Technology Leadership Roundtable Event: Leadership in the Digital Age (May 2, 2017)

Fourteen senior IT professionals from the Boston/Providence area met at Babson College for a lively discussion on “Leadership in the Digital Age.” The session was facilitated by Kim Crider, a partner and executive IT consultant at velocityHub and a Major General in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Kim framed the conversation with the proposition that IT leaders live in a “World of Surprise,” that disruptive and transformative technologies have fundamentally changed forever the way that we, as technology leaders, work. Consider that many recent technology advancements have relegated foundational capabilities, like storage and networking, to non-strategic commodities that can be placed in the cloud or outsourced. While others, like artificial intelligence, demonstrate the potential to support analytic requirements.
These trends suggest that the leadership skills required to create strategic value and innovation will no longer be hard technology skills but, rather, “human traits” like imagination, creativity and empathy. Roundtable participants illustrated this point by sharing their own experiences, including some of the unique challenges of driving innovation in companies that are less inclined toward new approaches or the risks they entail. Based on this exchange, the group concluded that courage and trust must also be critical leadership skills to encourage experimentation especially in skeptical environments.
Before shifting to a more casual discussion over dinner at the Babson Executive Conference Center, Kim offered the group three strategies for succeeding in the Digital Age: 1) Know Your People – understand the skills they have and when and how to use them; 2) Clarify the Endgame – find technology opportunities that offer new advantages in customer experience, internal processes or market expansion; and, 3) Foster Engagement – however much technology facilitates more distant collaboration, it remains critical to bring people together.