Why 2017 is the time for responsible leadership
Consumer demand is transforming the way we use technology. When customers expect rapid change, businesses must deliver it.
For most of us, a new year is often accompanied by an appetite for change – and a New Year’s resolution or two. Personally, I’ll be making some more time to spend skiing with my kids, and professionally I’d also like to continue promoting the next generation of tech talent.
For business leaders, one recent change that’s set to continue in 2017 is the way consumer demand is rapidly transforming the technology we use. On the one hand, this pace of change is great – innovation will thrive. But on the other hand, it fuels the discontent people feel about being left behind due to globalisation. Take, for example, a recent study that found almost half of EU citizens view globalisation as a danger.
The World Economic Forum in Davos is always a highlight of my year. This year, the theme is responsive and responsible leadership. These elements are crucial to building adaptive, flexible organisations – and ones that ease fears of globalisation.
In my role at CA Technologies, I see globalisation in action every day, and it begins and ends with one thing: end users, most of whom are both business users and consumers. End users are the drivers of change; their consumption generates the need for faster, more efficient technology, so technology continues to change to adapt to their needs. And the cycle continues.
The thing is, we are all – as individuals and as a society – built to change, so this is how we need to build our businesses.
As the saying goes, the customer is always right. When customers expect rapid change, businesses must deliver it. How? First and foremost, by being built to change. And this was the theme of CA CEO Mike Gregoire’s keynote at CA World in November. Companies must be able to pivot to reflect changing customer needs and expectations.
The challenge is actually adopting and adapting to the built to change approach. It demands more of certain skills, and less of others. The consumers who are influencing businesses to change are also workers in these businesses, so ultimately their demands are impacting their own future.
I call this the vortex of the application economy.
To tackle this vortex, business leaders need to broaden their response beyond chasing the demands of end users, and extend it to taking responsibility as well. Yes, we need to meet consumers’ needs, but businesses and business leaders also need to grow and diversify their teams (which consists of a lot of these consumers). We need to respond with change, but we then need to take responsibility for the impact of these changes.
One of the programmes I am particularly proud of at CA, called Create Tomorrow, is all about taking responsibility, not just for the changes now, but also the changes to come. It is focused on inspiring young people – in particular, young women – to take up STEM subjects.
So, it may be only a couple of weeks into the New Year already, but, hopefully by now I’ve made my point clear…
It’s never too late to change – even a New Year’s resolution! And responsible leadership must be a New Year’s resolution for all of us. We are all consumers driving change, so collaboration is key; we need to work together rather than as individuals. Technology has the potential to make us all better at our jobs, boost the economy and improve society – it’s unacceptable that some people should fear it because it may take their jobs, and it’s our responsibility to prove this is not the case.
Ultimately, all of us need to make the right choices to ensure we use technology to develop skills in a way that helps everyone to succeed. This needs to be our response to the challenges posed by technology and globalisation – and it’s everyone’s responsibility