About Avrie Roberts

Avrie is a writer and editor with interests spanning a wide spectrum, including literature, photography, and traveling. In 2018, she graduated with a BA in English, and completed postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford. Her writing experience ranges from speculative fiction and literary analysis to collaborating and authoring articles on innovation in technology.

Business Impact – the True North for Innovation

There is a lot of hype within the business sector around emerging technologies. Talk of finding new, creative ways to solve business challenges never fails to incite a buzz within organizations, for good reason. With the right compass heading, technology can sustain or change a company’s culture, and many new technologies are emerging that promise a significant impact on business over the next few years. At times the excitement is about the technology and not its business impact Innovation is important, and powerful, and impactful, but only if it creates real business results. Without the right compass heading, forward motion is NOT progress but only wasted effort and time.  Likewise, innovation for its own sake (outside of a pure research context) is often just a drain on time and money. Instead of seeking the latest technology for its own sake, an assessment of need & opportunity is incredibly important. Innovative [...]

Gold Nuggets of Data all over the Ground

Increasingly, how an organization views and uses their data determines their level of success, and therefore the value of the enterprise. Data can be as valuable as gold nuggets for companies, but too often it’s ignored--“left on the ground” rather than mined, gathered, and inventoried as a strategic asset. Gartner research indicates that by 2021, the vast majority of stock analysts will include “data” components in their corporate valuation models for how much structured information each company possesses and how strategically they use it.  This fact will surprise few.  And yet despite this being a well-known fact, Forrester estimates that between 2/3 and 3/4 of corporate data still goes unused in any capacity for analytics.   Care Must be Taken to Protect Your Customers’ Privacy No doubt your organization has contractual obligations and has made promises (explicit or implied) to your customers to protect ALL data which, if released, could [...]

Escaping the Catch-22 of Post-COVID Digitalization

COVID-19 has escalated and turbo-charged digital transformation across the globe. Prior to COVID, many organizations planned to build out more options for their employees to be more productive by working remotely. They planned to create a way for customers to interact with them and buy from them online, and allow for their management teams to have dashboard views of their internal productivity and customer interactions. Most planned for these enhancements to be phased in over the next few years. Now digital transformation is a necessity for successful business in a post-COVID economy. Yet companies without those capabilities already integrated in will struggle to build them. With the onset of social distancing measures and state mandates for keeping business fronts closed, remote work has never been more essential. It's not just for the sake of productivity, but for safety--and ultimately, worker engagement. Success is now incumbent on a company's ability to [...]

Successful Leadership in the New COVID Reality

Successful leadership in the new COVID reality will require a new approach to overcome the unforeseen challenges presented by the pandemic. So many plans for 2020 have been paused or fully abandoned in the wake of more pressing concerns. Organizations must learn to adapt, to continue finding innovative ways to carry on, to begin looking ahead. Here are a few potential traps and ways to overcome them as leaders begin rising to the challenge:   COVID changed the landscape of many aspects of our lives. The world will no longer operate like it did prior to the arrival of this virus.  Leaders should challenge their assumptions, existing plans, and business models to consider what must, or should, be different now.  The future still remains uncertain, but it is certain that many aspects of life will not return to what they were before.  Creative contingency plans will help ensure that whatever [...]

By |2020-10-02T14:23:53-06:00April 13th, 2020|Innovation, IT Leadership|

Should IT Leadership enter the Gig Economy?

With the recent growth of the gig economy in all kinds of sectors and roles, it bears asking whether this kind of structure might be a cheaper option for more companies searching for top-level IT leadership.  Answering this question will have some nuances, but it seems clear that going with a "gig CIO" is worth considering, and is likely better than at least one all-too-common mistake in choosing heads of IT. When you hear “gig economy,” likely you imagine transactions with Uber or Upwork—companies that operate under a “pay by the drink” approach.  It's part of a larger trend which also encompasses the Cloud revolution, where you pay per month for the specific amount of compute and storage you've utilized.  In general, participants in our economy are increasingly preferring to pay for only what they use, in many categories of goods and services.   Approximately 57 million people (36% of U.S. [...]

