Business leaders are facing a new reality: Every company is a technology company now. Those that aren’t can no longer compete. Making your technology strategy your business strategy is the only way to stay ahead. This requires leading your teams to adopt (and adapt to) emerging technologies, like blockchain, augmented reality or artificial intelligence—just to name a few.
As you build business objectives for the future, make the adoption of new technology a priority and simplify the process with these five practices:
1. Play the devil’s advocate
It’s just as important to understand your business as it is to understand the technology you’re considering implementing—and it starts with asking yourself honest questions. As you do your inventory, ask:
• As it stands today, where can competitors most easily beat us?
• Which inefficiencies in our company would most benefit from the application of a technology?
• Do we have the right culture to adapt to an emerging technology?
• Is the technology we’re interested in useful or just exciting?
2. Establish priorities
Make the discussion around adoption of new technologies a large part of your yearly and quarterly planning. Get everyone involved in finding out how a new technology could solve one of your core business problems.
Be prepared to hash it out and give everyone in leadership a say in ranking priorities before deciding on a singular technology strategy as a company. You’ll find that departments you don’t typically associate with being drivers of technology (such as human resources) will have useful insights.
3. Keep a balance of agility and reliability
It’s understandable to not want to fully disrupt your traditional way of doing things when incorporating a new technology into your business processes, especially if you’re already working from a hefty backlog; few people like the discomfort of starting from scratch. You can mitigate that by taking a bimodal approach.
Instead of keeping IT in the “back room” and letting your developers run with all of the fun projects that utilize emerging technology, blend teams together for a best-of-both-worlds approach.
4. Spend time learning
Whether you choose to implement a continual learning program with the help of an online platform or promote a culture where ad hoc, individual learning is valued and encouraged, you need to help your people keep pace with the changing technology you are looking to adopt. Encourage skill development. It takes time to learn what’s on the cutting edge, but the innovation driven by your teams through emerging tools make it worth it.
5. Experiment and prototype
As important as planning is, eventually you’ll just have to dig in and try new things. If you’re curious how a technology could help your workforce, try giving a single-point solution a shot—you shouldn’t ever feel so locked into an application of a technology that you couldn’t scrap it if it’s not working or solving a problem. But getting real people using it as soon as possible is the best way to find out.
Getting in the emerging technology mindset
As competitive pressures, disruptive tools and increasing commoditization force organizations into the future faster than ever, it can seem overwhelming to decide which of the latest and greatest technologies will help your business solve its problems.
Use the five keys above as a way to find clarity; apply these steps to one segment, one division or even one project at a time. Try out a technology solution to meet a specific need. Repeat.