Technology is meant to be the accelerator for the modern business – the thing that lets us work faster and better than our ancestors. But the reality, for anyone with any experience of any sort of technology, is that it can often play the opposite role.
The suspicion that this is not always the case has been reinforced by research from Oxford Economics which spoke to 300 business leaders around the world late last year.
The found that when asked what acted as a brake on their business more than a third identified problems with technology– 34 per cent blamed rigid and inflexible IT, ahead of 28 per cent who blamed shortage of skilled staff.
In a world of ever accelerating change this is a serious problem.
Business leaders expect this rate of change to continue accelerating. While only four per cent of companies said they had significantly accelerated their ability to transform ideas into new services and products an impressive 16 per cent expected to be able to do this within two years.
Predicting some acceleration went up from 30 per cent today to an expected 49 per cent in two years time.
The same survey found that 65 per cent of those asked said their business was under more pressure from established competitors compared with two years ago. Pressure from start-up companies and new entrants were seen as less of a threat – 37 per cent said they felt more pressure from such companies than two years ago.
But accelerating the speed at which your business can turn ideas into reality is not just about technology – although that remains important, it is also about company culture. Researchers found a strong correlation between high financial performance and investment in programs to help reduce time to value.
Investing in flexible, agile technology is only one part of the puzzle, company culture is also vital.
Being open to change and new ideas also means companies need to empower their employees to fail. Being open to change means being open to the risk of failure.
Creating this entrepreneurial spirit is a major organisational challenge for the modern enterprise.
The final lesson for businesses is that investment in speeding up business is already well under way both in terms of technology and company culture.
83 per cent of high performing companies have builit infrastructure to enable them to bring ideas to value faster. An impressive 79 per cent of high performers said success at rapid ideation has had a measurable impact on financial performance and 76 per cent said the changes had enabled them to introduce new products faster than previously possible.
The survey found that 78 per cent of high performing companies, and 68 per cent of others said changes in business practise and technology meant that they could introduce new services at much faster rates than previously possible.
Creating a company which is fit for the future means investing in systems which allow you to bring ideas to market as quickly as possible. But it also requires creating a culture which will support those ideas, even if some of them fail.
More details from the survey available here: