Let the IT Department handle it?

Introduction

The author of this blog’s organization of employment is a large investment management firm with nearly two trillion in assets and approximately 13,000 employees; the company is also global with operations in Asia, Australia, Canada, Continental Europe, Mexico, South America, and United Kingdom.  His firm offers a breadth of financial products and services, including no-load mutual funds, exchange traded funds, individual retirement accounts, brokerage services, corporate retirement plans, 529 college savings plans, annuities, investment advice, endowments, and foundations.

Turning inward, the author’s job focuses on helping corporate clients motivate their employees save for retirement.  To accomplish client objectives, he leads 12 unique teams and encounters technology on a regular basis.  His personal goal for the course was to nurture his understanding of technology and he thinks he achieved his goal!  First, he reflects upon what he learned.

What the author learned?

At the onset of the Technology and Leadership course, the author had many questions about technology.  For example, he pondered how does a leader predict the next big thing?  Moreover, he tended to take a backseat when it came to understanding technology.  However, through the course material and interactions with the professor and his peers, he answered his questions, feels galvanized about technology, and better understands the role that leadership plays in a digital world.  In sum, he moved from a casual observer to a learner of technology.

To illustrate his growth, he entered the course without ever reading a blog.  Now, he writes his prose through blogging with ease.  Friedman (2007) stated the flat world enabled people across the world to communicate, create, collaborate, and grow.  Springing from Friedman’s (2007) platform, the author saw both opportunities and challenges of technology.  To accentuate the positive, he researched the ability for employees to work remotely and shared best practices with many of his peers.  Through interactions with his classmates, he saw a theme of concern on how to address performance for networked workers.  Based on the varying opinions, he saw a fellow classmate propose that organizations reward high performers with more working remote days compared to low performers who get less days.  As an outcome of the discussions, the author thinks underperformers, at a minimum, should be restricted in the number of days they can work from home.

Friedman (2007) also provided that whatever can be outsourced will be sent to India.  The author felt his view was less relevant today and supplants it with whatever can be outsourced could possibly be done by technology.  To demonstrate his shift in thinking, the author has a friend who is a school psychologist; his friend spends 80 percent of her day typing reports.  Friedman (2007) suggests this function is non-valued added and be outsourced to India.  Taking a step further, the author of this blog thinks dictation technology is better.  This school psychologist example demonstrates the author’s shift to utilizing technology to ease the administration of a job and thereby free the employee to do more value added tasks.  In the case of the school psychologist, she can meet with more students needing help.

The author also learned about new technologies like Prezi and social media from his peer’s research.  Based on his classmate’s blog on LinkedIn, he sees the benefit of the website and plans to setup an account.  Finally, he developed his knowledge management.  To illustrate, Dixon (2009) suggests organizations facing adaptive challenges, which lack a defined solution, bring in outside entities from other disciplines.  Taking inspiration from Dixon (2009), the author will push his organization to consult with outside experts when faced with difficult challenges in the future.

At the same time, Friedman (2007) acknowledged the flattening of the world presented trials.  Similarly, the author saw challenges with the internet and technology such as internet crime and altruism.  In conducting his research, the author was surprised to find the Federal Bureau of Investigation predicts cyber threats will soon rival terrorism as the primary danger facing the United States (Clayton, 2013).  Clearly, the United States has a lot of work to do to combat this threat.  Friedman (2007) provided the unflat world is comprised of people located in developing countries or rural areas of developed countries.  To provide these people a chance, we, as leaders, have an obligation to do what is in our power to continue to level Friedman’s (2007) unflat world!  Next, the author discusses leadership in the digital age.

Role of leadership in the digital age

The role of leadership in the digital age is to leverage technology strategically and keep abreast of the latest technology trends.  To illustrate, the author’s organization shifted customer channels from the phone center to its website and smartphone application to save money.  Furthermore, his organization recently required all investors in the retirement plan business to receive statements online.  The result is reduced paper costs for the organization and green because less trees will be cut down.  To take advantage of such opportunities, leaders must be lifelong learners and continuously develop knowledge of emerging technologies.  By doing so, leaders are in position to analyze the impact of technology trends on their organization.  In turn, leaders identify and execute opportunities to capitalize on emerging technologies.  In the future, if the author has questions about technology trends, should he let the IT Department handle it?  He does not think so!

