If there’s one simple question that guides the application of innovative technologies it must be, “What are we trying to achieve as a business, and how can technology help us achieve it?” A wise man once said “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In other words, stay focused. If you focus on your business, your clients and your people, the impact of technology will be positive and decisive. Of course, it is vital to be aware of what your competitors are doing and especially to be vigilant for opportunist entrants to your market. But it’s not enough to be a ‘me-too’ player because part of embracing technology innovation is about doing old things in new ways.
If the push for technology innovation focuses on business needs, this implies a new and influential role for IT and the CIO in which the emphasis moves from systems provider to enterprise enabler. In my view, the only way to drive impactful technology innovation is to understand where you are now, where you want to be and how you need to change. That begins with an internal assessment of your business, your infrastructure, and your teams. If you start creating digital solutions, products and services without an end game in mind, you are gambling with the future and the odds aren’t in your favor. This is why CIOs need to play a lead role in the creation of a digital vision and technology road map for their businesses. But many don’t have the wherewithal to begin that process, and either bring in the right skills and capabilities or worse, do nothing.
The companies who are openly exploiting the move to digital are not rushing into Mobile, Cloud, Social and Analytics as by-standers in the process. They are looking at the technology in the context of their own business, their clients and associates – and then asking, what could this do for us? What changes to our business and operating model can be better enabled by technology? These visionary CIOs are building new relationships inside and outside the organization to make it happen. By building a road map to the future allows them to tackle key obstacles in their path, and deliver results more creatively, more seamlessly, more independently and at higher value.