We are in the golden age of Artificial Intelligence and it’s changing every sector and every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s education, healthcare or transportation, AI is helping businesses evolve, but with rapid changes happening every day, organisations have to keep up to date to stay ahead of the curve and emerging technologies.
We sat down with Talent Garden Innovation School faculty member, Clare Dillon, to learn more about her role as a Technology Evangelist, what the future of technology looks like and how it will impact businesses.
Talent Garden Innovation School AI Ready Masterclass helps to demystify AI, with expert faculty on hand to equip organisations and individuals with a sound understanding of AI, its applications and implications, and how it can be leveraged to improve the productivity of a business.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Technology Evangelist. Having worked for over 20 years in the IT industry, I recently set up my own business helping organisations get the most out of emerging technology trends.
How do you think the growth of AI will affect organisations in the next 3-5 years?
Looking at the broader challenge of how best to deploy AI in an ethical manner is a topic that is growing in importance. There are a number of reasons for this, from building trust with customers and employees to accelerate adoption, to regulatory changes forcing a re-think of implementation choices.
How do you think organisations can help to close the technology gap that is extremely prevalent today?
I think the biggest challenge is creating space and time for professional development. Current working norms have people maxed out – it is unrealistic to expect whole scale training/learning to happen effectively if people have to do it in their personal time. Dedicated time for skills development, coupled with appropriate incentives and choice of learning options will help. This takes commitment and investment from the top.
What do you think the result will be if organisations don’t help their staff stay ahead of the technological curve?
There are already reports available that show that organisations who are digitally immature are finding it harder to recruit and retain the most talented staff (whether technical or not). The gap is widening – those that don’t invest in helping their staff stay ahead of the technological curve, and more importantly don’t focus on building a digital culture, will lose out to competitors who do.
What exactly is a Technology Evangelist and what does your day-to-day look like?
For the past 15 years, I have officially had the words evangelism or evangelist in my job title. However, I have discovered that people often do not actually have a very clear idea about what technology evangelism is, or what they do. For me, evangelism is all about ideas that are good news, spreading those ideas and helping convert ideas into having a positive impact on the world.
When you apply that to the world of technology, it’s about helping business people understand the current technology landscape, how to capitalise on opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls. I focus, in particular, on AI trends in general and ethics in AI, because I believe that technology has the potential to dramatically change how we work and live.
What’s the thing you enjoy most about your job?
Sharing stories about how technology in general, and AI in particular, can be applied in new, exciting and innovative ways. I also love hearing about emerging business models and new industries being created by AI.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
The pace, scope and scale of technical innovation have all dramatically increased in the last number of years. Keeping on top of everything that is happening is a real challenge for everyone in the industry.
What advice would you give to someone looking to become a Technology Evangelist?
There is a lot of discussion around the technical skills required to service the IT industry and accelerate digital transformations and AI implementations. For me, it is as important to have business people in all functions who are technically literate and understand more about the potential (and risks) that surround emerging technologies like AI.
Those people are critical to ensuring that technology is used in the right place in the right way. It is also important for technical AI experts to develop great communication and collaboration skills to help ensure the successful adoption of their technical innovations. Technical evangelists often have a foot in both worlds: business and technical.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?
That it’s nothing to do with religion. In the early days of my career in technical evangelism, I often had people make the sign of the cross when I told them what I do! It’s less common now – but some people still make the (incorrect) assumption.
Do you think there are a lot of career opportunities in Ireland for Technology Evangelists?
Maybe not with the exact title of Technology Evangelist, though evangelism departments and roles are now quite common in technology companies. However, the basic skills required (technical and business acumen with great communication skills, for example) are going to become more sought after across a range of functions and disciplines.
Do you think the role of a Technology Evangelist will change over the next 5 years?
Not in its aims, but technology is changing all the time and best practices in communicating are also evolving. It’s a role that never gets stale.
Learn more about the Talent Garden Innovation School AI Ready Masterclass happening on May 17th, and enrol now to make your organisation AI Ready.