Welcome to the inaugural episode of The CTO Studio! Our special guest today shares his journey as a CTO and how that journey has shown him the importance of building a company based on service first.
On this episode, Eric Weiss, former CTO of Rock My World Media, talks about the origins of his love for computers, the Internet and technology in general. We also discuss the creation of the Rock My Run app, when you need a chat bot (and when you don’t), and how to implement user-centric design throughout your company and culture.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- Is a chat bot artificial intelligence?
- What is the ultimate reason he has left every company he has joined?
- What is the main reason for communication breakdowns in a business?
- Why does he recommend every person within a company take a turn doing customer service?
- How bad user experiences can lead to greater trust.
- And so much more!
Eric’s love for computers began as a kid when he tore about his dad’s so he could rebuild it to play video games. He carried that love and passion into his teenage years and then into his collegiate studies.
After graduating and working both on the tech side and the leadership/business side, Eric eventually joined Qualcomm where he worked for 10 years. From there he went the opposite direction and became the CTO of Rock My World Media.
RMWM is a digital health and fitness company. It began with an app for running called Rock My Run, a music app for running and fitness. They expanded that model into creating technology products for health and fitness market. From Rock My Run, the company went into AI chat bots.
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I asked him when is it necessary to have a chat bot? Eric says the only reason to create a chat bot is if you are trying to create an experience that is made better by a chat bot. There are certain use cases where it makes sense.
For example, if you want to count your calories you use the MyFitnessPal app and you type in your meal. But if your item wasn’t in there (say a burrito) you’d have to type in the individual components of the burrito. So it became clunky and hard to use in that instance.
People resolved that issue by developing chat bots that use natural language processing; you could tell the bot you had a burrito and it would break up the ingredients and add them to your daily log. In that example a chat bot makes sense because it created a better user environment.
On today’s show we also talk about what he is doing today. Eric left Rock My World Media recently because he was basically burned out. After some contemplation, he noticed a pattern at all of the companies he joined: a focus on generating profits. Eric says problem emerge when the fundamental goal of a company is to generate profits.
It’s like a musician who goes to a big record label: the label crushes the independence and the integrity and the spirit of the music. The same happens to start-ups when they take on funding from aggressive investors who are focused on increasing profits and growing the bottom line – rather than the users.
Instead, if companies focus on the discipline of user-centric design that will ultimately lead to a product collaboration with users, and the empathy and trust that is created with those users based on that model.
We wrap up today’s episode with how to implement empathy for users and build the company’s mission into every department, as well as the books Eric is reading right now.