Technology has invaded every part of our existence, from how we communicate, how we keep in touch, leisure activities, shopping activities, there are even millions of people earning their livelihood using technology without stepping out from their homes. These people work online, earn money online, spend online and do virtually everything online except visit their parents on Sundays.
Then it is no wonder that many businesses are moving their focus online. They are building virtual bridges to their customers through websites, apps, social media, blogs, marketplaces and any number of innovative platforms. The idea is simple; if they don’t come to you, go to them.
This reflects a very deep change in consumer psyche. The very fabric of society has changed to embrace a largely online existence where one’s presence is now measured by how many friends you have on facebook or how many followers on Instagram. Tech gurus are the new management school sweethearts and Digital influencers are the new role models.
This brings us to leadership and why it is important for the new age CEO to understand Technology, if not an in-depth technical knowledge then at least the importance of it and staying abreast of changes in the landscape. Technology and digital communication is deeply ingrained in every modern business and puts the onus on the CEO as the leader of the organization to step up and take notice. Also it is upto him/her to control the use and spread of this technology within the organization and how the organization communicates with the outside world, and how it is perceived. All this impacts the final bottom line of the company.
The opportunities in the digital age are immense, the challenges ever more sinister. Today, the CEO of a company must promote tech to improve products and services, improve efficiency and speed up communication within the organization and with customers. Innovation is the ship, which the CEO must captain on the open seas of international business.
As a CEO, have you ever been in a situation when your tech team comes to you and says, ‘Sir, our website is down because of abc reason and the downtime cannot be determined at this stage’. And when you ask what the fix was, they look at you with utmost confidence and say ‘We need to do xyz to update the platform version and integrate the whole new site with the existing gateway and then start the SEM process from scratch.’ Well, I have – and it’s not a pleasant position to be in.
One may be a guru in marketing and strategy with excellent analytical and soft skills. This hardly ever compensates for our lack of knowledge in web development, coding and other pure tech activities that go into running either a simple B2B or full-on ecommerce website. The most frustrating part of being a layman in terms of tech is not knowing what the developers are saying when they speak in an alien language of code and algorithms. Without some background knowledge it is extremely difficult to even understand the problem let alone know how to solve it.
My experiences with tech teams leave much to be desired, they are lost in a world of their own, not understanding the business side of the issues. They offer deadlines they never intended to keep and promote solutions that are often expensive and mostly to suit their own purposes, either a preferred software or vendor. It then falls on us as the leaders of our businesses to understand the immediate technology requirements, in this case which platform would best suit the website, what kind of hosting is required, the design equation etc and then make an informed decision when granting the project and continuing to oversee its execution. The same theory would apply to the implementation of any tech in the business whether automation, data-mining, AI, blockchain etc.
Now that Tech has taken over every part of our businesses and we are well and truly into the digital age, the goal is for CEO’s to take charge of their company’s technology advancements and not to try and resist the change. It is about changing attitudes in an evolving system for smooth and accelerated growth.