This is the first in a series I will be posting on management education and the crucial link with cyber skills and awareness of how the Web works.
Profound changes in the World of Information, “the cyber world,” are dramatically impacting management: the urgent need for management to understand the brave new cyber world, to develop new management skills to cope with it, and to adapt their entire organizations to this new environment. It is not hyperbole to say that it is a “strategic inflection point” for the entire practice of management. I recently showed my undergrad and graduate strategy students a video of a very recent Charlie Rose interview with John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems. In that interview Chambers emphasized the acceleration of the Adizes corporate life cycle, in many cases to less than ten years, and the need for constant reinvention to survive in this challenging and rapidly changing new world. This is now also true about the teaching of Information Technology to management students and to all undergraduate students for that matter.
In the late 1980’s The University of California at Santa Cruz was a bit of an anomaly in requiring that all undergraduate students take a course in UNIX and C++ programming. The Internet at that time was little more than a text-based blinking green cursor on a tiny terminal. Tim Berners-Lee had not yet invented “Mosaic, the world’s first Internet browser, or the concept of URL’s. Despite some griping from the students, most went on to realize the value of this in their curriculum. There was even, Santa Cruz Operation, (SCO) a quirky little company in the heart of Santa Cruz, that had bought Microsoft’s proprietary version of UNIX, known as Xenix, and had carved out a modest niche market for it, and provided a conduit for some UCSC students to find work. Later, as the browser world began to explode, the UC system made HTML web development skills mandatory. Now we have even advanced beyond applications like FrontPage and Dreamweaver, which dramatically advanced Web page development for non-programmers, to XHTML and CSS, providing another leap forward.
I realized just how big this all would become when I was an executive with Sun Microsystems and we hosted an industry analyst conference down at the Carmel Valley Country Club. The first clunky browser, Mosaic, had just become available from a young guy named Marc Andreesen, then at the National Supercomputer Center in Chicago. Sun wanted to show off its big enterprise server systems.. John Gage, Sun’s Chief Technology Officer at the time, had other ideas. Gage’s keynote talk to the analysts after dinner was only about Mosaic and the big change it made in how one could use the Internet. From that point on, the conference was not about Sun Microsystems enterprise servers. It was about Mosaic and the Internet..
But to this day, the further away we get from California universities, the less pervasive are those skills among undergraduates, unless they motivate themselves to learn them on their own. Years ago, thinking of my own son, I began declaring that a world of “have’s” and have not’s” would emerge very soon: those with cyber skills and those without them, and the career consequences of that dichotomy were likely to be severe. As I am embarking on teaching Information Technology Management next semester, I am struck that much of the teaching material available has not yet caught up to this new world environment. Things are moving so fast, that it is almost inconceivable that a traditional print textbook could be written, reviewed, published and distributed before it was already obsolete. The very teaching of the topic implies the need to use the newest and most versatile online Web resources and hands on teaching methods.
My first shared video explores The Cloud and the problems of managing in the world of the Cloud.