The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

The shifting role of the technologist

 

paperwork.jpgWith the increasing capabilities of technologies, adoption is as much about culture as the technologies themselves. It is not enough for a technologist to just keep up with the technical changes to remain relevant, now technologists need to envision the implications and describe it to others, in their context.

 

Understanding the technical implications on the culture of an organization is more important now than ever. As the year winds down and the planning for the new year begins, it is a good time to think about your personal goals, the actions you can do to strengthen your impact and what needs to be done to make the needed changes. Do you need to increase your persuasive skills to make the changes that you know are in store? Are their capabilities within the ecosystem that are holding the organization back? This kind of planning is unique and needs to be individualized.

 

Labels: Context| Future| Vision

Strategy and abundance?

 

business questions.pngMcKinsey had an interesting article titled: What strategists need: A meeting of the minds. In the article, various strategic thinkers expressed their concerns and views on what will affects corporate strategy efforts.

 

Tthe views on strategic frameworks and goals were enlightening, but it felt to me they were too scarcity focused and not embracing the shift in what is abundant around them. It may be that they view those shifts as tactical in nature, or too simple a foundation for strategy – but I see them as low hanging fruit for organizations to consume. It creates options that can be used to advantage quickly.

 

A point made in the article I’ve seen played out over and over:

“while analysis is very important, developing strategies is ultimately a people-centric process fueled by conversation. Each player brings his or her experiences and biases to the table, and the job of crafting a strategy is to navigate those in a way that is productive. The key is the good questions, and any advice on how to improve questions would be really helpful.”

 

It is often better questions, not better answers that makes the difference in strategic efforts, often those questions can be scarce.

 

Transformation, roles and digital technology

leadership.pngA coworker forwarded me an article titled: We Need Better Managers, Not More Technocrats from Harvard Business Review. It seemed a poignant perspective to add to my post yesterday on automation.

 

The article makes the statement: “digital technology is not the true story. Digital transformation is.” To me this means that organizations are going to need more proactive business and technical leaders who are willing to question the very foundation of “we’ve always done it this way” and make transformation happen.

 

The article goes on to state that those companies that get the greatest benefit are those that:

  • Make smart investments in digital technology to innovate theircustomer engagements, and the business processes and business models that support them
  • Build strong leadership capabilities to envision and drive transformationwithin their companies and their cultures

I personally think this is going to take more than just what have been traditionally called managers, since it involves a broader range of stakeholders and interactions than organizations of the past, to take advantage of the range of their employee’s capabilities. Automation should actually enable that focus.

 

Whether the people who lead the effort are ‘managers’, ‘technocrats’ or something else altogether is irrelevant. What is definitely true is change is coming and those that prepare will have an advantage.

Service centric innovation – does it require a change in thinking?

 

SaaS.pngI was just in a stimulating discussion with a co-worker preparing to be part of a panel (that ISSIP is hosting) and looking at the question:

“Most product companies are making a shift from product-centric business models to more service-centric business models?  How does this impact your innovation ecosystem and how can entrepreneurs leverage this trend?”

 

This question seems to be based on the foundation that companies that may be product centric don’t understand services. I don’t actually see this as true. Almost all companies get a significant amount of value from service activities and innovation, even if it is just servicing and maintaining their products. The day of throwing the product out the door and checking the transaction complete are over.

 

In fact the whole IoT phenomenon is based on adding services to devices, whether it is your TV now being able to download content or your thermostat managing temperature based on how the environment around it is being used – these are all services – and IoT will have significant implications.

 

Now I do think there is a fundamental question about how much the context and culture of the companies has changed and if a company’s (or IT’s) approach to innovation has shifting. Since almost everyone lives in a consumer-oriented lifestyle, service innovation has been creeping into our thoughts and expectations for a very long time.

 

We have all this talk about digital natives and digital companies maybe that is all misplaced and we should be looking at it from a services impact and futures perspective. It is not that companies are becoming digital – it is that they are being more services oriented and in the process, hunger for greater information and action.

 

The use of experience and an organizational error culture

 

opps.pngI recently came across a blog on the error culture of organizations. It was focused on: when it comes to learning from errors, it is how an organization behaves that is important.

 

“…when errors do occur, they aren’t swept under the rug. Instead, they’re treated as valuable learning opportunities that help companies avoid the repetition of similar mistakes in the future.”

 

With all the new technology around us and new business trends the old adage that “if you are making mistakes you’re not learning” in more relevant than ever.

 

On the other hand, we need to benefit from those previous errors. I see lots of discussions about ITIL and ITSM and their role in helping organizations deliver more reliable services. These are not just academic exercises, the learnings (of the users, operations…) need to be reinvested in improved practices, even in these very dynamic new models.

 

All too often, the new flexible techniques view basic operational approaches as constraining or even unnecessary. It makes me ask people how they will understand the ‘normal’ operations of the system and be able to see a pattern where intervention is needed. One thing is clear, you don’t want to learn how to fire a gun in the middle of a firefight. Similarly, you don’t want to diagnose a system for the first time when it is going (or has gone) down. Experience is needed to help talk people through this process, since it is rarely taught and needs to be felt.

 

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.