The End Goal: Technology or Business Outcome?

The End Goal: Technology or Business Outcome?

There is no shortage of technology buzzwords in the market. It seems like every year, the latest technology "shiny object" is discussed everywhere - from the boardroom of large corporations to casual conversations with friends. While the intent of the new technology is to drive business value, the rush to experiment or adopt the latest trend can easily go awry.

Many years ago, I worked with a multi-billion-dollar B2C company that wanted to increase customer loyalty through better customer engagement. Hopping on the new buzzword at the time of "big data," they launched a multi-year program with an eight-figure investment. Within the first three months of the project, it became very clear they had significant foundational issues with how data was collected, managed, and used. Unfortunately, the zero tolerance for failure culture perceived a stop to the program as a lack of ability by the technology team. Instead of killing the big data program and repairing the data foundation first, the scope twisted towards delivering big data solutions. The technology adoption became the end goal versus the original business intent of enabling customer experience.

So, how do you balance the bold promises of a new technology with the outcomes you need to support and drive your business?

The three key principles I recommend to approach digital transformation are:

  • Every program must have clearly defined business KPIs and the progress must be measured and calibrated frequently
  • Transformational programs should not be more than 6 months to ensure a "fail fast" approach and avoid any landmines that were initially missed
  • Programs should consist of cross functional teams, led by Business and IT as equal stakeholders

Having a solution that works technically but doesn't deliver strategic business intent is not a success. At the end of the day, technology should be a means to your goal, not the end goal.

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