Three Steps for Letting Technology Lead the Business Through Uncertain Economic Times
In This Article
The role of IT has never been more relevant to the business than it is today.
Every company with growth aspirations needs to be thinking about how they are digitizing the business in all areas to drive scale, create new revenue opportunities, and deliver innovative experiences that benefit both customers and employees.
But nebulous macroeconomic conditions -- the aftermath of a pandemic, looming recession and workforce transformation, to name just a few -- are causing executives to scrutinize budgets, leading to a gap between the need to digitize and the ability to actually do it.
It's a unique circumstance leaders find themselves in, and one that will be important to navigate for the bulk of this year.
Based on our experience with companies spanning every sector of the economy, expertise in new and emerging technologies, and our 2023 outlook, we recommend our clients prioritize the following areas:
- AI and predictive analytics solutions that make better use of data.
- Automation solutions that can drive efficiency and reduce costs.
- Cloud utilization and migration to find the right balance of cloud usage.
- Software development that integrates seamlessly with technology infrastructure to deliver great end user experiences.
- Advanced cybersecurity solutions that allow for a clear, unified approach to your organizational defense posture.
But to truly balance tightening budgets with the need to deploy innovative digital solutions, organizations must follow three fundamental, yet complex, steps:
- Prioritize modernizing technology infrastructure initiatives that make the greatest impact on the business, with consideration to on-premises vs cloud strategy and building for scale and flexibility.
- Adopt a digital mindset that that takes full advantage of the above infrastructure investments to deliver world-class experiences to end users -- from customers and partners to employees across your organization.
- Attract new talent or retain and upskill existing talent to execute and scale.
Prioritizing modernized infrastructure
Today's fast-moving, digital-first landscape requires a modular, agile IT infrastructure that can serve as a platform for continuous adaptability and opportunity.
The market for years has been moving toward a more cloud-centric frame of mind, but shifting everything to the cloud isn't often the answer -- as many organizations are learning the hard way. Certain workloads and applications need to connect to the cloud, but what is the right balance? Which cloud operating model is right? And what are the processes behind that?
Leaders should focus on cloud optimization, part of which involves making sure IT infrastructure (including cloud models that rely on on-premises hardware and hybrid/private cloud) is modernized to support the business and IT in achieving their short- and long-term goals.
This hyper focus on optimization and modernization wasn't the norm as companies flocked to the cloud over the last several years. And we're seeing many clients recalibrate their cloud strategies as they begin to gain a clearer understanding of the nuances and challenges associated with cloud migration.
We recently released our Cloud Priorities for 2023 report, which recommends organizations focus on a few key areas to drive the biggest ROI -- cloud governance, cloud cost management, cloud security and cloud marketplace.
Even with these priorities in mind, many organizations need help thinking strategically about what their hybrid IT infrastructure looks like and how it can evolve with the business.
Given our extensive history helping organizations modernize their IT infrastructures and our robust cloud consulting practice, we are well positioned to help clients design and execute a cloud strategy that works.
Adopt a digital mindset
With priorities and expectations around infrastructure and cloud established and shared, IT and business stakeholders should feel comfortable moving forward with layering on a digital strategy that will have a direct impact on new and existing customers.
Often, we see clients that have clarity on the pain points they want to resolve but have trouble moving toward their desired state. Their technology modernization initiatives were not even part of a long-term IT roadmap, let alone a transformation strategy aimed at driving great experiences.
Savvy leaders understand the symbiotic relationship between digital transformation and IT infrastructure modernization and align the two sides to establish shared definitions of value and rally around driving desired experiences.
In the end, customers -- even if your customers are internal business units -- will drive the success of your digital transformation based on their engagement and loyalty. So, it's critical to understand the experience of your best customers so you can replicate that journey for others -- turning good customers into great customers.
Mike Taylor, our chief technology officer, recently wrote an article about the five things you should clarify before diving deep into digital transformation. His insight and takeaways are all applicable to how you can best align business and technology leaders to ultimately deliver differentiating experiences.
And do not discount the vital role a culture of trust plays. When business and IT leaders trust each other and their teams, they better facilitate collaboration and innovation, which leads to a technology foundation that is purpose-built to not just support the business' needs but to deliver on its aspirations.
The stronger the trust, the closer IT modernization will be linked to executing business outcomes.
Attract and retain the right talent
Even with firm priorities, the raw execution of IT modernization and digital transformation remains challenging for most of our clients.
The rapid pace of change in today's technology landscape -- paired with increased competition for highly skilled talent and a reshuffling of talent brought about by hybrid work environments -- is making it incredibly difficult to find those resources, let alone hire and retain them.
Increasingly, organizations need people with specialized high-end skillsets that are well-versed in how their expertise interoperates with other technologies to drive the required business objectives. These resources don't simply grow on trees.
Scalability is important, too. You may need the specialized talent for six to 12 months to lead the design or implementation of a massive program but need a more junior-level resource or team of resources to operate and maintain it on an ongoing basis.
It's not just about raw talent. It's the right talent at the right time with the right specialization required to execute in key areas such as automation, cloud and cyber, among other areas. We've found our clients have the greatest success when they are:
- Taking inventory of their current talent base against current demand by specialty and skillset, which can be done with tracked data or conversations with project leaders.
- Determining if there are specialty teams with current lags or gaps that would benefit from upskilling or exposure to other areas of the business.
- Connecting with HR personnel and business leaders to understand their criteria for filling specific skillsets to ensure alignment with current and future demand.
We've developed a unique capacity to help our clients bridge their most pressing talent gaps -- directly or indirectly -- by leveraging the best of what our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) Platform has to offer. Our clients use the ATC Platform to make the right technology decisions faster by:
- Getting hands-on, on-demand experience
- Capturing real-world insights and research
- Leveraging practical and actionable guidance
- Comparing, contrasting and validating multi-vendor solutions
- Thinking creatively about strategy
- Tapping into our industry-leading expertise and unparalleled training
It's important to remember everything referenced above is not a one-and-done plan of attack – it's an iterative and continuous process that needs to be refined and revisited on a regular basis.
For the foreseeable future (certainly the balance of this year) business and IT leaders will need to adopt a more innovative mindset in how they solve challenges and drive strategic outcomes -- all while balancing cost-cutting measures with efforts to deploy digital tools to root out waste and drive sales during a down market.
This dynamic will continue to evolve, and leaders need to be fluid enough to meet those challenges as they unfold. And the margin for error is thin.
Most clients we engage with need help thinking through how they can digitize their business to enhance the experience of their end customers – be it an employee, patient, fan or other end consumer. Almost always, it roots back to reducing friction for those users to get to the action those businesses want them to take (take out a loan, buy a cheeseburger, access records, etc.).
To make it all work, organizations need to think about delivering those experiences in a seamless fashion across virtual, physical and hybrid environments.
All of this is creating opportunity for IT to step up and lead -- from integrating IT infrastructure and back-office tech to driving business and consumption models that can take business to new heights.