What changes in IT can we hope for? Hopefully it is not just wishful thinking.
Image: diliananikolova, Getty Images / iStockphoto
With a new decade on the books, instead of reflecting on the past, I would like to offer three wishes for our industry in 2020. Whether this happens remains to be seen, but wishing is a good start.
We are taking important steps in the direction of the human side of technology
IT has always taken human factors into account to some extent, because there is generally a person who is influenced and responsible for the technologies that we make and maintain. In recent years this has crystallized into disciplines such as human centered design (HCD) and customer experience (CX). Although this progress has been impressive, in some cases it is still seen as a showcase or costly lint. Ultimately we ignore or delay human factors at our own risk. Now that program management has matured, the major technology errors of recent years are much less likely than an even greater danger: the project that was completed on time and within budget, which nobody actually uses.
SEE: 2020 Technical conferences and events to add to your calendar (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
At an even greater social level, IT as an industry has been negligent in considering the effects of some of its technology-driven business models. Only because we can create algorithms that generate eyeballs and clicks, or because we can collect personal information about our users on a large scale and then package and sell it. I remember playing with computers for the first time in the days with the green screen as a primary school. Part of the call was that the personal computer was the ultimate subordinate companion: it did exactly what it was dedicated to, and if you could master its logical structure, you could have it perform all kinds of interesting tasks. Now, every time I use one of my devices or an application, I wonder which behavior, in the best case, is followed, analyzed and sold, or which nefarious code I can come across trying to steal my data, money or identity . in the worst case.
Apart from any arguments of soapbox morality, the greatest risk for the industry as a whole is to ignore the human factor that we further undermine confidence in the technologies we create and, consequently, undermine confidence in our intentions and capacities as leaders.
We lower the hype meter
Perhaps it’s human nature, fueled by overly marketing, but it seems that the technology industry is experiencing a wave of hype. A tool that automates a few tasks in the AP department is no longer described as such; it is now an “intelligent robot” and in the same way an upgrade to business software is now a “digital transformation”. At the very end we have become so used to predictions that cars will be driving across the country by 2017, 2018, 2019 and now 2020 and that AIs will become our benevolent (or violent) masters, that most people just ignore them.
This all seems to be a benign “sale” of the industry and its leaders, but it ultimately creates a certain amount of noise and missed expectations that cause technology to be dismissed as much hype and hose oil. We have seen violent oscillations of the pendulum away from technology, perhaps most dramatically after the dot-com failure of the early 2000s.
Technology and IT leaders are finally becoming cornerstones of the strategies of many companies, so it is good to give advice instead of bombast.
We build the next generation of leaders
Technology is a great place to work and it seems that it has finally switched from the only province of programmers and technicians to an industry and career that attracts a broad group of people. Part of this is probably a function of a solid economy and a broader shift in the market to products and services that rely as much or more on technology than traditional business functions such as production and distribution. Today’s leaders must not only embrace this trend, but we must actively manage the talent pipeline within our organization and think about how to find, develop and promote the next generation of technology leaders.
What are your wishes as a technology leader in the coming years as a technology leader?
Executive Briefing Newsletter
Discover the secrets of the success of IT leadership with these tips on project management, budgets and dealing with daily challenges.
Delivered on Tuesday and Thursday