If a business aims to be thriving in five to ten years’ time, it must find ways to create new value, and doing so without grasping and maximising new technology is unthinkable. The results of failing to innovate are clear as day: 52% of companies on the Fortune 500 since 2000 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or ceased to exist, all resultant from market disruption. The rate at which established companies are falling away is increasing just as technological disruption accelerates.

At the leadership level, most businesses are well aware of the problem, but lack the tools and mindset to grasp the solution. Earlier this year, we surveyed 500 senior decision-makers from small and large companies to find out more about the barriers to transformational technology investment in their businesses. The results exposed a gaping knowledge gap at the top level of organisations and a lack of senior engagement with emerging technologies.

  • 39% attributed a lack of in-house knowledge and skills.
  • A quarter of respondents cited lack of senior level buy-in.

The most effective business leaders are always looking for ways to engage more deeply with technology. Emerging technologies are constantly and increasingly disrupting traditional business models; the frontrunners are commandeering new tools to extract and crunch data, deliver new insights, and spur innovation from the front line to the back office with transformational use cases.

This doesn’t mean that successful business leaders need to have deep technical expertise – contrary to popular opinion, a background in technology is not a prerequisite here. What is needed is an ability, and a willingness, to be a constant, efficient, and fearless learner; leaders need to arm themselves with the knowledge to understand how a technology can factor into a broader business strategy. This fundamental understanding of a technology and its potential use cases, in combination with the soft skills and strategic vision that any good leader possesses, is an equation that vastly improves the chances of success.

But the truth is, there’s a lot of information out there. To make matters worse, each technology, often referred to using an alphabet soup of acronyms like RPA, OCR or NLP, comes with a barrage of media and vendor hype. Unsurprisingly, executives have complained of feeling paralysed by choice and information overload.

Like many of the best things in life, the key is to simplify. When addressing a technology, we help clients to break down their knowledge into the following three key areas:

I. The basics of how it works;
II. The art of the possible when it comes to use cases in their business, industry and/or broader ecosystem;
III. How it can converge with other technologies to generate even further impact.

TechKnow is a video series designed to help begin to fill this knowledge gap with fast, digestible information that cuts through the noise and the hype. Together with a range of expert guests – from data scientists to consultants and academics – I’ll be covering the most prominent emerging technologies, from AI to hyperautomation, blockchain and the cloud, and the opportunities they present. The days of delegating the technical stuff to IT are over; it’s time to engage with tech or get out of the game.

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