References

Clayton, M. (2013). FBI as cyber crime sleuth:  Is it any match for computer bad guys? Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/2013/1118/FBI-as-cyber-crime-sleuth-Is-it-any-match-for-computer-bad-guys

Dixon, N. (2009, July 30). Knowledge Management [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/07/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and- where-it-is-going-part-three.html

Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Picador.

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Stay on Cutting Edge of Technology or Risk Extinction?

Emerging Technologies

Technology continuously evolves; moreover, technology changes rapidly.  In turn, leaders today keep up with this constant change.  For example, Microsoft’s strategy was to dominate the personal computer and game console as the primary channels to the end user.  Enter smartphones and the advantage swung to Apple and Samsung!  Similar to Apple and Samsung, how does a leader stay relevant? 

To stay current, leaders are lifelong learners and commit to researching and studying emerging technologies.  In essence, leaders stay on top of the latest technology trends by reading predictions for the future.  To illustrate, Kelly (2011) provides six trends for how the future will be different.  In reflecting on these trends, the author of this blog sees a future with Kelly’s (2011) screens of ubiquitous nature, spectacle display glasses, and interactions through the full use of body when utilizing technology.  For example, imagine the day when we walk down a city street and pertinent advertising pops out at us on screens displayed on buildings.  At the same time, our glasses act as a navigation system to meet a friend at an unfamiliar park.  Afterwards, we head home and use our hands and eyes to redesign the layout of the rooms in our house.  The increase in productivity is evident and the possibilities seem endless.  Thus, a strong leader constantly develops knowledge of the latest technology trends and auguries.   

To adapt, leaders are open to technological change because the old way of doing things may not work in the future.  Furthermore, leaders sift through the trends and predictions and identify a vision of the emerging technologies that impact the future of their organization.  To illustrate, Meeker & Wu (2013) provide low-cost drones as a technology trend for the future.  Similarly, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently provided a futuristic vision, which he expects to take place in the next five years, where customers order products on the company’s website and drones deliver the packages directly to customers (“Amazon’s drone delivery,” 2013).  This change disrupts the supply chains of many businesses as they are today.  Furthermore, what will FedEx look like?  Will it change or even exist?  Gazing into the future of the author’s own organization in financial services, an investor uses a tablet device to take a loan or withdrawal from their account.  Within an hour, a drone delivers a check right to the investor’s door! 

Other examples demonstrating his firm’s emerging technology impacts are Wikipedia’s emerging technology of artificial brains (“Emerging technologies,” n.d.) and Kelly’s (2011) sharing of information.  His company is already using Wikipedia’s emerging technology of voice recognition (“Emerging technologies,” n.d.) software to identity an investor when call in.  Looking into the future, artificial brains are opportunities for his organization.  For example, a frequent question his firm receives from investors is where to invest?  Imagine if an artificial brain made the initial investment selections on behalf of the investor and monitored the investment strategy ongoing!  In addition to screens and interactions alluded to above, Kelly (2011) provides sharing of information as one of his six trends for how the future will be different.  Today, investor’s financial information is disjointed and groups that service the investor such as investment providers, accountants, and attorneys operate in silos.  Applying sharing, all of the investor’s financial data is shared on a cloud enabling these professionals to provide one comprehensive plan for the investor.     

The future of technology is not easy to predict.  To reiterate, Microsoft missed the smart phone boat.  Likewise, Apple and Samsung risk relevancy if they do not continue to evolve with technology.  By staying up to date on future technological trends and predictions and being open to change, leaders analyze the impact of these trends, identify opportunities to capitalize on emerging technologies, and execute the necessary adjustments.  In doing so, leaders put their organizations in a chance position for success.  What do you think? 

References

Amazon unveils futuristic plan:  Delivery by drone. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-unveils-futuristic-plan-delivery-by-drone/

Kelly, K. (2011, July 22). NExTWORK: Kevin Kelly [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXPfSrmzLo0

List of emerging technologies. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved December 2, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emerging_technologies

Meeker, M., & Wu, L. (2013). Internet trends D11 conference [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/kpcb-internet-trends-2013?ref=/