My takes of Day 3 (and last) at Techonomy

le 14 novembre 2012 par


The program of Techonomy , as well as the various sessions « live » , can be found at http://www.techonomy.com/. The twitter comments can be found at #techonomy12 .

This post is narrow (it reflects only a tiny part of my notes) and biased, (it only reflects my major personal takes of the day and only in the field of management and strategy implications). What is said here was not necessary said in the various discussions but is what I decided to hear, interpret and share.

The sessions I attended on the third day were dealing with management, the notion of what a technology company is, issues with economic growth, life blogging and Facebook.

  • The “Transforming social enterprise” leads to seriously question what an employee is within the new Klein bottle shaped enterprise (I covered that issue in my book on the Fractal Nature of Enterprise 2.0).
  • Email will remain for long the hub of communication, even if the arrival of news flows within the collaborative tools is now a given.
  • Only few senior executives of collaborative tool companies realize that collaboration will lead to a race against collaboration (to paraphrase Andrew Macafee), they are outrageously optimist on the fact that freed resources will be allocated to more growth. The same arguments are used against this “race against collaboration” as the ones used against the “Race against the machine” although it starts to be demonstrated that the jobs freed by automation are far from being reallocated for more growth. The issue is partially the one of skills mismatch and I would love to see in further Techonomy sessions how to use technologies and in particular the social technologies to address this issue of skill mismatch within our advanced countries.
  • Also I found that very few executives already realize how deeply collaboration is changing the very fundamentals of management, from HR management systems to strategic thinking, to workforce strategy, to the dynamics of internal power games, etc. There is a lot of discussion and debates about the importance of corporate culture but the details of it are still far from being clear for many.
  • The external tools have become definitely better than some internal corporation tools. The main case in point is the internal directory vs. Linkedin. No internal directory can ever be as good as Linkedin (for legal, personal and IT reasons). Therefore it is not surprising that 20% of requests on LI are made by employees looking for their colleagues. LI will become the “normal” point of references for individual’s profiles. Linkedin is the mirror of the Bring Yourself As An Asset concept.
  • The link between internal and external usages of social tools gets reinforced by the day. One interesting management implication is that employees start to “shop” for experts on social networks as they are shopping for goods on the Internet. An other one is that thanks to the crowd sourcing of jobs for small tasks of more or less sophistication we start to see the emergence not only of a lot of free agents but also of a lot of “flash employees” coming (mostly virtually) to work just for a task or a few hours.
  • There is an increasing consciousness that software will never be the same with the arrival of the Cloud. It is not just a new tool; it is a fundamental change for the role of software within organization’s information management.
  • The links between business entrepreneurship, technology, values seem to me yet to be defined. In particular I am surprised to see the difficulties all entrepreneurs have to find a balance between being entrepreneurs (aiming for realizing something and making money out of it) being “good” citizens (participating in NGOs for example), and being “responsible” citizens i.e. being able to understand and endorse their responsibilities especially once their success leads to change the life of millions of people.
  • In particular I was surprised to see most of the Facebook discussions being focused around their economic performance, their marketing capabilities, the way they can best use their bigdata, while I would personally expect a higher sense of accountability and of responsibility. It is not enough to be a great scientist having invented a new form of nuclear energy, it is essential to understand what good and evil can be done with this energy, especially when one remains in control of most of what is made with this energy. Let’s not forget, Facebook was understood by its user as a tool for their life; any use of that tool and of what people use it for (and put on as information on themselves) requires he highest sense of responsibility. This is particularly true for the users located in countries where the rules are different from the ones in the US.
  • Overall the takes I have for Techonomy this year are: on the positive side the incredible high level of interventions, participants, ideas, etc.  It really makes the time and money investment to go there worthwhile; and on the “development needs” side the fact that Techonomy could 1) go more towards the management implications of techonomics 2) work more on the future of interactions between the lo touch interactions where all the digital technologies lead us towards, and the hi touch interactions (physical meetings, face to face work, face to face or at least phone interactions) that are an essential part of our contemporary work/life balance. Robots will talk to each other, great, let’s not forget that humans have to talk to each other too and to derive value out of it (innovation, love, enthusiasm, etc.) 3) work more on the labor economics implications, from both the social dimensions (what are we going to do with all those who are released by technologies and social technologies?) and from the managerial dimensions (how to manage people in a high tech / high collaborative / high transparency world, what is the next version of workforce strategy management?) 4) invite a philosopher and / or a sociologist because one the main questions (the elephant in the room in a way) remains: ”what is the value of work for man? Does technology free us or alienates us? Does it free our time? If yes, why is it that those who have a job work too much while at the same time so many don’t have a job? Is it only an economic question or also a philosophical question?”

This ends my series on Techonomy12.

2 pensées sur “My takes of Day 3 (and last) at Techonomy”
  1. Great post Dominique, thanks for sharing. I’ve been thinking lately that main responsibility/opportunity for so-called « collaboration » or « E20 » or « socbiz » consultants (I include myself there) is to push executives to act on the implications of these technologies for the enterprise as an institution : I mean how its power for job creation / destruction, for people development and for social transformation is increasing. It is very likely that, as the state evolved a few centuries ago, the joint-stock, limited liability corporation, with its focus on short-term profits and shareholder value development, needs to fundamentally review its role for society.
    This has fundamental implications on management as a practice, as you point out, and on leadership types that should be nurtured by HR executives (look at http://luisalberolasblog.blogspot.fr/2012/06/unleadership.html).
    Being an optimistic, i think that there is real commercial opportunity for companies engaging in such transformation, and I see many collaboration consultants working on that direction (I like what is being discussed about business value and outcomes in the #socbiz area these days).
    I hope we’ll find some of these issues in the business breakfast these year.

  2. Thanks, Dominique, for this Impressive puzzle of trends and ideas, most of them not so long-term but almost already impacting corporations.

    Among the numerous challenges that are outlined, two of them seem important to me:

    1) the accelerating gap between job destruction and job creation is probably the biggest challenge of the next decades, for me it even exceeds the impact of BigData as it could lead to violent social turmoil and increasing feeling that corporations and the Society at global level are progressively being « déshumanisées ».
    Your remark regarding FB and the need for « a higher sense of responsibility and accountability » could also be applied to the automation issues: what is the global sense, at macro-economic and societal level, of a « pure pleasure » automation, as for instance automatic metros? Does it give customers more comfort, reliability, economic value? Not at all, as shown by the continuous selling price increase of a metro ticket here in Paris (which already holds 2 automatic lines)… This is pure automation for the pleasure of having a nice technological tool. But the human (customer relationship, employees expertise etc.) and economical sense of such job-destructive automation remains to be demonstrated…

    2) the other challenge regards Business schools, universities, and Strategy firms: with so many highly impacting trends, most of them being already concretely present in today’s corporations’ life, how do we dare using and applying the so old-fashioned strategy approach as given in most (if not all) of strategy educational books, which serve as a basis to business schools programs and as tools to Strategy firms (Shareholder Value Management, famous matrixes dating back from the fifties, etc.). It is really urgent to build new tools, new approaches, new paradigms if we do not want corporations to rush into a wall…

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