Take Charge of Your Future

Be an active leader in your organization

As a leader in your organization, be aware of political, social and economic realities, then take an active part in shaping them.

The real world is about a lot more than technical merit. Many of the biggest decisions related to IT are grounded in U.S. technology policy. To make the most informed decisions, you must contribute to the public policies that shape business technology.

We as technology leaders are partners in the technology-based economic development of our country—and we have a crucial role to play. We must participate in the processes driving technology development; if we don't, others with their own selfish interests will do so for us. New technology raises issues of public concern that public policy must address.

I recently tested my university class students on their awareness of current policy regarding technology. It was an eye-opener.

Only a few of the students I quizzed were aware of policy issues related to free speech, wiretaps and cyber security, encryption, bandwidth and privacy. Remember the case of Larry Froistad, the man who admitted online to murdering his daughter, yet only three people alerted the authorities? Only one student was familiar with the case.

This lack of awareness on the part of my students—generally some of the most Internet-aware individuals around—certainly raises issues regarding privacy, confidentiality and ethical standards. And worse, the level of participation in the development of policy within their companies was nil. I asked why no one thought they should get involved in this pivotal process and got back the usual excuses: Too busy, too much conflicting information, too complicated, too boring. Most often I heard, "Oh, you can't control the Internet." The Internet is the hub of today's e-business. It's the essential component to the solutions we build and deploy today, yet we claim it's uncontrollable?

Wake up, friends! The Internet is controllable, and it's just a matter of time before we determine who will control it. The Internet itself provides some great tools to help you get involved with those processes.

About the Author

Laura Wonnacott is VP of Business and Technology Development for Aguirre International, and a California State University system instructor.