Today we are talking to Don Schuerman, the CTO of Pegasystems. And we discuss the different aspects of Digital Transformation, finding employees who are relentlessly curious about the customer, and how doing improv may be the secret weapon to progressing in your career.

All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast!

Don Schuerman is CTO and Vice President of Product Marketing at Pegasystems, responsible for Pega’s industry-leading platform and CRM applications. He has 20 years of experience delivering enterprise software solutions for Fortune 500 organizations, with a focus on digital transformation, mobility, analytics, business process management, cloud and CRM.

Don has led enterprise software implementations and provided technology and architecture consulting to senior business and technology executives from Fortune 500 organizations, including American Express, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, and BP. Don holds a BS in Physics and Philosophy from Boston College.

ABOUT Pegasystems:

Pegasystems is empowering digital transformation at the world’s leading companies. Pega’s adaptive, cloud-architected software – built on its unified Pega® Platform – empowers people to rapidly deploy, and easily extend and change applications to meet strategic business needs. Over its 30-year history, Pega has delivered award-winning capabilities in CRM and BPM, powered by advanced artificial intelligence and robotic automation, to help the world’s leading brands achieve breakthrough business results. For more information on Pegasystems (NASDAQ: PEGA) visit


  • Has been with Pega for 20 years
  • No new resources for legacy languages or technology. Mainframe programmer retirement apocalypse
  • Startups that are popping up that are providing mainframe programming skills
  • What does Pega do?  Helps digital transformation simple.  How do they engage the customers in a way that is more personalized.  How do you we help them get their work done. Help them make decisions and help them get work done.
  • Work with organizations like Cisco for their order fulfillment
  • Learned both parts of doing it technically and dealing with the people issues. Make decisions get work done.  Heart. How do you understand when you’re driving big transformation how do you get people to get come along.
  • How do you get people to change, 1 on 1 customer interaction.
  • Joel talking about Gary Vee and the Chief Heart Officer. Claude Silver
  • Don – Ai technology is about optimization.  Optimize to an outcome. Use AI technology to optimize to an outcome.  AI is not going to have empathy for the person on the other side of the situation.  Can’t create the human relation to make them feel better
  • Adaptive Modeling.  Feedback loops – taking predictors figuring out what they recommend and feeding back if it was successful.
  • How do you create an environment where the next generation that can grow behind you?
  • The problems Pega solves are interesting and challenging.  Exciting to work for a place that grows. The people that he works with.  The teams, product management, strategy, sales, marketing. Enjoys seeing them every day.  A lot of tech skills are just syntax. If you have curiosity and problem solving capability.  The actual syntax of writing code is just syntax.
  • The people skills is increasingly more important.  The need for people who are pure engineers is going to become less and less.  The systems will do that. People who can sit one foot in the tech and one in the business and act as a communication line.  They won’t be replaced by automation. Communication, writing, listening skills. Trying to build people who bring the deep curiosity about the tech but also the people focused listening skills.  That’s the real magic
  • The future of CTOs are going to be product managers.  Bridge the line from the tech and the need on the business side and act on it
  • Spending 20 years doing improv comedy was as important as doing 7 years of writing java code.  Those kind of soft skills are just as important
  • Trend of CTOs becoming CEOs.
  • Still amazed when Don hears clients say well I’m not very technical.  His response is what’s the plan for thriving in the world that we live in today without having some understanding of the technology?
  • Communication to your audience is
  • The end customer is far more technically savvy than they used to be.
  • Elon Musk Starlink.  Putting Satellites that will orbit in a net pattern
  • Thank you for being late. Thomas Friedman
  • Social Media is so good at targeting people and getting it to change the way they think.  Fascinated by the idea of what needs to change in business and society.
  • Does a lot of work in the Low Code area.  If he can get it so that he needs to build a new app and instead of doing it the traditional way.
  • Their company has the low code systems that organizations are using as well.
  • BPM business process management.  Building apps in Pega you drag and drop the steps that things need to go through.  If you go to you can build a little process for free
  • Being able to allow the control and simplicity but allow IT being able to maintain their part in the enterprise company.
  • Pega Platform.  Have also built apps on top of the platform. Has a virtual private model.  For sprint for instance they do it in a private cloud for the company
  • Moving in to a Multi Cloud world.  Use case for how Google uses it using a kubernetes container on their cloud. Cloud Choice
  • What’s a big trend for Digital transformation. 2 aspects.  How do you engage your customers. Understanding today’s customer and their expectations.  Customers are more empowered they expect things to be easy. Seamless and they want things to be personalized.  The challenge is when you really look at large enterprise. They weren’t built to deliver that. Massive systems, legacy, silos, how do you deliver that easy frictionless seamless experience that the customer wants but do it with systems that were never designed to work that way.  Technology is never a silver bullet. Mistakes that organizations make and how to avoid them. Jump in to and try and solve things at the channel level. The chatbots that everyone knows and loves. Instead of obsessing about latest channel. What’s the journey the customer is trying to go one.  Examples of what they are trying to do. Make sure that the channels plug in to it naturally for the customer. Think Journeys you get there
  • Second thing they struggle with is: everyone is excited about automation again.  Thinking about Robotic processing automation. Robotic stuff is missing is focused on automating little tasks.  At the end of the day the customer journey and the reason you have processes is become someone somewhere wants an outcome.  How do you build automation around the outcome to make it easy for the customer. What does process need to look like from end to end to make that easy for the person trying to
  • Digital transformation is about thinking end to end.  If you’re thinking about doing it in one silo you’re not thinking digital transformation.  It takes a certain type of leader to make that kind of change.
  • If you don’t fix the process and all you do is stick a mobile app all you’re doing is exposing your customer to your crappy processes.
  • Their clients are people who really care about their customers and employees as humans.  They understand and get it.
  • When you’re passionate about it it makes people want to do
  • Forester report had a stat that was like 20% of organizations had completed their digital transformation.  Princess Bride Moment. We’re in a world of constant change
  • Part of agile is having some sprints that you can actually screw up
  • Everyone needs to take improv classes.  Works with a place called Improv Boston. Met his wife performing there.
  • Primarily in Boston.  Spends time with customers around the world
  • What are the skills that you try to encourage.  Relentless about the technology, relentlessly curious about the customers.  What works for them, what doesn’t work for them
  • Have probably about 2000 in engineering. Have offices in krakow and Amsterdam.  Very committed to engineering

