Digital businesses rely on technology, but the abundance of choice and the fear of choosing the “wrong” tools can lead businesses to miss out on business opportunity. Everyone has read stories about technology decisions that resulted in wasted budgets, failed deployments, and disastrous business impacts—with thousands of blog posts and column inches being devoted to deconstructing the mistakes and pointing a finger at those who made them. But what is the secret to making good technology decisions? Here, we’ve found companies fall short, so in this blog are four factors to successfully choosing the right technology—shared with us by Phillipe Mazas, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Smith and Nephew: a multinational medical equipment manufacturing company.
1. Alignment with business strategy
It sounds obvious, but this is one vital factor that IT decision-makers ignore time and again: choosing technology that supports the strategic aims of the business. Mazas has a great perspective on this and talks about how his approach to choosing technology is carefully tied to the company’s overall sales and growth strategy. It’s a far cry from the highly centralized, one-size-fits-all approach that many companies have taken in the past. Mazas’ approach recognizes the fact that different strategies, markets, and approaches need to be supported by different tools in order to be successful.
2. Choosing the right decision makers
For many organizations, the right decision-maker is simply the most senior, resulting in technology decisions getting shoved further up the approvals chain—and many of them being choked or forgotten about before they even get to the final approver. Either that or the CIO is expected to make all the decisions—from the biggest to the smallest—and ends up overwhelmed with paperwork. As Mazas explains, it’s too much for one person to make all the decisions required by an enterprise-level business. At Smith and Nephew, he has solved this problem by creating a decision-making structure in which IT leadership consists of a team of experts in specific areas of technology. These individuals take suggestions from those closest to the business and decide on the best course of action based on their expertise and the business need.
3. Treat innovation as a process not an event
Stories of failed innovation often start with the sudden introduction of a much-needed tool—which later fails because of low user adoption or poor functionality. As Mazas points out, this can be because companies take a big bang approach rather than building innovation out of a progressive transition. His advice? Start with the basics and focus on the most familiar, everyday aspects of a new technology, iron out any issues, and then gradually phase in the more innovative elements once people have grown used to the changes.
4.Choose a partner
If the choices on offer are overwhelming, one of the best ways to ensure you make the right technology decisions is to enlist the skills of a technology partner. Some organizations can shy away from this because they already have lots of technology expertise in-house. But we think Mazas has the right take on it—he feels that technology partnerships allow businesses to bring their knowledge of their business needs and business model, and combine it with the deep knowledge that a partner organization has to offer.
Read about the business planning challenges organizations face and must overcome—and the holistic solutions available to them—in the Anaplan white paper, “A new era of planning across the enterprise.”