CIOs need a strategy to manage Emerging Technologies in the Enterprise. Failure to take advantage of new developments in technology and software development can cause problems for your business, as you know since you face the risk of rivals gaining market share or even making your products or service offerings obsolete in comparison.
But there may be some among your principals who are risk-averse about implementing changes in the enterprise, wanting to avoid making a gamble that could cost them their job if things don’t go right.
They would naturally want to go slowly and evaluate the potential fallout of adopting a new kind of equipment or process, for fear of harming the company and their reputation as prudent professionals.
How prepared your enterprise is for managing new, emerging technologies, let alone taking advantage of them depends on your corporate culture and the level of technical awareness among staff.
Emerging Technologies in the Enterprise – Balancing Risks and Benefits
For those who labor under the idea that it will cost too much to invest in emerging technologies, for the unclear benefit to be obtained, it’s worth considering you might rather be losing money by not adopting new tech solutions.
For perspective, “A recent McKinsey Global Survey on data and analytics finds that companies can typically reduce 30 percent of their data spending and 40 percent of their time to market for data products through next-generation use cases.” This includes demand estimation and e-commerce pricing done in real-time, using improved analytics models.
Assume for the moment that you have built risk-reward analysis into your new budget, when it comes to determining what, if any, emerging technologies you should investigate for adoption. Then, it’s on to testing and evaluation.
Cast a Wide Net for Finding Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise
Examine the current methods you employ to discover new technologies. If you aren’t already tasking personnel to keep on the lookout for promising technology, you may be relying on mere chance to show you what’s coming available in the pipeline.
Industry publications are one source to keep up with regularly for clues about emerging tech. Attending conferences and conventions to network and see new vendor offerings can also help steer you toward a potential solution that deserves further consideration.
Consider Integration and Compatibility of Emerging Technologies
You’re not in a position to completely overhaul your existing technology stack or to start from scratch. That will take too much downtime and you can’t risk paralyzing operations for long.
As CLEO noted, “Since these legacy technologies still do serve a purpose, and it just doesn’t make financial or logical sense to completely get rid of them, they are not completely going away. But the savviest companies recognize this as they undergo a digital transformation and look to efficiently balance both worlds.”
Using application programming interface tools is a common approach since you don’t have to spend a lot of money upfront, aside from dealing with outside API developers. It’s not such a simple process to work with APIs, so enterprises can instead rely on an integration platform. CLEO explains that you would only need a few hours to configure a new application with integration connectors, and then, maintenance will be provided by the vendor.
Testing Emerging Technologies on a Trial Basis Is Essential
The emerging technologies you will be most interested in adopting will likely be used by multiple people in your organization rather than by a single individual. So for best practices, you’ll want to test it on a trial basis with your entire team.
Entrepreneur explained, “the best benefit of bringing your team on is instant feedback. If your team doesn’t like something, they’ll tell you. Why run the risk of having something you went out and bought shot down?”
Once you’ve settled on a technology that proved useful during the trial period, you’ll want to reap the benefits immediately, beginning by solving older, nagging problems that have been intractable using older solutions. Then your team will focus on seeing how to apply the technology to new issues or to streamline older processes.
Example of Using Emerging Technology in Healthcare
One example of the potential to develop new business out of emerging technologies comes from the healthcare sector. A healthcare regulator is harnessing super computing for developing a database to map a population’s genome.
The idea is to amass a trove of biological data and create patient groups for improving how doctors diagnose patients and create treatment plans. McKinsey said the unnamed healthcare regulator it’s reporting about anticipates using advanced technologies to make personalized medicine possible, with customized treatment plans. Doing so not only improves treatment, it can cut down on risks, such as minimizing side effects from drugs.
Risk Management With Emerging Technology
Risk management will loom heavy on the minds of CFOs, CTOs, CIOs, and CEOs as they contemplate how emerging technologies may play a role in their operations.
Three main areas creating disruption are artificial intelligence, robotic automation of processes, and cloud computing, according to EY, which noted that “Risk must be embedded at the forefront of business strategy. And strategy starts with integrating risk capabilities into the front-line business to identify opportunities and anticipate challenges.”
