- Technology is the most powerful and disruptive force in the world today, and it affects every aspect of business and society. But how can managers and executives make good business decisions about technology, and how can they use technology to create value and gain competitive edge? In this book, Stephen Andriole, a leading expert on business technology, reveals the secrets and strategies of how to win the strategic technology game.
- If you are interested in learning how to understand and leverage the major trends and challenges affecting digital technology, and how to make better business decisions about technology, then you should read this book. You will gain a deeper understanding of the history, evolution, and diversity of technology, and the opportunities and challenges it presents for business and society.
Curious about how new technologies can transform your business? Professor of business technology Stephen Andriole aims this guide at leaders who want to navigate the digital world with confidence. Learn how to make informed decisions about the kind of digital transformation to pursue by meticulously matching technologies to your business goals and structure. Andriole discusses the significance of AI’s effects on businesses and provides insights into cybersecurity preparedness, among other topics. Regardless of your niche, this playbook equips you with the tools to gain a competitive edge.
- To successfully leverage new technologies, you must understand your business’s current processes, strategy and structure.
- Ask three important questions when evaluating technologies that could boost your business.
- Choose how transformative you want new technology to be for your organization.
- Monitor AI developments and consider how they might affect your business.
- Prepare for cybersecurity attacks.
- Pay attention to technology policies and how they may help or hinder your business.
- Streamline your management and hire the best talent.
- Prioritize improving processes that will create a new business model and strategy.
To successfully leverage new technologies, you must understand your business’s current processes, strategy and structure.
To make technology work better for a business, you first need to understand how the business works. Just like you’d plan before painting a room or exercising for better health, it’s important to consider your business’s current strategy and processes and how technology can help. Many companies struggle with this initial step and, as a result, they don’t see hoped-for improvements when they add new technology to the mix.
Start with strategic thinking: Look at how the company runs and where you want it to go. Many leaders fail to address external challenges that could improve business functions due to their internal focus on management, budget and profits. Internal employees are often best equipped to deal with these external challenges because they know the company’s strengths and weaknesses and where implementing new technology could help most.
“Identify the processes that take the most time, cost you the most money and are the most amenable to technology disruption.”
Leaders should include internal talent in creating overall business strategies. A strategic plan should consist of three primary elements. First, define your goals, desired growth and timeline. Second, pinpoint your target markets, products and services – while considering future trends. Lastly, establish your competitive edge by clarifying your unique value proposition and market advantages, ensuring your company’s appeal to customers over that of your competitors.
Ask three important questions when evaluating technologies that could boost your business.
Choosing the right tools for your business can be tricky in the ever-changing landscape of new technologies. Take time to evaluate how these technologies might boost or reshape your business processes, models and strategy. Consider the potential disruptions or incremental improvements they offer.
Objective evaluations are essential for avoiding the influence of technology enthusiasts. Ask three fundamental questions about each technology: What is it, why does it matter, and what actions should be taken?
“If you model processes, track technologies, match process/technology opportunities and prototype the potential, you will win the strategic technology game.”
For example, imagine you are choosing between 5G and 6G networks for your business. First, understand how 5G and upcoming 6G wireless communications’ speed, latency and security will affect your business model and processes. Then, you can prioritize which network will support the most efficient business functioning. Finally, consider any effects on your products and services and seek information from vendors and competitors to make informed decisions.
Choose how transformative you want new technology to be for your organization.
Digital transformation can take various forms, but many such projects are less comprehensive than you might imagine. Instead, they’re often incremental changes or technology modernization efforts, which are safer and less disruptive. Big transformations are often riskier and more expensive, aiming to replace or automate entire business processes or models.
“Every company needs to digitally transform, but we note that refusals to change at all will likely be listed by the business coroner as the most likely cause of death.”
