Use a forward-looking strategy to win in your market.
I remember a business continuity exercise we did when I was CIO. Our leader built a training around us who lost access to our company’s data center. As we went around the tabletop, our team grew increasingly frustrated as many of the responses they wanted to prioritize were non-starters due to the inaccessibility of key applications. While we’ve learned a lot about our organization’s ability to respond to a challenge, it pales in comparison to what we’ve experienced in recent years. I can only imagine the frustration of that management team if it were given a scenario where we and most of our employees had to work remotely – while simultaneously inventing completely new ways to engage customers.
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The fact is, however, that the future is very uncertain. Just look at the confluence of recent trends in inflation, supply chain disruption, climate change and the fallout from the war between Russia and Ukraine. Doing business in any market around the world is becoming more and more unpredictable.
Future leaders are not afraid of the future – they embrace it
Many people think of bad things when they hear terms like ‘uncertain’ or ‘unpredictable’. But visionary leaders, including technical leaders, are different. Future leaders use uncertain times as opportunities to grow. We found that 27% of companies entered “growth mode” during the pandemic. Warren Buffett once said that it is wise for investors to “be anxious when others are greedy, and greedy when others are afraid”. So the question we’re asking is easy to understand: how does a tech leader win in an age of constant uncertainty?
Given the rapid acceleration of technology in our daily lives, today’s tech executives have a unique and growing opportunity to be the leader to drive the growth and prosperity of their business. However, to do this, these leaders need the right technology strategy. At a basic level, every company has access to comparable pools of technology, capital and people. What sets leaders apart is how they leverage their technology to deliver for their customers. To address this, Forrester the technology strategy that fits the future. Future fit is defined as a customer-centric approach to technology that enables a company to quickly reconfigure business structures and capabilities to meet future needs of customers and employees with adaptability, creativity and resilience.
Resilience is just the beginning
When we spoke to a spectrum of tech leaders, we found that almost everyone is proud of what they’ve done during the pandemic. They served customers and empowered employees. But there was a difference. Some survived simply by mitigating risks and restructuring applications to work remotely, while moving office resources from filing cabinets to computers in homes. The true tech leaders turned resilience into a competitive advantage through two factors: reconfiguring their company’s tech stacks to work anywhere, and working with partners and customers to reshape the physical and digital experiences to work as one. to work. It is clear that customers reward resilience; look at the insurance business as an example.
Agile is fun, but adaptability is the next level ability
Using nature as a construct, we discover that adaptive organisms respond to external stimuli in order to survive and thrive. Likewise, adaptive companies use predictive insights to identify new opportunities to deploy capital, technology and capabilities to seize the next day. During the pandemic we saw multiple examples of adaptive organizations. A personal favorite was a digital print shop that identified the need to sell masks — produce the product and set up an e-commerce operation in a matter of weeks — then recently shut it down, realizing the opportunity had passed.
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Creativity is the key
Many tech leaders regret that the place for creativity is elsewhere in their organization. But creativity is in the eye of the beholder. Think of your help desk or application development teams. How often do they have to provide temporary solutions”]? Workarounds require creativity, as there is an element of risk taking involved. They also learn from failures and have a common goal. Bigger picture, technology helps companies differentiate more than ever before — providing more time and more knowledge to enable their employees and customers to create.
Tech leaders: turn uncertainty into your advantage
With so much uncertainty taking place, you have a choice. Crouching down and waiting for the water to calm is risky, as others may drive by. Think about the future instead, with a specific goal to become future-proof. Prioritize those results that increase your resilience, adaptability and creativity. As you expand each opportunity, you increase your business and organization’s ability to respond and stay ahead of frequent and unexpected changes one day. Our research shows that optimizing your IT business modeltech stack and approach to emerging technology and innovation (among other areas) will drive improvements in all three capabilities.
Believe me when I say it will be worth it. In conversations with more than 500 technology and innovation leaders, we found that companies designated as future fit outperformed their competitors by 2.8x. That is distinctive and compelling. That’s why it’s important to get started now so that you and your organization can cope with these increasingly uncertain times.
Matthew Guarini is VP and senior director of research at Forrester. For more Forrester insights for technology managers, visit here. Learn more about how tech leaders can become future-proof at Forrester Technology and Innovation North America Forum, taking place from September 29-30, 2022.