A wave of paradigm-shifting technologies is disrupting business across all industries.
Previously distant capabilities in AI and machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, and others are now here. Competitors are already examining the potential of artificial intelligence for finding the brightest new talent. Many businesses will soon be redefining customer experiences with the help of augmented and virtual reality.
CEOs must take ownership of their business’ technology goals now if they want to achieve sustainable business growth for 2018 and beyond. Failing to embrace successful new technologies puts both your business and career at risk.
This article highlights four steps CEOs must take to lead impactful technology changes and achieve business growth.
1. Reset Direction
If you’re anything like the average CEO, you’ve got a dedicated CIO or CTO leading your digital initiatives. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this. That’s what they do. And they probably do great work, or they wouldn’t hold the position.
But the time has now come for CEOs to take ownership in technology initiatives. CEOs have to reset the business direction and put critical technologies at the center.
For example, the CEO of a manufacturing business should put her face on the adoption of predictive analytics tools. This technology will provide newfound insights that could bring a total overhaul to operations.
But such widespread changes to “the way things have always been done” might cause some backlash amongst employees, including executive peers, who are adverse to change.
The CEO’s messaging could explain that the tech is being implemented as the backbone of a company-wide reset to ensure the business becomes and remains a leader in the industry. In doing so, there’s an acknowledgement of “this is who we are now” as well as a nod to the importance of this new technology.
Without CEO backing, crucial projects like this might flounder due to a lack of accountability or buy-in for the benefits. But if the CEO is leading the charge on these implementations, the transition will be smoother.
Some other helpful steps to take in resetting the tech direction of the business include:
- Something as simple as creating and sharing an agenda for tech transformations with the organization.
- Defining the key metrics tied to achieving business success with these new technologies.
- Provide a forum, such as a communication tool like Slack, to start a peer-driven dialogue on new technologies.
2. Redirect Resources
Once you commit to resetting your business direction, the next step is dedicating resources to fund the technologies and implementation. You certainly don’t want to wait any longer to implement new business intelligence tools that provide more accurate and actionable takeaways.
But where will these resources come from to fuel the redesign?
You’ll probably have to make difficult decisions like shutting down or at least removing funding froman existing project to find the budget for new technologies.
And while you should be leading the charge, consider bringing on a tech-focused change officer to be an executive-level employee tasked solely with business goals tied to the new technology. This could involve realigning and/or promoting an existing senior-level employee. Or it might mean bringing someone in.
If the resources are thee, maybe this tech adoption/change leader can assemble a small team to help with the adoption and implementation across various business units.
Steps to take for redirecting resources and supporting change leaders include:
- Identifying and redirecting resources from any experimental and/or non-essential business units, and devoting those resources to digital transformation.
- Creating a list of daily tasks, long-term goals and behaviors that you need from a new change leader.
- Supporting the new leader with a strong team so that they can succeed at the tasks at hand.
3. Remake Culture
There’s a good chance you’ll have to create a fundamental change in behavior in your organization. If you’ve been using faulty or outdated software, employees may have a grim view on technology as a whole. They’ll need to become more pragmatic and welcoming to new tools, but it won’t happen overnight.
Transforming your business for the digital age takes an organizational-wide reassessment of the current and potential role of technology in your business, your specific industry and the world at large.
To help remake the culture, start with these steps:
- Assign a tech-specific support team (or at the very least a technology champion) within each business unit. They can assist with any questions or problems related to the new technology.
- Whether it’s a single specialist, small team, or dedicated business unit, bring your IT department to the forefront of the business (internally). This could be as simple as moving them out of a basement office or scheduling meet-and-greets.
- As a CEO, personally get to know your IT staff (even if it’s one person) on a first name basis and work on including them in key conversations across the organization.
4. Redevelop Yourself
The final goal for digital growth in 2018 is a personal one. As CEO, you need to be a creative, visionary leader prepared to leverage new technologies. This starts with an understanding of those technologies.
A cheap place to start redeveloping yourself is to start reading tech blogs and industry publications that are relevant to the particular challenges you are trying to solve in your business. There’s tech-focused publications that cover pretty much any industry these days.
Along with reading industry publications, you should also work to build an understanding of technology through the eyes of tech savvy people. This could be peers at work, youth in your family, or even total strangers.
Part of this will be learning and quite literally playing with new technologies. That’s fine. That’s the point. You need tangible examples of the tech in action in order to frame ideas for applications within your business.
To truly redevelop yourself into the technology leader your business needs, consider these few steps:
- Adopt a few tech savvy associates and/or acquaintances who can mentor you on tech trends within your industry and at large (to do this, find something you can give them in return).
- Learn on your own by adopting some of today’s advanced consumer technologies.
Most new Apple and Google phones already offer virtual assistant capabilities with Siri and Google Assistant, and many of them will soon be able to support augmented reality capabilities. Put the money you spent on these devices to use and test out these new tools.
- Allow yourself a sense of play during your technological and digital excursions, but also be thinking of potential disruptions within your industry.
Tech Transformation Starts With You: Time to Take Ownership
Spend some time outlining a timetable and a plan to achieve the goals listed above. It won’t all happen in a day, a week, or maybe even a year.
But by getting the gears turning now, you can create significant change within your organization down the road. Eventually, this renewed digital focus could see your business become the disruptor in your industry.
Work on achieving these goals simultaneously, as achieving one will only support the others. And stay humble throughout the process. Depending on where you and/or your business is coming from, this change can be like learning how to walk again.
To begin your transformation and potentially become a disruptor, you’ll need to learn to walk before you fly.