For a successful digital transformation, you must consider the environment where it’s happening, have high-quality data and the right capabilities, and be open to emerging technologies. Tackle challenges head-on, especially skepticism from executives and existing corporate culture about the usefulness of the tech itself. Determine which competing industries and companies are likely to transform their processes and be prepared for potential competition.
Start by using tools like business process modeling to map your business and how it runs. Second, find which elements of the company are most ripe for change by doing a cost-benefit analysis and looking at competitors. Third, prioritize your goals and align them with your resources. Fourth, identify and test the best technologies for achieving your goals. Finally, find leaders who support change and feel willing to invest resources in transformative projects based on the projected value outcome.
Monitor AI developments and consider how they might affect your business.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are poised to revolutionize industries including health care, transportation, finance, and others within the next few years, making it necessary for companies to understand how to integrate AI into their operations. These technologies will significantly change business processes, making them more efficient and accurate. As AI advances, there will be job impacts – both losses and changes to how people perform work. These changes will occur in both traditional manufacturing arenas and knowledge-based positions.
“AI/ML is a must-know technology – a game changer.”
Make sure your AI or ML automation plans focus on reducing costs and increasing revenue by taking the following nine steps:
- Map your company’s processes and use data analysis tools to identify expensive and time-consuming processes that could benefit from automation.
- Automate high-impact processes to boost efficiency.
- Assess if process changes indicate a need for a new business model.
- Integrate AI and machine learning using algorithms.
- Examine your team’s AI-related skills and recruit new talent if needed.
- Collaborate internally and externally to implement automation.
- Secure financial resources for automation projects.
- Gain support from top leadership for automation initiatives.
- Ensure your company culture supports innovation and automation.
Prepare for cybersecurity attacks.
Cyberattacks, often in the form of hacking or phishing, have transformed both corporate and government defense strategies in recent years. This digital warfare is alarmingly effective, highlighting the vulnerability of current cyber defenses. For example, hackers can use phishing scams and collect money or confidential business plans with a simple link in an email.
Bots, automated programs that can perform actions on their own, are a significant part of the cyber warfare landscape. While some bots are beneficial, such as those that help with website indexing or customer service, others can be harmful, stealing information or spreading spam. Good and bad bots are growing in number and sophistication, with artificial intelligence and machine learning making them smarter. This escalating battle between bots will affect various areas, including web services, data security, and more.
“Invest in ‘just enough’ cybersecurity.”
Best practices against cyberattacks involve spending the necessary time and money to build good defenses. Educate your employees through cyber training courses, invest in spyware, firewall security and malware detection, and heavily secure Wi-Fi connections by regularly changing passwords. While you may never be completely safe from cyberattacks, not taking the time to secure your information is a sure way to find your business facing an expensive disaster.
Pay attention to technology policies and how they may affect your business.
Rules and regulations are present in various aspects of the technology industry, covering topics like monopolies, privacy, infrastructure and specific technologies like AI. These policies can affect your business positively or negatively, making it essential to pay attention and have a say in their formation.
“Proactive is better than reactive: Technology lobbying is necessary.”
Nine policy areas could significantly affect your business, directly and indirectly:
- “Privacy” – You contribute to surveillance capitalism by using digital devices and services. Social media and apps track your behavior, movements and preferences. Laws such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) try to control this information-gathering, but the balance between data collection and privacy is one you should watch carefully.
- “Internet” – In the United States, the idea of net neutrality continues to be debated. Some want fewer rules to encourage innovation, while others want more regulations to ensure fair access and privacy. The outcome of these deliberations will affect how companies use the internet and make money.
- “Misinformation” – Many believe lawmakers should implement regulations to address misinformation and disinformation, especially in media and online platforms. If your business relies on spreading misinformation, follow these discussions closely.
- “Anti-trust” – Stay aware of big companies dominating certain industries and limiting competition, such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook. These tech giants currently face criticism for stifling innovation. Lack of competition is also a problem in other sectors of the US economy.
