5 reasons to look beyond new technology solutions

by Samit Chandra

Technology can play a pivotal role in transforming marketing, sales and service by digitally empowering enterprises to become more integrated and customer-centric. But unless people and process lead the way, the introduction of new technology could face integration challenges and user resistance. Here we explore the benefits of a more holistic approach.

Technology selection is often a contentious topic for enterprises – whether it’s for small initiatives or for large-scale transformation programs. Choice of technology can be heavily influenced by sponsors or decision makers who have their own personal technology preferences or relationships with vendors. Or they could be led by market hype, news coverage or recent research papers, or might be guided by what their competitors are doing.

What are the real costs of technology choice?

Based on our experience, from a budgeting perspective it’s notable that the cost of technology licensing is usually less than 10% of total transformation spend. However, if you end up making a poor technology choice, the cost of integration could be over 40% of your total spend. And integration partner costs could be in the range of 50-80%, depending on your sourcing strategy. Despite this, enterprises are often preoccupied on technology selection as a top priority.

Why the misplaced focus on technology?

Enterprises typically believe that a technology platform can solve all their business challenges, but they are often not confident about the root cause of the problems. It’s common for those focused on implementation to not fully understand the complexity of integrating the technology across the enterprise. This leads to what is probably the single biggest issue in technology implementation – the enterprise ends up focusing on technology decisions rather than people and process led decisions.

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So how can enterprises shift their focus for a better outcome?

It’s important for business leaders to look beyond the technology solution and think of the wider business context that could affect the integration and uptake of technology.

Here are 5 key things to consider before making any major technology decisions:

1. Know your business - what are you trying to solve for?

Technology should be fit for business purposes, not vice versa. While technology solutions are often seen as a silver bullet to solve business problems, the reality is that if processes are broken, no technology can fix them. Instead, the focus should be on refining business processes and then working to identify the 'best fit' technology solution to address these business challenges. In many situations, the technology might already exist in the business, but processes have been poorly implemented around it, hampering its uptake and success.

2. Engage the frontline early to improve user acceptance

While business leaders may be impressed with the enhanced reporting they expect to get from new technology, frontline staff can be left to struggle with the new solution – often an extra interface they will have to incorporate into their workflow. This can leave the frontline feeling like they’re working for the technology rather than the technology enabling them to service the customer.

If end users don’t accept and use the new technology solution, then there are no benefits realised and this poor employee experience will lead to a poor customer experience. Enterprises therefore need to figure out how to actively engage the frontline and build their capabilities early to ensure they buy into the new technology and process.

3. Plan for integration with existing platforms

How will any new tech integrate with existing systems (both internal and external)? It should be simple and an improvement on the current user experience, with a single user interface. New technology should also integrate seamlessly to support end-to-end business processes.
 
The integration of new technology should support the enterprise’s unique process, as well as creating differentiation. It should also decouple systems-of-record and systems-of-engagement to unlock innovation and improve customer experience. Data integration and information consolidation will empower frontline staff and support.

4. Reframing technology budgeting for the cloud

Most enterprises have a standard style of budgeting for technology, where an upfront capital cost (CapEx) and ongoing operational cost (OpEx) are measured separately. Moving to subscription based technology solutions like Cloud-as-a-Service (CaaS) requires a shift to a total cost (TotEx) mentality, which can be a significant change.
 
Enterprises need to fully understand the viability of subscription based technology procurement. While CaaS, elastic growth and pay-as-you-go concepts reduce upfront costs, enterprises still lack the planning and architecture to reduce long-term costs, opportunity costs, hold-up costs, and lock-in costs with a cloud provider.

5. Find opportunities to simplify

By understanding the complexity of the enterprise’s technology landscape, it’s possible to simplify and rationalise for operational efficiency. Look for opportunities to reduce investment in internal hardware and data centres by exploring external options that could be better and cheaper. Procure data or Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) where possible to improve information and insights rather than trying to replicate and maintain this information in-house. Aim to map business capabilities into core and non-core for procurement of industry best practice services where applicable.

Remember: technology is an enabler, not a silver bullet

Select a technology platform which best fits your long-term strategic objectives, reduces your technology complexity, provides an improved user experience, and is a financially better solution. Make sure you are not selecting technology for the sake of technology, but for its value to the organisation.

Recognise that technology is part of the solution, not all of it. Weaving it into broader business transformation is the key to integration and acceptance.