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BK Blog Post
Posted by M. Nora Klaver, Executive Coach, Bouchard Executive Coaching Ltd..
Nora is an accomplished executive coach with 25 years of experience developing corporate leaders. She is the author of Mayday! Asking For Help In Times of Need.
With 2015 drawing to a close, business leaders are already speculating as to what the tech industry may have in store in 2016. More importantly, they are anticipating the major disruptions each prediction will inevitably thrust upon organizations, be they beneficial or catastrophic.
Some of the predictions are fantastic, the stuff of science fiction. We can look forward to improved and ever-present smart virtual personal assistants (SVPAs) who will buy our tickets, plan our routes, coordinate our schedules, and generally help us all be more put-together members of society. The internet of things promises that your heart rate will always be monitored, your dog will always be found, and your fridge will always be full (do you think they make a wine cellar that never goes empty….?)
Other predictions are…not to be dramatic here but…ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING. Intelligent cameras, while already in use, are expected to increasingly capture every angle of our daily activities. Using a complex network, facial recognition software and artificial intelligence, these cameras can automatically track someone without any human assistance. Quantum computers, which don’t use binary (as is the case for today’s computers) are expected to render cryptography, an essential element to data security, completely useless. And you can expect the millions of points of data you generate – everything from the locations you pop into your GPS to those embarrassing symptoms you looked up on WebMD – to become variables in increasingly used personality algorithms that predict your future behavior. The results are already in use by insurance companies as well as telemarketers, who use the information to predict how you will respond to an offer.
Now before you label me an alarmist, let me make something very clear:
Whether or not each of these innovations is good or bad, depends on whether the leadership wielding them is good or bad.
Intelligent cameras could be used to thwart terror attacks, or, in Orwellian fashion, spy on our every move to the detriment of personal privacy. The internet of things may help streamline the operations of our day to day lives, or they might prove to be yet one more sneaky way in which marketers weasel their way into our lives (“They ruined Twitter, and now they’re after my refrigerator?! ”).
Given not all of the predictions made about innovation in tech will come to fruition in the upcoming year. However, assuming that even a handful become reality, it seems clear that the strength of IT leadership is critical not only to organizational success, but the future well-being of our world. While this is not a new observation – the call for IT leadership to assume a more strategic role in our companies, government and communities has been unfulfilled for decades – the continued trend toward digital differentiation has rendered practically every organization inextricably dependent on technology. Now, in a time where almost every company is a tech company, it is more important that we cultivate strategic, innovative and highly ethical IT leadership.
For example, the rise of big data has had both positive and negative impacts on our lives. Many of the positive impacts are so seamless at this point that they are virtually transparent; auto-fill features for online forms, Google alerting you to a faster route home, and doctors’ ability to catch infections before symptoms appear are all innovations possible because of big data. In these cases, big data was used for good. (Good!)
You know what else has happened as a result of big data? Huge invasions of privacy at the hands of companies and hackers alike. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that hacks due to lackluster data security have led to companies such as Target, Sony, JP Morgan Chase, the IRS and the Department of Defense coughing up somewhere around 1 billion points of personally identifiable information (PII). These breaches rendered the individuals of the stolen data susceptible to tax fraud, identity theft, and the publication of confidential information to the masses. Shamefully, even companies themselves have been caught in the act of leveraging PII in ways prohibited by their own privacy policies, much to consumers’ dismay. (Not Good!)
Practically every part of our lives, personal and professional, are either hindered or helped by technology. Doesn’t it make sense then, that the best and brightest in IT be key players in leading the organizations that shape our lives? With few exceptions, even if IT isn’t the central focus of the organization, IT is the fundamental force that allows the organization to exist in the first place.
A company’s ability to effectively adapt, grow, optimize, and innovate, secure, and protect all hinge on IT’s ability to not only become a key player in the creation of a company’s strategy, but to make it a core, indisputable focus of the company’s existence. To do this, IT leaders must quickly close the gap and answer the call for strategic leadership that has thus gone largely unanswered. They will need to inspire teams, rally executive buy-in, and convince CFOs to cough up necessary funding in order to foster ongoing, competitive, and – most importantly – responsible IT innovation.
Not an easy task, to be sure, as there are deficiencies on all sides of the leadership table. IT leaders need to fight for relevance not only in tactical execution and operation planning, but the delivery strategy and innovation. They must acknowledge the need for not only technical knowledge, but soft skills that are critical to working with other areas of the organization – networking, leadership, creativity and collaboration. Non-IT leaders need to conscientiously clear the way for IT leadership to become a bigger, more influential part of the conversation. All parties need to understand the operative and financial commitments that must be made in order to recalibrate the organization.
I, for one, am looking forward to what IT will surprise us with in 2016, and I’m looking forward to helping transform the IT leaders who will make it happen.
Lucky for all of us, the IT field is full of brilliant, savvy, innovative professionals who, most importantly, want technology to change the world…for good.
M. Nora Bouchard, MA, is a senior-level executive coach with twenty plus years of experience who has chosen to work with those who value an analytical mindset. She enjoys working with CIOs, leaders of IT teams, as well as the people who wrangle code, DBAs, data center operators, and network administrators. She’s also great with other analytical minds in finance, engineering and science. Nora is author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need. Learn more about her background, programs and clients at www.mnorabouchard.com.
The post There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad; But Techies Make It So. appeared first on M. Nora Bouchard.