3. Creative application of technology
For both of these trends and others to fully emerge, business leaders have to consider what their people would do with the technology. It’s no longer enough to simply deploy technology; you also have to consider how your people can creatively apply the technology to gain competitive advantage.
Therefore, you need to go to your internal customers (all the people using the technology in the enterprise) and ask what they want technologically. Give them what they ask for, but realize they will under-ask because they don’t know what’s technically possible.
So while you want to listen to what your staff ask for and give it to them, realize that what they’re not asking for are bigger and better capabilities—the things they don’t even know are possible.
You need to go to the next level and help people do what they want—if they only knew they could. After all, people didn’t ask for an iPhone or a Blackberry. They wanted the ability to access e-mail and the Internet without being tied to a desktop or laptop.
This is about putting existing technologies together and using them in creative ways.
For example, there are literally thousands of features in Microsoft Word you can select. But most people use only seven to 10 features. Your competitors are using the same features, which means you’re not getting any true competitive advantage.
So you need to ask, “What features would be great for our sales group [or human resources or accounting, etc.] to use—features that are so buried in the software that no one knows they exist?”
Most information technology departments won’t ask those questions because they’re too busy making sure everything is connected, working well, and safe. And if they’re not asking, who is?
Who in your organization is looking at the tools you already have and asking if they’re underused? Chances are the answer is “no one.” As such, it’s safe to say all your tools are underutilized.
Therefore, you need to implement a communication vehicle that engages the different groups you serve in the enterprise—i.e., sales, accounting, human resources, etc.—and help them understand the power of the tools they have access to.
One suggestion: Show staff a “feature of the day” and how it can make their lives easier. This is about giving employees information in short, fun, engaging ways rather than a 100-page document (which no one will read anyway).
Some software programs offer such a feature. Perhaps you can customize that idea and apply it internally so different groups get information tailored specifically to their needs.
Create your CU’s future
Many business leaders will say they’re too busy to address these trends. But if you don’t address them, who will?
Ultimately, whoever drives these trends within an organization will be perceived as a significant contributor to the enterprise—someone worth keeping and someone with high value in the marketplace.
When that someone is you, you can drive bottom-line results and be a key contributor to the organization’s success.
DANIEL BURRUS, founder/CEO of Burrus Research Associates, Hartland, Wis., is a noted technology forecaster and business strategist. He’s the author of six books, including “Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible” and “Technotrends.” Contact him at 800-827-6770.