27 October 2016
4 min read
What is normal business practice in 2017? Things change so fast that it can feel impossible to do enough to keep the lights on, let alone think strategically and discover new ways to innovate.
“Companies and countries will… have to deal with an environment where there’s constant change, and be able to adjust to those at a faster and faster pace,” says John Chambers, Executive Chairman of the Board, Cisco Systems, Inc., US.
“Speed is becoming the biggest challenge in business”Tobias Wilhelm
How fast you adapt and what you do to adapt is a driving concern of CEOs all over the world. Digital disruption can provoke the best and worst out of businesses – it’s all about how you react that counts. According to Jennifer Morgan, President of SAP North America Inc., things “have never moved as fast and they’ll never move this slow again.”
“Speed is becoming the biggest challenge in business — whether it's execution of ideas, changes in the market and consumer behaviour, or the 24-hour cycle of news and social media,” said Tobias Wilhelm, business consultant and coach, “Those that are fast to respond increase their chance of growth and success exponentially.”
So with speed being of the essence, and digital disruption at the forefront of this speed, what can IT departments do to rise to the challenge?
Making IT the centre of business
The expectations placed upon IT have changed. IT departments are now shouldering increasing amounts of responsibility for enabling growth and adapting to the demands of the business in the wider market. A key issue for CEOs is balancing the changing role and often undefined requirements of the IT department with the ability to maintain service as normal (i.e. a stable infrastructure with happy users).
Aligning this department with the business is crucial to create positive change that adds real value. According to KPMG's 2016 Global CEO Outlook, 41% of CEOs anticipate that their company will change significantly over the next three years. This is up 29% on 2015. The same survey also revealed that 72% of CEOs feel that the next three years will be more critical to their industry than the last 50.
"72% of CEOs feel that the next three years will be more critical to their industry than the last 50"
The scope of IT has grown to encompass most business processes, so the speed at which they can implement new processes or get products to market is crucial for business success. Slow updates and long lead times on replacement hardware are the bane of customers and IT teams alike.
“Technology is changing everything,” said CEO Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appétit Management Company. “From home delivery to mobile payments to the development of next-generation foods, technology touches it all.”
So when CEOs think about the role of IT, they’re not just thinking servers, screens and storage space. They’re also thinking; revenue, market share and new business.
Innovation has become something of a buzzword, more often used to show a willingness to consider new ways of doing things than actually trying to implement them – it’s a given that all CEOs want to innovate to improve their businesses. The problem is finding the best way to utilise their IT department to make these changes possible.
Still worried about security? So is everyone else
72% of CEOs don’t feel fully prepared for a cyber event. It’s stats that like which show why security and privacy have been one of the biggest concerns for businesses for years. Data is no longer confined to back up tapes and a dialup connection. It’s spread across the cloud, employees’ devices and a million other places. The economy is turning digital, meaning currency is data. Customer records are data. Shops are data. Product delivery is data. If 99% of your business is cloud-based data then how could it not be a concern?
"If 99% of your business is cloud-based data then how can security not be a concern?"
Investing in the latest technology, regularly updating software and educating your employees are all essential for keeping your data secure.
The tricky part is convincing your CFO to find the cash to make it happen.
Money, money, money
IT cost reduction and spend control will never stop being a concern. Taking a strategic view of the business allows CEOs to use IT to become more efficient, swift, and secure. The cloud continues to allow cost-effective purchasing of and use of everything from devices to apps and storage.
Automation and remote management are other ways to improve cost efficiency; when everything from software updates to maintenance is outsourced or handled remotely it frees up IT teams to strategically get back into the business and start adding a different kind of value.
This type of service-led buying adds a new level of financial predictability to budget forecasting. Understanding that a set amount goes out on a regular date can bring order to and streamline even the largest and most disorganised of businesses. Best of all, purchasing in this way can be scaled at the speed of change in the market.