Building something new is always exciting. Everyone loves a new gadget or gizmo. But in all the excitement, it’s important not to put form ahead of function. When it comes to actually getting value from these new systems, beauty and novelty don’t count for much.

New tools, used well, are the lifeblood of successful teams. But I’ve often seen tools and ideas introduced back-to-front. That is to say, rather than exploring the possibilities and opportunities that the latest thing has to offer, there is too much focus on how it works and all their workings. This might be impressive, but it’s not inspirational.

I remember IT lessons at school, and having to sit throughhours of explanation of the difference between hardware and software, RAM and ROM, and how to use now-redundant software. As someone who has become a passionate advocate for IT, I feel that this kind ofintroduction to the digital world (an exercise in form over function) fails to sell the real power of computers. IT education should inspire people to work creatively, usingones and zeros on an infinite canvas, and it should be inspiring people in the workplace, too.

With the current wave of technological possibilities in machine learning, blockchain technologies and powerful big data processing powers, I can see many businesses taking part in a race to nowhere. If you build the smartest system in the world and then ask it the wrong question, you’re not going to solve problems. When looking at what new technologies can do for you, think about what you want to achieve, rather than the perceived limitations of the tools.

If you keep doing that, and keep asking the same questions until you get decent answers, you’ll find these technologies are more flexible than you thought. If you allow yourself to me directed by the system, then you’ll never get where you want to go. 

Just like people, technologies are best when they’re pulled out of their comfort zone and repurposed, reused and can grow.

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