Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

128. Business reality doesn’t match AI hype (yet)

There is plenty of hype about AI, but most organisations are still using old precesses to make decisions.

We are  in the Between Times: "after AI's clear promise and before its transformational impact," as described in the book Power and Prediction: the disruptive economics of Artificial Intelligence

In this episode, Professor Joshua Gans, one of the book's co-authors explains why organisations are not yet adapting the full power of AI and what will happen when they do.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Artificial Intelligence is a prediction machine, which supports decision making.
  • Today businesses often use AI for one or two processes, but most decisions are still made by humans. Technology first companies and start-ups often have more AI-based decision making, because they do not have to replace legacy processes.
  • Business leaders should not accept AI as just a black box. In fact, Professor Gans argues that business brains might be better...
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127. How apps get built to be addictive: the Hook Model

Why do you keep checking your phone, even when you’re trying not to? It's because the apps on your phone use the Hook Model. described by Nir Eyal in his book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

To learn how apps like Instagram, LinkedIn and Vivino keep us coming back to our screens, listen to this episode.

Learning notes from this episode:

    • Habits are behaviours done with little or no conscious thought
    • If your product becomes a habit, people will use it more. You will spend less on advertising and make more money.
    • The greatest return on investment generally comes from increasing the product's ease of use.
      • If you want to improve a product, first look at the design: where you can make it more simple to use. E.g. can you require less information from users when they first sign up?
    • The Hook model consists of 4 steps 
      1. Trigger: you get a notification that someone commented on your post
      2. Action: you open LinkedIn / Instagram to see the comment
      3. Variable Reward: you...
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126. How to become a Digital Leader as the tech sector shrinks

big tech career strategy Nov 23, 2022

As the tech sector lays off employees, there is still plenty of opportunity to be a Digital Leader. 

Playing the long game is making use of the opportunities you have in front of you today, while keeping your eye on the future. 

Here are three ways to become a digital leader today:

  • Work in the digital team of a traditional business:
    • Some traditional businesses also have innovative tech-like environments. E.g. Levi's has a Head of AI, L'Oreal works with data scientists to predict consumer trends and Tesco hired the same UX design team that worked for Google. 
    • Working in these teams can give you the same exposure and skill sets as working in Big Tech.
    • Word of warning: be careful of traditional businesses that have not yet invested in digital transformation or had success with digital teams. This often means that the leadership's mindset isn't up to date and they are unlikely to be good collaborators in the build-measure-learn approach needed in digital.
  • Work...
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125. Introduction to Cloud Computing for Non-Techies

Cloud computing powers most of the digital services you use today. Listen to this podcast episode to learn what it is and why it matters.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The cloud computing is expecting huge growth: the total cloud computing market is estimated to be reach $1,614 by 2030 from $545 billion in 2022, according to Precedence Research.
  • Before the advent of cloud computing, technology companies would have had to have their own servers to store data and run computations. Having your own servers is very expensive because you have to pay to
    • keep them secure
    • keep them cool
    • keep them running 24 /7 and pay high electricity costs
    • have a space to keep them
    • maintain them with the help of a specialist
  • Cloud computing means that companies do not have to buy and maintain their own servers. Instead, they can just rent space on another company's servers
    You can just pay for what you use and expand as you grow. 

This is a picture of servers ran by a cloud...

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124. What type of developer you need to make friends with

To lead in the Digital Age, you need a network of developer friends. They can help you understand the latest tech trends and decipher jargon.

But to build the right network, you need to act intentionally. Don’t just hunt down anybody who has ever taken a python course.

There are two types of developers: managers and specialists.

All developers start off as coders, but as they progress in their careers, they come to a fork in the road. Some decide to specialise deeper in a particular aspect of technology, whereas others go the management route.

Engineering managers lead teams of engineers, and rarely write code themselves.

In fact, a Chief Technology Officer is unlikely to have written any code for quite some time. Their task is to manage the team, and to work with non-technical teams to align technology strategy to business needs.

Engineers on the management route must take business courses to progress in their careers.

