Balancing impact with agility
American information technology author, business technology professional and university lecturer, Steve Andriole, asserts that big technology projects fail most of the time. Andriole points to the fact that Gartner Group reports that up to 75% of ERP projects fail, with CRM not far behind, and digital transformation failing 70% of the time. Some initiatives can fare even worse; for example, the famed “disruptive innovation” Harvard Business School professor and author Clayton Christensen has been quoted as claiming that 95% of new product innovation projects fail.
Why is this? According to Seth Goldstrom, global leader for McKinsey’s enterprise transformation team, failing to communicate the right change story, or not being able to align incentives for different parts of the business, or not bringing the right team and talent together are some of the reasons transformations fail.
In our experience, this can extend to making trade-offs between, for example, cost and customer experience, when in fact both may be achievable without succumbing to an “either, or” ultimatum. We have also witnessed transformation projects failing when businesses jump headfirst into a trendy new technology without building the right foundation or embarking on a project without the right business strategy in place. This can mean that large transformation projects may blow their budgets, potentially putting the entire organisation at risk.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When bigger projects are cut down into smaller pieces, as mini information and communications technology (ICT) milestones and even smaller entire initiatives, the pathway to larger goals can become clearer.
Mini ICT milestones or projects are also a great way to show early results and keep your teams and your senior executives energised along the way. These are the pieces or smaller projects you can achieve in a couple of months, working step by step toward your strategic bigger picture. Within a few quarters, you and your team will have steadily built capability upon capability, learning and growing as you progress, instilling a more agile and continuous improvement mindset across the key strategic ICT areas of your business.
In our view, the three most important areas for ICT focus in 2022-2023 are security, automation, and data insights. Furthermore, the best way to design and steer your initiatives across these essential pillars is through the lens of experience. Specifically, depending on the project type and desired outcomes, the customer and employee experience.
Post-pandemic landscape – changes and priorities
As industries adjust to a post-pandemic environment, many are embracing hybrid working practices. This brings a pressing organisational focus on the network technologies to ensure the right levels of IT security are in place to facilitate such a shift.
The good news – from a productivity perspective – is we are seeing an increasing erosion of the traditional regional digital divide. With access to faster and more equitable networks, businesses in regional areas, such as Dubbo or Shepparton for example, have considerable opportunity to compete on a similar global scale as Sydney and Melbourne. You could argue they even enjoy a greater competitive advantage with many regional areas offering a lower cost of living.
Wherever your organisation is located, the pandemic has forced many business models to change, and to be redesigned around an online customer experience, not just a remote working employee experience. To compete and stay in step with this change, many industries including corporate, technology, financial services, law, healthcare, and more must now provide satisfying online customer experiences so they may access this content remotely. And the right applications, infrastructure and network technologies must be in place to facilitate this.
In order to support remote employee working while optimising the digital customer experience, ICT projects need to place equal emphasis on achieving high levels of IT security, look for productivity gains from automation, and be fuelled by solid data sets.
But where do you start, how do you get there, and what should you prioritise?
Incrementalism is the answer
We know big IT projects will encounter trouble more often than smaller ones. It follows that incremental steps toward your ICT strategy are a preferred option. For technology leaders, that might mean managing expectations downward or upward and setting the right expectations, even lowering them to a more realistic and practical level.
Take for example, hyped technologies such as robotics, AI, and the blockchain. Of course these digital breakthroughs are highly relevant for certain businesses and niche sectors. But the vast majority of organisations often can’t relate to them, they’re too intangible or may be potentially years away.
Most organisations are better off building roadmaps for the short, medium and longer term, then tackling their digital transformation strategy with smaller, incremental steps.
Systematically embark on achievable technology and customer experience projects you can take on each quarter which don’t require ‘betting the company’, and which avoid the risk and high costs involved with huge transformational initiatives. These are projects designed to achieve simple, consistent, quicker wins and provide faster proof points which can be leveraged across the wider business.
The 3 strategic areas of focus for ICT leaders
IT Security – Even before many businesses switched to large scale remote and hybrid working, cybersecurity awareness was growing in importance. Threats and serious breaches from phishing, malware, human error, and corporate espionage can seriously impact an organisation financially and reputationally. Make sure your security posture is robust, that you simplify the management of security vendors, and shift from a compliance mindset to a resilience mindset. Achieving ongoing resilience is a broader IT security driver focused not just on compliance but also on speed and growth, something for which the whole organisation is responsible.
Automation – Driving productivity and efficiency across the organisation, automation gains can be derived from initiatives that combine applications, networks, devices and cloud. Look for ways to complete repetitive tasks faster to reduce manual errors along with time, effort and costs. Edge technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) can assist in gathering vital data and reducing manual tasks, quick wins that help organisations become leaner and more efficient.
Data Analytics – Speaking of data, the challenge is there is so much of it, rendering it difficult to extract value. So focus on quality over quantity and find ways to strategically orchestrate the various links across the organisation so the insights gathered are more useful, relevant and actionable. Once again, if customer or employee experience outcomes drive the use of analytics, the business case will make more sense and act as a catalyst to drive visible and measurable success of the data initiative.
How TPG Telecom can help bring business together
Many of the ICT concepts outlined here align with our strategic customer technology programs. As a full service business telco following recent merger activities, TPG Telecom now offers mobile, fixed networks, and managed services. Critically, in a bid to help customers reduce complexity, we’ve been focused on helping organisations reduce the number of vendors and platforms they need to manage across the network and security technology stack.
Feedback from some of our Australian business and government customers is encouraging. We’re relatively easy to deal with, fast, and simple in our approach to helping our customers achieve some of these quicker, incremental wins in line with their overarching ICT strategy.
From small and medium-size businesses looking for simple technologies to prosper and grow – to large enterprises concerned with reliable and secure innovation – to the Australian public sector which requires technology and service excellence to safeguard and future-proof our communities, TPG Telecom is here to help you prosper through connectivity, innovation, and flexible solutions.
To learn more, contact TPG Telecom.