For more than 20 years, Ed Goldman has driven technology strategy at blue-chip enterprises like Boeing, Marriott, and, most recently, Intel, where he was Enterprise CTO of the company’s Data Center Group.

We sat down with Ed to get some candid insights on his experience (“Listen, I’ve worked with leaders who made no decisions, which is way worse than a bad decision”), his perspective on enterprise tech sales, and the work that he’s currently doing as an Emissary in our network. 

A career defined by change and growth

When it comes to enterprise architecture, global infrastructure, systems design, and technology innovation, few can match Ed’s expertise. In the course of his career, he’s gained exposure to a wide range of industries—finance, manufacturing, hospitality, tech, and more—and that, he said, has been by design.

“If you look at my career path, you’ll notice that I change jobs every two-to-four years,” Ed said. “I change jobs because once I’ve done whatever it is that I set out to do, it becomes routine. I’m less excited by it.”

Always in pursuit of the next challenge, Ed has distilled some valuable career maxims along the way:

  • If you’re irreplaceable, you’re unpromotable. “If you’re the only one who knows how to do a role, it’s going to be very hard for management to see you anywhere else.”
  • Don’t cling so tightly to your personal value prop. “Instead, concentrate on helping your boss with their deliverables, and taking things off their plate whenever you can. Do that well and often, and eventually they’ll become your advocate.”
  • Do the jobs nobody else wants. “Go above and beyond in areas that are essential, but also have the willingness to take things on that seem difficult or unattractive. Don’t be afraid that you can’t do it. If you need help, ask for it.”

Driving a strategic evolution towards the cloud at Intel

After stints at Boeing and Marriott, Ed arrived at Intel to chart the company’s technology strategy and future roadmap. What he found was a technology organization with advanced capabilities when it comes to leveraging cloud infrastructure. In order to take advantage of this strength, the applications the team was building needed to be more closely aligned with how cloud business worked.

As Enterprise CTO of the company’s Data Center Group, Ed clearly had his work cut out for him. He set about implementing a developers portal. That way, Intel’s team would have the tools they needed to spearhead more cloud-aware development. And soon, they were on the road to rapid application development.

“We took the team up a stack so that they could start building service software much more effectively,” he said. “And that really accelerated their application transformation. I’m happy to say that, in the end, we moved 500 new applications into a cloud-aware platform.”

What leadership traits enabled him to succeed? According to Ed, the ability to listen is at the top of the list.

“Too many leaders have an idea of what they’d like to do, but they don’t listen to their team about how to achieve it,” he explained. “Having a vision is critical, too. You really have to map out where you want to go and how to get there, while allowing that plan to be alive and fluid, because you never know what’s going to happen along the way.”

Why tech can be an Achilles’ heel for enterprises

The success rates for large-scale tech implementations are not encouraging, with as many as 84 percent of digital transformation initiatives failing.

“Most of that is because companies are adopting something before they’re ready to actually do it—often before they have a business case that really takes advantage of that technology,” Ed explained.

As a case in point, Ed pointed out that, while many companies today are jumping into machine learning and AI, often they don’t have the robust analytics platforms in place to accompany those new technologies. And that presents a major problem, he explained, since it means those companies will have a lot of difficulty benchmarking, tracking  progress, and ultimately assessing ROI.

The underlying motivation for too many digital transformation projects, Ed argued, is “change for change’s sake”—or, as he put put it, “tech for tech’s sake.”

“The truth is, I’ve always seen technology as being essentially the same regardless of the industry,” he said. “Some are more advanced than others, but they’re all on the same general path. What really differentiates one industry from another are the applications that are their crown jewels—not necessarily the technology itself.”

Ed the Emissary

So far, most of Ed’s engagements with Emissary have focused on leveraging his background and expertise as a top-tier C-level IT executive. A lot of the work has revolved around strategy—and how best to approach an account.

But, Ed cautioned, the insight and value of consulting with a former enterprise insider shouldn’t be so narrowly construed.

“One consistent mistake I see clients making is in focusing on two questions: Who do I need to talk to? And what do I need to say?” Ed explained.

“In reality, what they should care more about is org structure, culture, how the company operates, and what makes it tick. You’ve got to treat it like a relationship, rather than a sale. It’s the relationship that matters.”

For instance, Ed’s deep technology expertise and operational experience mean he has a unique understanding of the landscape and marketplace at large, as opposed to insights that are only relevant for a specific sales opportunity.

Going forward, he said he looks forward to helping Emissary’s clients understand the different structures that enterprises have in place for assessing use cases for new technology tools—which impacts how sales teams should approach prospects and what they need to prepare ahead of time.

But, Ed added, “Whenever my knowledge is directly a match with the client’s needs, it feels like a great fit. In those cases, I feel like I’m being beneficial both to my former employer and to the client.”

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Executive Insights

Emissary’s Ed Goldman, a highly experienced tech executive who has driven tech strategy and operations for Fortune 500s like Boeing, Marriott, and most recently Intel. In this profile, Ed provides insight on everything from career development to enterprise transformation initiatives—and why they so often fail. He also has tips for how sales teams can more effectively leverage the expertise of Emissary’s insiders in order to pitch to clients, build business cases, and close deals.