Is your organization as innovative as it should be?

3 questions to ask before undertaking technology transformation

Aug 02, 2021
Digital evolution Managed cloud and IT Customer experience

Companies such as Amazon and Tesla might spring to mind when thinking of innovation because they are ahead of their peers, developing and then dominating new, lucrative product and service categories. They also invest billions in R&D budgets each year, something middle market companies can’t do.

But innovation is not limited to groundbreaking inventions. In most cases innovation happens through technology transformation and iterative improvement—that is, reimagining an existing model, system or process so that you can achieve a different outcome and then using technology to operationalize, maintain and optimize the new model, system or process.

At the same time, innovation comes in many different flavors, and every midmarket company will have a unique combination of factors that will define the best path to take. For example, some sectors, such as telecommunications and financial services, are more mature on the spectrum of technology transformation and are iterating with advanced technologies such as blockchain and chatbots. At the same time, industrial sectors such as manufacturing are less mature and more likely to be migrating from decades-old ERP systems onto cloud platforms.

The vendor market can also be confusing, and you might not be able to find all of the solutions you need in a mass market business platform.

RSM uses a proven framework for innovation through technology transformation that helps business and technology leaders understand and evaluate various technologies in the context of their unique organizations.

To start thinking about how your organization would approach innovation through technology transformation, ask these questions:

1. Where are your largest gaps compared with peers?

Compare everyday outcomes on common processes: How long does it take to get reports from your financial team or to close the books? Do they have quality data that’s real time or close to real time? Do they use advanced analytics? How accurate are their forecasts? What do they know about customers?

Benchmarking like this can help you to identify the best opportunities for transformation. It’s also important to know what’s possible with available solutions, and the view of an outside consultant that knows the business solutions marketplace can be helpful.

Just as important is choosing a consultant that has the services to help you iterate your innovation process over time. This evolution could involve solutions like managed IT services, technology risk management, accounting automation services or application development services. This will drive better ROI over the longer term. 

2. Where is your technology debt? 

Technology debt happens when resources are used to keep the proverbial lights on instead of pursuing new initiatives that drive business forward. Many companies have critical systems that lack modern capabilities, are no longer able to be updated or supported and are more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

When pursuing technology transformation, it often makes sense to focus on reducing your technology debt. One way to streamline this process is to adopt a platform of modern business applications such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, NetSuite or Salesforce. These platforms provide integrated cloud-based applications that can help your company be more agile, data-driven and up-to-date with new capabilities such as robotic process automation.

A consultant can help you identify where your technology debt lies through benchmarking, assessments and analysis of your innovation maturity. This information will help you make intelligent decisions about where to eliminate technology debt in a way that provides the greatest return. 

3. Do we have a culture that can support innovation?

Innovation isn’t something that begins and ends in the IT department or with one session with a consultant. Instead, it is something that must be embraced from top to bottom throughout the organization. After all, a visionary CIO will be quickly frustrated if the CFO or CEO won’t bless an investment or if workers refuse to adapt to new ways of working. 

Nurture and reward a mindset that prioritizes constant, iterative improvements. This allows your organization to strategically manage risk so innovation can continue to take place without creating unnecessary operational or reputational risk. 

Innovation also requires resources. Leaders must be willing to commit time and budget to solve problems and improve processes. Once leaders show they are committed to investing in innovation, they will then find employees willing and able to adopt innovation in their work. 

Technology transformation the right way

Innovation doesn’t have to be like Isaac Newton getting hit by a falling apple and suddenly discovering the laws of gravity. Instead of a massive leap, innovation should be an ongoing, everyday process for optimizing operations. 

While technology transformation is often the engine for innovation, it's your vision for improvement that provides the fuel. By understanding your gaps in your core processes, focusing on eliminating technical debt, and building a culture of innovation, you can make the incremental progress you need to be as innovative as possible.

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