Emerging technologies – where to start?

How long can something actively be emerging for? It’s a great question. I’m not sure if there’s an agreed time limit for that definition, but when we talk about emerging technologies, I would describe most of them as a well-established part of the technology and transformation toolkit.

I think 2018-2019 will be the year many of these technologies prove their maturity, and become more affordable. Therefore, this is also the year that businesses will really turn their attention to seeing what they can practically do with this tech, rather than admiring it from a distance at trade conferences.

Of course, making decisions on where to start with these technologies is not necessarily straightforward. In a previous survey, we asked CFOs what the biggest barrier to implementing AI or emerging technologies in their business was. 37% said the difficulty of building a business case was a barrier, and 27% said not knowing where to start or what their options were was a barrier. 50% said they would need to upskill or retrain finance talent if implementing, and 23% said they would need to attract and retain non-traditional talent (such as data scientists).

All of which begins to form a picture of executives who are well aware of the potential these technologies have to transform their businesses, but are overwhelmed or under informed about what the best fit is for their sector and the particular needs of their business. Many executives we speak to are also dealing with a mix of technologies in their businesses – legacy systems, off-shoring, some automation already. It all seems very complicated. But it doesn’t need to be. The whole point of most of these emerging technologies is to streamline, simplify and make the complex accessible. It’s not all about huge fundamental disruption either. We’ve identified three levels of transformation where emerging technologies can be delivered to achieve business strategy:

  • Renew: Modernise the core of the organisation by uplifting the emerging technology capability
  • Refine: Use emerging technologies to enable an increase in productivity and cost efficiency within the organisation
  • Redesign: Shift the organisation to non-linear growth by intertwining business model innovation with the application of emerging technologies to transform the core or edge of an organisation

 

Key to this approach is working with organisations to identify where the potential lies in emerging technology specifically for their organisation, and then working with them to implement this. Moving quickly from what’s possible to what’s practical. So for those wondering where to start, here are some pointers that should help:

  1. Identify the core legacy systems that holding your company back from being competitive
  2. Review your business strategy and identify how and where technology is the enabler
  3. Ask your peers how they are using automation and cloud technologies
  4. Take advantage of your Board’s longer term perspective; get them involved in the pursuit of emerging technologies and as part of the education process.
  5. Technology is agile and flexible today, so remember it is not about perfection but iteration
  6. Think big and strategic, then start small and agile

 

How are you getting to grips with emerging technology? I’d love to hear – share your experience so far via the comment box below.

Read more on Emerging technologies and check out our latest piece of thought leadership The rise of the exponential era.

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