Tech executives must act quickly and drive innovation to meet the emerging demands of customers and employees.
Today’s tech executives operate in a rapidly changing market compared to where they were just three years ago. Against this backdrop of accelerated change, however, technology-provided differentiation is declining. Many organizations have a stagnant customer experience (CX) resulting from ubiquitous digital equality. For example, food delivery apps now all have similar interfaces and restaurants — the only things that create differentiation are rate structures and discounts.
Beyond the lack of technology-driven differentiation, we see no productivity gains from technology investment, even though technology investment has increased every decade. It thus becomes exponentially more expensive to innovate efficiently and effectively. Considering that all these investments in technology often result in increasing costs and complexity, today’s tech executive needs to know how to drive and lead their organization and business.
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Future tech organizations thrive against these market dynamics
Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom there. Worldwide, there are technology leaders who are successful in navigating these turbulent waters. What is the secret of their success? It is because they are fit for the future, evolving their technology organization from digital equity and efficiency orientation to focus instead on delivering customer outcomes. Technology leaders rethinking their organization’s purpose from enabling operations to creating customer value through adaptive, creative and resilient capabilities will be most successful in a post-pandemic business environment.
From our research, we see that technology leaders become change agents for their organizations when they specifically focus on the following initiatives that lead to better customer outcomes.
Put the customer at the center of the organization. Technical leaders who rethink the purpose of the organization as creating value for the customer have a whole new way of formulating decisions. Deliveries are shifting from project-oriented and output-oriented to delivering specific, measurable results for customers. Roadmaps should show how investments in technology align with strategic objectives.
Plan continuously and be willing to adapt. The old days of agreeing on a budget and an annual plan are over. They don’t feel like an adaptive organization where you want to respond quickly to emerging customer demand and effectively manage risk when it comes to innovation. Tech leaders who adopt agile strategic portfolio planning with faster review cycles and iterative delivery can ensure customer-centric results are delivered and re-align resources as needed.
Make sure that a customer-centric culture is the key to success. Culture change comes from above, but you cannot dictate a new culture; instead you have to develop it. Leaders change culture to align with the values they share with their customers, a self-reinforcing cycle of continuously putting the customer at the center of your organization. Embedding a customer-obsessed culture means communicating how customer obsession shapes decisions and actions in your organization. For example, demonstrating how a technology manager has changed his mind about a particular course of action in light of new insights about customer needs shows how leaders not only talk, but also walk.
To successfully deliver these results for customers, these tech leaders use the principles of future fitness, including:
Apply insights to differentiate products and CX. Leading tech executives will use insights to drive action. Tech executives are in a strong position to work with decision makers to identify needed insights and uncover the value of internal data, as well as bake data-driven practices across the technology organization. According to Forrester, based on advanced insights, companies are 1.4 times more likely to report as novices that increased business innovation is a primary benefit of using data and analytics, and 1.7 times more likely to say improving their business. ability to innovate is their top priority.
Supporting innovation to create value. Tech leaders can and should inspire business leaders to embark on collaborative transformational journeys through their passion for technology and company-wide knowledge. This is the means to unlock the value of technology and data to drive improved customer experiences. They do this by persistent innovation practicesincluding a collaborative culture where all employees participate in innovation with a license to experiment.
Experiment and create value with emerging technologies. While many companies follow the adage that technology follows the business, for the truly leading companies it’s the other way around: technology can power the business. While many organizations want to bring technology into their organization where they can align it with a known asset or risk, tech change agents look for future and emerging customer needs when innovating, using an outside-in approach to by the disruptive potential of a new technology to influence customer research. They apply this extensive research process with rigorous, hypothesis-driven experiments that uncover new questions and drive innovation to create value for the customer.
Leveraging platforms for speed and innovation. Leaders use platforms to function as the centers of their technology stacks, simplifying management, reducing sprawl and extending innovative services to users in the process. For example, Ping An Insurance has created Ping An Technology as a high-tech core and tech business incubator to design, develop and operate its technical platforms and services. These platforms have reduced the go-to-market lifecycle by 35% and leverage intelligent automation through customer service robots that answer 860 million calls, while the company’s Net Promoter Score℠ (NPS) is up 16.5% improved.
Where does the change agent tech leader start?
Change agent technology leaders must act quickly and drive innovation to succeed in this rapidly evolving future. It is critical for tech leaders to prepare their organizations for change. Build organizational capacity to accommodate change by examining your culture. Celebrate innovation and experimentation, and continuously invest in learning and development that empower and empower your people to actively embrace an innovative culture and unlock value.
To learn more about how technology managers can accelerate growth and differentiation, visit here.
Fiona Mark is a principal analyst whose research focuses on building CTOs for success in leading technology innovation, collaborating with the entire organization and delivering top-notch products; how diversity, inclusion and equality are relevant to technology leaders; and how technology leaders can extract more value from partnerships. Fiona has over 15 years of experience in technology across a range of sectors and consultancy and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh in the UK.