Just as the non-techies need to speak tech, the techies...

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123. To thrive in the Digital Age, change how people see you

career strategy Nov 02, 2022

To succeed in today’s economy, you simply have to speak tech. But, if nobody knows about your new digital skills, you won’t become a digital leader.

This is why, to go from traditional business manager to digital leader, you need to actively work on changing your professional image.

Here are three hacks to help you change perceptions today:


1) Update your LinkedIn profile

For senior level opportunities, candidates are not expected to apply – they need to be found. Executive recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, so make sure that your profile positions you for digital leadership.

This is also a must do for entrepreneurs and those not looking for their next job. Professional opportunities like new clients and employees come to us via LinkedIn, so make sure your profile portrays you as a digital leader.

The most important part of your LinkedIn profile is the tagline under your name. Put key words relevant to your experience and the digital roles you...

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122. What's a Digital Mindset & how do you get one?

To be digitally savvy, follow the 30% rule – this is the minimum threshold that gives us just enough digital literacy to thrive in the tech age, says Professor Paul Leonardi.

  • “To have digital transformation in your company, you don’t need to know how to code, but you need to know enough about coding to be dangerous. This means being able to talk to the people in your organisation who are working with your codebase, so you can understand the opportunities and challenges of your platform,” says Professor Leonardi.
  • When you are getting a recommendation from a data scientist, it is only ever based on available data. Most data that are available are those that are easiest to get. We systematically bias those data and overlook metrics that may be just as valuable or more important to our decision making, but are excluded from the process because we never digitised or collected them,” advises Professor Leonardi.
    • Whenever looking at a report from a...
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121. Five things you can do to Thrive in the Tech Age

If you want to have a great career today, you simply have to Speak Tech. But, taking courses is not enough. You must combine learning with smart actions to make your investment pay off.

Here are five action steps you can take today to thrive in the Tech Age:

  1. Get involved with a tech start-up:
    • if you have specialist expertise, offer to become an advisor to a start-up so you can learn how digital innovation works from the inside.
    • For example, if you are a lawyer, offer your legal expertise in exchange for sitting in product meetings as an observer.
  2. Get involved with an accelerator:
    • this is like point one, but instead of offering your expertise to a specific start-up, offer it to an organisation that helps start-ups.
    • angel investment networks are also another useful route to follow here.
  3. Create your own tech focussed meet-ups:
    • This is especially useful if you want to learn and build your network in a particular niche. For example, if you work in a real estate investment fund,...
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120. Think like a Venture Capitalist to have a great career

Technological change can feel overwhelming even to the world's top technologists. To figure out what's relevant for your career, learn from people who do this professionally: venture capitalists.

  • “The business strategies employed by highly successful start-ups and the career strategies employed by highly successful individuals are strikingly similar," says Reid Hoffman in his book The Startup of You
  • Venture capital premise 1: technology is a tool that solves a problem
    • Ask yourself: what problems is your industry facing now? What problems are you dealing with on day-to-day basis?
  • Venture capital Premise 2: the problem must be important enough to solve
    • Even if the problem exists, it might not be important enough to solve.
    • This is why, you need to think: where is the biggest money drain? Where is the biggest productivity drain?
  • Venture capital premise 3: Invest in the future, not in the now
    • VCs are not investing in today. They are investing in years...

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119. Why smart leaders expect the unexpected from software updates

Software updates can have weird unintended consequences that the company doesn't even know about. Existing features that worked perfectly can stop working, leading to lost revenues and annoyed customers.

Listen to this episode to learn why this happens and how non-technical leaders deal with it when it does.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • A developer could write a line of code to affect one outcome, and there could be a completely different unintended outcome that they don’t even know about it.
    • When an app, site or algorithm gets complicated enough, these unintended consequences are more and more likely to happen.
  • To prevent this, make sure that different people test the new version on different devices and browsers.
    • In tech teams, this function is called Quality Assurance.
  • Remember that these unintended consequences are inevitable. The key is to catch them early and correct course.
    • Create a process for your users to quickly tell you if something goes...
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