Article originally provided to and featured by the Business Bank of Texas: www.businessbankoftexas.com/business-resource-center/10-signs-that-you-need-to-evaluate-your-business-information-technology?utm_campaign=Q1%202017-%20BRC%20Business%20Owner&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=67812255&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_3Ijyjrn7y_qXbKbV9nfknJH98Uz-NKoASCvR6Zu4MyMrI0XUZWH_IZaqu_AzHAYsZ8-r8zfcO4AlltGdjhgkODIE6og&_hsmi=67812255
Technology plays a key role in every modern business. If it’s been a while since you’ve assessed your business’ information technology practices, there’s never been a more crucial moment to get up to speed. Digital transformation continues to reshape the business landscape, meaning digital leaders will capture new market share and laggards will struggle to gain traction.
While cutting-edge technology can provide significant business advantages, it can also pose serious risks. Whether it’s due to a breach from inadequate cybersecurity or missed opportunities from an obsolete solution, the results of an unexamined information technology program can be devastating. Furthermore, when your technological solutions are down or inaccessible, you not only risk lost profits, but lost customer confidence as well.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a comprehensive, independent evaluation of your company’s information technology, there are most likely many issues that you’re not even aware of. Here are some signs that it’s time to assess your information technology (I.T.):
This article is the fourth and final part of a series on the technological challenges business owners face in 2018. In past articles, we’ve looked at cybersecurity measures, getting ahead of the technology skills shortage, and building agility into processes. Today we’ll look at how businesses can incorporate smart processes with technological solutions, or to put it simply: digital transformation.
In order to improve operations and deliver more value to customers, businesses need to effectively integrate the right technologies. All too often, company leaders are lulled into thinking they can maintain the status quo and continue to perform well. But recent history is full of examples of companies that fell into this mindset; by the time they finally responded, it was too late.
Times have changed. The age of digital transformation rewards early adopters (and a few super-fast followers), leaving others to play catch-up and struggle to survive.
A recent cautionary tale
For an example of how digital transformation affects businesses, let’s look at the retail industry. Years ago, local family-owned retail stores dominated most of the market. Then Walmart came along; their “just in time” inventory system facilitated lower prices and an ever-growing network of stores. They looked unstoppable… but along came Amazon. Though at first it seemed like just an online bookstore, Amazon had ambitions of expansion and a well-thought-out digital transformation plan.
As a result, the once-dominant Walmart has been significantly impacted, and has closed stores across the country. In this instance, Walmart has been relegated to the role of “superfast follower.” In an effort to compete, Walmart purchased online retail startup Jet.com and revamped their leadership team to fast-track their plans to catch up to Amazon.
Amazon’s digital transformation has changed the way the retail industry works, and they’ve left big-box retail stores struggling to stay above water. All it takes is a look around the empty shopping malls and shuttered outlet malls to see the impact of digital transformation on the retail industry as a whole.
How to stay ahead
Which role will your business play: the digital transformation early adopter, or the straggler? What should you do now to make sure you are in the right market position?
The following recommendations should help you get on the right track:
Identify and acquire the required resources
To win the digital transformation game, you need to have the right tools and team for success. Assess your ability to execute your digital plan with the resources you currently have. Typically, the technological solutions that brought you to this point won’t be the same ones that will drive your future success.
You also need to determine whether your current internal resources can continue to run the day-to-day aspects of the business while effectively driving your digital transformation. Engage a seasoned advisor who can provide an unbiased review of your current systems, identify opportunities, and drive timely execution. Digital transformation is a new concept for most people, and many companies struggle to figure it out on their own. The right advisor can help your company avoid missteps on the road to a timely and successful outcome.
The Right Plan
Some companies mistakenly think that implementing a new ERP, CRM, or financial system is the extent of digital transformation. While those tools may be a piece of the overall plan, they’re far from the full potential a digital transformation can offer. True transformation involves internal processes, customer experience, delivery of services and products— essentially the full continuum of your business. Make sure your digital transformation leaders understand the difference and are prepared to serve as change catalysts. That means challenging traditional thinking and identifying needs, gaps, and opportunities.
Act and execute like your future is counting on it… because it is. Amazon didn’t gain their advantage in the retail industry by merely crafting a great plan; they also executed the plan in a more timely and more effective manner than their competitors. Innovation and business opportunities have a window of opportunity. Take action now, start fast, and execute to win this race.