- “Cybersecurity” – The digital systems in the United States are not well protected, and hackers can easily manipulate them. The rise of new cybersecurity threats could lead to new regulations requiring businesses to improve security, potentially costing those businesses money.
- “AI and machine learning” – AI and machine learning are great at solving problems, but if regulations on AI come into play, it could affect how people design and develop these systems. Watch out for emerging rules that require transparency in algorithmic decision-making.
- “Cryptocurrency” – Cryptocurrency is a special kind of money that’s also an investment based on a new technology called blockchain. However, because cryptocurrency is both things at once, lawmakers are looking to establish rules and regulations that might affect how you use it.
- “Fraud” – As more transactions happen online, rules for preventing and investigating fraud become more important and might change over time. This includes different types of fraud such as falsifying financial information, money laundering and intellectual property theft.
- “Compliance” – Become knowledgeable about certain frameworks, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which set data protection and privacy rules. New software tools can help businesses follow these rules. Awareness about and use of these tools can help your company stay compliant.
Streamline your management and hire the best talent.
Many internal management problems arise when too many “chiefs” are in charge. Simplify your company’s structure by reducing the number of decision-makers and avoiding unnecessary complexity. Instead of creating new roles, clarify existing roles and responsibilities. Be cautious of ambiguity and confusion when making important technology decisions, and ensure that you enforce proper governance to maintain clear guidelines and productive relationships.
“Enterprise governance is key.”
Once you’ve established who among your existing staff is in charge of what, consider hiring top talent in specific tech areas. Regularly assess your team’s skills and skill gaps in areas like business strategy, disruptive technologies and cloud delivery. Prioritize business strategy and disruptive technologies. Give special attention to people working with AI and machine learning and those with privacy, diversity and people management expertise. Use platforms like LinkedIn to find new talent and focus on retention of existing staff by prioritizing respect, performance recognition, flexibility and financial rewards.
Prioritize improving processes that will create a new business model and strategy.
Your transformative technology strategy should aim to achieve three primary outcomes: improved processes through prototyping; modification, or creation of a new business model based on these processes; and an entirely new business strategy, if needed.
“There’s no more important activity than the development of a strategic technology game plan that comprises elements, processes and outcomes.”
This strategy should keep you competitive, but its effectiveness depends on your team’s efforts. While the strategy elements remain constant, their adaptation to changing events is crucial. For instance, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s strategy for online commerce has remained steady even as the company changed from only selling books to selling nearly everything. Digital disruption can lead to a new business model, making embracing and using new technologies a powerful competitive tool. Creating, maintaining and executing a successful technology strategy offers a way to target and challenge your industry for competitive advantage and profit growth.
About the Author
Stephen J. Andriole is the Thomas G. Labrecque Professor of Business Technology at the Villanova University School of Business.
Technology, Business, Strategy, Innovation, Digital Transformation, Leadership, Information Technology, Management
The book is a practical and insightful guide for managers and executives who want to make better business decisions about technology. The author, Stephen Andriole, is a professor of business technology and a veteran of the IT industry, who has worked with leading companies and organizations. He draws on his extensive experience and knowledge to explain the major trends and challenges affecting digital technology, and how to leverage them for strategic advantage. He covers topics such as innovation, strategy, outsourcing, program management, change management, and culture, and provides case studies, best practices, and tips for each topic. He also offers a framework for assessing the maturity and effectiveness of an organization’s technology capabilities, and a roadmap for improving them.
The book is a well-written and well-organized book that combines theory and practice, data and analysis, and stories and advice, to help readers understand and think about key technology issues and decisions facing their organization. The author writes in a clear and engaging style, avoiding jargon and technical details, and using examples and analogies to illustrate complex concepts. He also injects humor and passion into his writing, making it enjoyable and inspiring. The book is well-structured and organized, with each chapter focusing on a different aspect of technology and its impact on business. The book is not only an informative and authoritative guide to technology, but also a provocative and visionary outlook on the potential and challenges of technology in a globalized and competitive world.