Technology presents a series of conundrums. It shapes markets while being shaped by them. It propels organizations, and often throttles them. Organizations that successfully integrate technology are often the ones that need it least. While those that could benefit the most from its disruptions and transformative analytics, are often the least capable of successfully mining its value, trapped as they are in corporate myopia.
Enterprise leaders increasingly acknowledge the necessity of dynamic technology strategies to drive competitive advantage. Yet according to a recent survey by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, just 22 percent of these leaders have a well-defined technology strategy calibrated to deliver value. The survey queried 750 executives in an array of industries including finance, retail, telecommunications, electronics, and professional services. And what many of these organizations may not appreciate is that these strategies demand transformational leadership to align the enterprise with the power of technology.
With the rapid rise of mobile and cloud computing, enterprise technology users such as sales, operations, and product development have an expanded portfolio of application and storage options outside the confines of traditional IT. Yet according to IBM’s survey, less than a third of IT executives say they are effectively collaborating with business leaders to provide technology solutions in these enterprise areas. This is while more than 70 percent of senior IT executives acknowledge that IT is essential to drive competitive advantage.
These executives also do not believe their enterprise information systems have kept pace with the increasing demands exacted by technological advances. The proliferation of mobile devices, the rapid rise of collaboration and social media, developing the capabilities to analyze and make usable growing streams of data — less than 10 percent of executives surveyed say they are fully prepared to confront these trends.
Twenty percent of enterprise leaders stated that their organizations deployed technology primarily to reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies. The survey’s authors dub these organizations “siloed IT operators.” This is in stark contrast to “strategic IT connectors,” the 30 percent of organizations whose business and technology leaders collaborate to drive business strategy and competitive advantage. These firms are better able to manage change through agility, efficiency and speed.
Example: Infiniti Red Bull Racing. The Austrian Formula One team deployed a robust technology strategy to take track performance to the next level. With high-performance computing power and agile management processes, Red Bull automated the team’s workload scheduling, used simulations to optimize car design, and leveraged real-time race analytics to drive successful decision-making on the track. The strategy drove breakthrough results: four consecutive Formula One drivers’ and constructor’s championships between 2010 and 2013.
Forward-thinking organizations need far more than the latest technology. They need transformational leadership to align human capital with technology strategies and enterprise vision. Through analytics processes, leaders can use technology to expose current and future capability gaps to reduce workforce guesswork and identify potential issues before they become operational problems.
They also need to develop transformational cultures rich in opportunities for individual development and innovation. For the most dynamic enterprises — think Netflix, Google, Amazon — technology is but a piece of their success. To wring the most from technological advancements, the organizations nurture cultures that prize initiative, collaboration, agility, invention, and comfort with calculated risk. They stand behind powerful visions that command attention. Read between the lines, and the IBM survey is a virtual callout for the Insigniam Equation for Dramatic Growth.
Technology is but a tool driving the enterprise. It takes inspired, visionary leadership to fuel this tool and take the enterprise to the next level. Technology is just about technology. Technology with inspired leadership is about the future.