Eyes on the Future

If you’ve been reading my blogs lately, you already know I’m a huge proponent of escalating the rate of evolution in our industry in order to best meet the needs of our customers and continue to be relevant. I’ve been promoting developing better business acumen and having earlier conversations with our customers on a deeper level about their business problems in an effort to co-design solutions and become true partners in the evolution of their businesses.

There’s a huge contingent that thinks I’m off base, and that our true promise is in doubling down on what got us here… being experts in hardware installation and focusing on our relationships with manufacturers with protected product lines.

There are also some allies out there who agree that the landscape is changing and that an integrator’s value proposition no longer lies in access to products or information about them. In fact, as Chris Gillespie just wrote in The Cost of a Meeting, the true value integrators and manufacturers can bring to end users lies in the data they’re able to share about how people meet and how they work. In other words, knowing the psychology of the workplace and the hidden needs and challenges the employees have and face is now exponentially more valuable than knowing how to connect equipment.

For those of you still on the fence, I’d like to share a study Deloitte did on The Future of Work in Technology.

Technology is breaking out of the operational silo it has lived in within businesses of the past and is now taking a seat next to other disciplines to cocreate strategy.

“Technology teams should continue to maintain operational excellence—in the past, their primary function—but because business and technology strategies are now entwined, technology work should evolve to focus on hand-in-hand collaboration with business functions to cocreate value.”

The study goes on to relate that technology teams will shift from delivering services to delivering business value, facilitated by automation, cloud and… brace yourself, as-a-service models.

Given all this, technology is poised to shift from a cost center to a revenue engine. Operational spend will decrease while spending on creating innovation within the business will increase dramatically.

There’s a lot of other amazing and insightful data in the study, so you should spend 20-30 minutes reviewing it and it’s implications. However one other part that stood out to me, given that last year I recommended that our industry should start focusing on developing and hiring business acumen and soft skills over traditional AV technical know how.

According to Deloitte,

“Today, soft skills are having a breakout moment. These enduring, essentially human skills are increasing in value in part because they cannot be replicated by machines.

Even though future technology jobs may be more machine-powered and data-driven, talent likely will need to have more breadth across both business and technology areas. This could include critical traits for driving innovation and disruption, such as:

  • Business and financial acumen to understand complex business challenges and decisions
  • Ability to understand the engagement, interaction, and collaboration of humans and machines
  • Enduring and essential human skills such as empathy, creativity, and enthusiasm for learning
  • Ability to embrace change and uncertainty

And as we’ve suggested, rather than working in centralized silos of IT expertise, technology talent likely will need to collaborate with business functions to cocreate value.”

If you’re still questioning the need to shift gears and start focusing on business conversations and people skills as opposed to memorizing the latest spec sheets, I don’t know what else to share with you.

Change is hard but it will be worth it if you choose to embark on the journey.

However, if not, as someone shared with me on Twitter once…

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

-W. Edwards Deming