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The Influence of Technology on Future Businesson 16 May 2017Posted by Franklin Williams-Smith
A common theme that runs through much of the literature pertaining to business and innovation and improved productivity is that we, as business leaders, need to capitalise on the advantages that ever-evolving technology provide us. There are so many groundbreaking technologies all around us that could potentially transform the way we do business.
Every day, new advances are made – everything from artificial intelligence to intuitive project management software tools, from real-time group communication to blockchain. Every expert we hear, every article we read, every consultant we… well, consult… only confirms the importance of technology to our goals of increased productivity and profitability.
The message isn’t being lost. PwC’s most recent CEO Survey shows that more than half of the CEOs who responded indicated that technology will have a major impact on the way they compete in the next five years or more. This isn’t just a statistic about how many companies are going to buy new laptops or printers. These business leaders are saying that the fundamental ways they do business will be affected by technological advances.
And it makes sense. Improvements in any of a number of business processes can increase efficiency, reduce waste of resources (including time and money), enhance employee engagement, and even improve the way we allocate our human capital. All of those things are important – even vital – goals for successful businesses… and the appropriate adoption of technology breakthroughs can certainly lead to those improvements.
But there is something missing from this equation. There’s a missing piece on this otherwise completed jigsaw puzzle. It may seem like a simple, even obvious notion – but it’s not simple, and it’s certainly not obvious.
Before a company can successfully take advantage of these technological advances, the company must be ready for them. It seems simple, right? We can’t put these breakthroughs to work until we are prepared for them. To use a tool properly, you have to know how to use that tool. Anyone who’s ever trimmed a tree with a chainsaw, or asked their grandmother to take a picture with their smartphone, is aware of this principle. And yet, despite having this knowledge, companies invest a significant amount of resources on technological tools before their people are ready to use them.
The task of getting our people to the point where they can take full advantage of these technologies falls to us as business leaders. Only when we’ve led our employees and managers to that point will we see the improvements that this technology promises.
To get there, leaders need to communicate a vision, to develop a collaborative environment, to inspire flexibility, and to reward creativity.
It begins with a vision. Our goals need to be clear – how exactly is this technology going to improve our productivity? What problem is this tool going to solve? What will these improvements look like – how will we recognise and capitalise on them? And our goals need to be effectively communicated – what changes do we need to make in order to put these tools to use? Specifically, what expectations will there be for everyone involved? Each affected employee needs to be aware of the impact the implementation of these tools will have on their own work.
Teamwork is vital – the whole is almost always greater than the sum of its parts. Collaboration doesn’t just happen… it grows in a nurturing environment, and we need to be able to provide that environment. This means a variety of things: clearly understood and shared values, a shared sense of ownership and responsibility and reward, open communication channels, and some real autonomy. A team isn’t made up of a bunch of people playing the same position. A team consists of multiple people each playing their own position, with an awareness of their individual strengths and weaknesses, each understanding their role and the way they can best contribute to that team.
Be flexible, and inspire flexibility from your team. Sometimes adjustments need to be made, policies need to be changed, and rules need to be re-written. Change is inevitable – often it’s how you handle change that determines success or failure. A team that sees flexibility modelled in their leader will adopt that characteristic themselves.
Finally, creativity is a precious resource that needs to be cultivated. Fortunately, creativity can reproduce itself in the right environment. When creativity is encouraged and rewarded, it will lead to more and more creativity – the plant that gets watered is the plant that grows. It can come from surprising places, so it’s crucial that business leaders learn to spot and reward creativity whenever and wherever it happens.
Meanwhile, the innovators themselves need to be aware of these forces and strive to develop technologies that are user-focused. That means understanding why people need their offering, and how they will physically come to use and interact with it. Intuitivity is key. We need our tools for collaboration and improved practice to diminish complexity, not add to it. If we accept that technology will shape future business, it’s equally important that we allow business to shape future technology. And a commitment to strategic, efficient ways of collaboration and knowledge transfer is imperative.
Glasscubes is a user-friendly collaboration software for teams. Connect everyone that you work with in an online workspace that improves the way you share files, manage projects and communicate with each other.
For more information, contact us by calling +44 (0)20 3274 2310 or email us at email@example.com
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