The pace of technological change has helped to accelerate growth in some companies, while at the same time has almost strangled it in others. While some businesses are becoming more agile and seem to float on top of the waves of change, some businesses lock down and hope the changes will move past without causing too much pain. Every CEO has the choice to either engage in the disruptive nature of the tech boom, or stay steadfast in their tried and true approach. So how do you know what is right for your business? How do you make informed decisions about technology, when historically these decisions were more operational, not strategic?
Topics like this were discussed at the most recent Bower Forum, with some interesting highlights shared here: How Technology is Changing the Job of the CEO. It’s no surprise a number of CEOs are challenged by the idea of being an “e-CEO.” The concept most likely feels a little foreign. But the concept cannot be ignored. If technology is reshaping business (and it is), then CEOs must understand the implications, and must be able to make well-informed decisions around its role within the organization. Piggy-backing on Caludio’s article above, I think it is important to point out a few ways to help the journey to becoming a more tech aware CEO.
If You Don’t Believe It, It Won’t Happen
Bluntly, if your company doesn’t think technology is important, it’s most likely because of you. As the CEO of the organization, you are responsible to point everyone in the right direction. Your job is to help set the long-term strategy, and more importantly, getting everyone to believe it. This is true for how the company views new technology. If you believe it will be important, your people will. If you don’t, they won’t (or they’ll leave). This is the building block of everything you do going forward. And unfortunately, this is a non-negotiable. To create awareness around how technology can impact your business, you’ll need to sell the belief that it will.
Don’t Do All the Heavy Lifting Yourself
Technology changes way too fast to keep up with, but the good news is you don’t have to. Build each person’s understanding of their direct impact on making the business successful — and build the link between the technology and their capabilities. By aligning their success to capabilities that are supported by technology, you’ll help to give a system they can control by innovating and exploring alternatives. This bottom-up approach allows you to cast a very wide net around new opportunities. The better you are at promoting a system of innovation and change, the more exposure you’ll have to areas you can advance. When new ideas surface, it’ll be your job to work with your management team to vet them. But it’ll require much less time to familiarize yourself with just a handful of ideas than it would to learn about every new thing.
Get Help from Advisors
Who do you report to, or lean on? Do you have a board, or an advisory panel to help you make difficult decisions? One important recommendation from the Bower Forum included adjusting the makeup of your board to include more technical individuals. Not necessarily techies, but business owners in high-tech industries, or people with experience navigating the rapid changing landscape of tech. Don’t have a board? That’s fine — just build your own technology advisory panel. In either case, having input at the top is extremely important and can make the difference between jumping into something that might just be “too new” vs. missing the boat all together.