Leadership Development and Disruptive Technologies In the Workplace

Posted by Susan Cullen on 16 Sep 2019

Leadership Development and Disruptive Technologies In the Workplace - NexaLearningNo matter what industry you are part of, keeping up with technological developments is key to remaining relevant. You'll need to consider using many disruptive technologies that can fundamentally change the way you do and think about your business. 

To get the most out of these disruptive technologies, you'll need to display leadership in identifying the best ways to adopt them. You'll also need to consider how they will impact your organization, whether you'll have to add staff internally or externally to help the transition, and how you as a leader can guide the process of incorporating these technologies into your work. 

First, let's look at two areas in which disruptive technologies will be prevalent: cybersecurity and artificial intelligence/machine learning. 

Cybersecurity

As organizations become more and more reliant on computer systems to do business, cybersecurity increases in importance. Cybersecurity is essentially fortifying your computer and IT systems to protect them from virtual threats including malicious external actors, malicious and non-malicious internal employees, and any other types of cyber threats. 

Maintaining good cyber hygiene includes: 

  • making sure all vulnerable IT systems are updated with the latest software patches 
  • educating employees on the dangers of cyber threats like email phishing, malware, or ransomware
  • staying up to date on the latest innovations, trends, and threats in the space so your company is taking advantage of the most cutting-edge solutions

Keeping abreast of cybersecurity developments means having an informed staff and being sure they keep you, as leadership, informed of any best practices, IT solutions, or financial resources you need to dedicate to strengthening your cybersecurity risk management. If you as a company stay aware of the threat landscape, you are less likely to allow a cyber event to cripple your business. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Artificial intelligence (or AI) is essentially using computers for tasks that required human intelligence to complete at one time. Often linked with developments in AI, machine learning is the ability for computers to teach themselves how to complete a task based on their initial programming. 

While the specific impact of AI and machine learning in the workplace will vary across different industries and sectors, it will impact all industries and sectors in one way or another. Some may see increasing automation as a death knell for many jobs traditionally held by the human workforce. It may actually give companies the ability to create jobs, however, as it frees up your employees' time to concentrate on other areas. 

Ideally, AI and machine learning will help replace more routine, problem-solving tasks. This will give existing members of the workforce the ability to focus on higher-level, more strategic-thinking tasks and duties. This will also place a premium on skills related to interpersonal communication that computers cannot currently duplicate.

As you look to stay up to date with developments in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, the way you adopt new emerging technologies and the staff to deal with them will shift considerably. It will involve attracting the best talent. 

How industry leaders should respond to keep pace with disruptive technologies 

Keeping pace with these disruptive technologies is important for two primary reasons. 

  • They'll help you function faster and more effectively, increasing your organization's productivity and bottom line

  • Your competition will likely adopt them, meaning you'll need to do so as well to keep pace with others in your industry

To incorporate these emerging technologies into your organization, you'll need a workforce who are comfortable using these types of systems. While AI and machine learning can help automate some tasks, you'll still need people in place to help your team with its IT transformation. If you don't have that representation among your team now, there are two effective ways to get them: 

Direct hires 

One way is through directly hiring talent that knows how to operate these systems. 

To recruit the best talent, you'll need to have a strong value proposition and an attractive place to work. This means appealing to potential candidates with clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, a competitive benefits package, and a consistent mission and set of values.

You'll also need to provide your team with the software needed to accommodate these changes: PCs, laptops, and/or smartphones as well as the appropriate IT platforms. 

As your team adopts more emerging technologies into its operations, you may find that you can't address every need with a direct hire. In some cases, adding a technical skill or service to your team's portfolio may be easier by looking outside your organization and outside your prospective talent pool. 

Outsourcing

Sometimes a simpler solution for implementing a new system is to partner with a trusted provider. Outsourcing a specific task has a few advantages over having an internal team member handle it, including: 

  • You can identify a provider who is a subject matter expert on that particular task, meaning you won't have to spend time training your staff on how to execute. 
  • You'll save on overhead associated with adding an internal team member (i.e. benefits, vacation, office space, etc.). 
  • Overloading your team members with additional tasks outside their original roles and responsibilities can add unwanted stress. By outsourcing, you avoid "scope creep." You allow your team to focus on doing what they do best without any added duties. 

Outsourcing requires performing due diligence in researching the provider of the service. Make sure the provider can adequately perform the task you need them to perform. 

More than likely, you'll need a combination of direct hires and outsourcing to help your team keep up with all the disruptive technologies you'll be adopting. Consider this when building your new "disruptive technology team." Integrate each part of the team so they can work together seamlessly, whether they're an internal employee or outside contractor. They'll all need to understand your company's goals and objectives. 

The role of leadership

When implementing disruptive technologies, effective leadership is critical for an organization to ensure it gets the most out of these new emerging systems. While you may not be charged with the direct implementation of the various new components, it will be on you as the leader to oversee the process and guide it, so it runs as smoothly as possible. 

Being an effective leader means creating opportunities for effective leadership throughout your organization. Empower your team to identify the skills and functions needed to be successful as well as how to identify those skills within direct hires, outsourced organizations, and IT systems you'll adopt. 

Interested in learning more about this and other strategies for more effective organizational leadership? Contact us today!

It's important that new ideas and methods are accepted and not frowned upon. This encourages employees to explore new methods or procedures and helps to build an innovative culture.  Download our whitepaper "Tips for Innovative Leadership" to get ideas for creating an innovative culture where people are able to think outside of the box.

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Topics: Leadership Skills

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