“I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” — Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com
As I thumb through my 1927 Webster’s Dictionary in search of words to express my thoughts, I realize that my attachment to such a book is almost purely nostalgic.
Technology has transcended (and some would say, outdated), such books.
Open access to mobile platforms has opened the door to information that was once held by only a select few. By way of the Internet, for example, I can simply click and find thousands of words in an online archive, read over their synonyms and antonyms, and also browse current CNN news updates on the side of my screen. And yet, even with the very definition of speed and convenience only a mouse click away, I still peruse through my antiquated dictionary.
Some habits are tough to break, I admit, but mobile technology has at least made it possible to retrieve such data conveniently online if the user is only willing.
A Sign of Change
We sleep next to them at night; they wake us up in the morning.
We are guided by their directions as we walk out our front doors, informed by their news, updated and amused by their applications. They help us stay balanced, organized.
Photographs and contacts—several intimate details about our lives—are all preserved within their storage and ready to share. If we lose them, we cry. If we break them, we quickly get another. If you ask us how significant they are, we respond nonchalantly: “It’s just a phone.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Our mobile devices—those small, handheld computing devices such as smartphones and tablets—whether we accept it or not, are ingrained within our culture and our everyday lives.
In fact, the term “unplugged” has come to describe those few brave souls who wonder purposely off-the-digital-grid to a life without checking e-mail, social media networking, texting, or responding to calls—heresy to the professional in higher education.
Recently, a quick ride I took on the subway at night in New York City provided an example of this phenomenon that has become a cultural norm over the past decade. Standing in the aisle, I gazed at the glow from countless mobile screens shining their lights on the faces of passengers. Each one was consumed by their devices—a clear sign that mobile computing, unlike many fads that have come and gone in the world of technology, is here to stay.
What is Your Mobile Leadership Strategy?
A 2011 study entitled “Mobility at Ole Miss: An Evolving Strategy” asked students about their future use of a mobile device to search the Internet. Over 54 percent of those surveyed responded unequivocally, “I will spend more time using a mobile device” in the future.
How institutions—and leaders—adapt to mobile usage, in other words, is a poignant question for the 2017 leader to consider.
And adapt they must, lest they lose the competitive advantage that dictates which organizations stay on the cutting edge, and which ones fall to the wayside.
In an interview this past year with a college president in the Midwest, I asked him what his greatest fear was. He said calmly, “Not knowing when the times have passed me by.”
His fear developed from a personal experience he had years before as he observed a mentor of his (who was also the college president) lose sight of the influence (and growth) of personal computing in the 1970s. His mentor preferred the old paper method on campus to file and track data, but the new and emerging digital technologies said differently. His leadership soon became obsolete.
People from all walks of life, but especially younger generations, are expecting information to be available on mobile devices and this creates a great opportunity for leaders.
How you communicate with your team and, in many ways, your leadership, must have a technological bend.
Whether your organization employs the latest and greatest social media platform or just simply considers ways to build better relationships with its people and customers online, there is no room to sit idly by in the midst of growing competition and increasing mobility.
The mobile leader must learn to effectively create experiences that not only connect online, but also incorporates his/her message on the mobile platform.
Leadership goes beyond having a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account; its the creation of an interactive application—a mobile voice—that changes the communication process and spreads your message around the globe. Ask yourself questions like:
- What does your digital footprint look like?
- How many social media platforms do you use to communicate your message?
- How can you improve it in 2017?
Without question, the explosion of mobile devices that seemingly developed over night is here to stay.
Leaders who take advantage of this shift, and incorporate their messages online in digital formats, can increase their longevity and service. Leaders who fail to adapt, on the other hand, are in danger of allowing the connected age to pass them by.
Take it from me … I plan to join Facebook in 2017.