Business people need to understand technology more than technologists need to understand business

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A lot of things are hybrid these days, including clouds and cars. Today, we are witnessing the rise of the hybrid business leader, who possesses an advanced understanding of technologies, as well as strong business building skills. They can come from the technical ranks, but can also come from the business side, with a need to develop more advanced technological skills.

That’s the word of Thomas Erl, author of numerous books on enterprise technology and CEO of Arcitura Education, which provides technology skills training to thousands of professionals around the world. “Leaders and managers need to understand technology and how it relates not only to automating their systems, but also to their global digital presence. Additionally, they need to fully understand how their competitors and others in their markets are using the technology. »

At the same time, technologists need to improve their business acumen. There is a convergence between the skills required of technologists and business people, Erl points out. “Technologists need to understand the business and business leaders need to understand the technology.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Erl, who just co-authored A Field Guide to Digital Transformation, which provides a roadmap for executives and technologists seeking leadership roles in their company’s efforts. company.

To some degree, he explains, it’s probably more urgent for professionals to up their tech game than for tech professionals to learn how to run their businesses. “Some understand the business, while others are headlong, but they need to care more. They will always be technology-driven and learn everything they need to know about what they are automating. For them, it’s generally easier and perhaps less critical to understand the business than for executives to understand the technology It’s harder and more critical for the business side to understand the technology, so they don’t get caught off guard.

Knowing and mastering technology is now part of every executive’s job, Erl points out. “If you don’t have the insight, as CEO, CTO or VP, you can’t really make strategic decisions effectively. In the past, they relied on others to provide them with reports. Now, as an established manager, you need to roll up your sleeves and bite the bullet and get into a level of understanding of technology that you might be uncomfortable with.

This convergence is essential, as many organizations simply do not yet fully recognize that they are technology companies. “Some organizations over the next few years will experience a rude awakening if they continue down a path based on traditional approaches,” Erl warns. “It’s now faster for others to get ahead of their competition than before because you can build behind the scenes and deploy bigger and stronger lines of business. You can just be disruptive and push your way into new markets. And you can really surprise other organizations with revelations about what you’ve built and more than ever before. »

At the same time, being a digital-first company requires having and supporting the right skills, for both technologists and business leaders. “It’s really an open field right now,” Erl said. “But the digital transformation must be supported. With digital transformation, you can deploy things and you can promise the world, but you have to be able to sustain it for it to be truly successful. It depends on how the digital transformation is conducted within the organization.

The ability to support digital transformation “requires a different culture or mindset to take advantage of technological innovations that introduce new forms of automation that introduce new forms of decision-making and new forms of using technology. data intelligence,” says Erl. “The whole aspect of now having very comprehensive data and insightful intelligence available to us is extremely powerful, but it is something that needs to be understood to be fully exploited. If you don’t understand why you’re receiving information, if you don’t understand how to use it, and most importantly, if your IT teams don’t understand how to properly generate intelligent data of relevance to your organization, this effort can lead you on the wrong way.

While executives and managers don’t need to learn programming with Python, they “need more than just a conceptual level of understanding,” Erl says. “You need to understand what your systems do in relation to your digital presence and how they are used by other organizations and competitors. Did they leverage blockchain to secure data? Are they using cloud computing in a way that has made them more efficient or profitable? »

A successful leader “needs a fundamental level of understanding to truly understand what is happening in the outside world and to best determine what should happen in the world for which he is responsible.”

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