New Zealand companies looking to make disruptive innovation a reality must be prepared to step outside of their comfort zone and take some risks in order to reap the potential rewards.
The key is to minimise those risks where possible by taking a staged and carefully considered approach, and by working with a technology partner that understands their business, its challenges and its goals.
“The risks of adopting a disruptive technology are higher or lower depending on its previous adoption and success rates,” says Cris Nicolli, managing director, UXC.
“The risks include lack of existing knowledge, which can put projects at risk, uncertainty increasing the probability of failure, and the increased tendency for risk with disruptive technology, making it difficult to gain stakeholder support.”
While disruptive IT projects do carry a certain amount of risk, Nicolli believes it is possible to reduce this risk substantially by following eight key steps.
1. Create the business case:
Creating disruption, whether by developing a new product or service, or implementing a new technology, comes at a cost. There are three main types of cost involved: financial, time and perception.
Before embarking on a plan to implement a disruptive technology, organisations must first understand that may face some failure. Not all projects will go according to the business plan or achieve the planned outcomes.
It is important to have the perception that there is some risk and that it should not hinder the executive support required, which will in part, determine whether there are funds available and an appropriate budget set.
The business must clearly articulate and analyse these issues, and develop a strong business case for investment, before taking the next step. Innovation and disruption are unlikely to be valuable unless they are properly resourced and strategically targeted.
2. Understand and agree on the business requirements upfront:
Most are not looking to implement technology for its own sake but rather to fulfil customer and organisational needs more effectively.
Organisations must clearly articulate the business requirements before even deciding on the technology to be implemented. Once the business requirements are clear then it becomes possible to choose the right path to fit these requirements.
3. Engage key stakeholders:
To get key stakeholders, including employees and end users, on board, it is critical to ensure they understand the relevance and meaning of the project in the context of the broader business goals.
They should also be fully engaged and enthusiastic about being a part of a business impact project. This can only be done through clear, consistent communication from the executive leadership and the project team to the rest of the stakeholders.
When this is achieved, stakeholders are more likely to fully support the project.
4. Secure executive sponsorship:
Full executive support is an indication that the entire company is invested in making the technology implementation work. Without it, project teams can become untethered from the organisation’s strategic goals and failure becomes more likely.
5. Choose the right technology:
Choosing the right technology requires businesses to review a variety of parameters, including: depth of functionality; industry-specific features; ease of support; future development path; flexibility to adapt to the changing business model; integration with existing/future systems; and scalability.
While disruptive technology may be attractive, it is not necessarily the right choice. On the other hand, if a disruptive technology is the one most likely to deliver business benefits then organisations should not be dissuaded by the potential risks.
As long as the organisation has done appropriate due diligence, has a strong risk management regime in place, and confirmed that it is the right solution, then it should be well placed for success.
6. Future-proof the decision:
By selecting a technology that maps closely to the current and future state of the business, the risk is reduced. It can also be advisable to choose a solution that does not require a large amount of customisation, as this can add to ongoing running costs and upgrade complexity.
At the same time, choosing a technology that offers maximum functionality and scalability at the outset will reduce the need for constant upgrades as time goes by.
Effective organisational change management also plays a role in future-proofing the decision. By bringing the entire organisation along with the project, leaders can ensure that the technology will be used appropriately for maximum value.
7. Demand post-implementation support:
An implementation project does not end once the technology goes live and it is vital to have effective and well-resourced support in place.
This will help ensure the system is fully operational, delivering value to the business and improving the productivity of those using it.
8. Implement effective governance:
Corporate governance is essential for an organisation’s ongoing success and this extends to technology implementations. The greater the level of governance and scrutiny, the lower the risk of a project not succeeding.
Effective governance goes beyond executive support, although that is essential. It includes the oversight of the project itself, from high level aims to detailed tactics, to ensure the project stays on track.
The level and intensity of governance should be scaled to match the level of complexity of a project and the size of its investment.