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Value drivers must be constant focus of digital technology initiatives

Getting caught up in the enterprise digital technologies hype is dangerous for your company. Here's what to do instead.

Blockchain, internet of things, robotics, predictive analytics, big data technologies, algorithmic-based decision...

support systems, mobile apps and so on -- the array of new digital technologies is dizzying. Amidst this overload, the C-suite and other business decisions makers face a tall order: Figure out which of these technologies can be used to create value drivers.

The issue is complicated by the potential to combine newer products and services with older technologies. For example, the combination of software, smartphones, an internet connection and plug-in smart sensors (think IoT) allows for personalized, real-time, remote medical diagnostics to be performed anywhere in the world. Separating the promise from the hype and learning enough to make an informed decision is no easy feat.

Digital technologies simultaneously pose risks and offer rewards, but no business is safe from being left behind. Here's how to navigate this tricky terrain. 

1. Don't let your digital "quick win" become a "slow fail."

Backed by the evidence that your digital initiative has exceeded all expectations, you probably just want to roll it out organization wide and develop it further as soon as possible. You can already imagine the improvements in such value drivers as better customer service, lower costs, greater agility, increased market share and margin and other benefits. Time to hit the gas, right? Well, not so fast.

As your organization shifts along the digital size and complexity scale, from standalone to fully integrated digital solutions, the importance of system and information architecture, as well as effective governance, must be recognized.

Takeaway: Do not ignore the fundamentals of effective governance in the push to rapidly expand on your initial successes.

2. See through the asymmetry of perceived success.

Excluding your IT department from engaging and advising on your organization's digital technologies is a risk.

Determining the right digital technology adoption strategy is incredibly complex and tricky. An asymmetry of perceived success is one reason why. This occurs when you only hear about a particular digital technology's enterprise successes, but not about any of its failures. The result? You're unlikely to realize or plan for the potential risks associated with a particular digital technology.

Takeaway: Question unequivocal digital success stories.

3. Build an effective intelligence gathering and analysis capability into your organization's DNA.

In today's fast-moving world, it's unwise and limiting to expect your senior executives to shoulder the responsibility of detecting, filtering and synthesizing external trends, whether customer, industry or technology based. It is far more effective for the organization as a whole to develop an internal culture and capability of detecting and interpreting the early telltale signs of relevant change and disruption at every level and across all functions within the organization.

The bottom line is that business value drivers can be rapidly eroded through change and disruption. That's why it's key to create a proactive and adaptive culture where employees are rewarded for effective, responsive and well-oiled intelligence gathering and business savvy interpretation.

Takeaway: Assess your organization's business and technology trends radar and work to make it more effective, if needed.

4. Ensure that your IT team is part of the digital team.

Transforming your IT team from a cost center to a high value, strategic facilitator and enabler of digital technologies for the entire organization is a prerequisite for identifying, exploiting and protecting technology-dependent business value drivers. Excluding your IT department from engaging and advising on your organization's digital technologies is a risk.

This does not mean that IT is ultimately responsible for, or should "own," the technology. Yet, IT departments are often the only group that has an enterprise-wide perspective on information taxonomies and business processes. Harness this perspective.

Takeaway: Ensure your IT team is deeply engaged and vested in the development and execution of your digital strategy.

The rapid evolution of modern digital technologies is redefining today's business world and enterprise IT. Decisions relating to enterprise IT and digital initiatives cannot be left to a department head, CFO, CIO or single executive alone. A comprehensive, well-informed and multidisciplinary approach is key to ensuring that your organization's value drivers are continually protected and enhanced in the face of rapid technological change.

Next Steps

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This was last published in November 2016

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