: And when I think about this question, there’s a quote, or at least the saying by Satya Nadella from Microsoft that I think everyone rallies around, which is, “It’s around culture. It’s creating a culture, and it’s creating a learn-it-all culture versus the know-it-all culture.” Because again, just the accelerated pace of technology changes in the market. And so that’s what I think is the first step, which is… And we have… Every company has these challenges because you always have a set of folks who believe they know it all. And despite the fact that not just the technology’s changing, but how customers that we’re serving, how they’re using it to solve problems is changing. And so there’s got to be a culture where they need to continue to re-skill, up-skill, relearn as an example, like you mentioned as an example.
And so one, investing in those programs for them, knowing what they need, not just what they want, I think is key. Because you got to make sure that your investments are prioritized appropriately, as an example. But again, I just think making the right investments in those programs, I think giving them space to learn I think is sometimes overlooked. Because don’t all have… We’re not all walking around just wondering what we’re going to do next. There are a lot of folks who are working literally 40, 50, 60 hours a day, and when you ask them to do some learning, they’re like, “Okay, when?” So you got to give them space to do it, and then you got to use data, if you will, to look at it. Where are they on their journey? Where are they starting? Where do you want them to go? How do you support that and nurture that?
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I think that’s a really good way to wrap up episode one. I think something that we could summate from this too is that well-trained, competent, and capable people with the right technology backgrounds will always be in demand. And right now, no matter what the job ratio to available talent, when you are well-trained, you are well educated individually, you will always create opportunities for yourself. And as a company, I think it’s pretty safe to say that despite there are going to be concerns, and you will lose talent. I mean, truth is if you train people well enough, there will be stars.
And I always have said to myself, Eric, that it’s a bit of a… It’s a sad, but always a very bittersweet moment when you see someone that you really built and developed up become their own star, even if it’s elsewhere. Because that goes back to that whole sentiment of why we do what we do, why we stay in enablement, why we continue to educate people.
Eric Fusilero: That’s it.
Daniel Newman: Because in the end, when you see someone that you’re like, “Hey, we rose that person all the way up and they got too big, too good, too smart, and they went up.” It’s like, “We did that.” And so now the key as an organization is you do it again. You do it again. You do it again. You build it, you repeat it, you scale it, you do it better continue to learn.
Eric, thanks so much. First episode’s, a lot of fun. I look forward to having you back on, and jumping in and having the next two conversations on the power of tech education. Thanks everybody for tuning in.
Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio