New Study Highlights the Critical Role of Technology in Transformational Change

New Study Highlights the Critical Role of Technology in Transformational Change

Technology is one of the top five catalysts, and one of the top five potential constraints.

Forbes Insights recently released their report “Transformational Change: What Works – And What Can Doom the Initiative”. The report is full of great insights for any organization contemplating or undertaking a transformational change process. Perhaps not surprisingly, technology was identified as both a key catalyst for transformational change and the lack of adequate technology as a major obstacle to making transformational change happen. What technology insights should Boards of Directors and Chief Executive Officers take away from this report to make their companies’ transformational change efforts an even greater success?

Technology is a driver of transformational change

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New or changing technology can be a game-changer not just for individual companies, but for entire industries. Consider, for example, the lasting impact the propagation of web and electronic commerce technologies had on retail. Entirely new market leaders such as Amazon.com embraced the technology and made it central to their branding and operating model. Traditional leaders such as Walmart extended their brand and enhanced their operations both to protect their market share and expand into new markets. As Boards and CEOs contemplate the direction of their companies and their industries, they should be looking proactively at technologies that can have a transformative impact. Companies with the means and the will to take the lead on deploying and operationalizing those technologies can realize tremendous growth in market share and operating results. Companies that prefer not to lead still can benefit by being proactive and adopting such transformational technologies before their market share is endangered and their brands and products marginalized.

If the Board of Directors and CEO do not have someone on their teams who can look at technology strategically – from a top-level business perspective rather than a day-to-day operations perspective, they should consider adding one. For some companies, the existing Chief Technology Officer may have this capability but simply not be utilized. In other cases, an outsider with industry, operations, and technology may need to be retained to provide the necessary insight.

Technology is both an enabler of and a potential barrier to transformational change

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Whether a company is seeking to make transformational changes to realize a potential opportunity or to address a potential risk, technology is critical to the success of the initiative. On the positive side technology can be a tremendous change enabler – for example, using an ERP replacement or upgrade to fast-track broad and pervasive business process changes and improvements. On the negative side, the lack of appropriate technology can stop a transformation initiative in its tracks – for example, not having a capable process and system to manage demand planning when outsourcing production to a Contract Manufacturing Organization or transitioning a workforce from physical to virtual offices to reduce costs. Boards and CEOs contemplating or undertaking  transformation change initiatives will benefit by considering technology as both a critical opportunity and a key risk to such initiatives, and supplementing their teams accordingly. A bad assumption about the availability or capability of needed technology can hurt not only the chances for the success of a company’s transformational change initiative but the very viability and profitability of the company’s operations.

Once again, an existing, strategically minded Chief Technology Officer may be able to advise the Board of Directors and CEO. However, an outsider with industry, operations, and technology may be both desirable and needed to provide an objective view on what technology can and cannot do and what additional investments in technology may be needed.

The complete Forbes Insight report may be read here: http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/medidata/