A winning combination

Which is more important: technology and our virtual systems, assets and investments; or people and our human capital, knowledge and potential?...

Which is more important: technology and our virtual systems, assets and investments; or people and our human capital, knowledge and potential?

It is a question many organisations are asking themselves.

In the past, when this column has veered towards arguing that the Internet, mobile and other technologies will bring the long awaited breakthrough so many companies seek, I have received many e-mails from readers who disagree.

They argue that it is the wisdom, talent and leadership that lies within us all that will bring about the much vaunted, and needed, quantum leap. And, equally, if I focus on human beings becoming more, giving more, and being more, I upset the technology followers.

So who is right?

Both camps are, of course. This is a hugely exciting time to be in IT. Just a few years ago many business leaders were predicting it would be curtains for those in IT - how wrong they were.

What other field could we work in that offers so many opportunities? Both technology and human potential are redefining the global business agenda. Taken individually, they will have a dramatic impact on any organisation. Combined the results are awesome.

After total quality management, almost every modern initiative has focused on technology and people in some way. Knowledge management, for example, while enjoying many definitions, is at last becoming real in many organisations by combining and releasing the information and data we have inside our projects and databases with the wisdom and expertise of our people.

Those leaders set on a course of transformation understand the link between the two, and they act on it. They work tirelessly to release the innovation, ideas and insights of people, and technology.

Specifically, IT leaders shaping the future are:

  • Engaging in powerful cultural change, right now.

  • Ensuring that people are aligned to their organisation and its values and vision.

  • Empowering those at the front line - those dealing directly with internal and external customers.

  • Investing in the fastest route into e-business.

  • Linking every IT project with a real, measurable business and customer benefit.

  • Taking radical steps to achieve different results, such as throwing away competency-based development forever.

    No-one knows what the future holds. Indeed, any IT department that has a strategic plan lasting longer than six months is wasting its time. The world is moving forward faster than ever.

    Anyone who thinks that the demise of boo.com signals the end of the new economy is living in dreamland. The virtual world is here to stay, and your competitors will continue to appear just when you least expect it.

    However, just as technology will continue to be all pervasive, so will people. We all crave human contact, and it is only the commitment, insight and action from our people that will take us forward.

    So, no-one quite knows what will happen next, which gives us many opportunities, because it means that the only way to predict the future, with any degree of confidence, is to shape it. And the only time to shape it, is now.

    David Taylor is speaking at MDI 2000, the Institute of Management's knowledge and people management course at the Islington Design Centre on 7-8 June. There is a 20% discount for Computer Weekly readers. Tel 020-8394 5181

  • Read more on IT jobs and recruitment