CMSWire contributor of 2019, Joanna Schloss: "Innovation is something that belongs to everyone and can make the world better for everyone. Open source is a great conduit for that."

It's easy for those in the tech industry to get caught up with the latest buzzword-worthy solution or speculating on the next big thing, leaving many businesses feeling as if they are hopelessly behind. Joanna Schloss uses her monthly columns to assure those businesses transformation is still within reach. She advocates for making simple changes that can have big impact and mastering the fundamentals before moving forward with powerful new capabilities. 

A subject matter expert in analytics, business intelligence, digital transformation and more, Joanna views every conversation, every interaction as an opportunity to learn something new and encourages others to do the same. 

'Learn, Grow, Forge Meaningful Relationships'

What's your proudest accomplishment — personal or professional — from 2019?

I think that your goal as a professional every year, no matter what your role is, should be to learn and grow and forge meaningful relationships with those around you. And when I look back at 2019 through that lens, there’s so much to be proud of and so many reasons to be thankful. It was my first full year with Sauce Labs, and I learned so much about development, continuous testing, automation, digital transformation, and all the hard work that goes into building great software and creating great application experiences for users. I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from so many incredible people both inside Sauce Labs and throughout the industry, and the chance to talk with so many amazing customers. If I can look back 12 months from now and say the same about 2020, I’d consider myself lucky.  

What gives you hope in the tech world today?

The continued growth of open source communities and the way that businesses of all sizes across all verticals are adopting open source and using it to create new ideas and deliver innovation. If you look at where so much of the innovation that matters comes from today, more often than not it traces back to open source projects. Tech is a competitive industry and companies are rightfully competing for customers and market share, but innovation is no one’s IP. Innovation is something that belongs to everyone and can make the world better for everyone, and open source is a great conduit for that. Seeing so many developers today actively getting involved and giving their time and energy so that someone else can innovate is really inspiring and makes me excited for the future.

Which of your articles that you wrote for CMSWire this year was your favorite and why?

If I had to pick one, I’d pick “Why Letting Go Might Be the Key to Your Digital Transformation Taking Off.” As a collective industry, we spend so much time and energy trying to uncover the next big thing or find that hidden thing that can give us an edge, but the reality is that the most impactful moves are often the simplest ones and they’re often right under our nose. And that’s really what this article is all about – taking that step back and doing the small things that can make a big impact, things like consolidating databases, cleaning out unnecessary data, and maintaining your automated test suites. These are no great secrets but they can make an enormous impact.

If you could wake up tomorrow and be an expert in one thing, what would it be and why?

Comedy. I love to tell stories and I love to see people laugh and enjoy themselves. To be able to do that every day seems like it would be incredibly rewarding.

What is your favorite part of the work you do?

Meeting and working with people who inspire me and make me want to do my best. I really believe that when it comes time to take stock of your career, the measuring stick won’t be how high you climbed or how much you accomplished, but who you climbed with and who you shared those accomplishments with. Seeing someone happy and feeling like you helped them achieve their goals, that’s what brings true joy, and that’s where the real reward of working in tech sits.  

What's an important story you'll be tracking in 2020?

Seeing how companies’ investments in digital transformation will (or won’t) translate into truly impactful digital experiences for their customers. We spend so much time tossing around fancy buzz words and talking about edge concepts, and we always will, but at the end of the day what wins is delivering a great experience to your customers, in whatever form that takes (and, increasingly, it takes the form of web and mobile apps). I’m curious to see who can make all that time and energy translate into delighting their customers, and understanding how they went about doing it and what we can learn from them.

What advice would you give someone starting out in your field today?

Take risks! It’s easier said than done, sure, but at the same time, it’s easier done than you might think. Taking a risk doesn’t have to mean moving to a new country or joining a startup for nothing but sweat equity. Read something you’ve never read. Talk to someone you’ve never talked to. Volunteer to help out on a project that you know nothing about. And while you’re at it, don’t think of it as risk. Think of it as learning. Think of it as growing. You can always find little ways to take little risks every day.