Aligning Technology Decisions With Strategic Business Initiatives

Where does your organization fall in the technology adoption curve? Is it a leading-edge innovator or an early adopter? Or is it a laggard that potentially has performance impacted due to late or ineffective investments? Or maybe your organization is with the majority sitting in the middle.

Wherever you fall, one thing is certain. Organizations that focus on aligning technology decisions with their strategic business direction improve the ROI of those investments, optimize effectiveness, and realize benefits sooner.

Many technologies on the market today are designed to help companies leverage data and analytics to make business decisions, improve efficiency, decrease costs, increase production, streamline processes, and support a successful transition to the digital world.

But when determining where to invest to impact your business in a positive way – to truly achieve the best ROI on technology – consider more than just choosing the shiniest or newest product on the market.

Companies that make technology or innovation decisions based on their strategic direction realize the greatest ROI.

It might sound simple, but you would be surprised how many organizations just select the newest innovations and are swayed by marketing influence with very few proven business cases. Imagine investing millions of dollars in technologies your organization isn’t capable of using, let alone realizing value from. Or, what if the organization selects technologies that don’t integrate or align with current applications or processes?

New technology is designed to improve performance and support operational excellence in some manner—whether it’s leveraging analytics to make business decisions or streamlining a process to increase worker productivity. It’s easy to quantify return in isolation and when everything is going right. That, though, doesn’t factor in how to quantify returns on technology in aggregate, identify the human or organizational cultural element, or ensure the “adoption” required for success. How will your workforce manage several new technologies at once? How will they optimize performance on a minute-by-minute basis, each and every day?

I’m only scratching the surface on the challenges we face in this new digital, innovative, technology-driven economy. It’s challenging and complicated, and many options are coming out of internal R&D and engineering departments and from many proven and qualified vendors.

As innovation and technology continue to improve and evolve, consider the following questions to guide you in your decision-making:

  • Does this align with our mission, and will it support achievement of our strategic direction?

The mission comes from the top-down. Leaders should have a strategic plan or key performance indicators (KPIs) they want to improve upon. For example, if the organization wants to decrease workplace accidents by using new training methodologies, then implementing an entire digital transformation strategy might not be necessary. Ensuring that technology supports improvement to defined business KPIs is critical.

  • Will this new technology integrate with what we already have?

Some existing applications are still very useful, especially to people who have been using these systems for a long time. Can these new technologies integrate with existing systems to extract the data needed? It’s critical to thoroughly evaluate potential vendors.

Ask for use cases, request expected performance results, and understand their long-term strategy and technology/product roadmap to make sure they are the right long-term partner.

  • How much do we really need?

Buying technology for technology’s sake is seldom successful. More often than not, it becomes shelfware. Having selected, reliable technologies that are core to your business function is much more valuable and cost effective to implement, adopt, use, and continually improve upon.

  • Does this technology fit our budget?

Cost is obviously going to play a major factor in deciding what digital technologies to purchase, but if these technologies relate to the strategic initiatives, support improvement to KPIs, or show a clear ROI, you’re heading in the right direction.

With so many choices out there and the drive for organizations to remain competitive in a global environment, technology is critical. However, leading organizations will base their technology decisions on how closely they align to support and help achieve their strategic initiatives.

Craig Dalziel

Growing up in southern Ontario, Canada, I was not unlike thousands of Canadian children who played hockey. Although a bit of a cliché, hockey to Canada is like football to America. I realized early on that the best hockey players, like all top athletes, had more than just natural talent. They were inspired, had the drive, and brought the passion and discipline to achieve excellence. I won’t be too modest to say I had some natural talent, but I understood that was not enough. And so I looked to those leading players to model success. I learned that I needed to train hard, set targets, outthink my competition, and look for new ways to improve. Like many Canadian children, I dreamed of a career in the NHL, and although I played some high-level junior hockey, I didn’t make the big leagues. But, I enjoyed some victories and have life-long friends who I still play hockey with recreationally, 20 years later.

I’ve carried this passion for performance excellence to both my career and to my role at GP Strategies, helping clients achieve business excellence. Much like an athlete, we help clients train to be their best. But we really need to go beyond that to help our clients “make the big leagues.” We take a holistic view of an organization and find ways to improve performance by assessing gaps, benchmarking against the elite, overcoming obstacles, uncovering competitive advantages, and implementing best practices. It takes discipline, perseverance, and dedication to achieve success. As Wayne Gretzy, nicknamed “The Great One,” said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is, a great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” That’s how I think of my client relationships. My job is to help them get to where the puck is going to be.

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Craig Dalziel is a Director at GP Strategies Corporation. He leads efforts to ensure delivery of best practice and operational excellence solutions. From conducting operational improvement studies, gap analyses, and benchmarking to implementing solutions, Craig helps lead and evaluate transformation through targeted improvements to key performance indicators.

For over 20 years, Craig has connected companies to resources, methods, and solutions to improve operational performance, deepen economic value, reduce waste, decrease planned and unplanned facility downtime, advance levels of product throughput, and increase profitability, to help organizations achieve long-term excellence.
Craig Dalziel

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