Allen Drennan Of Cordoniq On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Fostering a strategic vision
To foster a strategic vision it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of your consumer by identifying and capitalizing on market trends. That’s exactly what we did at Cordoniq when we built our video collaboration platform to work on Android TVs. Think about it — the U.S population is aging faster than ever and one out of five Americans is a senior citizen — the majority of whom prefer television as their primary source of information and entertainment.

Digital transformation has become a crucial component for businesses striving to stay competitive and relevant in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. As technology continues to shape industries and redefine business models, companies must adapt and leverage digital tools and strategies to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. In this interview series, we aim to explore various aspects of digital transformation, including best practices, challenges, success stories, and expert insights. We are talking to thought leaders, industry experts, entrepreneurs, technology innovators, and executives who have firsthand experience in driving digital transformation initiatives within their organizations. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Allen Drennan.

Allen Drennan is a husband, father and entrepreneur, and Co-Founder & Principal of Cordoniq Inc., the platform for next-generation, immersive video collaboration.

Throughout his career, he has held various roles in the field of computer software and services, including positions as a software engineer, founder, head of R&D, VP of software and CTO. Allen has been featured in major industry publications such as eWeek, PC Magazine, USA Today, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Cyber Defense Magazine and was invited to present at the 2024 Sony AV/Tech Expo — professional display solutions roadshow in San Diego.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

When I started my career, I was an IT professional deeply involved in implementing LANs and WANs for major organizations and in particular, financial institutions. These organizations had the resources to implement the best and most efficient networking technology of the time, but they severely lacked any viable software that took advantage of the performance available on the emerging Ethernet network.

This is where my inspiration started. I envisioned a future where people could interact with each other in real-time, communicating from their device using the network as the transport medium. Even though I was rapidly advancing in my IT career, I decided to quit my day job and build a software framework for communicating over typical networks, in real-time.

While real-time is ubiquitous in 2024, there was little demand for the technology back when I first invented our products, until the unfortunate events that occurred on 9/11. Immediately thereafter, the Federal government, as well as many private enterprises, were looking for a solution to communicate with large numbers of employees instantly and securely across their business infrastructure.

Our phones immediately started ringing, and in the following 12 months we sold hundreds of thousands of licenses to almost every branch of the US government including the FBI, the Department of Labor and even every computer in the White House. Our software was used for emergency notifications across most of the Federal government and our company was off to the races.

As time advanced, this same concept was applied to audio, and eventually video conferencing and collaborative communications, as computing devices became more robust and networks became more performant.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

One lesson I learned early in my career was always take the meeting because you never know who might show up. Our acting CEO at the time and I used to play jokes on each other. One embarrassing example of a mistake was when we received a call one day that a top Fortune 500 software CEO wanted to stop by and have lunch with us. Mind you, our company was tiny, and this company was one of the largest, and still is to this day. Since the message was relayed through staff, we thought it was just a joke, so we both left that day and had lunch by ourselves. Sure enough, that CEO came by and was greeted by our finance controller instead, while we were busy trying to figure out who orchestrated the joke while we were both out eating alone.

We can look back on that and laugh now, but we were completely shocked and embarrassed at the time when we found out it was true.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have had the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented people along the way who have mentored me in my career. I learned more about business and how to effectively execute a plan from my mentor, Steven Peltier. Besides being an incredible CEO, we also became life-long friends. On the software engineering side, Erik van Bilsen and Scott Estabrook have been instrumental in making our endeavors successful, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without their continued focus and dedication. Both are equally talented and brilliant.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

My friends and family know that I am particularly fond of pugilism. While I have never been an active participant, I find the sweet science of boxing to be more a challenge of wits rather than strength, which shares many similarities to business challenges and successes.To that end, I highly recommend a movie called “Cinderella Man,” which is a true story about a boxer who overcame immense odds to rise to the top of his sport.

Ask anyone who has ever started a business or launched a new idea — e can encounter difficulties and setbacks, but the ability to adjust to those problems while moving forward toward our goal is the key to success.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

As a father of two children in elementary school, during the pandemic I realized that the implementation of virtual schooling was insufficient for the educational requirements of young learners. We worked with a couple of organizations on ways to make the process more seamless and better at engaging the learners.

Specifically, we are working on better ways to seamlessly blend the synchronous meeting and collaboration experience with the web and HTML technologies. This way, online learners are not spending their time bouncing from one app experience to another and having to juggle multiple logins and app installs.

