A couple of weeks back I was in Chicago attending a senior management course at Booth School of Business and among the several areas of thought leadership I was privileged to be part of, quite a few stood out and one in particular seems to have resonance for this magazine.
Ever since technology became a key aspect of businesses, technology was considered an enabling function - used for ensuring core business could utilise available technologies to streamline operations, remove efficiency barriers, create decision support systems for easier analysis, etc. However, things have changed now. Technology is no longer just enabling core businesses like banks and telcos to streamline and run operations but actually is now increasingly defining strategic value more than ever. Let me explain.
Most of my working life I have been confronted with a statement from the CXO community - 'we have a business problem (& it could be efficiency, productivity, revenue or something else but mostly tangible), find me the best way to solve it - typically using a mix of consulting, business process engineering and technology provisioning.' What I am hearing now is an increasing number of CXOs speaking about disruption - brought about principally by technology.
I am hearing more CXOs (and not just the CIOs, in fact the CIOs seem very quiet in this one!) who are asking me - well, we understand there is this new great technology or application (some CFOs, COOs and CEOs are even using acronymns like apps!) and we want to be able to leverage it, we are struggling with how we can use, say, Facebook to provide better service for our customers or increase our branding. Incredible but for the first time in almost two decades, I am witnessing technology driving business innovation, desire and dynamics and business leaders are struggling to keep up with it.
So what is causing this transformation? So what is causing the COO or the CFO or the CEO to struggle to appreciate and utilise these trends? These are some of the smartest people I am privileged to work with and they should know how to leverage Facebook for their banks or telcos, right?
Well, I am not sure - not because the CXO communities are not smart - they are exceptionally so - but the fact remains that the rapid change is something no one is prepared for. It is not something that can be taught in a business school and no one really knows how to leverage knowledge economics at the speed of light. It just hasn't happened before and most standard management books are unable to provide a template or a framework for leveraging this phenomenon. Interesting, isn't it?
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