Lessons From a Technology Strategist
Magazine Technology

Lessons In Mastery

Kerrie Holley, IBM Fellow and Global Business Services Chief Technology Officer

Can you provide an example?
Let’s say I’m a bank with a payment application that enables you to use your mobile device or smartphone to do mobile payments, transfers, etc. We help build those applications. A company may say that’s a great feature function, but I need to use it in a new way. So what we do is take these services and treat them like LEGO bricks. We repackage and reassemble [them] to fit to build new applications. It enables an application to be broken up into different pieces where each piece can be reassembled in any way a customer of the bank chooses. That’s powerful, because it allows the bank or any company to make its feature functions accessible to a variety of channels 10 years from now.

How have you seen the industry evolve?
When I first entered the industry I would have never believed that computer programming would go the way of garment workers–that we would see computer programming become a commodity skill just as sewing has become a commodity skill. [And] we will continue to see skill sets commoditized as they become ubiquitous. So, we see in China, India, South America, Mexico, a number of college graduates with the ability to program really well. That’s great, but it’s not enough today. Having a programming skill is going to be like having writing skills, like having a basic knowledge of science. It’s going to be something that we’ll all have in our repertoire coming out of university. We’re seeing computer scientists evolve. They are no longer just computer scientists; they understand technology, they apply the scientific method, integrating two or more skills: computer skills with mathematics. We simply don’t see enough of those kinds of people coming out of university.

Will that be the formula for future success?
When you look at the folks who are successful, they all share one thing in common: They’re really good at what they do. Nobody becomes successful as a leader without mastery. Each of us has to be really good at something. Those kids who look at the university not just as a place to get a degree but as a place to develop mastery, that’s where we’re seeing success. I don’t see a single kid who comes out of university who’s really good at their major who’s not finding an opportunity.

(Continued on next page)