While many new technologies and solutions are being offered to enterprises, their effective use requires effective management and strategic direction to ensure that the enterprises derive the expected benefits over the short- and long-term, says business intelligence (BI) firm PBT Group Gauteng regional director Yolanda Smit.
The depth of technical understanding of a business’ processes is critical to translate a new technology or system into tangible and sustainable improvements of business processes, she emphasises.
“The most effective way of strategically adopting and deploying new business technologies is to review those already in place that can be tapped, and how additional value, including data that can be added to new systems, can be unlocked from them.”
Once the strategic resources and future direction have been identified, it becomes easier to identify the most effective or strategic systems to adopt and the most efficient way of deploying and deriving value from new systems and technologies, she explains.
“Many companies in South Africa have rich legacy systems that have supported and continue to support their operations. Generally speaking, their challenge is changing their operational culture to more readily adopt and use new systems and technologies that can improve efficiencies, but only if these are used effectively.”
A steady roll-out of new systems, whether in addition to existing systems or as replacements for legacy systems, is typically most effective at supporting a simultaneous transition of the work practices and culture. Executives align the roll-out with the business strategy, managers and employees are trained on various systems and new ways of working progressively, and employees are provided with certainty and visibility of the new systems and can adapt to new workflow requirements over time.
Further, this controlled and strategy-based technology change also improves the outcomes of analytics and Big Data initiatives in enterprises. The flow of data, as well as the integration and flow of work processes can be mapped out and aligned to strategic and future needs.
For smaller and newer enterprises, the main challenge often lies in the relative lack of maturity of their processes and data management, which might lead to problems such as inaccurate information used to inform business decisions or ineffective use of business data.
“Many entrepreneurial companies quickly adopt and use new systems and services, but are then unable to manage the data of 50 applications spread across various service providers and business functions effectively. Therefore, a strategic review and consolidation of technologies and the creation of a future development plan will provide a firm foundation for the strategic adoption of business technologies and function as a platform to support high-level analytics.”
“Often, simple gains and improvements when renewing or implementing new business information systems are effective at informing and improving the roll-out of larger or strategic business analytics systems. “Quickly realised improvements also generate buy-in from managers and employees for the longer-term projects.”
Technologies will continue to change and it is the strategic and business acumen of executive leaders and the effectiveness of managers to guide transitions and changes that enable companies to effectively adopt and benefit from new technologies and systems.
“A company’s agility is a function of its people and the ways they work and think, not the technologies they use. “A company can be agile even if using older technologies. However, developing the acumen to use new technologies and systems effectively requires the inclusion of personnel in the implementation of technology systems.”