There’s a heck of a lot of new technology available in the market. From artificial intelligence to blockchain, companies are inundated with new tools and solutions that promise to revolutionize aspects of their business they didn’t even know could be (or needed to be) improved. For executives facing intense pressure to keep up with the latest technology trends to remain competitive, figuring out what the true value is, versus more noise, is a daunting task. And unfortunately, this is leaving many companies to decide to stick with the status quo – so they’re falling behind.
A new survey by Gartner found that 91 percent of companies still haven’t reached a “transformational” level of maturity in data and analytics, despite this having been the number one priority for CIOs in recent years. As most businesses have not yet been able to fully implement and reap ROI for data analytics, which is the foundation of popular technologies like AI and machine learning, it’s clear these new tools still have a long way to go before they exit the ‘hype’ cycle and enter into operational reality.
But while the board may evangelize these major technology initiatives, what they need to realize is that these major digital disruptions are a long term strategy that require ongoing thought, planning and incremental tech investments. Simply having an end-goal to make AI a reality in your business to reap the many benefits it presents won’t necessarily get you there. Today, there are smaller tech trends that are fully operational and promise to bridge to the future. One such example is automation.
While not as sexy or media worthy as AI in grabbing business news headlines, software robots today can perform a lot of the repetitive and time consuming business tasks across departments with faster speed, accuracy, and ROI – directly benefiting the bottom line.
But any business automation roll out has to start from the top. It requires careful planning and backing from the board in order for the c-suite to correctly navigate the changes it brings – operationally, culturally and technologically.
Here are three ways that the boardroom can break out of old habits and bring on the digital revolution.
Remove the bottlenecks
It’s clear that automation is at or near the top of the priority list, and the C-suite is beginning to reflect this. According to a survey by KPMG, 25 percent of enterprises worldwide now have a Chief Digital Officer to lead this change.
However, the CDO has a long road ahead of them. A recent survey revealed that in 74 percent of organizations, automation is only being implemented by the IT department. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for failure. On average, 25 percent of technology projects fail, and many more show little return on investment or need significant alteration to be successful. Often, it’s because IT projects are simply that: IT projects.
Automation isn’t just an IT function; it’s a function of the entire business, which means that a top-down leadership approach is critical to success. For IT leaders, getting C-suite buy-in from the very beginning not only establishes overarching business goals, it cements the project scope and removes potential bottlenecks or silos.
Be a champion
As the technology revolution continues, more and more business leaders are finding themselves boasting a new title: digital champion. A recent survey found that 68 percent of executives believe their CEOs are “digital champions,” up from 33 percent just ten years ago. It is clear organizations have come a long way, but there’s still a ways to go.
Today, those in senior positions must take the lead in the robotic revolution, and not just on the project scope. To spur true change, leaders must foster a culture that not only understands automation technology, but openly accepts it as necessary to carry out business functions. When business leaders evangelize the benefits on both an executive and employee level from the very beginning, it removes the fear of the unknown, allowing for open dialogue and communication across all departments.
Fan it out
With recent news reporting that a one third of jobs will be automated by 2030, a common concern for the human workforce is that robots are coming to steal their jobs. However, that’s simply not the case. Automation isn’t a threat; it’s an enabler. And, for employees who are mired in manual work, it will be a breath of fresh air. With effective leadership, employees can recognize the opportunity and shift attitudes towards incoming technology.
As the need for automation increases, business leaders can’t make decisions in a vacuum. Instead of simply swapping humans for robots, the C-suite must solicit feedback from the employees who will be affected by automation and look for ways to retrain or repurpose roles and duties. By focusing on the high-level strategic activities that require empathy and communication and giving them a say in designing new responsibilities, employees can bring real value to the business while feeling safe and secure in the midst of change.
The business world is transforming, and technology is driving business objectives faster than ever before. There are a number of benefits to implementing automation, but it’s up to the C-suite to design a plan that allows the business to maximize return on investment. As with any new deployment, success starts in the boardroom.
by Dennis Walsh, President, Americas & APAC, Redwood Software
Dennis Walsh is responsible for operations of Redwood Software in North America, LATAM, South America as well as Asia Pacific. Walsh combines his business background and years in the software and services industry to successfully solve some of the most challenging IT and business automation issues.