The Intersection of Business and Technology: What Leaders Need to Know
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Innovation and rapid growth have created tremendous change in both business and technology over the past few decades. In both their personal and professional lives, people rely on computers and automation more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed companies and individuals to rely on technology and all that it has to offer, highlighting the growing need for innovative leaders. As the new normal unfolds, both upstarting and existing corporations are prioritizing business and technology as they strategize, plan, and operate.
As the marketplace continues to increase its reliance on technology, companies are looking for leaders who are well versed in both business and technology. How can you become one of those leaders?
In this blog post, we’ll identify some of the skills necessary to present yourself as a needed asset to those companies. Then, we’ll look at some of the ways companies are leveraging technology already. And finally, we’ll explore the possibilities for gaining those skills and preparing to build a flourishing career at the corner of business and technology.
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What are the in-demand skills at the intersection of business and technology?
Employers are eager to hire professionals who have the skills necessary to work at the intersection of business and technology. According to the LinkedIn “Jobs on the Rise” list, the number one fastest-growing job category is “professionals on the frontline of e-commerce.” Top practical skills for 2021 include digital marketing, UX design, and data analytics.
Let’s take a look at the top three hard skills that employers are looking for in 2021, and how professionals well-versed in the relationship of business and technology are equipped to meet them. We’ll also consider some of the leadership and soft skills that can set you apart from other candidates.
A strong grasp of cloud computing is a critical component of future business success. Cloud computing is essential to online business activity, makes data more accessible, and increases the potential for growth and scaling. Healthy IT lists five top benefits of cloud computing, which highlight why employers are so eager to hire professionals with this skill:
- The cloud reduces operational issues by streamlining server management, upgrades, and replacements
- The cloud increases team collaboration through apps, programs, and productivity tools that keep teammates informed
- The cloud saves money by allowing companies to rent servers and only pay for the amount of storage they need
- The cloud improves security — 94% of businesses saw security improvements after migrating to the cloud
- The cloud is sustainable as it reduces paper usage, is more energy efficient than other options, and boosts productivity
At the same time, cloud computing comes with certain risks that require skilled professionals to address and mitigate.
Mckinsey reports that risk management needs to act immediately when it comes to cloud computing, specifically factoring in:
- the need to process much more data
- the need for more powerful processing systems
- the complexity of analytics required to compete
- the greater challenges these all present to today’s systems developers
In the face of these tremendous benefits and important risks, business professionals with a strong grasp of technology’s role in the marketplace will play an increasingly vital role.
Between 2015-2018, artificial intelligence topped the list of Gartner’s c-suite technical skills with the greatest increases in demand. The increase was 160%. The modern marketplace needs professionals who know what it takes to create ethically sound applications of AI, how to research AI trustworthiness, and the governance required to implement AI.
Here are a few examples of the ways that artificial intelligence is transforming business, and why it is such a desired skill:
- An insurance and travel services organization cites a 60% increase in product quotes through AI that refers products to customers.
- A mining company employs AI that assess equipment health to improve productivity and reduce costs.
- A fashion company has seen an 11% increase in revenue due to AI investments.
The examples are many and the evidence is clear—artificial intelligence skills are highly valued in the present and future marketplace.
The World Economic Forum found that 85% of companies will have adopted big data and analytics technologies by 2022. Additionally, the WEF reported that 96% of companies plan, or are likely to plan, to employ new, permanent employees who have relevant big data analytics related roles. Take a look at some of the ways that data analytics have improved company productivity and profits, leading recruiters and employers to prioritize the skill of data analysis in future hires.
- Forrester Consulting found that data-driven companies are 58% more likely to beat revenue goals than companies that did not prioritize or focus on data.
- IBM reports that 62% of retailers say they have gained a competitive advantage by incorporating information and data analytics.
- Lineate states that Netflix saves over $1 billion each year by using big data to increase customer retention.
