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Even leaders in tech-adjacent fields — like the toy industry — know the importance of investing in technology expertise and a more robust IT infrastructure.

Future Technology

As much as we try to predict the future, it’s never been easy. The catch has always been that as soon as you’re sure of what’s coming next, it’s probably too late to take advantage of it.

What’s worse is that we’re often too short-sighted to make the next leap – as Henry Ford himself put it, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

This quote, attributed to one of the world’s greatest innovators, illustrates both why it’s so important to think ahead of what consumers want, and why it’s so troubling when you fall behind. When customers ask for the wrong thing (faster horses), it’s up to innovators to match that request with the perfect solution (automobiles). Another great example is the iPhone – nobody was asking for a smartphone, but Apple knew it was what was next.

However, while you may not know for sure who’s going to win the Super Bowl, or what tomorrow’s lotto numbers are, more and more experts and leaders have begun to bet on one thing for sure: technology.

“How do we embed, in all our toys, the 21st-century skills that children need to succeed?”

That’s the question that Mattel CEO Margot Georgiadis asked herself and her company, shared in a Fortune interview with Suzie Gharib. What Georgiadis and many other business leaders are coming to realize is that the future belongs to those who embrace it – not those that fight against it.

“This company started in a garage, just like Google, by passionate entrepreneurs, and so much of what I’m trying to do is the anchor the company back in that entrepreneurial, creative space that made us so successful,” said Georgiadis.

“One of the areas that I really think a partnership is important in is technology – there are so many capabilities that are being developed that we can actually leverage if we create the right ecosystem that’s simple and easy to use.”

She’s not alone. More and more, business leaders are finding that investing in technology by building a strong IT infrastructure soon leads to growth, expansion, and innovation.

Consider the cloud-first movement, which prioritizes investment in cloud technologies over any other type of technology. Spearheaded by the US government back in 2010, more and more members of the tech industry today are finding that by focusing on providing the best possible cloud solutions (and using them themselves), they can grow more rapidly and command a larger market share.

However, as Georgiadis notes, it’s not just the cloud that’s important.

“We can leverage new developments in robotics and artificial intelligence, in general, to plug into our toys in a more platform-centric way, the way you would in a tech company,” said Georgiadis.  “You take ideas from inside and outside, and when you put those together, change happens a lot faster.”

This is all in an effort to help shepherd the next generation into greater tech-literacy. By investing in how children think about and use technology, Georgdalis believes we can build a better future.

“One of the things that have been amazing in getting tech companies to want to partner and help us is this whole need for STEM education to be advanced,” said Georgiadis. “To ensure that boys, girls, and minorities are falling in love with this technology from as young an age as possible and really see that as a potential career. We do not want to leave anyone behind, and we all have a role to play in shaping a world where everyone is included in this incredible set of changes that are going on in our world – to me, that’s a huge area of passion, it’s one of the most important reasons why I took this job.”

How is Georgiadis shaping the future of Mattel?

Georgiadis is focusing on technology simply by investing in the company’s technology, primarily by hiring Mattel’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer, Sven Gerjets. The first step is for them to develop a more robust infrastructure and ensure that Mattel can survive in a tech-centric business world.

“What he’s really doing is not just upgrading and ensuring that we have the infrastructure to be a faster, leaner, more data-driven company, but he’s also ensuring that all the technology products are moved from an item approach to a platform approach,” said Georgiadis. “It’s much more efficient, and allows us to embed our capabilities in far more products more cost-effectively.”

With technology firmly positioned as the foundation of today’s business operations, the need to make the most of an available technology budget is more critical than ever. Whether it’s for a massive enterprise like Mattel, or a small business, getting the absolute most out of your technology investment can be a key part of your business’ success.

Choosing something like an Infrastructure as a Service solution has great advantages to offer businesses in both the short-term and long-term. In the short-term, employees are given the tools they need to work efficiently and offer better service to their customers. As the business becomes more comfortable with the accessibility and flexibility the cloud provides, there will soon be a growing number of options available to streamline business processes and eliminate repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

Furthermore, as the business continues to grow, the cloud will easily grow with it. Scalability is one of the biggest selling points for Infrastructure as a Service, as its potential to adapt and expand as needed is a fantastic asset for any business. It would be difficult to find any other technology that’s as universally well-suited as Infrastructure as a Service, making it not just a smart technology investment, but a smart investment in the future success of a given business, such as Mattel.

“[Gerjets has] been bringing together all the people working on those products, he’s been streamlining what we’re focused on, and he’s been deciding the four or five key technologies that we’re going to bet on across the company, and ensure we have a scalable approach,” said Georgiadis.

If there’s one thing you can bet on, it’s technology. The question is: are you going to wait until your competitors have eaten up the market share of consumers looking for businesses with a technology focus? Or will you start investing in IT infrastructure today?

Published on 13th January 2018 by Ian Brady.

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