“Numbers don’t mean nuthin, it’s people that count.”
— Will Rogers
One of my favorite technology visionaries is Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of MIT’s Media Lab and author of 1995’s Being Digital, a best-selling manifesto on digital’s growing impact on global business and society.
Viewed from a 2015 lens, Negroponte’s narrative appears quaint, perhaps even rudimentary. Take his PoV on how “bits will replace atoms,” and “instructional manuals for computer hardware and software will become obsolete.” This isn’t surprising, given how quickly technology has evolved – faster than even the most astute pundit could have predicted. Yet while digital technology has already exceeded our wildest dreams (think smartphones, 3-D printing and software bots), most corporations have barely harnessed its full potential. In fact, you could say IT organizations are just finding their way, and like Negroponte’s thinking, their strategies are only now entering adulthood.
Remember when you were 20 years old? You did some things well, other things not so well. You were excited about the future but uncertain of the path you would follow. You were curious, you often took ill-advised risks, but you were always learning.
Those attributes describe how, in my view, captains of the corporate world are managing the process of digitally transforming their businesses. They do some things well, other things not so well, they often take on too much risk, but they are always learning.
So, on the 20th anniversary of the digital transformation revolution, as companies around the world accelerate their embrace of digital technology, the time is ripe for CIOs and their IT leadership teams to step up and truly lead in this vital transformation.