Jim Bradley, VP IT, Tecomet & Technology First Board, Past Chair
So, what has it been like being a technology leader during these unprecedented times over the past year? And how has the technology culture changed in the new normal virtual world?
Being a technology leader during the past year has been truly challenging. For many of us, traveling has gone from regular to non-existent, whether that be local, regional, national, or global. This has freed up a significant amount of time which was subsequently and rapidly filled with on-going remote video meetings, typically supported by more presentations. Also, most of us are working longer hours without our usual commutes, both earlier in the morning and longer into the evenings and weekends.
Many of us depended on personal face-to-face interactions with our customers, our team and our partners and suppliers. We never thought it could or would work without that, but it has. It is less personal for sure, without the ability to see full body language, having some of the interpersonal chats before or after the meetings, or the always valuable informal hallway chats or those during travel, meals, and drinks. We’ve had to compensate and communicate in other ways.
Our first thoughts were around the bandwidth for work from home, having enough computers, peripherals and accessories, cybersecurity, and personal home wi-fi and internet. Many of these concerns were easier to overcome than initially anticipated. One of the items we had to address quickly were electronic signatures, which also became easier than originally thought.
What about Vision and Innovation? Technology has received more respect over the past year; everyone began to see their own dependencies for sufficient and better technology. On top of that, there was now more interest in how technology could help organizations more, adding to what was the technology vision and innovative solutions for many Executive Teams and Boards. What else could we do for mobility, agility, productivity, and efficiency now that it was in the spotlight? It was good for us to have more of a say at the table and to bring forth what else could be done.
As for the technology culture, changes in the new normal virtual world have been dramatic. Technology influences our everyday lives and has a strong influence on culture. It impacts the ways in which we do most anything; personal computers, mobile smartphones, tablets, e-mail, the internet, social media - how did we ever survive without these things before we had them? They have changed the way we communicate, learn, think, and how we interact on daily basis. We are more interactive and collaborative than ever before. But do these items also lead to addiction, psychological, or physical health issues?
Promoting technological understanding at a user level occurred as many, both in the professional and personal world, have become much more computer savvy, leading us to the point that we are all likely much more efficient…or are we? While we think we are, what overall psychological or physical health detriments have we ignored? How are we working harder and longer than ever before while remaining isolated from each other, unable to socially interact as we used to? And how are we physically? Are we still getting as much exercise and/or are we eating better in a more sedentary world? I would argue both worse and better depending on the individual. Have you rebalanced your eating, drinking, and exercise habits to remain healthy while working longer, and more stationary, hours? I’ve seen many more people standing at their desks all day to compensate.
Information Exchange occurs predominantly via remote video meetings, as well as over the phone. Is that as productive as a face-to-face meeting? I say not, but I also see it working for some individuals. But are we making tasks easier and solving problems this way? I believe we are, there is more automation, less downtime, and we are still getting our jobs done.
What do you think? My goal was to get you to consider all the pros and cons we’ve experienced in these past few months and truly think about it. What would you like to change now, and what would you like to keep? While we’ve still got a long way to go, keep your chin up and do what you can! Good luck!