Pathfinding is just one of the critical elements a leader brings to his or her organisation. For example, developing new markets, designing products and services, new ways of organising the business etc.
I meet many senior executives within my clients, within the business world at large and within industry events. We talk about the latest management gurus’ ideas, sharing views on our people challenges or the the latest economic data. It’s rare, however, that we speak specifically about our digital world from the latest social media trends to building a resilient network. I used to think that was because Executives who weren’t technologists were understandably wary of the IT industry or that they were far too busy to be involved it was seen as a back office function.
I can understand that for a long while it was a black art and if the truth be told we made it seem that way, the term ‘mumbling geek’ was particularly apt in many situations!
Over the past ten years a light has been shone into our world and we are now walking in the bright sunlight of being user friendly and creative. You only have to look at some of the technologies that have emerged; reliable consistent email on the move, a real reduction in the cost of infrastructure, laptops that have long battery life, websites that inform and communicate and so forth.
How could you not have a view on these areas and the potential they have for your business? How do you know where to take your business if you do not have a high level appreciation of what is possible digitally and its cost and scale? Yet this is the position I find most common in Executives who aren’t technologists.
The best scenario is that they have a mundane network with no vitality and new initiatives that is considered good because it doesn’t fail, or you are constantly looking at new technology but never quite getting it over the line.
The worst case is you have a bloated over staffed internal team that will not entertain new ideas and your users are completely disenfranchised and tolerate the systems they have to work with. This is costing you real cash and who can guess at the opportunity cost?
To develop a digital vision of leadership there are six actions that a CEO or any senior executive can learn. If you practice these rules you will over a surprisingly short period of time gain a good understanding of how your existing infrastructure is performing and how it is supported, what your users believe can help them do their jobs more effectively and what technologies could help you grow your business.
- Try new technology first. You’re the boss. Many suppliers lend their favourite clients equipment. In truth it makes us feel good. Typically someone in your internal IT team will try it but it would be better if you did in the real world. See if the iPad has an application to your industry.
- Get copied in on service delivery meeting minutes. Whether you have an internal team or a managed service provider. Take the time to understand the format and if it is in geeky speak politely ask for it plain English! Oh and of course make the obvious comment you would to any other division now and again – why haven’t we completed that?
- Upgrade. Typically with corporate licensing programmes you are entitled to the latest level of software. Don’t let your team give you that old excuse that ‘everyone’ has to go up together. VIP’s are just that and VIP’s demand the red carpet treatment. Office 2010 here we come.
- Consult your peers. You probably attend many networking and business events. Ask your peers how they deliver IT services you would be surprised at the wide variation of strategies and overall costs – very surprised…..
- Add computer services to your employee survey. Here at Twin we are very user centric. We believe that they ultimately are the arbiter of good and great service, get them in the feedback loop.
- Play with IT, it’s fun! Download stuff, try free apps, go onto the Microsoft, Google and Apple websites see what’s out there.
You see the truth is someone in your organisation is already doing just that – wouldn’t you prefer that it was you or at least you understood what they where doing?
Have fun and remember you can’t break it, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Steve Songaila is the founder and CEO of Twin Systems plc. Steve has had nearly 25 years experience of delivering technology services to a multitude of clients. His passion to create a vibrant IT services enterprise that delivers excellent client service, from a UK base, has won Twin Systems plc many plaudits. www.twinsystems.com.
The emergence of new digital technologies is a challenge that all leaders in business face – and one where they can use help and support from experts such as Steve.. At the Academy for Chief Executives (ACE), the leading provider of experiential business learning, leaders are provided with an outlet for any feeling of isolation and uncertainty by building a community of like-minded individuals around them. The digital economy and how businesses can engage with it is one of many subjects The Academy has experts on. For more visit www.chiefexecutive.com