Why? Because the more anticipatory you can be in regard to technology and how to creatively use it for competitive advantage, the more the IT department will be seen as a strategic partner in the organizations future.
As someone who has been accurately predicting the future of technology for over 25 years, I urge all CIOs to focus on the following three trends that are emerging and reshaping the business landscape as we know it:
Thanks to cloud-based technology, were on the brink of a revolution in just-in-time training (JITT). This will enable people to use their laptops, cell phones, and tablet computers as a tool to receive training precisely when they need it. In the current training model used by many organizations, people receive training for a variety of things before they actually need the expertise, thus taking the people away from their jobs and costing the company a lot of money.
With just-in-time training, companies can keep people in the field without the specific training. Then, when the person needs a certain skill set to complete a job or do a task, he or she can receive the training for it in real time via cloud-based technology.
For example, suppose your company specializes in selling and repairing commercial HVAC units. There a number of different units your repair staff needs to know how to fix. But rather than taking your people out of work and putting them in a multi-day training course, you keep them in the field without the specific training. When they have to repair a unit they are not familiar with, they can receive the training on how to fix it in real time via their mobile device as they are servicing the unit.
This approach cuts training costs dramatically but it does not mean the company eliminates all pre-training (training that occurs before there is a need for the knowledge or skill). There are some things all employees need to know in advance. But rather than rely solely on the pre-training model, the company can do some pre-training but do most of the training on demand as needed.
Lets take this trend a step further. Suppose the commercial HVAC repair person is onsite, servicing something hes never worked on before. He uses the JITT module via his tablet computer -- but hes still confused about a certain aspect of the repair. All he has to do is touch the Help icon on his screen and it immediately connects him to a master trainer live on the screen. But instead of just telling the master trainer what the problem is, the repair person can put on a headband that has a camera on the front (much like the headlights people use for camping).
By wearing this digital, high-resolution camera that interfaces with the mobile device, the repair person can show the master trainer exactly what the issue is. Now that master trainer can see what the repair person sees and can tell him exactly what to do. The master trainer can lead the repair person through the repair as if he were standing right there with the repair person ...
Talk about a dramatic savings and increase in efficiency!
But it wont stop there.
Rather than using this cloud-based technology only for JITT, companies will also be able to use it for just-in-time emergency service. For example, lets say your company sold some heavy equipment to a customer in Italy. One of those machines has a problem and now its down and needs to be repaired. But the nearest service technician is in the United States. In order to fly the technician to Italy at a moments notice, you have to invest both time and money. Additionally, during the coordination and travel time, the machine is down at your customers location, costing them time and money as well.