Ken's Blog: The new take on tech talk

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Ken's Blog: The new take on tech talk

By Ken Clark - 03/06/2018

It’s easy to make fun of the tech squad. Just listen to them talk. In some situations, you’re likely to hear such eye-rolling phrases as “deploy innovative architectures”* or “develop cloud-based business transformation suites”* or even “engage next-generation eyeballs.”**


Note: * denotes actual phrase in recent e-mail correspondence; ** denotes made-up phrase.


But have you noticed something lately? The IT employees rising to important positions in the hardware and building supply industry are beginning to talk differently. These very smart people are using language we can all enjoy. And their phrases make sense.


For instance, meet Paul Yater, the first chief information officer of Eighty Four, Pa.-based 84 Lumber. In an article he penned for HBSDealer describing his approach to the job, Yater submitted something that sounded very little like a tech professional’s manifesto. But make no mistake, Yater is a bona fide tech guy. His experience in the field includes work at GNC, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Heinz. He was a finalist for CIO of the Year by the Pittsburgh Tech Council in 2017.


In his article, he talked about his first 120 days. Did he spend them reading up on software manuals? Of course not. He traveled to stores across the country, listening and asking questions.


Did he write about the miracles of algorithms and shifting paradigms? Of course not. He wrote about the beauty  of simplicity — for employees and also for customers.


“New technology solutions will simplify how customers do business with us,” Yater wrote. “Orders will be processed more efficiently, and our associates will have the right resources to offer higher-quality service and strengthen customer relationships.”


Here’s how he describes technology as a creative advantage: “It will allow our associates to better serve our customers while also creating new areas of opportunity.


And as we all know that culture eats strategy (and technology) for lunch, Yater described the following framework of a forward-thinking culture as one where “The right players are put into the right positions, and that resources and support are available to ensure that each job is performed well.”


Time will tell, but he appears to be saying all the right things.