Bob Miano's Blog

An Executive journal

Technology Leadership is a Timeless Challenge

One of the many benefits of being CEO of Harvey Nash USAPAC is the opportunity to get an advanced preview of our 2016 Technology Survey results. The full results will be published next month, but I wanted to share some of my early insights regarding the challenges that technologists are reporting. It was most surprising to me that many of today's technology challenges are the same issues I encountered early in my career.

In the early 1970's, I was a recent college graduate working for IBM as a Computer Analyst. My role was almost exclusively technical, identifying problems within systems and recommending solutions to improve business processes. I empathize with today's analysts and engineers who have similar responsibilities, but are operating in a faster changing and open source environment. As one respondent to the 2016 Harvey Nash Technology Survey lamented: "My company is not adopting new technologies fast enough."

Many respondents refer to what I believe is a timeless and far bigger challenge, one that is not technical in nature, but continues to shape the future of technology. That challenge is leadership. You can purchase or develop the most advanced technology in the world, but if your leaders do not create a culture where that technology can be embraced and utilized, the investment will be worthless.

After working at IBM for three years, I took a Systems Engineering role at Salomon Brothers, the New York investment bank, where I had the opportunity to work with a hard-charging leader who has since gone on to become a high profile billionaire and successful politician. No, not Donald Trump! I worked under the direction of Michael Bloomberg, business magnate and 108th Mayor of New York City.

Bloomberg worked for Salomon Brothers until 1981, after which he left to start his eponymous financial data and media company. I recall his early vision for the Bloomberg Terminal, his incredible work ethic (even by the standards of a New York investment house!), but also his meritocratic leadership style.

I remember working late one night on a time sensitive systems issue. Two of my colleagues had dates and dinner plans, but the system was taking longer than expected to resolve. When it was time for these two colleagues to leave for dinner, the future Mayor of New York informed them of the urgency of their task and dinner was soon cancelled! We worked late into the night and solved the issues, with Bloomberg by our side, he worked all night too. The next day everyone in the office had heard the story, how the engineers had sacrificed their evening plans, and how the team worked furiously and performed miracles to make the systems operational for the day of trading ahead.

When managers lead from the front, when they recognize the achievements of their teams and when they encourage people to use their technology skills to innovate and invent new ways to solve problems, great things can happen.
 
Therefore, I am reassured when I read excerpts from the next generation of technology leaders who responded to the Technology Survey. They recognize the importance of achieving "a cultural change at the leadership level" enabling their organization "to adapt to 21st century methodologies."

Although technology has moved on tremendously since I began my career in the 1970's, the need for effective technology leadership is more important than ever. To learn how respondents to the 2016 Harvey Nash Technology Survey are reacting to these challenges please email us and we will forward you a copy when the report is published.