William J. Christopher Associates
William J. Christopher Associates


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Thought of the Month


Management Level Technology

There are very few of us who would deny how technology, more specifically digital technology, has become a defining difference in today’s business environment, from large enterprises to smaller companies and charitable organizations.

For the longest time, many executives have been able to continue managing their organizations “the old fashioned way” – working hard, having knowledgeable staff supporting their needs, and leaving computer issues to the specialists without needing to be involved in the details. It also hasn’t been unusual for top executives to have their assistants or secretaries handle their email because of their discomfort with personal computers, often due to the lack of time to learn how to use them effectively. And then there is Facebook, Linked-in, Plaxo and Twitter – not the frequent visiting places for many senior executives, particularly those who are more senior in age.,

As one looks to the future, computer driven technology will have an even greater impact on how the business of every organization is carried out. You can see this in everywhere you go on a daily basis. When you take your car for an inspection or repair, it is hooked up to a diagnostic computer. When you visit a grocery store, everything is bar coded, scanned at the register (rarely do cashiers enter prices), inventory is updated, and your frequent shopper tag is scanned to tell market researchers what you buy, in exchange for some discounts or points. Hospitals and doctor’s offices, with some pressure from the federal government, use computers to register you, enter your vital signs and medical condition, order your medications and procedures, and create your medical record, allowing others to post lab and test results to that record, which, in some instances, the doctor can access from another location.

There are many examples of this growth in technology taking place around us. The point here is that organization executives need to be more knowledgeable of this technology so that they can be more a part of implementing its use in their own environment. This doesn’t suggest that management leaders need to be able to create a computer program, know the internal components or functions of a computer, or become an expert on the selection of computer systems or programs. Those capabilities can be hired or obtained through consulting arrangements.

The knowledge that top management needs to have today is what the capabilities of digital technology are. The efficiencies that were beyond the ability of human efforts can now be accomplished with this new technology. This also leads to greater quality – computers don’t get tired and will continue to perform the exact same function hour after hour. Successful organizations have figured out how to introduce new products, services and customers to a business that was otherwise stagnant or in decline. Understanding what computers and their software can do give executives and their staffs a new tool for management success.

This becomes an important factor in hiring new executives or in assessing the management personnel you currently have. You would hope a new hire would come with such knowledge. For existing leadership, you need to assess their ability to learn and then apply such knowledge to your organization. There are many programs available through business and professional organizations, as well as educational institutions, which can help educate the management people you have assessed and want to keep.

It is just as important that the senior executive gain this knowledge as well. Just look at your, or someone else’s, children or grandchildren and see how expert they are with digital technology!