Building a Culture of Technical Fluency for Your Organization

In 2005, Eastman Kodak recorded revenues of over $14 billion. In 2012, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. What went wrong? In a nutshell, the storied film manufacturer failed to foresee the dominance of digital photography. Kodak watched helplessly as its dominant position was eroded. Could history have been different? I think so, but only if Kodak had made an effort to develop fluency with emerging technologies.

The cultivation of fluency in cutting-edge technologies is essential for businesses that need to move with agility in a rapidly evolving marketplace. It’s not enough to be aware of new technologies, or merely literate. Fluency implies an intuitive grasp of technology and its potential. Individuals who are fluent in a technology know what problems it solves, where it can be best applied, and how it can be leveraged to further a business’s strategic goals.

Ongoing technical training and strategic hiring are the most useful tools for cultivating technical fluency within an organization.

The cable and broadband industry is both an innovator and a beneficiary of innovation. The industry has created or adopted technology that has changed the consumer and business world over the last decade. A partial list might include: IoT, 5G, vastly enhanced wired connectivity, streaming media, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, and much more.

Almost everyone reading this article has an understanding of the fundamentals of the technologies I have listed. But a broad understanding of technology isn’t quite the same as fluency.

Fluency implies a deep grasp of the potential of new technologies. That grasp is essential to envisioning how cutting-edge technologies can be used to solve problems and contribute to the attainment of a business’s strategic goals.

Competition in the cable, broadband, and online services space is fierce, and much of that competition is driven by new technology. Consider the introduction of 5G, which will provide high-bandwidth, low-latency mobile connectivity to millions of consumers. Technological advances of this sort don’t just lead to an incremental improvement in services. They’re game-changers that open the door to new categories of products and services.

But who is going to build the next generation of mobile applications and services that take advantage of 5G’s ability to provide consistent high-bandwidth connectivity?

Companies with fluency in specific technologies that understand the technology and the market have an obvious advantage. It’s in the best interest of all companies working in this space to cultivate fluency at both the executive and rank-and-file levels of the company. Fluency grants businesses the ability to move quickly and make intelligent decisions.

Companies have two main tools in the effort to cultivate technical fluency: strategic hiring and training. Strategic hiring augments a company’s executive pool with specific expertise and experience. The right leader can shape the evolution of a company’s culture and product line-up with a focus on specific clusters of emerging technologies. Technology training helps businesses to integrate new capabilities and expertise into their existing structure.

TD Madison has worked with the cable and broadband industry for many years, facilitating the development of technical leadership through strategic executive recruitment and technical employee training.