Management theories and practices frequently emerge due to the opportunities created by new technologies. Interchangeable components sparked new ideas for assembly line and logistics layouts. Mainframe computing facilitated the complex calculations required by the field known as Operations Research. Client-Server technology resulted in enterprise resource planning systems and the system-wide visibility required for what we now refer to as business process management (BPM).
That is why it is critical to consider how management will be influenced by the most transformative information technology of our generation: cloud computing. What does it enable us to do differently, and how will this alter our future behavior?
According to history, information technology primarily affects management through changes in how information is gathered: Operations Research’s large-scale analysis reflected painstaking data collection around a few key metrics, which were then transferred to punch cards. BPM captured the interactions of various stakeholders, from product development to supply chain management and final assembly.
How organizations are changing
With the cloud, data travels quickly in both directions across computing systems that can scale up or down to handle larger workloads or automate security patching across thousands of machines. This may imply a more flexible work structure in pursuit of products and services that anticipate customer needs. The new system’s key features are rapid data collection and analysis and remote software updates.
Changing product design, closer collaboration between corporate IT and other business units, including sales, finance, and forecasting, and more customer interaction, including co-developing products with consumers, are likely outcomes of moving to the cloud. New methods of writing and deploying software will enable new organizational designs. Foreseeing changes is best done by listening to businesses already implementing them.
Many businesses still view public cloud computing, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and, Google Cloud, as a cheaper and more efficient way to store and process data. While more affordable than traditional computers, there is still a cost.
Many companies have abandoned proprietary data centers for on-demand computing power and software. Others use cloud computing software to increase resources and work faster in their data centers.
What impact it has on product design and customer experience
Companies are finding it easier to create products and services in the cloud and model new products, and marketing campaigns as cloud-based software prototypes as cloud technology improves. The cloud is also a shared repository for new data collection and analysis and a location where many artificial intelligence operations, such as image and speech recognition, are carried out.
Startups increasingly conceive their goods and services as software-centric entities from which data is continually derived, and the evidence is already there. Changes and upgrades become a part of the routine. As processes become more iterative, organizational functions become more muddled. Building a tablet-based system for complex real-time calculations was one recent project. The product was completed in 10 weeks due to accelerated testing and direct customer communication during design and construction. The customer helped create the product from the initial design and prototype.
What else should be changed?
It should not surprise that management theory and applied technology are always linked. “You cannot manage what you cannot measure,” famously said Silicon Valley founder William Hewlett. What and how you measure something influences how it is managed, so it would seem logical that the reverse is also true.
CEO and Founder of Mabotse Makofane (Pty) Ltd. Jacob is an avid reader of both business and historical political books. In his spare time he enjoy plays golf and going the picnic with his family for a relaxing afternoon of fresh air and braai meat.