The end of the year often brings joyful celebrations as family, friends and co-workers gather to celebrate the holiday season and for me it also brings a time of reflection and anticipation for the New Year. It is the time of year when I have a few moments to pause and think about all the influences that made up my year, what went well (met and worked with some great people), what I want to forget (like the Hurricane in Belize), and what I want to do differently in 2017. It helps me paint a vision for myself, our company, our consultants and customers. 2016 was an interesting year with many ups and downs that I am mostly going to be okay saying goodbye to!
From the crazy presidential election, ever changing business environment, and technology advances like we have not seen in many years there is much to ponder. I wanted to take a moment to review the crazy world in 2016 from Pokemon Go, as in everyone including my kids were hunting Pikachus in the middle of the road to the front of Target. That lasted about a week. With the election and Russia, as in everyone’s favorite cyberstalkers to all the technology company difficulties. It was a rough year for Silicon Valley as well, so that makes me feel a bit better! Facebook had a fake news problem, Twitter’s still struggling, Snapchat keeps trying to make something happen, I send my kids stupid pictures of the edge of a table as I just do not get it! Things definitely heated up for Samsung, hope none of you had one of those glowing fire engine red phones, not to mention Yahoo got hacked, not once but twice!
Now for the good side of 2016 – I am always that glass half full kind of person. We made advancements in speech technology that is boosting conversations with our smart phones, Google assistants and more. Reusable rockets can now land on their own and be refueled, and robots that can teach each other. There were big jumps in solar and better technology from our friends at Tesla and SolarCity. Slack for business and our friends at Tesla again on the autonomous vehicles, not to mention the autonomous trucks that are going to change both the car and trucking industry. I would be remiss if I did not mention quantum computing and AI, drones and the super cool echo skeletons. Industry bigs -- like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM and more either are betting on A.I. as their big strategy or have been grabbing every startup AI company out there.
I am super excited about my personal Google assistant and my drone that I got for Christmas. Yes, I am a geek at heart and I say to consult on emerging technology, you have to embrace it and have fun with it along the way. I crashed my drone first try out, but second try went much better! How does the past influence our future? Where might the industry be going, where does Lewis Fowler fit into the solutions of the future, where do our customers fit in, and where do our people fit in?
Top 3 Insights from 2016
- Business Transformation. With all of the ups and downs of the market, advancement in technology, security breaches, and uncertainty from the election, I saw more and more companies looking to truly transform how they operate. When corporations of all sizes have been around a while every now and then a major transformation is needed to clear out the dust! Truly connecting strategy to execution, innovation and change are not easy for any organization and we love supporting it.
- People, People, People. Not to overuse the phrase, but it is all about the people. I have seen good and bad this year on this topic and know that no company can be successful without the right people. I am a huge advocate of getting the right people on the bus, no matter how hard that is. Attitude, critical thinking and personality along with communication skills is to me the most important. Specific business or technical skills can be taught, but being a conscious leader or employee cannot. I got hooked on the “Who” book this year thanks to a colleague that really focuses on competencies. Sure, everyone is still scrambling to find security and specific IT and engineering talent, but we were really focused on competencies and attitude. And did I mention relationships? Long standing committed relationships with partners and clients that stand the test of time and investment in caring about people’s needs and future are also at the top of my list.
- Technology has always played a critical role in our economy and business success and this year was no different. Everything from the bluetooth enabled long board that goes twenty miles an hour, continued creative uses of drones in corporate America, smart homes, cars and internet of everything is creating a massive opportunity. AI and cognitive learning with personal assistant robot types to big movement with autonomous vehicles especially in the trucking space. Solar and battery advancement is continuing to make a big impact on the energy industry. Last but not least, I would be remiss if I did not mention corporate security with the increasing importance given all the publicity about hacking and data loss.
Top Projections for 2017
- Disruptive change is on the rise. There are more entrepreneurs than ever before, more groups shooting to solve “all the world’s problems” by turning everything on its side. If you do not have a group dedicated to disruptive thinking in your vertical, you should. If you do not think of it, someone else will. The predictions are that we are on the precipice of such change that can be compared to the Internet and ecommerce. We are talking big more sweeping disruption.
- Cybercrime, governance risk and compliance. I believe we are just seeing the beginning of what will be very aggressive malware, sophisticated security and cyber-attacks from inside and out, which will result in corporations beefing up their governance, risk and compliance policies, practices and security focus. Everything from more devices with more access to the lackluster way many companies have invested in something that is not sexy nor does it return an investment, until a huge loss or business disruption hits. I am hopeful that all boards and all executives, especially CIOs are paying attention and funding the need to not just have technology to prevent this behavior, but practices and methods that truly proliferate themselves inside an organization.
- Digital transformation including the internet of everything, smart data, digital mesh (like 3D Printing), and thinking machines that translate into streaming intelligence are going to make huge advances this next year. All of this makes the coordination between business goals and IT strategy more important than ever. Governance and strategy will influence portfolio priorities and should guide execution more than ever. Is your company ready for it? Have you figured out for example how this affects your customer experience? Wwhat they are going to demand or choose products based on? How does your corporate and IT strategy support it? Which vertical will have the biggest advances – Healthcare? Aerospace? Retail? Financial Services? It is anyone’s bet!
- Last, but not least, let’s talk about talent in the technology and consulting industry. In 2017 and beyond, we will continue to see a massive shortage in all areas of talent – especially security, but also in areas that are normally not even being talked about like business analyst. Beyond the raw talent, I see a gap in competencies, leadership and more continuing to haunt organizations. For those organizations trying to really move the dime, a focus on innovative risk taking teams will also be in short supply.
As I reflect, I also think about what 2017 will bring for Lewis Fowler. I know that we laid a solid foundation in the public and commercial sectors, we are strengthening our relationships with our key customers, and expanding our consulting service solution offerings to address today and beyond demands with solutions from business transformation offices (BTO) to project management as a service (PMaaS) and more. We will see new and stronger leadership, advancement of our service delivery model in 2017 because I still say above all else customer is “king” and quality services and relationships can beat out the best of competition. We at Lewis Fowler are excited to be part of this crazy industry called management consulting with a twist of technology! What I do know is that we want and love to be part of transformations and disruptive change – we thrive on it! See you soon and have a GREAT 2017!