EY pointed out that one study showed 85% of artificial intelligence projects done in 2020 will provide “erroneous outcomes” because there were biases in the data, in the algorithms processing it, or in the development teams themselves. A shortage in AI talent is part of the problem, with more training being needed not just in the execution of AI systems but in the design and collection of the data itself.
And the risks of cloud computing combine with AI and machine learning, such as in the idea of networked, autonomous cars and delivery trucks. “For example, in the automotive sector, makers are looking to technology firms to supply the hardware and software for connected cars,” reported EY. “But this presents a new level risk, as it is not clear who is ultimately responsible for the breakdown in trust if the technology fails or is compromised – the automaker or the technology company?”
Preparing Your Team for Managing Emerging Technologies
Many enterprises are collecting large amounts of information that they routinely store for future analysis and manipulation.
To get the most value out of data being generated and collected, you need to match the information with tools that can process it in real-time, when it’s more valuable and actionable.
But since so much data being generated is of the non-structured type, it’s not as straightforward a process for software systems to work with it, as compared to traditional structured data such as what’s collected in spreadsheets or databases.
Information gathered from a wide variety of sources, such as from customer interactions with call centers, demographic profiles based on millions of bank transactions, automated analysis of corporate earnings reports and so on all pile up too fast for individuals in the enterprise to make sense of on their own.
New efforts in machine learning with more sophisticated algorithms are needed to make sense of this information since people are not up to such a massive, high bandwidth task. As Forbes put it, “It takes too long for humans to build models with cleanly structured data. A major near-term breakthrough will be automated, self-learning algorithms that can handle unstructured data.”
At the same time, Forbes notes that the information itself may become problematic. Individuals can ruin the output of automated AI systems by poisoning the data they learn from. The old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out” illustrates that users need to be vigilant in sourcing clean data if they’re going to harness it for insights that lead to a new direction for the enterprise to go.
Because of ethical issues that may crop up when harvesting and manipulating sensitive private information, Forbes suggests that enterprises will need to provide clear explanations about what they’re doing with the data in the name of transparency within and outside the company. They’ll also likely need to train their engineers on the ethics of data collection, and perhaps even consult with outside sociologists, ethicists, and economists for expert advice. That’s a prudent way to manage emerging technologies and their potential risks.
New Hires to Better Manage Adoption of New Technology?
Once you establish the goals and rationale for getting your company up to speed to start better managing emerging technologies, you may determine there are gaps in staffing that will prevent the project from going forward.
“While there is a skills shortage in the technology risk area, the talent issue is more due to a lack of awareness than an absence of capabilities,” according to CIO. “IT risk management leaders should educate themselves and those on their teams about macro business issues so that they have the understanding needed to incorporate risk management insights into strategic discussions and decisions.”
When you start assembling your core team to address emerging technologies, there are four main steps for this process, per McKinsey. You’ll clarify who is responsible for data implementation in the enterprise (individuals and committees if it is a larger effort). Then you define the talent strategy and the corporate culture to support it (such as transparency). This gives you a clear path about what kinds of talent to hire and will serve you in identifying any changes you’ll need to make to the culture to attract new talent.
Even if you do not plan on investing in emerging technologies any time soon, it’s incumbent on your enterprise to at least have a game plan in mind for when you will start. This will help you to avoid wasting time and money when it’s time to interview candidates to build out the team and to have professional insight into how best to integrate new technology and software systems with your current and legacy systems.
Developing a Strategy to Adopt Emerging Technologies in the Enterprise
When you start narrowing down options for the new emerging technology that makes the most sense to adopt, it will be time to formulate a strategy to organize your efforts. That’s so you can move quickly when something proves to be a good fit for your workflow.
A good way to begin is to establish internal labs and incubators in your enterprise, to get first-hand experience with technologies your principals want to investigate first.
You’ll also want to carry out proof of concept studies to further justify whether one particular new solution works better than the others you’re investigating. For a more in-depth approach, enterprises will set up their own venture arm to invest in the most promising technologies.
Riding Ongoing Waves of Technology
It’s useful to keep in mind that as technology continues apace, enterprises will have to continuously reevaluate themselves, identifying weaknesses in processes that could be overcome with the adoption of future innovations. The enterprise that prepares itself to actively weigh the risks of using new emerging technologies against the potential drawbacks of that technology will be better positioned to ride along with each wave of innovation.