Originally, mentorships were face-to-face relationships. As technology grew, phone calls replaced many of those in-person meetings to allow both mentors and mentees the chance to seek one another out over a broader geographical area. However, recent technological developments have offered opportunities for the mentorship experience to improve on a large scale.
From product knowledge unlocked by deep analytics, AI, and machine learning, a mentor’s ability to drill down and help see the trends and information their experience can relate to leads to new insights and a deeper and more valuable mentor experience.
For one, the COVID-19 experience has pushed many programs to eliminate physical meetings altogether. This means that those mentorships still conducted in person are likely to have moved to teleconferencing. Communications companies have stepped up to the plate to deliver improved conferencing capabilities to allow remote working. This has allowed those working relationships to not only continue but to grow in productivity.
A second path for an improved mentorship experience is also being presented by Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The capture, analysis, and integration of enormous data streams by embedded and installed devices has changed the way businesses operate, innovate and grow. And mentorship programs can harness this technology over traditional methods, finding new opportunities for both mentor and mentee.
Drawbacks of Traditional Mentoring
Some drawbacks of traditional mentoring include:
- Geography: Traditional mentorships have often been hampered by geographic restrictions. A requirement of face-to-face meetings meant that only those within practical distances of one another could engage in a relationship. This meant that in areas where mentors were not available or well matched for the mentee, options were limited.
- Communication: Even the use of the telephone—while extending the mentorship opportunity to a broader range of candidates—suffered from constraints. It’s often said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, which in this case highlights the limited ability to access data and fully interact via a phone call.
- Data Gaps: While mentors are engaged for their broad business experience, having relevant data available to them can help provide insight into what is needed. With limited data transfer, these relationships were restricted to broad, high level numbers and the opportunity to drill down to understand what the mentee and their team needed was limiting.
- Quality of Advice and Feedback: In traditional mentorship experiences, both the mentor and mentee need to be a suitable match. This is not only true of personality but also from industry to industry. While certain business principles and the mentor advice that they entail are common or standard across industries, there could still be industry specific differences that may impact the experience.
How IoT Can Improve the Mentor Experience
One way to enhance the mentorship experience is with IoT technology. While there are numerous mentor matching software platforms to improve matching and compatibility, IoT is in a position to deliver unique value to traditional mentorship programs, helping them to evolve and improve the experience for both parties.
- Better Visualization: Mentors often come from different industries than those they counsel. And while many basic business principles remain the same, others can be enhanced through the visualization of real-time data offered by IoT. Mentors can access this data and its accompanying visualization to understand an industry they may not have experience in. This helps them shape the feedback and advice to deliver more relevant data-based suggestions.
- Broader Application of General Business Principles: Because IoT platforms often encompass the entire enterprise, both mentor and mentee can see how the data impacts all areas of the company. This includes production, supply chain, finance, maintenance, inventory, and others. By having access to the analysis derived from the data, both parties can have sharper, more focused discussions on the general principles that guide every entrepreneur. Discussions can be more relevant because analysis is available as to how these different functional areas impact one another and can help guide mentors to more relevant topics.
- Real-World and Real-Time Applications: While the mentor will possess vast experience that is being passed on to an entrepreneur, manager, or even a relative newcomer to the world of work, there is no substitute for real-world and real-time applications. By discussing the trends and discoveries obtained with IoT as they happen, and the effect that these have on the mentee as part of their daily reality, mentors can use their experience to find analogies and examples that match, providing higher quality feedback tied to real-time operations.
Regardless of their in-born skills and natural business flair, entrepreneurs and evolving leaders often need a strong mentor. By utilizing current technology, candidates can not only find a mentor that matches their needs; they can also use the tools and benefits of IoT technology to enhance the experience in ways that are more relevant to their current business realities, providing pertinent insights.
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College offers programs and resources to help every entrepreneur identify and engage in a mentorship program. Its access to the latest technology, including IoT, can help inform and enhance a candidate’s choice of mentorship programs that will help them grow their business leadership tool box.
Whether as a mentor or mentee, IoT technology can enhance your mentorship and unlock experience and insights previously unavailable. If you’d like assistance in expanding your journey to include the value IoT can offer, contact us at the HBEC at Georgian College and let one of our knowledgeable professionals help you get started on a more fulfilling mentoring program.