The onset of a new wave of innovation and technology can create mixes of reactions among C-level decision makers in any company. For every CEO, CIO, or CFO who chases the latest technological “shiny thing” and plans to make meaningful changes in their organization, there are countless others who would like to take action on little or no new technological developments.
About the author
Don Schuerman is Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product Marketing Pegasystems.
Here’s the thing – as long as some older executives may prefer to push their heads in the sand, new technology trends are like seasons; they are inevitable. In fact, the biggest risk for far too many organizations is that, either by implementing innovations half-heartedly or by ignoring them altogether, they may lose more advanced competitors who take advantage of new technology to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage.
The key to avoiding this is to emphasize responsibility. This is more than a “one stop here”, one size fits all. Accountability can take many forms – through integration, the introduction of innovations or even governance.
Artificial intelligence management
Birth artificial intelligence (AI) in modern organizations is a great example of where effective governance is needed. While it is now widely accepted as an emerging technology that can help drive meaningful change and added value for consumers, the regulation of artificial intelligence is still a gray area. In a recent global survey of C-level executives, three-quarters (65%) felt that external management of artificial intelligence was not enough to control the growth of technology.
To this end, 78% were in favor of equal responsibility for regulation between governments and the private sector being the ideal scenario. When asked what they think the balance really looks like after five years, 75% expected the government to be largely or entirely responsible for managing artificial intelligence. Why? Because only 27% said they don’t currently have a designated artificial intelligence management director in their organization, and only 25% manage official policy at the C-suite level. All of this suggests that organizations at the C-level fail to become more efficient and take responsibility for managing artificial intelligence. In order for companies to become leaders in the management of artificial intelligence, business leaders need to ensure that they are kept in the loop of possible internal processes that make artificial intelligence more independent. If not, these findings suggest that the private sector will lose complete control of technology regulation. If business leaders implement a strategy based on technical expertise and results, it can help keep their management responsive to new challenges.
Another way in which accountability can be important is to ensure that companies are able to successfully integrate new technologies, such as hyperautomation, which will help reduce costs and increase efficiency in case management. Many also believe that hyperautomation has a longer-term effect. According to our survey, 32% use it to improve their business to improve workflow and case management today, and that figure almost doubles to 61% when respondents were asked to look five years ahead.
However, for hyperautomation to have the impact that many hope and expect, it is important that companies have a responsibility to ensure successful integration. There are currently significant concerns about the ability to do so. 58% of respondents cite integration with existing legacy systems as the biggest automation challenge, while 40% of respondents state that compatibility with third-party technologies is a major concern. The success of the implementation of hyperautomation also depends on keeping functions and processes consistent, even in situations such as a coronavirus pandemic, and organizations need to develop new automated solutions rapidly.
Equally important is ensuring that business leaders take responsibility for identifying technologies that are still in the early stages of radar emergence. After all, innovation is only innovative as long as it is new. Once technology has become mainstream, companies can quickly find themselves playing catch-up to understand how it can be used effectively in their organizations.
Take augmented reality (XR). Virtual reality headsets and augmented reality have long been evolving technologies for consumers, but when asked how business leaders used it to interact Customers, only 35% said it moved customer experience. This can be expected for such a relatively new technology, but when asked about prospects after five years, a different picture emerges – almost a third (30%) of C-suite respondents say that XR will become an integral part of customer engagement. In fact, more than half (52%) believe that XR will become a competitive differentiator. The takeaway is that while the technology may not be here and now in terms of large-scale deployment, there is no excuse not to prepare. It is never too early to hold oneself responsible for innovation. As XR begins to take shape, business leaders can also reap early profits through a market-centric strategy that doesn’t wait for such technology to mature until it recognizes early, valuable opportunities.
The same can be said for investing IT infrastructure which can support new technologies. For example, it is no surprise that 73% of respondents said that the current trend towards teleworking and mobile work has developed cloud deployments are a priority, and not more than half (51%) of the words that mobile and remote functionality will continue to be one of the drivers of advanced technologies. However, if these technologies are to be effective, organizations must adopt and assist complementary technologies along the way. 41% of Level C respondents said artificial intelligence maturation, automation, and machine learning are essential to achieving cloud and extended edge for deeper success. Today, only 22% rate their distributed cloud technology as “smart” or “mature,” while 18% said the same about extended technology, indicating the scale of the challenge ahead.
Most importantly, technology responsibility requires more than just standing and taking ownership. It is proactive research, preparation and study of the best in an organization. One thing is for sure – technology is still evolving and new trends are still emerging. If companies are not willing to maximize its value by embracing responsibility, they can be left behind.