You’ve likely heard that all companies are tech companies now. As the melding of tech and business continues, the tech function will slide into new, vital roles: It will build capabilities and platforms to empower innovation in business units across the enterprise, it will make sure these platforms can be easily adopted, and it will create a marketplace so developers from diverse departments can adapt or re-use the applications to suit new uses. This article from the Boston Consulting Group offers tips to recode the tech function, so businesses can embrace a new approach to constant innovation.
- As tech permeates every part of business, leaders must invest heavily in data, facilitate tech innovation, acquire and retain tech talent, and prioritize sustainability and security.
- Agile teams that include both tech and business talent should be at the core of your company.
- From green certification to data privacy regulations, the future will include stricter, location-specific demands for good corporate citizenship.
As tech permeates every part of business, leaders must invest heavily in data, facilitate tech innovation, acquire and retain tech talent, and prioritize sustainability and security.
The tech function is undergoing a significant change. The metaverse, the internet of things, augmented reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence seem to have unlimited potential growth. Tech talent is scarce, but no-code and low-code platforms are putting more power into non-tech citizen developers. Meanwhile, privacy protection regulations and cybersecurity threats are multiplying.
“The digital revolution will require business leaders to become even more savvy about technology.”
As technology advances, business leaders must meet the challenge by:
- “Integrating the tech function into the business” – This means focusing on agile teams, tech innovation, and funneling tech talent into management and leadership positions.
- “Infusing technology and data into every aspect of business” – This requires investing in business-friendly standards for tech, and improving tech and data capabilities.
- “Power tech-enabled business innovation” – Achieve this by automating operations where possible and seeking tech-enabled innovation that originated externally.
- “Reimagining the tech talent strategy” – This means acquiring engineering capabilities, enhancing employee value propositions, and taking time zones and skills into consideration while planning.
- “Enabling good corporate citizenship” – Do this by putting sustainability and cyber risk management front and center when making decisions.
Agile teams that include both tech and business talent should be at the core of your company.
Too often, people from the business side of a company and those from the tech side come together in a cross-functional team to address a specific problem, and immediately afterward the team is dissolved and both sides go back to their usual functions. But consider what would happen if cross-functional collaborations continued uninterrupted, empowering agile teams to test and learn continuously, opening the door to constant tech-enabled innovation.
“As technology becomes easier to use and tech fluency increases, many engineering activities, such as data science and web development, will occur within the business.”
The fully agile company would eliminate the line of demarcation between tech and business, so cross-functional teams could make up the “gravitational center of the organization.” Tech talent wouldn’t be constrained to the traditional career path, which curbs growth and keeps them siloed from business operations – instead, enlightened leaders will empower these employees to shift and bring their tech insight into roles traditionally limited to employees on the business side.
From green certification to data privacy regulations, the future will include stricter, location-specific demands for good corporate citizenship.
You’ve got your API architecture and your cloud-based applications online – what else is there to business tech? Automation and external partnerships will help ease day-to-day operations so tech teams can focus on creating value and enabling new business capabilities. The successful business of the future will need to master distributed ledgers (think blockchain) for financial transactions, virtual reality for communications and the direction of self-learning algorithms. More advanced protections will replace encryption as cyber risks become more sophisticated.
“As the risk environment becomes larger and more complex, companies will need to identify and manage exponentially more points of failure, vulnerabilities and automated activities that have little or no human oversight.”
Businesses that succeed in the future will have to invest a growing portion of resources into cybersecurity and sustainability. International corporations will have to be aware of the distinct privacy and data regulations for every location they serve, and they’ll have to identify ways to reduce their carbon footprint for the supply chain, computational energy consumption and energy leakages for each location. As companies move into the world of the future, the problems are complex, but the stakes are high and the rewards are great.
About the Authors
Ashwin Bhave, Michael Grebe, Ruth Ebeling, Shekhar Marathe, Miguel Carrasco, Rick Berger and Teresa Gillis are professionals from the Boston Consulting Group, representing US, German and Australian offices.