Leveraging Technology to Build Business
Many business leaders struggle with leveraging technology as a strategy to build their business and take it to the next level, especially in mature industries. In the context of business growth strategies, Leaders need to ask different questions about their business, such as which technology will take the business to the next level, how to drive business differentiation through technology investments, and how to change business models through technology innovation? Here’s a few reasons why these questions are often overlooked:
Lack of awareness or knowledge of the technology itself – we don’t know what we don’t know. By exposing ourselves to technology environments, we gain a better understanding of what’s “out there” and its potential application to our business. We start to ask different questions about our business, our customers, and our markets.
Technology is not central to the business decision-making process or is only considered at the very end when discussing implementation of the business strategy/initiative.
Relying on “others” to know – there’s an IT Manager somewhere who knows about this stuff so we’ll leave it up to them, right?
Risk – it can cost a lot of money and what if the project fails or does not deliver the ROI? The IT Manager recommends it, but how does this align with our business objectives/strategy?
Understandably, business leaders are time constrained and learning more about technology may not be at the top of the list. So here’s a few time-leveraging recommendations to get started and allow you to make better, more informed technology decisions about your business:
The IT Manager/Leader should report to the President/CEO. Most IT Managers report into Operations but in today’s competitive business environment, this is not recommended. Leaders need direct visibility into how to leverage IT assets and to look at technology through a business lens (growth, scale, competitive advantage) versus an operations lens (cost, efficiency, maintenance).
Appoint a technology executive to your Advisory Council or Board of Directors if you have one. They can help you determine which technology deployments align with your business strategy.
Attend technology conferences/trade shows and subscribe to business technology publications. Back to the awareness issue – it’s a critical step to be absorbing and perceiving what’s in the environment.
Keep the functions of technology maintenance separate from technology strategy. If your organization is small and has only one person, create a dual reporting relationship. Day-to-day maintenance issues/projects report to Operations and strategic technology issues/projects report to the President/CEO. For larger organizations, it’s easier to separate the two responsibilities – IT Manager versus CTO.
Hire people from the technology industry into your business groups – Finance, Operations, Marketing, Sales, Service, HR…it will increase the technology IQ of the organization and some great ideas and perspectives about the business will be born.
Old industries are re-inventing themselves and new business models are being created which are disrupting the status quo. All of them are being transformed by technology. How can you build your business by leveraging technology?