A Business Technologist is a bridge between technical and business/management teams in an organization. The Business Technologist facilitates and fosters the flow of business/technical information and understanding by translating between management, enterprise technology teams and clients, enabling more efficient productive projects and moving the business forward at reduced costs.
Looking back now, my first glimpse of the role was in college. At Florida Atlantic University, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering students needed to take a business or non-technology elective “to round off their pointy heads” and provide a broader educational experience. Likewise, Business and Finance students needed to take a Technology course as technology is an essential tool in modern business.
A required course in common was “Technology and Society”. The gap between Tech and Business couldn’t have been more obvious than in this class. A history of how technology, inventions and innovations influenced society and culture over time. Including the creation of new industries while destroying an existing industry and displacing workers. How this activity changed business and human behavior while creating Moguls, Millionaires and Philanthropists.
In the 1000ft view:
What’s old is new again. Cars replaced the horse and buggy and all that went with it. Digital Cameras replaced film, its manufacturing, processing, photo paper/chemical production including the jobs family income and or lifestyles (children’s education) that went with them. Walkman’s replaced radios. Today cellphones/smartphones have replaced pagers, the Walkman and in many cases cameras. Impacts on Society: we have seen the introduction and pervasiveness of Instant Messaging, Snapchat, and the infamous “Selfie” phenomenon. Consequently, we see less verbal communication, increases in Carpal Tunnel, thumb and hand other health issues. The “selfie” alone is causing accidents and deaths from careless or distracted users. There are many old examples as well as ones we see in headlines today. All as a result of what otherwise would be benign innovation.
Business and Finance students understood business management actions, motivations but didn’t get why it would create tension with workers, community or influence behavior.
Computer Science and Electrical Engineering students totally got and loved, change, innovation and invention that obsoleted old ways, but could not grasp or understand its impact on society and how it affected behavior those workers displaced. Progress for the sake of progress if you will.
The disparity was reflected in early class exam scores, hard core Business and hard core technology folks each got about half right. Then there was a group that excelled getting high marks. They were the Business Technologists.
The Business Technologists understood the automobile meant independence,
more travel, need for roads and increased hotel/motel accommodations. To drive local revenues, locations now thought of themselves as “attractions” in an effort become “destinations”, creating travel and tourism. More destinations increased auto demand, creating a cycle.
Business growth needed more and larger trucks. Congestion of cars and trucks required safer highways and the Interstate Highway System. Which in turn decimated small towns and local business as state and local roads were bypassed.
People’s habits changed in the late 60’s and 70’s from shopping at stores down town on main street to Malls, putting many small shops out of business. Today we see it again, how the rise of computers, mobile devices, apps created mobile internet shopping and are turning some malls into Ghost Towns.
Is another revolution beginning to take place? Reports are, Amazon is constructing a large Grocery store in the Northwest. But there are no Aisles for shopping. Shop and pay on line. Drive up and pick up. Can you shop in store, sure, enter the “retail room”? use a tablet and wait for your groceries to be brought to you. A tremendous amount of innovation, automation, elimination of cashiers, shelf stockers…. It’s not a completely new concept In the US there were catalog stores “Service Merchandise and “Best Products”, you looked at their catalog in the store or a single display item on the shelf. Then fill in your order with pencil and paper paid at a register and picked up in the back by a delivery shoot. In the UK home appliance retailer “Argos” was similar. Today, Service Merchandise and Best are gone and Argos appears to exist as order on-line and pick-up at store or home delivery.
But will society accept an “Amazon” Grocery store? Are you willing to buy fresh Steak, hamburger, vegetables or seafood “sight unseen”, or do you need to go elsewhere which defeats the purpose? Will another new shopping revolution occur? Only time will tell. These factors and many others are what a modern Business Technologist considers in their respective industry roles, disciplines or specific positions.
The Business Technologist understands the technology, business climate, impact on the enterprises and customers. The BT bridges understanding gaps and translates concepts into the language of the audience, management, R&D or Customer.
I saw this first hand in my career at IBM in leading-edge R&D, hardware, software and development teams. The successful Business Technologist helps management understand Development’s issues with why a new feature won’t work or has to be delayed until a future release. While also counseling development the need for urgency, cost of delays, need to meet a market window impact on sales, market leadership and reputation.
In new product and service development the Business Technologist attempts to ensure management and marketing don’t over promise or oversell product features or service commitments, (they don’t always win) as they try to cram every requested feature into plans or products when they may not be technically feasible.
While even the modern Business Technologist might not predict the “Selfie”. But once the “Selfie” exists and someone has an idea to take strategic commercial advantage of it, the Business Technologist understands a business’ strategic imperative’s, the products underlying technologies and the market to help make that idea a success. The BT can relate to the needs and can discuss fluently at all levels: Investors, Management, Finance, Clients, Development, Engineering, Architecture, Support, Planning, Project Management.
Internal and external forces business and technical teams face at times conflict. The modern Business Technologist positively bridges the knowledge gap between institutional teams to produce more positive outcomes. Attributes of a Business Technologist may come naturally or cultivated over time and seen in the more astute Developer, Engineer or Manager.
The modern Business Technologist may also be the byproduct of experience combined with that of formal education in “Business Technology” the “Management of Technology” (MOT) offered at major universities and within the International Association for Management of Technology (IAMOT) communities.