Joel Beasley

Joel Beasley founded the Modern CTO Podcast in 2017 while writing his book, the Modern CTO book, with the goal of interviewing CTOs and sharing their experiences with others in the tech community.

Joel’s conversational style and insightful questions quickly gained traction, attracting high-profile guests such as Microsoft’s CTO, Kevin Scott, and T-Mobile’s CIO, Cody Stanford. With each episode, the podcast’s popularity continued to grow, and soon, Joel found himself with a waiting list of future guests.

Today, the Modern CTO Podcast has become the number one leadership and tech podcast in the world, with over 150k active listeners, including CTOs, lead developers, and rising tech leaders. Joel’s commitment to creating a conversational atmosphere for his guests to share their experiences has inspired a new generation of leaders and innovators.

As the success of the podcast grew, Joel founded ProSeries Media, a podcast production company that helps companies worldwide create their own podcasts. With a team of producers, content creators, and podcast bookers, ProSeries Media produces over ten shows, providing a platform for companies to connect with their audience and share their expertise.

Through his work on the Modern CTO Podcast and ProSeries Media, Joel Beasley has become a respected voice in the tech industry, inspiring others to share their knowledge and insights with the wider community. His passion for creating engaging content that informs, inspires, and entertains has made him a sought-after speaker and advisor on all things tech.

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