IT. The no. 1 headache for CEOs

by | 1 Nov 2022 | Insights

Implementing technology is not just about keeping up with the competition. It’s about staying ahead of them.

To achieve this, CEOs must be willing to take risks and push for change within their organisations. Most CEOs recognise that to maintain a competitive edge, they must continually adapt and evolve. Some CEOs, however, are stuck in the mindset that IT is just a necessary cost and not a key driver of success.

In today’s digital world, this view can be disastrous for business growth. Companies with strong technology often significantly outperform their competitors in terms of efficiency and profitability. Today’s CEOs are finding it necessary to drive technological advances as much as strategy and finance.

“It’s a technology-led business strategy, not a business strategy supported by technology.” – Krish Krishnakanthan[1]

What tech, where?

Technology is used in business for a wide variety of reasons. To streamline processes, increase productivity, improve communication, drive innovation, improve customer service, reduce costs, etc. For example, the adoption of supply chain management technology is increasing among SMEs. Automating key processes in the supply chain can drive efficiency and accuracy, delivering significant cost savings. 

The rise of 5G wireless networks is enabling new opportunities in the internet of things, as well as opening up new possibilities for mobile applications. The availability of affordable and user-friendly technology solutions and the availability of high-speed internet has made it easier for businesses to access and use cloud-based applications. These applications are becoming increasingly popular due to their flexibility and scalability. Also, the proliferation of mobile devices has made it possible for employees to work remotely and access corporate data from anywhere. The result is that businesses can work more effectively and communicate more efficiently, and they don’t have to be in the same building, or even in the same country.

One of the most rapidly advancing areas of technology, though, is artificial intelligence. Although still in its early stages, AI is already being used to automate tasks such as customer service or data entry. It can be used to generate insights from data, identify patterns and trends, make predictions, personalise experiences for customers or employees, and to improve decision-making. AI is transforming many industries, including retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. 

All these endlessly improving technologies enable businesses to be progressively more efficient, more responsive, and more cost-effective, whilst also allowing them to vastly improve their customer experiences. No surprise then that with each year that passes, the trend is towards upgrading existing technologies or integrating new technologies into existing business processes. However, implementing new technologies comes with its own set of challenges.

The challenges of tech implementation

It’s no secret that the relationship between business leaders and IT departments is often strained. On the one hand, business leaders are under constant pressure to deliver results, while on the other hand, IT departments are tasked with ensuring that the technology infrastructure can support the business goals. CEOs often don’t have sufficient tech knowledge to fully understand the challenges that IT faces. This can lead to tensions.

Most CEOs are not engineers or technology experts. They rely on their team of experts to help them make decisions about which technologies to implement and how best to go about doing so. But even with the best team in place, there are always risks associated with large scale technology projects.

There is the potential for cost overruns, for example. Or the project might not deliver the expected results. In worst case scenarios, the technology might not work at all and the whole project could be a complete failure. 

All of these risks must be carefully considered by CEOs before they decide to proceed with a largescale technology project. They need to be sure that the benefits outweigh the risks and that the project is feasible. Only then can they proceed with confidence.

Enter the Interim Digital Transformation Expert

Depending on the impact the new technology will have on the business, it may require a largescale transformation. We are often asked to provide interim digital transformation specialists to deliver these types of projects. These professionals drastically reduce the risks of overspend, overruns and failure, partly by bridging the gap in understanding between the CEO and the IT department, but also because they are experts at driving change.

Why an interim professional?

There are several benefits to using an interim manager over a permanent member of staff or a management consultant. They are independent and objective, which can be useful when making difficult decisions. They tend to be respected by other team members because they are specialised in their field and experienced at delivering similar projects. They are not afraid to challenge the brief to ensure they deliver your project effectively and on time.

For an example, please see How our Interim CIO delivered effective technology transformation for a FTSE 250 company by challenging the brief.

Interim managers are highly experienced and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to a company. They transfer this knowledge to the company before they leave. They are often brought in to solve specific problems or to implement change and so they are used to hitting the ground running. They can very quickly discover the issues they face and the actions they need to take to deliver your project. They’re often around for the duration of the project only, which can be more cost-effective in the long run.

For an example of the impact of a customer service project, please see How a third-party logistics business improved their bottom line with an Interim Digital Transformation Director.

Is it time to create a technology-led business strategy?

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, businesses must adapt to stay competitive. So, let’s stop thinking of IT as a headache and start seeing it as a powerful tool for success. Technology should be an integral part of strategic planning at the highest levels. CIOs bridge the gap in knowledge, but an interim CIO, or digital transformation specialist, can provide the bridge and deliver change, fast.

If you’d like to talk to us about your digital transformation project, please get in touch.

[1] Krishnakanthan, Krish, May 2021 – quoted in In conversation: The CEO’s new technology agenda – Krishnakanthan, Krish, Shenai, Gayatri and Brown, Sean.