C-Suite Talk Fav Tech: Gary Bolton, ADTRAN

Gary Bolton thinks we have lost sight of making truly personal connections with people.

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Gary Bolton

 Job title: Vice President Global Marketing

 Company: ADTRAN

 Industry: Telecommunications

 Location: Cummins Research Park – Huntsville, Alabama

 Years’ of experience: 20+ yrs


What is your favourite personal gadget?
Any kind of eReader, whether it’s on my phone, iPad, Kindle, etc. As a keen reader, I have multiple books on the go at once, so I’m a fan of any device that allows me to maximize my available time. Having the ability to download books on the move is key to my busy travel schedule and I enjoy being able to pick up where I left off on any of my devices when I get a spare moment.  I also love the ability to rate the books I’ve read so I can receive recommendations based on my preferences.

Do you have a favourite piece of personal software?
Any app that lets me streamline approval or review cycles and automate processes.  I love being able to rent out my lake house, approve my employees’ expenses, do my personal banking, summon an Uber ride or control my home thermostat all from my phone! It’s a convenience I wouldn’t want to do without.
If I had to point to a personal favourite app, it’d be IFTT (IF This Then That). IFTT enables me to automate pretty much anything by connecting any app with any device using an “if this, then that” statements.

What was the first piece of technology you got really excited about?
A heart rate monitor.  I was on vacation in Colorado and went dogsledding across the continental divide. The sled team I was assigned happened to be in training for the infamously gruelling Iditarod race across Alaska.  As the musher was tacking up the dog team, I noticed that all the dogs were wearing heart rate monitors and, as an avid runner and cyclist, I was intrigued.  The musher said that he carefully monitors each dog’s heart rate data to ensure that they are in the correct place in the line-up; an alpha dog placed too far back in the line-up will over pull and work too hard in an attempt to be out in front and the wrong dog too far forward in the line-up will become overly stressed, impacting its performance and stamina. To win a 1,000 mile race, each dog must be in its optimal spot in the line-up for peak efficiency and maximum performance.
As a marketer and an adjunct professor in business analytics, I’m fascinated by data and love tools that provide real-time feedback to allow me to make corrections for continuous performance improvements.  I’m an ardent user of DISC analysis for each member of my entire organization.  It enables me to continuously monitor and evaluate each staff members’ performance to ensure that everyone is in the role that is best suited for their personality and skillset.

What device improves your life most at work?
As with many of us in high tech companies, I’m using multiple devices simultaneously.  The seamless integration of all my devices and the use of collaborative cloud-based applications allows me to swiftly move from device to device and to multi-task without missing a beat.

What software keeps you most productive at work?
Anything cloud! I was living in a nightmare of version controls and outdated software before the world began virtualizing everything into a cloud environment.  For example, my creative team was three versions behind on Adobe Creative Suite before pulling the trigger to blow their budget and buy the latest version.  Now they’re on Creative Cloud and are always using the latest and greatest and can collaboratively work on their projects from anywhere, be it work, home or on the road.
My team recently won an award for the best implementation of Cvent, a cloud-based event planning automation software platform. We put on over 250 trade shows and customer events around the globe every year, so cloud-based collaboration and automation tools enable us to fully integrate inbound and outbound communications, planning, calendars and logistics to deliver a premium customer experience, combined with real-time analytics for continuous process improvements.

Is there any technology that has become extinct that you would like to resurrect?
There have been some amazing technology innovations, from Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine in the 1800’s to the late 1990’s with the Palm Pilot PDA and Napster’s peer-to-peer music sharing internet service that have disrupted major industries and led the way for breakthroughs in computers, personal devices and crowd sourcing.
I’m not inclined to resurrect any extinct technologies, given my bias to look towards the future.  While I study and pay homage to history’s innovators, my interest is to see how we can leverage these past innovations to disrupt the status quo and create amazing new products and services. On the flipside, there are some technologies that I would love to see driven into extinction.  For example, I’m not a fan of TV.  In fact, according to Statisa, Americans spend 282 minutes per day in front of the tube! This is a very disturbing statistic and I hope our future generations will find more active uses of their time. After all, time is a precious commodity and should not be wasted.

Is there any technology you would personally recommend that you don’t think enough people know about? (Hardware or software, work or personal)
The pencil. We’ve lost sight of the importance of making truly personal connections with people.  Whilst we text, email and blast out messages via social media, CRMs and marketing automation platforms I think many of us forget the power and impact of a simple and thoughtful handwritten note.

Do you think anything about your personal use of tech would surprise your colleagues?
While it might not surprise anyone who knows me, I’m an ardent user of audio books. I have to read lots of text books and background material for the courses I teach and I love quantum physics, historical fiction, Dante, tech innovation and learning new things so I’m reading 2-3 books at any given time. Listening to audio books whilst I drive is an easy way to sneak in an extra book per week and reclaim time that would otherwise be spent on my commute.