We have made significant progress in this area in 2024, and I believe that this blended experience will be the future of how online learning is delivered.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation benefits companies in dynamic industries like cybersecurity, healthcare, and artificial intelligence, to name a few. Customer-centric organizations like Amazon and Netflix have been quick to adopt digital transformation, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. As Cordoniq’s co-founder, and someone who’s experienced successful startup exits, I feel companies that pursue and drive innovation can and will benefit the most from embracing digital transformation in all its forms.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

There are a myriad of reasons why companies find digital transformation challenging — everything from lack of budget to fear of change. But what companies like Airbnb and Tesla have shown us, is that those who fail to embrace change will inevitably be left behind by those who do.

Think back a few years to the pandemic when firms were forced to rely on legacy video conferencing solutions to keep their remote workforces functioning and communicating. It resulted in clunky, disjointed and frustrating experiences for employees and clients alike. These companies had to pivot, and they latched on to the most widely-available conferencing software they could get their hands on.

But now it’s four years since the pandemic, and some of the largest businesses are still using antiquated conferencing solutions that may be okay for teaching fifth-grade math, but it’s certainly not ideal for companies who share proprietary information in their online meetings. And let’s face it, every company does it.

That’s why we built Cordoniq, the immersive video collaboration platform that’s disrupting the workplace with our secure-by-design approach, next-gen UX, and innovative features. We’re very proud of the fact that Cordoniq is trusted by the Department of Defense, the Pentagon, Special Operations Forces, and the National Guard.


Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”?

1 . Elevating the customer experience
As I saw in a recent McKinsey survey, customers want more channels, convenience, and a more personalized experience or they’ll take their business elsewhere. So how do we deliver a better customer experience? In Cordoniq’s case, we’ve built gamification into our video collaboration platform. Which means users can blend 2D and 3D experiences like AR, VR and AI into their meetings.

For example, imagine you work for a technology company that hosts its own virtual “genius bar” where clients can ask questions and get the expert assistance they need. Through the use of VR headsets, support staff can participate in live, interactive sessions with clients. These simulated scenarios can be further enhanced by blending in AI, creating a highly engaging and immersive experience.

2 . Fostering a strategic vision
To foster a strategic vision it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of your consumer by identifying and capitalizing on market trends. That’s exactly what we did at Cordoniq when we built our video collaboration platform to work on Android TVs. Think about it — the U.S population is aging faster than ever and one out of five Americans is a senior citizen — the majority of whom prefer television as their primary source of information and entertainment.

According to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, although seniors appreciate the benefits of telemedicine, those ages 75 and older were “significantly less confident about using computers or cellphones” for medical visitors. Now with the help of our technology, seniors can use their Android TV for virtual doctor appointments instead. Older populations can also use Android TVs to take virtual fitness classes, engage in interactive learning and hobbies, and participate in virtual travel and events.

3 . Adopting new technology
I was recently interviewed by Reworked about the decline of digital experiences for knowledge workers. The simple truth is that in many cases, the tools in use were not originally designed for a hybrid or dispersed work environment.

Companies need to invest in immersive solutions that integrate into their workflow and have the elements and touchpoints that allow their distributed workforce to interact in a way that is the same as being in the office. Whether it’s video conferencing or some other solution, companies should focus on minimizing the friction inherent with legacy technology and adopt newer solutions that are built to engage their remote employees.

4 . Encouraging flexibility
When it comes to digital transformation, it’s crucial that companies stay open to the latest technology and don’t get bogged down with applications because they’re afraid of learning something new. Again, I return to one of my previous examples. In our post-pandemic world, Fortune 500 companies are still relying on generic video conferencing solutions to collaborate with their hybrid workforce and clients. But how would you like to jump into a video conference with your investment broker utilizing technology from a company that uses customer data to train its AI? It doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, does it?

5 . Building partnerships

Being open and accessible are key factors in partnership development. No one single technology can provide everything you’ll need to fully implement and execute a digital transformation. It’s important to be able to easily integrate and consume other complementary solutions that are provided by partners.

To attract partners, you must provide the ability to interact and integrate with them in a standards-based methodology using readily available and widely accepted approaches. To this end, technology plays a big role in seamlessly opening your product to partners that support your vision. By leveraging open APIs and standards-based integration, you can accelerate your ability to partner with other companies.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

To foster a culture of innovation, leadership must set the tone by creating a safe space within their organization that encourages employees to take risks, experiment, and most importantly, to fail. Without an open-minded approach, businesses can easily miss out on creating the next big thing that will give them a competitive advantage.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I particularly value the wisdom of Longfellow. He has so many wise words, it’s hard to choose just one phrase. He once said, “No endeavor is in vain; Its reward is in the doing.”

His philosophy of not being afraid of doing difficult things in life because hard work is part of the personal payoff has inspired me to never be afraid of tackling the hard things that others felt were impossible, and that has led to so many opportunities.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.