Rising to the Challenge: Meet Bruce Ottomano

Community Manager

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Bruce’s job title at Abilis Corp reads “Chief Listener and Problem Solver,” but one could argue that this is something more—a philosophy. As the organizer of the Boston Talend User Group, a group of more than 380 members, he helps other Talend users create a communication and result-oriented community.

 

A Background in Science and Business

 

Bruce has a diverse academic background with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration. He has made a  success of a career in high tech. “When it comes to getting the value from data, you want to tackle it both from a technical perspective and from a business perspective. You don’t want technology for technology’s sake: you want to tackle a problem with technology. Both a technical and business background is relevant.”

 

Once entering the job market, he got his start as an Account Executive at Hewlett Packard in 1984 and then in 1988, moved on to working for Apple. From there, he became a Sales Executive at Microsoft in 1997 and in 2013, he moved on to his current role of Director of Business Development at Abilis Corp. “Customers are trying to figure out how to get value from their data and that is a problem space we solve.”

 

Listener in Chief / Solver of Problems

 

Bruce’s goal to become a Chief Listener and Problem Solver began at Apple. “As a part of the first month of onboarding, we got to meet with John Sculley, who was CEO at the time. I remember his business card and it said, ‘Chief Listener.’ I said, ‘That’s kind of cool.’”

 

How does he emulate that kind of cool? “I’ve always had the approach that everyone was born with two ears and one mouth and you should use them in that order. You know, listening is key. It’s all about solving problems. You’ve got to go deep to understand the problem by listening. Then, you’ve earned the right to approach the individual that you are working with, with a solution. Listening has always been a key skill that everyone should have.”

 

“I think you’re best equipped to solve a problem if you really understand the problem—going deep to understand what a customer is looking to accomplish. I always like to start at the business level. You must understand the strategy of the company. You know, if you’re a bank, are you looking to grow by acquisition or organically grow by cross-selling more products to your existing customers? What are the challenges holding you back from doing that? By going deep into the problem you’re able to frame out the solution – the set of technologies to address the problem. It’s important to get the problem right so you get the solution right.”

 

Three-Legged Stool and Talend

 

How do you go about finding that solution? Bruce has a theory and it is all about data. “The data is stuck in transactional silos. People run companies using business applications. The data is captured in those systems by people doing their jobs; they are entering customer information, financial information. Companies want to get value of that data from a recording perspective to get insights on where they grow the top line, make more revenue. How can they lower the bottom line, reduce cost-to-goods-sold, administrative costs, and make more money? Where are there cost inefficiencies? The data is there to support growing the company and getting answers but it’s tough getting to the data.”

 

This is where Talend comes in as the method to liberate the data from those transactional silos. “The equation is a three-legged stool. You need to connect those transactional systems to get the data out so you can then land it somewhere and process it to make it usable. Maybe you’re a customer in one system and a customer in another and maybe your name is in multiple systems. If I want to get one picture of you as a customer, I’ve got to transform some of the data and be able to do fuzzy matching. The company wants to get that data and process the data to make it usable and understandable. Talend is really a leader for that. We adopted Talend because of its capabilities and the value we’re seeing it give to our customers.”

 

“The other leg of that stool is, it is sort of a cloud warehouse—where the data will be processed. Cloud warehouse technologies are important. Finally, for reporting, visual analytics and machine learning tools are the final mile where you get to better see and understand the data. Talend is that cornerstone piece for data management, quality, data processing, data governance, and all things data.”

 

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Talend, New England Style

 

As dedicated New Englander and a holder of the Talend Business Director Certification, Bruce is one of the leaders of the Boston Talend User Group. Regarding his experiences thus far, “We’ve been partners with Talend for six years and I actually have run and coordinated the Talend User Groups for Maine and New Hampshire. I’m the co-chair for Vermont. The idea of leading the Boston Talend User group just made a lot of sense to me. It brings users together. It allows them to share stories with one another and builds a network—a community for support. Users get toknow one another in that community and help answer each other’s questions. A lot of customers have similar business and technical challenges and by sharing, everyone can learn from everyone else.”

 

“The last session we had great attendance. A lot of people had heard that the best practices architecture presentation was very useful. There is an art and science to implementing the technology. Those best practices are invaluable and let you get the most use out of the Talend tools in an optimal way. The folks were very attentive and there was a lot of good questions and answers back and forth. Best practice sharing is the kind of combination of customer stories
where they present a problem they faced, the business that they are in, and how they applied Talend to solve the problem. Everyone comes away learning something they didn’t know coming into the meeting.”

 

The New England Life

 

Bruce doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of the great outdoors. “I like kayaking, so kayaking is something I get to do here in the summer on the coast of Maine. I enjoy getting out there and paddling around.” He also has an ear for music, “I like vinyl records. I have a record collection and old school console record players to enjoy my vinyl. I have about 1400 records: folk, jazz, and rock. So, that’s my hobby.”

 

It is also worth noting that Bruce once owned a bagel shop. “I had been in high tech for thirty years and my kids had graduated and gone off to college. I got my MBA. We had a summer place on the coast of Maine, while living in Massachusetts. I had always wondered what it would be like to go to Maine year around. We really loved the experience, the work-life balance here in Maine. I resigned from Microsoft and looked around for a business to buy, and we bought the Camden Bagel Café. So, we did that for three years. I was a small business owner on the seacoast town of Camden, Maine. Wonderful community. Wonderful area. I got to experience what it’s like to be a small businesses owner. It was neat to have the full experience of being responsible for a company and running it.”