Managing emerging technologies and their impact on business strategy

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ryzhi)

Businesses today have a myriad of different technologies at their disposal, from cloud computing to machine learning and artificial intelligence. While this provides them with plenty of opportunity to improve, say, operations and support customers in different ways, they can often face challenges when it comes to navigating technology ecosystems (a network of technologies that are connected through one common goal).

The key to managing technology solutions to create a successful business transformation is shifting from deploying individual technologies, to being able to untangle the multiple platforms and applications they already have and getting them to work together effectively.

This calls for a fresh approach to technology strategy, development, and execution, to ensure that new solutions benefit organizations and their people, without fear of complexity destroying opportunities for growth.

Orchestrating the tech ecosystem

Managing legacy infrastructure against the need to stay on top of emerging technologies can often result in a disconnect across the company. In addition to this, having technology solutions managed independently across multiple teams can make it difficult to consolidate information and processes.

The best way for business leaders to resolve tech infrastructure issues is to make sure that they have the right team and organization in place – all the way from it being decided that a new solution is needed, through to its delivery, implementation, and onboarding.

That’s why a growing number of CIOs come from non-technical backgrounds and specialise instead in overseeing complex systems management and integration. Increasingly businesses need a trusted ecosystem orchestrator without vested interests to bring different players and technologies together – if they don’t have that, they will get overwhelmed or distracted and miss where the true value really lies.

Catriona Campbell

Catriona Campbell is UK&I Client Technology and Innovation Officer for EY.

New design standards for emerging technologies

The next step for an orchestrator goes further than joining up technologies across the business – alongside this are expectations to be part of the conversation around determining the value of new solutions before they are implemented across the business.

It’s fair to say that nascent technologies and applications – like the metaverse, billed as the future of online entertainment and interaction – have received considerable hype from technology commentators, analysts and the wider public. But there is a catch and it’s that they are still in the very early days of development and maturation. Agreed standards and human centered design approaches are, in many cases, yet to be decided.

Without these common standards, successful innovation is effectively blocked – after all, commercial success comes from doing things that are steeped in standards. Like the web in the 1990s, these technologies have the potential to remain a Wild West of competing approaches and non-interoperable products.

This poses a problem for CIOs – how can they determine if a new technology is worth implementing across the business before the full opportunity and any barriers can be understood?

To combat this challenge, more leaders are looking for external support with managing the knowledge piece around the value of new solutions.

They need help to seamlessly handle and simplify this evolving complexity to deliver game-changing transformation – without jumping too quickly at something new or being too slow to implement. And this is where a service provider can help fill expertise gaps, guiding CIOs and their teams to the solution that will work for them.

Trust as an imperative value driver

Trust will always be central to any decision made across the business and it sits right at the heart of any successful technology use case. But we live in a world where trust can be eroded very quickly. If a technology is not built in an ethical way, managed responsibly, operated fairly or inclusive, then ultimately it will fail to create value. Users won’t adopt it, employees won’t leverage it and organizations won’t fully realize its transformational benefits.

This especially applies to complex, cutting-edge technologies such as quantum and the solutions that will build the metaverse. Getting buy-in from stakeholders is crucial at the onset of any conversation around a new piece of tech, and CIOs need to position themselves at the center of driving change, empowered by the CEO to have a voice in defining the mission behind tech projects.

They need to be trusted – and financed – to find the right technology and partners to make transformation a reality, and to help keep everyone unified behind that North Star mission. To achieve this, the CIO must listen to the needs of employees and customers that tech is built to serve, by placing humans at the center of their decision-making.

The technology available to a business today is far more complex than even five years ago. This is where business leaders need the right internal and external support system in place to make sure they have the knowledge and expertise to get their technology strategy right, or risk getting left behind as their competitors digitize.

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Catriona Campbell is UK&I Client Technology and Innovation Officer for EY. A renowned behavioral psychologist and leader in human-computer interaction, Catriona co-founded experience design firm Seren in 2001. Since then, she has guided some of the world’s best-known brands towards digital success.