In a report entitled “Soft skills for a hard world,” McKinsey found that “problem solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity” is the number one missing soft skill. By developing these skills, future company leaders can fill pressing needs in the marketplace. Creative problem-solving directly relates to strategic management, organizational leadership, and maximizing digital transformation.
Here are a few ways that creative problem-solving has led to positive outcomes in corporations:
- Skillshare weds data and creative problem solving to learn about members, determine popular classes, and cultivate community.
- Postmates took on the challenge of simultaneous speed and quality of service by partnering with Limitless to receive essential feedback and quickly empower new fleet drivers.
- InterSystems makes software products used by millions of people every day. How? By letting employees choose the problems they want to solve and charging leaders with clearing the path for them.
The ability to articulate ideas with clarity and confidence, as well as the capacity to listen with empathy and attunement, is critical for today’s leader in business and technology. The best leaders aren’t just product and growth focused, they also prioritize the people they work with and consumers they serve as dignified, important individuals.
Len Covello, CTO at Engage People, puts it this way, “I really hope that leaders understand the role they play in fostering that and helping people grow. Throughout your career, regardless of your age, or where you are, you should be willing to learn and be teaching as well.”
In order to both teach and learn, leaders must develop their interpersonal communication skills. In doing so, they’ll be personally better positioned for growth, and can empower their employees and company to experience growth as well.
Think of the value you could bring to a company with skills like data analytics and excellent communication paired with strong business acumen. As a professional who is ready to bring those things together, you’ll be positioned for leadership. Stand out to recruiters as a creative innovator who understands the power and purpose of combining business and technology.
How business leaders leverage technology
It’s easy to think of some of the ways that business and technology intersect today. Examples like scheduling software, cloud-sharing services, and virtual meeting rooms quickly come to mind. But the implications of business and technology extend much further than those examples. Every day, cutting-edge companies leverage business and technology to navigate a VUCA world, make sound decisions, get ahead of their competition, improve their marketing strategies, and innovate new projects.
Navigating a VUCA world
Modern business requires managing VUCA, which stands for "volatile," "uncertain," "complex," and "ambiguous." In a marketplace culture of lightning-fast change and confusion, leveraging technology to facilitate sustainability and clarity is of utmost importance.
Much of the sense of VUCA that professionals experience comes from the incredible amount of data they are faced with every day. Strong data and predictive analytics skills can combat VUCA by presenting information in palatable and actionable ways.
Making sound decisions
From the c-suite to the entry level, daily decisions make and break companies. Oftentimes, companies find themselves relying on institutional knowledge, anecdotal evidence, and a sense of “how we’ve always done things” when making decisions. While none of these ways of thinking are wrong, they’re incomplete. Data can help decision-makers make more strategic decisions that build on the past rather than repeating it. And there’s no better way to access data than through programs that merge business and technology.
Joe Procopio, founder at Teaching Startup and chief product officer at GetSpiffy, wrote about the importance of data-driven decision making when it comes to growing businesses:
Every decision requires supporting data. Your product — along with the machine you build for customers to discover it, purchase it and use it — should be capturing data and tracking movement at multiple points during the following timelines:
- First point of contact to viable customer prospect
- Customer prospect journey through the funnel to purchase
- Customer lifetime usage of product
- Customer exit from the product life cycle
Startups are just one place where the overlap of business and technology becomes the perfect place for making great decisions. Other examples include:
- Health care: Digital patient record analysis helps hospital systems lower rates of medication errors, facilitate preventative care, and save money by staffing more accurately.
- Retail: Predictive analytics empower retailers to make better decisions regarding inventory, consumer trends, customer behavior, special offers, and choosing vendors.
- Accounting: Artificial intelligence automates repetitive tasks, which frees accountants to “spend more time on making decisions with the data instead of looking for it.”
- Manufacturing: Hyper-personalization and customer segmentation help manufacturers capture consumer information in real time, which leads to better supply chain and production decisions.
As businesses automate small decisions that don’t need to be discussed over and over again, their workers are freed to spend time thinking creatively about bigger, nuanced, intelligent decisions.
