5 Wishes for the New Year
- Business and IT: Stop dissing each other. We all do it. Despite any platitudes about business-IT alignment, there is always griping behind closed doors. Let’s all promise to go the entire month of January without saying anything negative about the other team, and on a weekly basis express gratitude or provide positive feedback.
- Don’t let the hype fool you. Big Data. Internet of Things. Cloud/Social/Mobile (which has seemingly morphed into a single word). Hype? Definitely yes. Vaporware? Sometimes. Ignore it until “it’s real”? Definitely not. There are kernels of reality hidden in most of the hype. You have to find those kernels, and then let your mind open up to what the potential is in your own realm.
- Marry right brain with left brain. Most of us are heavy left brain people when we’re on the job. And while being data-driven, analytical and methodical are important, what separates the innovators from the followers is the spark of intuition, wisdom or creativity that is based on facts and knowledge, but not bound by it.
- Use social to discuss issues and gain knowledge rather than while away time. Social media has been extremely powerful for connecting people. But a shockingly high percentage of the social content is trivial—following celebrities; sharing selfies; updating friends on the latest meal eaten; lodging complaints about various first world problems. What if we diverted 25% of the social media time we spend on frivolous trivia to intellectual engagement and intelligent discussions about real issues? What could we change in our society if that power was unleashed?
- Use data for good. There are many uses for all the data flowing around us. Many of them are transformative— changing business models, revolutionizing industries, in some cases changing society. However, most of the ones being discussed today focus on corporate profit as opposed to societal good—think of all the investment in better targeting marketing offers to consumers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with utilizing data to grow business, and healthy businesses provide jobs, foster innovation and drive economic growth. However, business profit should not be our only goal. A few people and organizations (such as DataKind) are thinking about how to use data for good. Meaning societal good. If a few more of us carve out a portion of our time and brain power to focus on potential ways data can be harnessed to benefit our broader community, imagine the impact we could have on education, healthcare, the environment, economic hardship and the other myriad challenges we face around the world. Perhaps this wish is the most pollyanaish of them all, but I’ll keep doing what I can to forward the cause.