In the noughties there was a trend to consider IT a cost that had to be controlled and minimised. The result was the birth of a large outsourcing and offshoring wave. Business leaders were convinced that technology was just a support function.
The tech giants used the same decade to build platforms that are now transforming society. The majority of the most valuable companies in the world are technology companies.
In the tech companies technologists are treated as first-class citizens. Working environments are created that foster productivity with free fruit, slides, relaxing areas,... Some technologists are treated as rockstars.
This stands in big contrast with lots of other industries where technologists need to “charge their hours to projects” whereas business and support functions often do not; making them feel similar to the oldest profession in the world. Technologists also have a reduced set of career options they can follow. Unless they want to go into people management or business, the career options will be very limited.
Business and technology often speak a different language and too many companies still are convinced that when the spreadsheet and PowerPoint are done, the hard work is over. Business leaders can publicly admit that they do not understand technology and that this is ok. Whereas a technologist, who does not get a complex business concept, is laughed out of the room.
Shouldn’t it be time to make technologists first rank employees? To make sure some top executives and board members in each large company know how to code? Many companies now aspire to be a tech company. Unless they have technology-capable leaders that seems very unlikely to happen and a clear path towards unsatisfied shareholders. Are we needing a revenge of the nerds and geeks?
Maarten Ectors is a strategic innovator who exchanged working with the who is who of high tech to apply disruptive technology and business innovation from the inside in the top UK insurance and investment management company. In less than a year they won the best claim technology solution of the year award and that is just the start...