Technology

Three Technology Trends Your CU Can't Ignore

Focus on what will shape the future of your organization and industry.

July 22, 2011
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3. Creative application of technology

For both of these trends and others to fully emerge, business leaders have to consider what their people would do with the technology. It’s no longer enough to simply deploy technology; you also have to consider how your people can creatively apply the technology to gain competitive advantage.

Therefore, you need to go to your internal customers (all the people using the technology in the enterprise) and ask what they want technologically. Give them what they ask for, but realize they will under-ask because they don’t know what’s technically possible.

So while you want to listen to what your staff ask for and give it to them, realize that what they’re not asking for are bigger and better capabilities—the things they don’t even know are possible.

You need to go to the next level and help people do what they want—if they only knew they could. After all, people didn’t ask for an iPhone or a Blackberry. They wanted the ability to access e-mail and the Internet without being tied to a desktop or laptop.

This is about putting existing technologies together and using them in creative ways.

For example, there are literally thousands of features in Microsoft Word you can select. But most people use only seven to 10 features. Your competitors are using the same features, which means you’re not getting any true competitive advantage.

So you need to ask, “What features would be great for our sales group [or human resources or accounting, etc.] to use—features that are so buried in the software that no one knows they exist?”

Most information technology departments won’t ask those questions because they’re too busy making sure everything is connected, working well, and safe. And if they’re not asking, who is?

Who in your organization is looking at the tools you already have and asking if they’re underused? Chances are the answer is “no one.” As such, it’s safe to say all your tools are underutilized.

Therefore, you need to implement a communication vehicle that engages the different groups you serve in the enterprise—i.e., sales, accounting, human resources, etc.—and help them understand the power of the tools they have access to.

One suggestion: Show staff a “feature of the day” and how it can make their lives easier. This is about giving employees information in short, fun, engaging ways rather than a 100-page document (which no one will read anyway).

Some software programs offer such a feature. Perhaps you can customize that idea and apply it internally so different groups get information tailored specifically to their needs.

Create your CU’s future

Many business leaders will say they’re too busy to address these trends. But if you don’t address them, who will?

Ultimately, whoever drives these trends within an organization will be perceived as a significant contributor to the enterprise—someone worth keeping and someone with high value in the marketplace.

When that someone is you, you can drive bottom-line results and be a key contributor to the organization’s success.

DANIEL BURRUS, founder/CEO of Burrus Research Associates, Hartland, Wis., is a noted technology forecaster and business strategist. He’s the author of six books, including “Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible” and “Technotrends.” Contact him at 800-827-6770.

Moving beyond infrastructure needs

Hugh Smallwood, CTO Ongoing Operations
August 01, 2011 5:26 pm
Great article. For many IT managers and executives it is a struggle, however, to keep on top of technology trends in so many different areas. I see more and more IT departments today trying to get the latest in storage or the most powerful options in compute. Focus on infrastructure and lower levels of technology are creating a larger gap between what the business needs and what IT is delivering. This is where successful Cloud strategies can truly add value to an organization. Allowing IT resources to focus on initiatives closer aligned to the core business functions.


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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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