This year represented a year of change in consumer buying practices. Savvy shoppers chose online purchasing and fulfillment due to the perks provided by eCommerce, including quick shipping and easy-to-find sales promotions. Now that consumers have demonstrated a preference for a digital, omni-channel, behavior-based and predictive experiences. The implications for organizations are material and, in many cases, will involve a top to bottom IT and organizational transformation to remain relevant.

it_leader_resolutionsNewer organizations, which are not encumbered with multiple regulatory body audits, legacy systems, et al. have a competitive advantage as they can enable digital distribution quite quickly. In contrast, for organizations that are heavily regulated and burdened with large legacy system environments, the transformation will require a multi-year journey.

Regardless of an organizations current state, there are transformational business and technology New Year’s resolutions that will have a positive impact in the coming year for all!

Collaborating across the organization

In virtually all organizations, the potential synergistic value associated with an integrated IT and business configuration has not been realized. As we are now seeing technology transformation occur at a far faster pace then we have seen in the past, optimization of the technology delivery process is a critical objective for the coming year.

IT leaders, and the businesses they support, need to be integrated into the overall technology enablement process, with equal accountability for solution delivery. The long-held view that IT development activities represent a “black box” to the business needs to be abandoned. When I participate as a thought leader at Fortune 1000 senior executive events, this virtual wall between IT and the business often comes up as a matter of great concern to C-Level executives.

Bringing in the CEO and board

CEO and board engagement is essential. No longer can technology enablement be a secondary priority for this top leadership group. A change in visibility and involvement is necessary as the future of an organization’s competitive differentiation will be tied to technology enablement. In the ensuing year, a greater number of strategic directives from this group will need to occur that are enabled through leading-edge technologies. As such, this group must have visibility into, and be presented with, strategic technology investments that enable expedited, differentiated technology solutions that will help them remain competitive in emerging digital distribution, purchase and fulfillment channels.

Focusing on the business as a priority

CIOs must abandon long standing priorities. Specifically, CIOs have often focused on maintaining single hardware solution vendors and standardized development languages, while also having, as a priority, conversion from legacy system architectures to new core system enabling technologies. These traditional priorities are more tactical rather than strategic. Going forward, CIOs must change their mindset to be strategically focused. The result will be acceptance of overall architecture fragmentation as a means to deliver strategic solutions in an expedited manner to the business. This will result in some level of internal IT organizational delivery reconfiguration in order to enable an optimal strategic delivery model, while in addition, embracing the integration of the business into the overall solution delivery process, as discussed above.

Combating security concerns

Security and more security is a top of mind issue for consumers, auditors and regulators alike. This year has been one of unparalleled breaches in top government and corporate databases. In addition, security technology providers are maximizing their opportunistic visibility through broad-based advertising campaigns that present worst case security breach scenarios to organizations and individuals.

As the New Year commences, traditional user id and password based security will soon be viewed as deficient. Therefore, an additional security barrier will be essential to maintain consumer confidence. Initially, the addition of a personal question can be added to the sign-on process which is stored in a segregated database. However, this represents a temporary band aid. The patent security paradigm that will emerge during the ensuing year will be biometric authentication, which is based upon fingerprint matching.

Coordinating data, data and more data

For any consumer-driven organization, consumer data retention has to be a top priority in the ensuing year. The key driver behind any behavior and associated predictive analytics is data. Organizations need to establish their unique data enablement strategy. This is due to a host of variables which vary by organization including: current data retention which is extractable, specific data variables available, length of data retention, quality of data retained, etc. Often the available organizational data has to be supplemented though the purchase of consumer specific data from third party data sources. The hiring of a data scientist is essential to participate in what data is mined from existing systems, which then forms a basis from which supplementary data requirements can be established. The final outcome from these activities is an initial analytical database.

In order to mine relevant behavioral and predictive data, the purchase of a purpose-built solution will be required. The emergence of Big Data solutions, while providing an analytical framework and associated analytical tools, have a dependency related to what baseline data can be extracted from the organization.

Even if data analytics is not currently relevant to an organization, in the coming year, enabling the retention of the maximum amount of consumer related data is critical. This non-specific data retention strategy will be required for due to the fact that behavioral and predictive analytics represent an art vs. a science. The key data elements that enable behavioral and predictive analytics only become emergent when the data scientist performs their data modeling against a baseline data set. Thus data retention, prior to a potential future need, remains essential as the value generated from behavioral and predictive analytics is directly tied to the breadth and depth of available data.

Managing social media

Social media management must be a key objective in all consumer organizations. IT along with the business need to establish standards for what is developed, how it is used and how it is monitored. Most organizations will take both an offensive as well as a defensive position. This means that for most organizations, social media will be a key branding and marketing tool, while at the same time it will need to be constantly monitored for posts about negative experiences related to the organization. At a very minimum, a defensive monitoring capability is essential in the ensuing year. Most consumer-driven organizations have potential failure points in their sales fulfillment and distribution life cycle. Real-time monitoring of social media provides the opportunity for the organization to react immediately to consumer perceived and/or actual fulfillment failure points before any failure point has the opportunity to go viral.

Utilizing the cloud

As we enter the ensuing year, there is hardly a single computing user who has not stored data and/or applications in the cloud and/or used the cloud as a single point of technology solution access. Organizations are now accountable to keep these consumers’ data safe and secure, while at the same time enabling the cloud to be a single point of technology access. This year will also likely see the broad based use of purpose-specific clouds. For example, there may likely be a cloud for car vendors, recruiting firms, banks, various specialized retail providers, etc. where head to head competition occurs. CIOs I have spoken with are not particularly worried about further cloud physical implementation, but rather are focused on how best to enable patent security for their cloud-based usage. Cloud security is an emergening security paradigm that will emerge and be recognized as patent in the coming year. Thus CIOs are likely going to have to incrementally increase cloud security based upon emergent security technology paradigms. I see the cloud being viewed by the public as a potential solution to all their future computing needs and desires. This view is driven by the fact that to date there have been no “cloud scope” boundaries established.

Moving forward with an incremental plan the New Year

The number of, and the associated magnitude of, the proposed New Year transformational initiatives is a daunting, material undertaking. However, faster technology advancement, growing consumer reliance on a total differentiated digital experience, growing security threats, and new, more agile, legacy free, organizational startups, validate that the matters above must be addressed.

As with any major organizational undertaking, the roadmap that leads to an optimal outcome is enabled through the uncovering of each organization’s unique enablement challenges. This allows an organizationally relevant transformation plan to be created and sequenced based upon incremental, visible, consumer technology advancement of the above areas.


Copyright © 2013-present BlueSteps, Inc. All rights reserved. The Executive Job Search Engine for Professionals | Bluesteps