Skills, leadership and culture hold the key to getting the most from your IT investments
Technology is reshaping practically every industry, with companies making substantial investments in their IT infrastructure as they continue to accelerate digital transformation initiatives, gain operational efficiencies and improve customer service. Yet many fail to maximise the value of their investment.
Research from Strategy& has found that many companies are not happy with the returns they get on their IT spending. They believe that IT investments such as new enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer resource management systems will solve their problems, but these projects ultimately fail to either solve problems or deliver value. A central mistake, according to the report, is not aligning the technology investments to targeted capabilities.
The right skill set
Digital transformation is less about technology and more about people. A key consideration when implementing new technology is whether the team has the right mix of skills in the right roles. To infuse a digital mindset in the workforce, innovation must be the focus of training and hiring programmes. The ability of an organisation to adapt to a digital world depends on developing the next generation of skills, closing the gap between talent supply and demand, and future-proofing its people’s talents. Simply, innovation is pointless if workers are not skilled enough to use it. Success is far more likely when organisations scale up their workforce planning and talent development through training and hiring based on specific skill needs. The implication is that when leaders think about investing in technology, they should first think about investing in the people who can make that technology worthwhile and maximise the return on investment.
While business leaders cite innovation as an important driver of growth, few of them explicitly lead and manage it. Because the way leaders behave sends strong signals to employees, successful technology investment and application require them to be more than just aligned and positive about the common goals of the initiative.
It requires leaders to walk the talk and demonstrate their support through their actions, by actively managing and driving the adoption of innovation and encouraging employees to be open to new ideas. Adding technology innovation to the agenda at leadership meetings, for example, sends an important signal to employees about the value management attaches to innovation. By showing the company that they are personally embracing this change, the workforce will be more amenable to follow along.
An embracing culture
Companies that adopt the newest technology trends are more likely to end up leaps and bounds ahead of their traditionally-minded competitors – provided they create a culture that embraces technology innovation.
Building engagement and fostering a change mindset in company culture should be integral to introducing new tools and processes. Viewing employees as change partners can help them understand why the change is necessary. Creating a culture where every employee feels they can contribute ideas and expertise helps to make them feel heard and empowered, and more willing to embrace change.
Embracing new technology does not, of course, happen overnight, and it’s not always easy. But by focusing on developing skills, leadership and a culture that celebrates change, companies can maximise the value of their technology investments and successfully move their business into the future.