Welcome to 2019. However, let’s pause a moment to reflect on the previous year. 2018 was a pivotal year for the tech industry and surprisingly for me as well.
The Misuse of Privacy and Data
- Starting in January 2018, technology began taking big PR hits for its misuse of data and privacy. We are witnessing the downside of a data-driven economy. Tech’s role in compromising consumer information has resulted in serious consequences, from undermining democracies to eroding trust in the media and ultimately, technology itself. Technology’s leadership has not done enough to actively address these issues. 2019 could bring a reckoning to the technology giants and the way we utilize personal data. We need to get the smart minds in tech thinking about how to resolve tech’s negative impact on society so we can continue its intent for good.
Lack of Diversity
- Reverend Jesse Jackson held up a mirror to the tech industry in 2014 on its lack of diversity. In 2017, Uber was called out for its hostile practices towards women, which eventually led to the firing of its CEO. But 2018 was the year I got it. Personally, I had to look at the benefits I’ve had as a member of the boy’s club and decide how I was going influence leadership teams going forward. In 2019, I’m pledging to take real steps towards valuing and demanding diversity in my investments. You can read more about my thoughts on diversity, which was posted on all of my social media accounts on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Innovation Happens Where You Least Expect It
- In 2017, I blogged about Steve Case’s marvelous book, The Third Wave. I know he is looking for innovation from small towns, and he inspired me to do the same. I’ve been mentoring some Canadian start-ups from smaller towns like Saskatoon, and I’ve become involved in the Co.Labs incubator. It’s been rewarding to see big ideas come from small towns and watch Saskatoon grow its tech sector into a flourishing community. I hope to do more work like this in other parts of the world during 2019. In fact, if you live in a small town and have a burgeoning group of tech start-ups in need of a good mentor, let me know. I’m happy to work with cities and governments to help them build their own thriving tech community.
Overall, 2018 brought to light the changes needed in the world, and interestingly enough was fueled technology’s growing impact on society. As an industry, we must take our leadership role and influence on the world more seriously and disrupt our own short-comings so we can continue to improve lives. That starts with taking personal responsibility. Even this old dog has been enlightened when it comes to diversity and mentorship. I’m looking forward to new ideas from new people and places in 2019.
Look for the second installment on my new year blog next week.