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Here’s how leaders can evaluate new-age technologies

Even as the pandemic played havoc across industries, 2021 saw the pace of technology adoption accelerate across IT Services in India. In fact, it grew by USD 30 billion to cross the USD 200 billion revenue mark. 


According to the NASSCOM Indian Enterprise CXO Survey 2022, 60 percent of CXOs indicated a 6 percent higher tech spend in 2022 over 2021, with focus on customer service, supply chain and sales and marketing. As per an IDC survey, the number of globally new software packages required by 2023 is over 500 million – more than all the solutions developed in the last 40 years. Such studies and trends all point to how leaders can no longer view technology in isolation but as a part of, if not at the core of, their business strategy. Thoughtworks identifies this shift as tech@core.


The tech@core strategy begins with a realization that new technologies and associated business models can substantially increase customer value. Companies that successfully put technology at their core (rather than view it as a support function) respond effectively to (black swan events) change and crisis. This blog explores a few best practices for adoption of newer technologies and outlines how leaders can be persuaded into investing in value addition through technology. 


Measures to identify technology opportunities and pursue adoption


Build a robust scouting process that identifies technology and business trends. Traditionally, the scouting process is limited to certain departments like the innovation practice, marketing and R&D. Our recommendation, however, is to make the scouting process company-wide. Ensure scouting is more inclusive as a central initiative across departments. Departments could make opportunity briefs that communicate, the opportunity and value that can be realized when a particular problem is solved. This will help internal arms scout for commercially focused or viable opportunities rather than idea-based solutions alone. The idea is to develop a culture within the organization where not only scouting teams look for what’s next but every team nurtures a culture that’s on the lookout for new opportunities. 


Invest in building a technology and business radar. Every six months or so, Thoughtworks publishes the Technology Radar. It is our opinionated guide to technology frontiers. The Radar is a series of 'blips' broken into quadrants and rings. A blip is a technology or technique that plays a role in software development. The rings illustrate if we think a technology is mature enough for mainstream use (hold, assess, trial and adopt). The quadrants provide basic categorization (techniques, tools, platforms and languages and frameworks). We believe it would bode well for organizations to periodically build Radars that are relevant to their industries. The Radar will help leaders visualize the breadth of technology they use and to develop opinions on the technology they should converge on / invest in.


Evaluate the value technology brings to the table. In an ideal world, all new technology implementations bring value to the end user. However, to ensure the right technology is bringing the right value to the customer – user inputs should be leveraged in the planning, building and execution stages of software development. This kind of focus on better solutions is what provides value to customers.


Move to dynamic funding models. The funding process is continuous and flexible. As companies focus on value, we advise leveraging the Lean Value Tree (LVT) approach. This approach helps organizations make faster and better investment decisions. The LVT approach breaks strategy into goals, bets and initiatives. At every level, select opportunities are refined with more detail while others are dismissed. Initiatives are funded purely based on maximum return of value.


Challenges in technology adoption


Once leaders have zeroed in the technology or business trends they want to explore, we recommend preparing for execution. It’s realistic to expect friction or competition between the new technology and the incumbent. To achieve success, we suggest getting involved with the end user from the very beginning. This may seem obvious at first, however, we have observed teams remain predominantly disconnected from their users. The single biggest impact that technology can make is through the value and expectations that end users derive from it. 


Today’s digital experiences should go beyond the traditional channels of a browser or an app and experiment with emerging technologies –  voice, augmented reality, sensors and artificial intelligence. This will help remove boundaries between the digital and real-world experiences. “Meet the customers where they are,” is a common adage today.


Along the journey of ‘solution- development’, it’s important to not fall into mind traps while making decisions regarding tech adoption. ‘Group think,’ for instance, is a trap where the leadership team remains introspective and does not seek insight from elsewhere in the company. Often, the most cohesive teams fall victim to group think because there is no difference of opinion to bring in new ideas. If a group of employees are comfortable with the status quo, they will want to avoid disruption, even in situations that demand change where predictability is the safest option of all.


A long term approach is the only way to bring about a shift in mindsets. Applying the principles of the nudge theory, it’s possible to persuade teams plagued with conventional thinking. For instance, techniques that work with the core principles of human programming, such as the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), can be deployed in such cases. Instead of leaders mulling over the question, “Do you want to adopt new technology?,” they should focus on answering the question of, “Which technology should we explore or adopt?” Priming leaders with reminders or making them imagine scenarios specific new technology is adopted and they are able to visualize the value earned are other techniques that can be put to use.


Seeking experts (or consultants) from diverse fields could also help. Working with the consultants can usher in fresh perspectives and help avoid the challenges of group thinking. Exploring or even discussing new perspectives helps outline areas of improvement while working out new approaches to business growth. 


We have prepared a short questionnaire that leaders can use to self-evaluate. This is a good checkin to carry out when a company is on the journey to adopt new technology. 


If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘no’ – our very broad and brief guideline is to assess the current technology maturity, identify the value a/some technology adoption/s can bring in and gradually transition to dynamic funding models based on the maximum return of value.

Does your company involve most of its employees in scouting for new technologies and business trends?

Does your company religiously track technology maturity and viability using the Thoughtworks Technology Radar or a similar framework?

Does your company evaluate value before challenges?

Is your company's funding process simplified for adoption of new technologies?

Our recommendation is that businesses must follow a structured approach when future-proofing their investments. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, demands on the technology leader will increase. The ability to build a culture and road map that can rapidly evaluate and integrate new technologies, while also balancing the upgrade and management of existing systems, is critical to the future success of a business.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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