Jun 29, 2017

Center for Digital Strategies Alumni Fellow Spotlight

This blog originally appeared on Center for Digital Strategies.

An Interview with John Greco T’02
Director of Strategy & Corporate Development at Analog Devices

John Greco T'02Where are you currently working and what type of work are you doing?

I currently work at Analog Devices, a diversified semiconductor company that enables customers to interpret the world around them by intelligently bridging the physical and the digital. You can find our products in virtually any electronic device across every industry, from automotive safety to consumer handsets to factory robots. I am responsible for the evolution, organization, and execution of our strategic planning processes as we seek to continue to grow by identifying and acting on new market and technology opportunities.

Do you think about digital strategies in your current role? How often?

Constantly!  Our business has always focused on sensing and measuring the “real” world, then connecting it with the digital world where it can be processed and turned into useful insights that customers can use to create a valuable business outcome. When business processes migrate to the cloud, it usually creates an opportunity for us because now there’s a mechanism that can make use of more data, often in real time, and when it comes to generating more real-world real-time data we can generate more data from more sensors than you can imagine. So we have to be on our toes and recognize when these dislocations are happening, assess the impact we could have, and then decide how we should proceed.

How have digital technologies impacted your company/industry since leaving Tuck and the CDS?

I think that overall it has created tremendous opportunity, as the demand for expertise in the sense-measure-connect loop continues to rise. But it has also encouraged an increase in competition; everybody wants to jump in to this space and many of the new entrants are players with enormous potential to support scale. In addition, it has forced us to begin to rethink our business models (for example, should we be trying to build services and platforms around our data capabilities, rather than simply selling big volumes of chips?) and has changed the way many of our customers want to interact with us. We see more and deeper partnerships with customers built around digital strategies and our participation in very complex ecosystems (shout out to Professor Adner and his work here!).

This massive rethinking extends to our own business processes as well. Our sales and marketing teams are now armed with an extensive set of online selling tools and sophisticated opportunity pipeline management technology to help them help their customers better. I don’t even know if we have printed collateral any more. Finally, digital is completely changing the way we interact with customers on a daily basis, particularly in the way we use the web to deliver a highly customized experience that maximizes the relevance of the content that we deliver to each customer. People build fairly extensive relationships with us before they have any human contact!

What lesson(s) did you take away from your time as a CDS MBA Fellow that has been useful in your career?

For me, the lessons came from working with other Fellows who had different interests than my own. It was around the time of the dot-com boom-and-bust, and I had a fairly cynical view of the online madness, seeing it as a lot of hype that really wasn’t generating anything that would last. My peers in the CDS really helped me change my mindset, cut through the hype, and see what the real potential was for digitization over the long-term. That has been useful to me throughout my post-Tuck career where I’ve worked as a consultant, an operations analyst, a product manager, and now a strategic planner. The market has a way of creating a massive excite-and-disappoint cycle where it hypes new technologies and doesn’t have a lot of patience for experimentation. I learned from CDS that you need to be patient, embrace the uncertainty and experimentation that a new space needs, and stay open-minded.

What advice do you have for our current MBA Fellows when it comes to digital strategies and careers?

Now you’ve invited me to ramble, so I will take you up on it. Hopefully some of it is good advice!

  1. First, put yourself in markets and technologies that are going to grow, and don’t be afraid to fail (as a matter of fact, it’s in your interest to “fail fast” because that’s how you learn the most).
  2. At the same time, don’t get too caught up in fascinating technology for its own sake.  It’s a lot of fun to engage with cool tech, but remember that in the end somebody needs to think it’s cool enough to pay money for it and it has to help them do a job better.
  3. Never be scared to learn something new, and be humble enough to say “I don’t understand—please explain it to me!”
  4. Don’t underestimate the importance of business model innovation—challenge the way your company makes money today and ask if that’s going to be the best way to make money tomorrow. Digitization opens up unthinkable possibilities for innovation along this front.  And always know that, even though it might seem impossible at the moment, something better is on somebody’s drawing board somewhere, and if you’re not looking around you it’ll pounce when you least expect it.

Center for Digital Strategies offers several MBA Enrichment programs to Tuck School students. The MBA Fellows Program gives second year students the opportunity to deep dive into digital stategies through in depth research projects, on campus events, networking opportunities, and more.