SME Article by Darren Smith, VP Information Technology, Percepta.
A business that isn’t growing is dying. Businesses with the mindset, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” tend to feel comfortable, relaxed and what these businesses don’t account for is this year’s success may not be there next year. Percepta recognized this early on and built a business model to accelerate growth with existing and new customers, new markets, and new services for the long haul. So, how does IT stay ahead of its business partners to ensure they have the technology required to deliver on its goals?
It starts with alignment between the business & IT strategies. Technology is a core part of our business strategy because it enables everything we do. Everything! Our technology must allow us to adapt quickly to meet customer demands, improve speed to market, and deliver more personalized experiences. Doing this requires the right skillsets and workplace culture.
Our first step, we established our guiding principles, or what we call our (4) pillars:
- Enable globally, consistent decision making and analytics through the visibility of quality data
- Drive the simplification and standardization of the core business processes (e.g., Ops) to improve productivity
- Enable value-added service capabilities (e.g., eCommerce) to delight and grow our customer base
- Reduce our structural costs through operational efficiencies and system consolidation
Secondly, we set some lofty goals and introduced how we needed to work differently than the past, all focused on the ability to lead versus follow:
- Building data and analytics, scalable, to respond better proactively to anticipated customer needs
- Move towards a diverse technology landscape, with a cloud-first approach focused on business outcomes and customer experiences
- Develop and maintain an agile organization focused on faster turnaround times when delivering customer value
We knew this required a strong, skilled technology team operating in a bold and fearless innovative culture. We knew we couldn’t buy our way there rather we bet on our existing team with strategic changes. We made a major investment in cloud and security training and certification. We’ve taken an innovative approach to employee upskilling. Our IT employees now are empowered to take their development into their own hands, reimagine the ways we solve problems, and anticipate the needs of our customers.
Now with the IT people, our greatest technology asset, in place, how do we change the rest of the technical landscape? We identified and divested legacy technology no longer relevant, and doesn’t meet our strategy nor expected customer outcomes. We’ve made investments in a more agile architecture to achieve new capabilities at a pace faster than in the past.
We didn’t stop there – we knew we had to change how we interact with our business partners. Some call it ‘digital transformation’ or ‘modernization’ or some other buzzword – I just call it ‘thinking differently’. IT focused on being motivated and informed by a customer-centered, journey-based approach (“customer is at the center of everything”), leveraging AI, machine learning and other technologies to enhance the customer experience and we engaged our business partners in continuous conversations about how we work, lead, and operate differently to drive business results through innovation.
In conclusion, CY2023 sets up to be a challenging year for many industries and companies, so IT is going to be called upon more so than ever to deliver faster results, more efficiently and with top-level quality. We are ready. As a sports fanatic, I remind our IT team that if our business was a football game, IT is the referee where we play an important role in the outcome of the game, however, if all they talk about at the end of the game is the officiating, we did not do our job!