By |2020-10-02T15:11:57-06:00November 22nd, 2019|IT Leadership|

Innovation – The Great Equalizer

For small and midsize companies competing against large competitors, it can often feel like they are set up to fail. The competitors may have stronger purchasing power, economies of scale, and lower cost of capital, making it hard for the smaller companies to gain any sort of an edge. But the innovation of new technologies is giving many companies hope that they can indeed compete with large competitors several times their size. Innovation is the key to balancing the scale of power. Despite their significant advantages in economies of scale, larger companies also have a liability which can become significant in the emerging Digital Age. Because of their size, large companies have many more layers of bureaucracy and formality. Each of those layers in a larger organization is a delay in decision-making and innovation, particularly when the changes being contemplated are significant and impact a company's business model, pricing, supply [...]

By |2020-10-03T12:57:51-06:00October 26th, 2019|Innovation|

Transformation Needs the Top, Even if it Doesn’t Start There

No matter where the vision for innovation comes from, the board and CEO must support and evangelize transformation for it to succeed. If the board and CEO don't fully grasp why the transformation is needed, or how it should be achieved, it can bring about more harm than good. They would be better of pausing or canceling the project until everyone can get on the same wavelength. The worst whiplash an organization can receive is a "transformation" project being pushed by IT which doesn't have the support of top leadership. Why? Because the rest of the company will take their lead on how to respond—how seriously to take the change—from their top leadership. If they see shoulder shrugs, they may shrug too and won’t be fully committed to getting on board. Just as importantly, the support from top leadership will deeply impact the behavior of those pushing the change—in IT [...]

By |2020-10-02T14:58:27-06:00October 11th, 2019|Digital Transformation, Innovation, IT Leadership|

Step 1 to Swimming in the Digital Pool – Get in the Water

Do you have a vision for the potential of technology to impact your company's future, but lack the details to make specific proposals? Part of leadership is seeing the need for change and taking steps to share and implement this vision with your team. The first step doesn’t have to be perfect or huge—you need not jump into the deep end of the pool right away, but it's critical at least to acknowledge that you need to learn how to swim. No matter how your organization uses data—processing, analyzing, or simply entering it and viewing it on a daily basis—there is a high likelihood that some kind of digital technology can take your efforts to the next level.  Initially, you may not have clarity on how automation, AI, or analytics will play a part, but neither is it a requirement for someone to know all the strokes before deciding they [...]

By |2020-10-02T14:57:39-06:00October 5th, 2019|Digital Transformation, Innovation, IT Leadership|

Early AI Won’t Reach Professionals’ IQ. Build it Anyway

When you teach your children how to read, you don’t hand them a dictionary. You start with one letter, then move on to the next, hoping you know enough words that describe the letter “X” and can create a system from which they will learn on their own. No one expects a toddler to suddenly pick up the morning paper and process the symbols inked onto the page into useable information—but even knowing that, they begin the long, tedious, (painful?) steps to ensure that one day their child, years down the road, can read the morning paper if they so choose. The results are worth the pain in the end. Yet when people hear about the developments of AI in business, many of them assume the process is pointless if the technology has not reached a level of newspaper-reading, so to speak. What would be the point of investing money [...]

By |2020-10-03T12:11:42-06:00August 1st, 2019|Artificial Intelligence, Data & Analytics, Innovation|

Dangerous Inoculation – the Problem of Failed Early Digital Projects

Organizations run the risk of being "inoculated" against the power of innovation if their early investments in technology or "digital transformation" fails to deliver business benefits.  In fact, "Digital" is becoming a four-letter word in some companies. One risk is if the initial digital "pilot" is over-hyped by its sponsors, possibly in an effort to get approval for the initiative if it's a controversial topic.  While it may seem justifiable to over-promise a little with the idea that "they'll get excited when they see how close the team can get", in fact this is a very dangerous stretch which risks killing the chance of future projects altogether.   Better to continue to win hearts and minds to the vision using reasonable expectations than to stretch them unwisely. Inoculation can occur even if expectations aren't stretched though.  In some organizations the skeptics may lie in wait for a pilot project to fail [...]

By |2020-10-02T14:53:10-06:00July 14th, 2019|Digital Transformation, Innovation|