Below is a graph illustrating how the list of the world's largest companies by market cap has changed in just the past 15 years.
It's interesting to note that only 1 of the top 5 from 2001 is still in the top 5.
If you go back to 1955, the top 10 list includes General Motors, US Steel, Chrysler, Amoco, CBS, Goodyear, Firestone... and NONE of the these companies make even the top 20 list today.
We live in a rapidly changing world. So, why do once thriving companies fall from their market position?
1. The Status Quo: Company leaders get too comfortable with the status quo. I have frequently heard company leaders state "this is the way we have always done it in this company". Well, that may be, but eventually someone with a more progressive view will change it. For example, Kodak failed to transform their business to digital in a timely manner, Kodak's market dominance in camera film lulled them into ignoring the market shift. By the time they finally acted, their competitors had captured the new digital market and Kodak was no longer a top contender in the new digital camera/film market.
2. Narrow Perspective: Company leaders often rely on just their fellow company leaders and people in their same market for guidance. While it is comfortable to talk with people that think like you and have the same perspective as you, it is also a risk. You need to a broader view to consider all the factors and fresh new options. Business leaders should engage experts from outside their comfort zone to get a broader view and progressive ideas. If you don't, a competitor will.
3. Change: Once you determine your plan of action, it must be executed in a timely manner. Often companies talk about change and progressive ideas, but fail to fully execute. Do you have the right "Change Catalysts" on your team?
Whether you are a market-leading, multi-billion dollar company or a small company, these business principles apply. Currently, Digital Transformation is reshaping every industry. How is your digital transformation going? Will your business be gaining market share or loosing during these rapidly changing times?
Invest in the right Thought Leaders and Change Catalysts to help you craft your company's future.
Market-leading companies fully leverage and optimize technology to improve their operations and deliver more value to their customers. When your technology fails, you’re not only losing profits, you’re also losing customer confidence. Businesses are currently in a Digital Transformation race that rewards the first movers and most agile, and leaves the others playing catch-up to survive. Inadequate cybersecurity can expose sensitive information and put your business at risk. If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated your company’s technology, most likely there are many issues that you’re not even aware of.
The following are signs that it’s time for an independent review of your Information Technology (“I.T.”) organization:
If you observe any of these signs, it's time for an Information Technology assessment.
Xtrii performs comprehensive, cost-effective technology assessments that are conducted by proven technology experts that have helped some of the world's best companies achieve extraordinary success.
The following is a written transcript of an interview of Mark Johnson, Chief Executive of Xtrii, conducted by Exec Tech.
Technology plays a key role in all businesses today. The right technology can provide a competitive advantage and be a valuable asset for your business, and conversely, the wrong technology and/or an unsuccessful technology implementation can be devastating. So, before you make that key technology decision, consider these key points in selecting the right technology guidance:
Information Technology ("IT") is rapidly changing. The type of initiatives, the timing and pace, the right expertise and required resources, the available solutions, the way you procure and host the solutions (SaaS, Cloud,...), and other variables have changed and will continue to change. Over the past 25+ years, I have worked as a global CIO, as well as a trusted technology advisor to CEOs and other C-level executives, including CIOs and CMOs. I have found that some leaders get it, and others don't. Some leaders understand the changes and fully embrace and leverage them, and others are still holding on to the ways of yesteryear.
Often I find that Chief Marketing Officers are the ones that really get it, and are doing the best job of leveraging the new information technology landscape. They start with the CUSTOMER in mind... not the tech. They set goals that are bold, creative and extraordinary. They can clearly articulate the right business value of the I.T. initiative, and get the full buy-in of the stakeholders and executive team. They quickly define the goal and set a plan that will produce timely results. They understand that innovation and the advantage of creative I.T. is a limited time window. In understanding this window of opportunity, they look across all potential resources and find the best expertise that could produce the right results in a timely manner. They don't limit themselves or the initiative to just internal resources, they find external, trusted partners that can augment them and/or can provide the targeted turnkey solution within the required time frame. They get the new business environment for IT... they get the "new IT".