Getting ahead of the competition
The first step to cultivating a strong competitive advantage within a company is defining an action-based strategy. The technological advances the marketplace has seen over the past few decades—and especially the last several years—has made it essential that technology not only be part of such a strategy, but a key player. Technology provides company strategists with more data and information than they could ever gather on their own, enabling them to make decisions that speak to the power of business and technology coming together.
Individuals and companies with a strong grasp of technology and data analysis can lead their productivity and profits to new heights. Here are just a few examples of the competitive advantage that business and technology working together have created:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help companies to provide personalized user experiences, which encourages customer loyalty as consumers find themselves treated as people rather than numbers.
- Artificial intelligence creates original and personalized content based on data, meets customer needs through sales and customer service, and identifies financial lags, all of which stand to increase profits for companies.
- Machine learning algorithms detect fraud, perform cost analysis, and predict market conditions.
Other opportunities for competitive advantage at the intersection of business and technology include voice search, cybersecurity, and social media advancements. By leveraging trends like these, as well as many others, companies can strategically carve out a competitive advantage.
Improved marketing strategies
Prioritizing the combination of business and technology fosters creativity in the workplace and in marketing strategies. From social media to in-store experiences, data gathered and organized by technological means informs business intelligence.
Imagine the COVID-19 era without a strong connection between business and technology. It’s hard to even fathom. Online is where the people are, so it’s where the sales are taking place, as well. That means it’s more important than ever that marketers strategize with the intersection of business and technology always in mind.
Take a look at some of the ways that a simultaneous focus on both business and technology have bettered corporate marketing strategies:
- Marketing automation increases business productivity by 15-20%. Marketing automation includes technology, programs, and software that empower companies to market their products and services across multiple channels, like email, social media, websites, and apps.
- SEO tool sets save marketers time and frustration by staying on top of the ever-changing algorithms used by search engines and social media apps.
- Segmentation increases open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
In addition to these examples, check out five of the 10 Ways AI And Machine Learning Are Improving Marketing In 2021:
- 70% of high-performance marketing teams claim they have a fully defined AI strategy versus 35% of their under-performing peer marketing team counterparts.
- 36% of marketers predict AI will have a significant impact on marketing performance this year.
- High-performing marketing teams are averaging seven different uses of AI and machine learning today and just over half (52%) plan on increasing their adoption this year.
- 41% of marketers say that AI and machine learning make their greatest contributions to accelerating revenue growth and improving performance.
- Successful AI-driven personalization strategies deliver results beyond marketing, delivering strong results enterprise-wide, including lifting sales revenue, Net Promoter Scores and customer retention rates.
Take a step toward the intersection of business and technology
Do you want to be a leader in the marketplace? Are you interested in data-decision driven making and ethical leadership? Do you want to innovate in a changing economy?
The Doctorate of Business Administration in Business Intelligence at Marymount University could be the perfect fit for you. Take the next step in your career by preparing to become a consultant, executive, or educator who is ready to address today’s business challenges with the knowledge, vision, and clarity required.
Fully online and characterized by course choices offered to help you meet your specific goals, the Marymount DBA – Business Intelligence program can be completed in as few as three years. The program is optimized for your success, guiding you into applied specialized research that pairs with your industry and professional aspirations.
The DBA program allows you to solve problems at your current organization so that you can prove your abilities to your employer. Marymount’s interdisciplinary and innovative approach provides an unparalleled experience that equips you with the business and technology knowledge you need to serve, be socially responsible, and demonstrate ethical leadership in the workplace.
Whether you have your eyes set on the c-suite, academic administration, a government role, thought leadership, or consulting, the Marymount DBA will prepare you to drive powerful initiatives, solve creative problems through data analysis, and stand out to potential employers, clients, students, or constituents. Marymount is considered one of the best regional universities by U.S. News & World Report. You can move closer to your goals with a DBA from Marymount.
Take a step toward your future today by visiting the program page for the Marymount University Doctor of Business Administration – Business Intelligence.
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