Can you transform into a tech company?
Transforming into a tech company has become top of mind for executives in all major industries. It is clear that modern technology will fundamentally alter what and how business is done in every domain, sector, and industry. This has led to a call to arms in every enterprise to understand how they can transform into a tech company.
The Tech Company Magic
Tech companies have fine-tuned the art of bring new digital products and services to the market, quickly, efficiently and effectively and understanding customer feedback to iterate and improve. This capability makes them incredibly agile and leads to faster experimentation that is cheaper and involves less risk. In turn, this enables them to bring new capabilities to the market and even if all do not succeed or get traction, a few do and that drives innovation, customer satisfaction, and growth. From the outside, tech companies appear to be massive juggernauts that are unstoppable and able to crush everything in their path.
Technology has been leveraged in every sector and industry, however, it has almost always been treated as a means to an end, something that is required but never the real value driver for the customer. This has led to the typical organizational structure in enterprises into “Business”, “Operations” and “Information Technology”. The “Business” arm generates value for customers, the “Operations” team carries out the requirements of the Business team and the “Information Technology” team provides the systems (databases, network and compute) required to “keep the lights on” for the Operations and Business Teams”
This structure served enterprises well in the last decades as customers did not have an alternative to directly working with the enterprise and this fortified the value supply chain and also established a hierarchy of sorts within the enterprise where the business looked down upon operations who looked down upon technology. The purpose of the Information Technology team was simply to ensure things operated as expected and then only time technology would be discussed at the executive levels was when customers faced outages and a break in value delivery due to glitches or when costs had to be cut to improve the bottom line.
In the last few years, with customers getting a glimpse through consumer products and services of what technology is really capable of in its ability to deliver value, pressure has started to build on enterprises to give technology a front row seat. Customers are directly demanding better applications, better interfaces and better information for existing products and services and in parallel, are demanding new technology and digital products willing to pay a premium for better interfaces, information, and experience. This has led to the realization that technology needs to be promoted and an entirely new product line of tech products can be built and delivered.
Transforming From Non-Tech to Tech
Now that technology has become the topic of almost every conversation between customers and the service providers and technology now having the ability to fundamentally change or even replace big chunks of operations and business teams and functions, not transforming into a tech companies means an enterprise that is more costly to operate, has more errors and variations in customer experience and is bloated, moves slowly and more likely to miss market opportunities. Transforming into a tech company is imperative.
However, this is easier said than done. Here are some problems that enterprises are guaranteed to face
Status Quo Maintainers
A big chunk of the enterprise will be focussed on maintaining the status quo. Their focus will be to keep things as is to continue existing value streams, revenue drivers and the hierarchy in the enterprise that preserves the status quo.
Technology Going At It By Themselves
Technology or the IT team might decide to go at the transformation by themselves and leave the operations and business teams behind. This misalignment, fragmentation and a lack of a clear, coherent strategy will slow down and ultimately fail the transformation. This is because the transformation to tech needs to be driven by business and customer requirements.
Platforms and Infrastructure Vs. Applications
Transforming into tech organizations can be misguided if the focus ends up being tech stack modernization and upgrade as opposed to customer centric application development. With such a focus, the enterprise could end up with a modern infrastructure and platform but the investment might not return any ROI or might be ill-suited for the specific requirements of customers and partners.
Levels of Indirection
Building customer centric applications that leverage technology requires bring the technology product development team in direct contact with the customers. This is often easier said than done as typically, in non tech enterprises, the business team maintains direct communication with the customers and then passes on the requirements through multiple levels of hierarchy to eventually the product development team. This indirection adds delays and leads to information that gets lost in translation ultimately leading to inaccurate or off the mark applications.
Legal and Policy
The approach to new value generation as evidenced by the legal and policy practices of the enterprise can also inhibit or slow down the transformation. Key needs such as monetizing new tech products, delivering on data requirements, defining IP ownership and the difference between customer interviews vs. co-creation initiatives can introduce complexities in the product development and delivery process that can slow down innovation and value generation.
Enterprises need to focus on their developers who ultimately become the value generators for the enterprise even for products and services that are non-tech in nature. This was the realization made by tech companies decades ago where technology creators ultimately drive the company and its delivery. Focus on hiring, nurturing and growing the best developers and ensuring they are unblocked and enabled to succeed is critical to enable the transformation.
Transforming into a tech company means that the enterprise is able to market its products to its customers similar to how a tech company might. Developing the technology marketing competency is critical for enterprises who want to deliver successful tech-driven or tech-enabled products and services. Tech marketing best practices can open better communication channels with customers leading to faster feedback and iteration.
Software is eating the world. Technology is changing at a break neck speed. Customers and users are accustomed to highly enriched, contextual experiences (think Amazon and Netflix). Tech transformation is a tough path however it can be sped up through a focus on customer facing products and services. The AI Company’s platform and products can enable you to achieve early success that can serve as a morale booster, an efficiency boost and a model to be replicated across the enterprise.