An Interview with Dr. Art Langer, Director of the Center for Technology Management at Columbia University
We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Art Langer will be one of our keynote speakers at .NEXT this year. Dr. Langer’s research and practice addresses the need for evolving technology leadership to advance the digital transformation of work in the 21st century. We recently caught up with Dr. Langer to get a preview of upcoming presentation. Here are some of the highlights:
Can you tell us about your current research focus?
Dr. Langer: I am researching the effect technology has on organizational behavior – how organizations compete and the challenges of the digital world in our society – with a particular focus on management, as opposed to innovation. There’s a difference. Innovation by definition is simplification, it’s the invention. But it’s one thing to invent something great, it is quite another to implement it and manage it effectively. When we look why things fail, very often it’s due to poor management. Managing in the digital disruption era is a serious challenge.
How do you effectively get someone in the loop to understand what’s happening?
Dr. Langer: Historically, when something new hits us, we come up with processes and structural changes that somehow will magically make a difference. I’m more engaged with the necessity for change of behavior—the way people think, the way they act, the way they deal with change, and the way they deal with challenges.
Because of the necessity to make decisions faster, one can’t wait for the executive committee to meet to make those decisions. So we have to empower people to do things more autonomously and to allow them to take some risks, or else we can’t scale and respond fast enough to the changes.
What is your take on data science and machine learning?
Dr. Langer: There is so much available data that the human mind can only deal with it using machine learning. When you do a search on Google and get 7,000 hits, do you go through all 7,000? No, you go through the first 5 to 10. In the process, you may miss valuable information. We need machine learning to capture this data in order to assist the manager in making better decisions. The power of artificial intelligence is moving faster than we ever thought, which means the impact of smart data and smart machines is going to be a factor. Just having the data and some statistics is not enough. It’s having data with some artificial intelligence that is going to make a huge difference.
What advice would you give to today’s IT leaders?
Dr. Langer: Most of us have been brought up in a world which said: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Let me tell you the new one: “If it’s not broken, it will be.” You can’t deal in this competitive world by being conservative, by being safe. You have to take calculated risks, and then you have to deal with the security issues that come along with those decisions. But this is an intraprenuerial world for most people, not an entrepreneurial one. We need the people inside of organizations to be more intraprenuerial and take those risks.
Join us at .NEXT in Washington D.C., June 28th-30th, 2017 to hear Dr. Langer talk about how IT leaders can provide a strategic advantage.
Session Abstract: New waves of disruptive technologies are giving IT leaders new opportunities to provide strategic value to their firms. Simultaneously, the consumerization of technology is requiring organizations to rethink how they deliver, manage, and measure services. How, as an IT leader, can you carve a path for navigating these new issues—and produce substantial business value? This session, hosted by a renowned IT thought leader and Columbia University professor, will give you access to one-of-a-kind insights on how to leverage emerging digital technologies and drive your firm’s competitive advantage in a dynamic environment.