Why an integrated technology ecosystem is like a world-class workforce
In the fast-changing world of work we all learn very quickly that we can’t be great at everything.
A business or institution is an integrated ecosystem of talent, skills, performance and contribution. While it has an over-arching shared purpose it strives towards, it requires the participation of high performing individual actors working together dynamically at their best in order to achieve it.
No CEO, leader, manager or employee can do it all well. They need each other to be truly great.
Tapping the technology talent pool
Here’s where that long metaphor begins: the same is true of the education technology ecosystem.
In the education market we face today, no one product can do everything well. To remain innovative and relevant, we need to tap the ‘talent pool’ of tech to bring best-of-breed systems to the table.
Holon IQ’s 2021 Global Learning Landscape is a great place to start if you’re ready to be awed by the scope of the EdTech ‘workforce’ available. It shows how amazingly diverse the tech universe is.
With all these technologies being developed to enhance student journeys and learning outcomes, could one system hope to be the source of innovation and excellence in each and every area?
A workforce paradigm for technology
Thinking of education technology as assembling a workforce is a good way to approach the future.
It implies technology in education is a collective pursuit, made up of a number of larger and smaller systems that can be integrated to create the best possible complete end-to-end solution for providers.
It’s in the hands of the educator (or ‘technology employer’) to curate the technology workforce they want, to create the innovative, resilient and sustainable offerings they need for their students.
Tired of the workforce comparison yet? We hope not. Because (bear with us!) what follows are a few ways we can conceptualise the technology ecosystem as the workforce we always wanted.
- Skills and capabilities
When you look at your tech stack as a workforce, you begin to see the skills and capabilities each system or ‘employee’ brings. Ideally, you always want the best candidates in their area of expertise, who compliment the skills and capabilities of others to foster a winning team across the board.
This workforce skills matrix allows you to manage your ‘people stack’ to plug existing or emerging skills gaps, add to your team in areas of opportunity, or scale back and downsize easily in other areas (with minimal disruption). You have the best skills and capabilities you need working for you.
- Recruitment and talent
When organisations need talent they have to decide if they will hire in or develop from the inside. It’s been found that innovative, fast-moving organisations are more likely to recruit the best talent from external sources, to gain the advantage of their skills, fresh ideas and perspectives as well as competitor insights. Larger, more established organisations train up their own employees more often. While the latter approach is good, it’s a static approach focused more on maintaining the status quo than on making the most of future opportunities and keeping ahead of change.
A technology ecosystem-style product is an external recruiter. By actively integrating with the best tech ‘talent’ from the local market or even around the globe, it gains access to the most innovative and specialist systems, features and tools on offer from the candidate pool to benefit educators.
Great leadership in organisations is about bringing out the best in teams and individuals. Rather than enforcing ideas from the top-down (or taking a ‘diminisher’ approach to leadership), the best leaders are open to ideas from the bottom-up, acting as ‘multipliers’ that channel energy for future success.
While some tech players will seek to develop the answers to all questions themselves within a single solution, the most innovation and success over the long-term is likely to come from tech players that are willing to admit they don’t have all the answers, and can work with others to find the right ones.
Workforces perform at their best when they share information. Rather than having it tucked away in silos and not informing the broader organisation, it’s made available through reports, meetings and communications to facilitate insights and productivity towards an organisation’s shared goals.
Tech ecosystems allow similar information flows in real-time. Through integration via an API in cloud environments, they allow data to be communicated and shared securely across systems in ways that combine the best of each respective system and the collective insights of the integrated whole.
- Culture and purpose
The best organisations have a culture that engages people as part of a shared vision, mission and purpose. While individuals and teams act autonomously in their roles, they are organs in a larger organism, working together as part of a single culture to create the best possible service or product.
This is the single experience on offer from an ecosystem-driven technology approach. While bringing together multiple individual systems, they are united in the ecosystem by a collective experience on the customer or user level, which has its own distinct value proposition brining everything together.
The problem-solving workforce
ReadyTech head of education strategy and innovation, Chris Smith, says the education market as a whole is huge and a result the EdTech ecosystem is already “massive and growing all the time”. The best workforce you can expect, then, is one where you have the EdTech ecosystem on your side, because it’s essentially already solving problems for you before you know you have them.
“We know great talent is distributed across that whole ecosystem. If we accept that those smart people are working on complex problems in the same space, the law of averages suggests someone will likely solve a problem we’re also working on. In the event that the solution is better than ours, isn’t there an obligation to connect our customers to that value? We genuinely believe there is, though we might end up connecting customers with solutions rather than building them ourselves.”