Emerging technologies represent an enormous opportunity for businesses. But formulating a tech strategy and putting it into motion can be challenging.
On a practical level, Capgemini's Burger says the CIOs and LoB leaders must keep their fingers on the pulse of technology advancements. In the digital age, CIO increasingly stands for chief integration officer.
"Awareness of opportunities is crucial," he says, adding that It's also important to filter and vet ideas for new products and services based on how various technologies mature. "There is no shortage of amazing technologies and great ideas. It's about connecting all the pieces to produce something truly innovative."
Finally, an organization must have discipline to make tough choices, learn from mistakes and failures, and then move forward. "The difference between winners and losers is often about seeing around the corners," Burger explains.
Changing Workflows and Business Processes
The need to embrace emerging digital technologies has never been greater. For example, various components of AI—including voice and speech recognition, image processing, analytics and deep learning—are redefining business processes, customer touchpoints and more.
The IoT is streaming into businesses and homes and changing workflows, behavior and consumer sensibilities. Meanwhile, apps increasingly tap augmented reality, manufacturers are producing prototypes and parts using 3D printing, and businesses are turning to robots and drones for a variety of tasks.
Although every industry and company situation is different, the common denominator is a need to construct a framework that's responsive to digital business requirements. Burger says that CIOs must establish a framework that supports digital innovation and emerging tech. Key pieces of the puzzle often include a steering committee, cross-functional business and technology teams, an open innovation framework, an internal innovation lab, and the use of A/B testing. The goal, he says, is to experiment, move forward rapidly and spot real-world opportunities.
Accenture's Becirovic says that it's also important to adjust and adapt at a moment's notice. For example, he points to blockchain as an example of a technology that could go in radically different directions and create substantially different outcomes.
"It's becoming apparent that blockchain has many uses that extend beyond the financial arena," he point out. "In the future, it may have a role in protecting medical records and other assets." Thus, it's important to track its overall trajectory, consider partnerships and affiliations, and understand emerging API frameworks. Overall, "There's a need to understand ecosystems," he says.
In the end, Becirovic says that CIOs must think about the enterprise and their role in a different way. Instead of adopting the traditional IT approach that revolves around controlling and managing technology resources, IT leaders need to understand how digital technologies fit together, track their progress, and understand how others—including disruptors—are using them to their advantage.
In addition, CIOs must ensure the enterprise has the skill sets to harness these technologies. They also must work with LoB leaders to identify a vision, establish a strategy and build out systems that deliver clear benefits.
"CIOs who assemble the pieces the right way separate themselves and their companies from the rest of the pack," Becirovic explains. "They aren't driven by technology outcomes; they are driven by business outcomes."