Better Tech Dev

Insights on Technology Development from Austin Higgins

Category: Leadership

The Future of Business and What to Do Now

Most companies are undergoing a transformation in how they do business. This transformation started with the e-commerce wave and continued through big data, the cloud and more. Now, many companies are still in the middle of the transformation.

In the near future nearly every company will be a technology company and a media company.

The Technology Company

There are a number of ways to consider how companies will become technology focused. Companies use technology to replace processes, build services or as an end product and in hundreds of other ways.

The world is becoming more automated. Processes, data and documentation has already been digitized for decades. But more automation is replacing human processes. Chat bots and automated IVR system are simple examples of this. When was the last time you called a company – any company – and talked to someone immediately instead of going through an automated process? This is how a company leverages technology to outsource processes and must be technology focused to ensure the process still provides value to their customers.

The collection of data to enhance products and services has already disrupted organizations in recent years. Data is collected digitally, stored in a cloud and analyzed with algorithms. Companies of every industry need access to quality data to make decisions.

Even cottage industries or one-person service companies will have to become technology companies. Consider a carpenter or a plumber. How much more effective could they become by utilizing technology to automate certain processes and analyze data?

The Media Company

Brand loyalty is on the decline. People are cutting cable at high rates, so advertising dollars are being redirected. Pop-up ads are the bane of the Internet.

How will companies get the attention of customers?

Companies will have to tell compelling stories of their value and, essentially, why them. Large media and product brands have been doing this for years. Just think back on the last Super Bowl commercial that you talked about with friends after the game.

Regardless of company size, business leaders will have to tell stories with engaging content across multiple platforms and media types.

What You Can Do Now

 While you can still succeed as an organization today without being a tech company or a media company, that time will come to an end at some point. So, what can you do today?

  1. Evaluate your manual systems and identify what can be automated.
  2. Perform an assessment of your digital assets and ensure that all data flows have integrity.
  3. Ask the big questions about your product and services – how can you digitize it? How can you have access to high-quality data? What can you do with your data to make better decisions?
  4. Identify the most successful marketing campaigns and determine the emotional impact they had on your customers.
  5. Engage your employees, partners and customers to find the right stories to tell in the right way.

Every industry is moving at a different pace, but they are all headed in the same direction: technology and storytelling. The only question you have to ask yourself is are you on the same path?

What To Do About Too Many Priorities

When I was in the Air Force, we always had a laugh during our safety briefings. During basic training and early in our careers we had the Air Force core values drilled in to our brains -integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. These were designed to be the guiding values that drove all of our decisions with integrity first.

During every single safety briefing, the commanders would tell us safety first. This started a common joke in the service – safety first but also integrity first.

Which was it? Should we be safe or act with integrity?

Safety and integrity aren’t mutually exclusive, those of us in the briefings understood that and this story just demonstrates a point.

You can only have one top priority.

There will always be a long list of goals for your company, organization or career. But if you shift your focus to too many goals your chance of success will decrease. And more importantly, your team members won’t be equipped to make the right decision. Should they be safe or act in integrity?

So what can you do about it?

  1. Document all of the things that you care about – revenue, client satisfaction, employee turnover, cost savings et cet
  2. Determine which of these influences the others – client satisfaction for example can be measured by revenue, retention and referrals
  3. Focus on the items that impact most of the things you care about

You could make the case to ignore Net Promoter Scores and instead focus on achieving customer referrals. Customers don’t refer business or products they aren’t very happy with.

Three Pillars of Effective People Management

Management tactics, and their success, vary little from company to company. People managers at Fortune 100 enterprises, 3 person startups and everything in between must effectively communicate to their teams the definition of success.

After consulting for dozens of companies of all sizes, I have identified three foundational pillars of effective people management with regards to defining success.


This question is universally answered for all equal-level associates in a given role. Consistency is key for associate requirements. Each association at equal levels must be required to do the same share of work and have the same, shared definition of success. If a unit goal is 95 and there are 5 associates, each associate must be required to produce 19 units.


Expectations take the associates requirements to the next level. Associates may be required to perform 19 units, but management may expect them to produce ahead of the deadline. This could be due to the individual or the team the individual works with. Expectations should not affect core performance metrics for the individual but should affect reward and promotion.


Desired work performance is based on an individual relationship between an associate and their manager. This associate may be required to produce 19 units per month. Because they are on a high-performing team, management expects them to reach the deadline one week early. After reaching their goal ahead of schedule, they desire for the associate to help the analysts or new junior associates reach their quota.

Final thoughts

The expectations and desires for each associate may change, but it is paramount that the responsibilities and requirements are consistent across same-level associates. Having the same level of requirements streamlines the monitoring and performance metrics that management must use to evaluation performance.

This level of communication and definition helps associates understand what they must do to achieve what they want. If an associate wants to only remain employed, they can focus on requirements. If they want to progress in their organization or company, they can focus on the desires.

Using this model, managers can explicitly communicate what must be done and employees have a clear and accurate understanding.

  • Does this apply to any people manager in any industry? Yes.
  • Should it be adjusted to meet the needs of a company, organization or team? Absolutely.
  • How effective is this model once implemented? You tell me.

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