National Account Manager at CPA Global, Lila Milford, explains why she thinks new technology, and the change it brings, is an opportunity rather than a threat to organisations and professionals globally.  

The thought of implementing new technology into your organisation can feel like breaking through a brick wall. From your invoice management software to internal communications tools, changes in technology are not always easy to achieve. 

Intellectual Property Management traditionally meant a mountain of paper files and several finance, marketing and product development executives needing information instantly that took hours to find and present

Today, cloud-based IP management software makes maintaining electronic files and providing information on an IP portfolio much more streamlined. New technology has made things more automated and better connected than ever before. 

Yet, there is often a temptation to avoid change at all costs – why change something that is working? Why face the pain of learning new systems and a different way of working?

Opportunities for growth

Embracing new technology should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. Why? Because advancement in technology creates an opportunity for advancement in our professional roles.

Anyone who saw the movie Hidden Figures will recall that, in 1961, there was a group of women working for NASA who calculated by hand the numerous mathematical equations necessary for the safe launch of an astronaut into orbit and back to earth. In the same year, NASA invested in an IBM machine that was able to calculate 24,000 equations a minute. So, what happened to the women working as calculators? Dorothy, one of the women leading the team, learned how to operate and maintain the new technology, giving herself and her colleagues a new role.

In the last ten years, people have welcomed new technology into their homes like never before. We have moved from large home computers to tablets, from MP3 players and DVDs to streaming apps. Business has gone through an equally seismic technology change. In IP management, the industry has moved from fax communication of the 1980s, to installing local servers that manage docket and file histories, to cloud-based management software.

Embracing change

While some resistance to change is inevitable, Hidden Figure's Dorothy showed that each change presents itself as an opportunity. What is not shown in the movie is how difficult it would have been to get buy-in from management and her team, and how she must have overcome her own reluctance to change. Yet ultimately Dorothy’s work became better, more enriching and challenging. 

Another reason to embrace technology is that it can help an organisation and its people to thrive. Renu Thomas is EVP of Media Operations, Engineering and ITY at Disney/ABC. In a recent talk at Berkeley, Renu highlighted the opportunity Walt Disney (the man) saw in the transition from cinema to home TV, while other industry peers saw it as a threat. “For organisations to thrive, they must continue to break barriers and deploy cutting-edge technology,” Renu said.

Renu described how Disney patented the technology behind cloud-based broadcasting. The result was transformational. With the traditional model of broadcasting it would have taken months of engineering and more than a million dollars of capital to launch a new TV channel - now it takes two to three hours and $1,500.

Disney’s core competency is to tell the best stories with the best people, processes, and technology. In IP management, the goal is to capture ideas and foster value throughout the idea’s lifecycle.

People often look for something final: a beginning or an end that will mean that everything will remain the same – safe and secure. But, as the cliché goes, life is a journey and embracing new technology is part of that process. It expands our minds, drives new opportunities and adds value.