The challenge for many companies is that they are so busy in day-to-day operations, they lack the time to maintain strategic focus on the future, which is essential for long-term success.
This can especially be the case at board level where there are so many, often complex, matters to take into consideration that issues around technology aren’t always given the time and detail they deserve. However, to make sure that the evaluation of new technology, relative risk/reward management and technology-driven initiatives become critical at board level, discussions need to revolve around more than just here and now investments. Decision-making discussions must focus on where the board needs to be investing in new innovative technology as a company to match their business plan goals. Questions such as ‘what new technologies are our staff using outside of work?’, ‘what can be used that others have developed?’ and ‘how else can we generate data and insight into business performance?’ all need to be raised, and ultimately question how technology investments will enable their company to stay ahead of the game and maintain or achieve growth. When it comes to technology implementation and planning for the long term it is important that, at board level, a number of important considerations are addressed to enable the development of an accessible technology plan. These include; deciding who should be involved in the decision making process, understanding what the barriers are that need to be addressed when introducing new technology internally and how they can be overcome, as well as, what success looks like. If these considerations aren’t addressed, technology needs and requirements could potentially become confused or in some cases ignored completely. These eventualities could have significant consequences for businesses and employees alike, resulting in a decline in productivity, increase of security breaches and of course, cost implications. Developing an accessible technology plan: Who should be involved? It is critical that the right people are involved in the decision making process around technology and its implementation. A key member of the IT department, such as your CIO or IT Director, should play an important role in setting the overall direction for the technology within a business. The board would heavily benefit from using their unique perspective of the organisation and the employees within it, together with their knowledge of their business, their industry and their customers to identify opportunities for technology-enabled, game-changing innovation. Not just merely using them to keep things going as they always have done. When you add into this mix the reality that often within many businesses, the typical CEO interaction with their CIOs revolves around budget setting and review cycles, the scale of change required becomes apparent to make these board level discussions on technology much more relevant and focused. The modern, successful and innovative board will focus on the value of their investment, not the cost.
What type of technology should you be considering for your business? Email continues to prevail as the predominant means of communication in the professional world, but modern collaboration software will continue its quest to kill email dead in 2016 – at least for internal communication. Collaboration applications and services are offering more intuitive, hassle-free, live-chat capabilities for direct messaging for groups and teams. These applications are offering channels for business-wide and department-specific communications along with workflow tools to streamline productivity, no matter where team members physically reside or what devices they’re using to communicate. Turning work into something you do not somewhere you go is a productivity hack all boards should be investing in, as the business benefits are numerous. Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is essentially the next step in the internet communication revolution, providing businesses with voice and video calling directly embedded in browsers. Businesses are increasingly favouring the flexibility and security of Web Communications rather than a soft phone client. This is because Web Communications can be used on any device that supports a suitable browser (Apple devices do presently restrict WebRTC use), in addition because it is delivered as a web application it is always up to date and managed centrally rather than relying on the end user to download updates required by a soft phone application. What are the barriers that need to be addressed when introducing new technology internally and how can they be overcome? Assuming at board level there is an IT member present that is provoking the right conversations around technology implementation and that when it comes to introducing technologies there isn’t a cost over quality mentality. The other potential issues can come from the integration of technology itself. Recent research from Intercity Technology has highlighted a keen interest from IT users to have more say on technology in the workplace, with 69% believing that using devices of their own choosing has the potential to positively impact the way they work with their colleagues. Interestingly, only 30 per cent of IT departments hold tester groups, which would suggest that there is a risk that the needs of users are potentially being overlooked. As much as it is important to have the right set up at board level, creating an accessible technology plan that is successful and has longevity, it requires input from all levels, from the CEO right through to those that will be using the technology to get their job done. One of the biggest challenges in building a business that has the capacity to be successful in the coming year, next decade, and beyond is time. There are so many things to do, but so little time to do them. Yet to have a sustainable future, it’s inevitable that your business needs to keep growing and evolving. Despite the time and energy required for the day-to-day operations of your business, you must have the commitment, discipline, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit to continue to look to the future, recognise trends, and continually innovate all aspects of your business. Andrew Jackson is the CEO at IT specialist Intercity Technology. Jackson joined the business in June 2008 after five years with Ernst and Young, where he became a senior executive involved in multi-million pound mergers and acquisitions, including the £61m sale of Keenpac to Bunzl, and a £77m acquisition of Britton Group by HSBC Private Equity. Jackson originally joined Intercity in a business development role to promote non-mobile solutions, particularly fixed line, before creating a new management team and becoming UK MD in 2010. He became CEO of the UK and Netherlands in 2013.
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