The arrival of a new year is often accompanied by an appetite for change. Many of us make New Year's resolutions, and lots of ideas come to mind. Personally, I'll also be taking some time to go skiing with my kids, and professionally I'd like to continue promoting the next generation of tech talent, as well.
For business leaders, one kind of recent change they can be certain will continue in 2017 is the way consumer demand is rapidly transforming the technology we use. This pace of change is great for innovation, but it can fuel the discontent people feel about globalisation, as it compounds a growing feeling among many that they are being left behind. For example, a recent study found that almost half of EU citizens view globalisation as a danger.
The World Economic Forum in Davos is always one of the highlights of my year. In 2017, the theme is responsive and responsible leadership. I believe an approach to leadership that embraces these elements is crucial to ensure we build adaptive, flexible organisations - and ones that ease fears of globalisation. In fact, if I could recommend one New Year's resolution for business and government leaders, it would be to make every decision with responsive and responsible leadership front of mind.
In my role at CA Technologies, I see globalisation in action every day, and it begins and ends with one thing: end users, who can be consumers and/or business users (indeed, many people can occupy either role at various times). 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.
Built to change
As any client-facing professional will tell you, the customer is always right. This means that when customers expect rapid change, businesses must deliver it. How? By being built to change. 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. This works in terms of response - businesses need to embrace new opportunities - but also in terms of responsibility - businesses need to adapt to and embrace new legislation, for example.
There are, however, consequences to adopting a 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, so ultimately their demands are impacting the future of their own work and jobs.
I call this the vortex of the application economy.
Many business leaders are responding in a one-dimensional way to these changes in end user needs. But in 2017, they must broaden their response beyond chasing the demands of end users, and extend it to taking responsibility.
By that I mean taking responsibility for the impact of change. For example, it's important to meet consumers' needs, but businesses also need to ensure they can continue to grow and diversify their talent pool - which, remember, consists of a lot of these consumers. That means inspiring more young people, and especially young women, to take up STEM subjects. This is the only way we can hope to close the much talked about skills gap and maintain the pace of innovation.
I'm proud to lead in a company that is working to do just this. CA's Create Tomorrow program is all about inspiring the next generation of female tech innovators. However, this has to be supported by outreach to policy makers as well.
On 1st December, when the European Union launched its Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, CA pledged to reach 2,000 students and 150 teachers over the next year to promote STEM subjects and address the gender imbalance in tech. Now that's a New Year's resolution I intend us to keep.
A future for everyone
Above all, this is about making sure innovation happens from the ground up. We have to innovate curriculums, and we need them to be taught in an exciting way. Modernising the way we develop the skills and hobbies of the next generation is going to be crucial. We need to innovate how we recruit and retain talent. Responsibility for achieving this falls on both governments and businesses.
So, responsible leadership must be a New Year's resolution for all of us. We are all consumers who drive change, so collaboration as a team is key, working 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.
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.