Strategy & Business Model


Memories of Las Vegas…

Par Stéphane Rochereau

Didn’t make it to Vegas for the annual IIBA business analysts conference? Here are some key takeaways.

How to keep bringing more value to internal or external clients

That’s the question that every speaker tried to address at the recent IIBA conference. For three days, in this most unusual city of Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to attend several high-level conferences – several of which were truly inspirational.

Below are some of the key learnings that I brought back with me.

Take a break to help you think

Presented by Juliet Funt, CEO of WhiteSpace at Work

Did you know that Jack Welch, the charismatic former CEO of General Electric, devoted an hour a day to what he called “staring out the window” time? Or that Bill Gates isolated himself at a cottage for 2 weeks a year on what he referred to as “think weeks”?

In our hectic lives, our agendas are always so full and our attention is so constantly solicited that we no longer have time to simply let our minds wander. Yet, this is exactly the kind of downtime we need to promote creativity. In fact, it is said that unstructured time is the friend of creativity.

So what can we do about it? This speaker encouraged us to identify and eliminate all the useless tasks that clutter our agendas: unproductive meetings, reports that no one reads, non-urgent requests, etc. (what Jim Collins called the “stop-doing list”). The time we save can be better devoted to occasional breaks that let our creativity take flight. For example, why not take a marker and have fun doodling on a white board?

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Adapting your communication to your target audience’s age

 Presented by Mary Donohue, Founder and Head of Training at Donohue Mentoring System, and Jeff Brewer, Associate Professor at Purdue University

For the first time ever, three generations are jockeying for position in the workforce: baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1965), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Millenn
ials (born after 1980). And watch out for Generation Z (born after 2000)!

Each speaker described how each generation has its own way of communicating. Want to get a message across to baby boomers? Set aside enough time to have a good conversation and listen to their opinions. Also, take the time to read their lengthy e-mails, and don’t hesitate to give them lots of information. Boomers grew up with radio and newspapers. They want to take time to discuss and exchange different points of view. Gen Xers grew up with television, so they’re more visual. Don’t submerge them under a ton of information or lengthy reports. Simplify your message and focus on visuals. Millennials are all about brief messages in point form. And don’t expect long, drawn-out e-mail responses from them: you’re more likely to get an “OK”, or even just “K”. And if your company doesn’t have an IM system yet, you’d better get to it!

Sound complicated? Well hold on to your hat, because the younger kids – Generation Z – didn’t just grow up with new technology: they were born with it!

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Quick: It’s time to renew your skills! Robotics, artificial intelligence and other new technologies are at our doorstep.

Presented by Ken Fulmer, Head of Technology at Information Workplace Solutions Inc.

At first glance, this topic looks downright scary.

We’re well aware that manufacturing jobs are threatened by current and future technological breakthroughs. But now, it seems that a vast range of other jobs are at risk as well. In fact, practically no sector is safe: from fast food to trucking, from taxi driving to accounting, from law to medicine, it seems any task, whether manual or intellectual, can be robotized provided it includes a certain repetitive aspect. For example, the speaker mentioned an IBM “robot doctor”, called Watson, which could eventually diagnose patients as well as human physicians. Tests have shown that for 99% of oncology diagnoses, Watson’s opinion was similar to that of a living, breathing doctor.

So what’s changed? These days, it’s not enough to teach robots how to perform tasks: we’re also teaching them how to learn. In 10 minutes, Watson can read and assimilate the 8,000 or so new medical reports that are published every day. No human could achieve that! Some researchers even think that the unemployment rate in countries like ours could reach 50% in the next 30 years.

So what do we do now? For one thing, it’s more crucial than ever to be ready for continuous learning, so we can renew our skills on a regular basis. It’s just not realistic to think that today’s skills will still be relevant in the future. One of the keys to success resides in our capacity to transform these new realities into opportunities for all. This way, robotization is no longer seen as a threat, but as an extension of our toolbox.

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