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How to not become 'the last video store on the street'

Divina Paredes | Oct. 6, 2015
A Victoria University of Wellington forum distils key lessons for enterprises, IT managers, and their teams on how to respond to the accelerated pace of IT change.

IT professionals need to prepare to have multiple careers, not necessarily in enterprise IT – take opportunities and be open to them.

Organisations have to “reimagine” their business and realise what made them great today may be their downfall tomorrow. The necessary change will require tough decisions.

IT managers have to learn to deal with IT outside their control and influence, and lead through conflicting demands of operational excellence versus innovation.

These are among the key lessons for living through disruptive change that can be applied across the IT spectrum, which were presented at a recent forum at the Victoria University of Wellington (Victoria) School of Business.

The speakers, Fronde CEO Ian Clarke and Victoria University of Wellington Business School professor of information systems Benoit Aubert, aimed to answer “IT roles in a disruptive environment and where they will be in three years.”

Aubert described the backdrop of change businesses, IT leaders, and their teams are facing.

While organisations had faced changes before, the current pace of change is different, stated Aubert, who is also Head of the School of Information Management at Victoria. “We do not have generations to adapt, we have years, or months.”

In the 1800s, for instance, 80 percent of workers in developed countries were in agriculture. This year, only 2 percent of workers in the developed countries were in this sector. People moved to manufacturing and other services within the next 200 years.

Until 50 years ago, manufacturing was a huge part of employment.

“If you look at the pace of change we are introducing with IT, instead of being over generations as what happened with agriculture, it has been `compressed’ within your lifetime,” said Aubert.

“Your career will also be undergoing these changes,” he stated.

Organisations, according to Aubert, will have to grapple with similar challenges. They have to be ready for the unexpected.

Old markets are being wiped out, and new ones are created. He stressed, however, that new markets may not last long.

For instance, the CD market that changed the music industry has been killed by downloads, and he questioned what will be next after this.

“We are looking at the technologies that are coming. We just have to admit that the future will look a lot different than what we have now. What we are used to is suddenly supercompressed.”

Aubert added that, “For managers that is the hardest thing to realise you have to look at very weak signals that may anticipate this wave coming. But by the time it is there, you should probably worry about the next one.”

His advice? “Look at very weak signals that may anticipate something is coming.”


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