Technology is developing at an excitingly rapid pace. Here are 4 simple ways in which your board can embrace the digital disruption, adapt technology and use it to enhance your business model:
4 simple ways to embrace digital disruption
1. Human Enhancement Technologies:
include technologies designed to enhance human capabilities such as memory, sight and hearing. They include electronic to-do lists and filing systems and, when integrated across your entire company, are invaluable tools.
2. Collaborative Technologies:
include peer-to-peer, and data sharing. Uber is the perfect example of a collaborative technology that took an idea as simple as ride sharing and turned it into an international, multimillion dollar company that has completely disrupted the taxi industry.
3. Augmented Technology (AT)—or Virtual Reality (VR):
is more than just The Sims. It is a view of the real world environment whose elements are augmented or supplemented through computer-generated sensory input.
Google Maps world view is AT. When you ‘check in’ to a restaurant on Facebook you’re participating in augmented technology that allows you to share your experience with friends despite their physical absence.
AT is the next big thing in retail. When you check in to your local shopping centre you can receive alerts about specials from your favourite retailers based on your preferences and browser history. This is not the future. This is the present, and your board needs to be discussing it.
4. The Internet of Things (IoT):
refers to the network of physical devices, buildings, cameras with network connectivity that allows them to collect and exchange data, for example, a home-security system that calls your security company when triggered.
The IoT generates huge amounts of user data that can be captured and used to gauge how your customers engage with your product.
The purpose of discussing the types of technology is to bring your attention to something that may seem irrelevant in the boardroom but is extremely relevant to your business model.
The right technology can not only increase your productivity and profitability, but can, in some cases, genuinely underpin its capacity to survive.
4 factors to a successful technology plan
Your company no doubt has a sales team, a finance department and a business manager. But does it have an IT person to manage the IT concerns and aspirations of a business your size (whatever that may be)?
Your board should be liaising with your IT manager, listening to their views and engaging them to drive IT projects, whether they be maintenance, security or innovation.
Technology is often implemented on an ad hoc basis. Instead, boards need to adopt a process that considers options in terms of immediate and long-term goals as well as what any financial constraints and other considerations such as staff training.
For smaller projects, invite your IT manager to present to the board to make sure that it is understood by all members what the technology is and how it is going to affect the company.
For larger projects, external advice from IT experts can be worth seeking—just as you would engage a lawyer for a legal project and an engineer for a building one.
Once your board has engaged the right people, followed its process and sought relevant advice they should have the confidence they need to make IT decisions that affect the company. Each director should be fully equipped to have meaningful discussions and technology and confidently play a role in its governance.
Reducing risk in digital disruption
We can’t discuss leadership and digital disruption without addressing risk. It’s a topic most directors are familiar with and some of us often feel like it’s the only thing we deal with. Technology risks are no exception.
Directors often feel like they must choose between innovation and risk management, but there is another risk at play here. Innovation vs obsolescence.
The same 4 factors can be used to reduce risk.
- Engage IT people to monitor and identify risk.
- Implement a company-wide process for dealing with risk factors.
- Seek advice, both internally and externally.
- Lead your staff.
Technology shouldn’t be the elephant in the room at your board meetings.
Follow the 4 steps to lead your company away from fear of technology and embrace its capacity to make your business safer, more efficient and more ultimately… more profitable!