In contrast, too often I see Chief Information Officers that are stuck in the old paradigm of "command and control". They insist on everything being controlled by internal IT resources, but complain that they don't have the time or necessary resources to deliver what the customer demands. They have inadvertently set themselves up to be a barrier and/or business constraint, which causes tension within the organization. CIOs and IT organizations must evolve, reexamine their approach, and be open to alternatives. Yes, having been a CIO myself, I do understand the importance of security, integration, and the other concerns that IT leaders throw out for why they can't consider alternatives. But the truth is, you can successfully execute the timely approach being applied by CMOs that I described in the previous paragraph, AND also do it in a manner that is secure and integrated. Now I do know many progressive CIOs that get IT... we just need a lot more that get the new IT.
The pace of business and information technology will continue to increase. Windows of opportunity will continue to shrink and become tighter. To be successful, leaders must adapt, continuously take a new look at their approach and options, fully leverage ALL the resources and expertise available, and understand the "new IT".
After an extensive review of successful business leaders, professional athletes, Olympians, and other success stories, it was amazing to note how they had instrumental people, such as a coach, mentor, advisor, or some influential person, that they learned from along the way.
“It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes,
but an even wiser man to learn from others.”
- zen proverb
The road to excellence and extraordinary results is very challenging. So, even though you may have extraordinary talent in one particular area, rarely is someone excellent is every area, nor do they become excellent overnight. It’s a journey, and the journey is much more productive with expert guidance along the way.
When Michael Jordan stepped on the basketball court, he had to know more than just how to shoot a basketball… he needed to know how to execute the game plan, how execute his role, how to handle certain situations, and how to respond to ever changing challenges from opponents. Even with his great natural ability, and years of experience, Michael still seeked guidance from coaches and advisors to continuously improve his game and ensure that the game plan, his performance and the performance of the team were on target. Fortunately, he had some of the very best coaches/advisors along the way. In college, he was coached by legendary coach Dean Smith. Dean Smith is considered one of the best college coaches of all time. Once Michael turned pro, he was fortunate to be coached by one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson has 13 NBA championship rings!.. 2 NBA championship rings as a player, and 11 championship rings as a head coach! So, as you can see Michael Jordan had excellent coaches and mentors that helped him achieve his extraordinary results.
Steve Jobs, the admired entrepreneur and technology innovator, is described by many people as a talented maverick and a loner, but that’s simply wrong. The Apple co-founder turned his personal vision into reality with the help of trusted, talented advisors and teams. How did he and his people come up with their ideas and solve the technological and design problems they encountered as they worked on Apple products? By spending time together. As Steve said to his biographer Walter Isaacson: "Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say "Wow, and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas." Even as brilliant as Steve Jobs was, he still surrounds himself with brilliant technology experts and leveraged all the talent to develop and execute innovative products and extraordinary results.
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computers, has long been credited for his ability to find and surround himself with extraordinary talent. Even in the early days of Dell, he would assess where he needed additional insight and talent, and then took action to surround himself with the best talent that would supplement his capabilities and help address his business needs.
The Challenge: While the results and the need to learn from others is well documented, still people resist getting help from others. Why?! The reasons range from ego, pride, insecurities, or other misplaced thoughts. Successful leaders have learned to put away those fears, and realize that their success, and their organizations success will be far better off with the help of other talented people. None of us are experts at everything. Asking help from others doesn’t mean that they are smarter than you… typically the advisor’s value is they have more experience and insight in that one particular area due to their background or specialty, which can be tapped to fast-track the knowledge transfer to you and your initiative. Supplemental expertise allows you to achieve results far faster than you could by yourself.
So who are you learning from right now? No matter what your age, status, or position, everyone should be continuously learning from others. A good start is to look at your current challenges, projects, or concerns and find people that are experts in that area. Adding the right expertise is a catalyst to success. You may need the resource for a day, a week, or many months… whatever the time period, when it produces value and increases the pace of success, it's a great investment. Think about how you and/or your organization good benefit by learning from others.
This article is part 6 of a 6 part series titled “6 Factors For Excellence”, and discusses the 6 factors that drive excellence and help you achieve extraordinary results. To read the other articles in this series click here.
I really appreciate all the positive feedback that I received on this series. Follow the other factors for excellence that are included in this series, make sure you clearly set your goal, apply the incredible power of visualization, and learn from others. I hope you put these factors for excellence into action and achieve extraordinary results!
Mark Johnson is the Chief Executive at Xtrii. He is a proven, 10x CIO, renowned, global technology advisor and business leader.