Tapping into the Maker Movement

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When you hear the word innovation, what’s the first thing you think of?

For me, it’s probably the Media Lab at MIT. With few constraints and an incredible collection of minds across not just information technology disciplines, but music, art, psychology and many others, they have masterminded hundreds of breakthrough inventions – everything from the first web recommendation system called Firefly to Lego Mindstorms to the $100 Laptop.

But, increasingly, MIT’s Media Lab isn’t the only source of mind-blowing inspiration for enterprises that want to push the boundaries of innovation. In recent years the maker community has emerged as a wellspring of wondrous ideas. Makers teach us how to make big things happen with little risk at a rapid pace.

When I read the first issue of Make—the magazine for the DIY technology culture—I thought:

  1. Business and technology executives could learn a tremendous amount from the makers, especially from their imaginative exploration of emerging technology and their intense dedication to tinkering with technology to solve problems.
  2. We should encourage these at-home hobbyists to bring their garage mindsets to the glass office.

Makers are everything the IT department needs and should want to be right now as emerging technology permeates the entire enterprise in the digital age….

  • Wildly creative, infinitely curious and uncannily resourceful
  • Experts on the latest emerging technology such as Raspberry PI, Arduino, 3-D Printing, wearables, sensors and their various intersections
  • Capable of cobbling together disparate emerging technologies to solve complex problems
  • Fast, impressive prototyping ability
  • Masters of the iterative innovation process: try, fail, succeed and repeat

Like technology itself, makers are spread throughout the enterprise. You’ll often find them in product development and operations and even customer service. The maker mindset is exactly what the IT department must embrace as they reshape for the digital age. To survive as an influencer, IT must pick up the pace of innovation with rapid prototyping and provide plug-and-play infrastructure. Such dynamic change will require IT to shake free of its old ways. They must transform into the makers of the enterprise.

To find the makers among you, invite employees across the organization to share their at-home maker creations in the workplace and to discuss their ideas for how the organization can leverage emerging technology for business value. Start with simple show and tell exercises over a series of brown bag lunches. See what you can learn and let me know how it goes. I think corporate IT departments have an immense opportunity to tap the magic of makers during a time when it’s needed more than ever.

Image shared by Hoskings Industries

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