When the clock rolled over to 2015, we were all faced with that annual personal dilemma: What should I resolve to achieve better or differently in the new year? Lose weight and get fitter, combat clutter and get more organized, improve my work/life balance, strengthen my relationships… the list of desired improvements goes on.
But don’t forget your professional hat! What are you going to resolve this year as a technology decision maker? What resolutions are you going to commit yourself to now – and follow through on this year – to make your business faster, more efficient, more innovative, and ultimately more competitive?
The IBM Center for Applied Insights studied several key technology areas last year – Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data and Analytics – and released a suite of worldwide studies with insights on the use, strategies and applications of these technologies. We’ve combed through our findings and recommendations to bring you five key resolutions for the new year. You can also dive further into our reports for a deeper understanding of the studies and craft your own customized set of new year’s resolutions.
Plug your skill gaps through creative partnering
If your organization suffers from skill gaps in Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data and Analytics, you’re not alone: 40 percent of companies report moderate to major skills gaps in these technology areas.
Take a lesson from leading companies identified in the 2014 IBM Business Tech Trends study – they’re busy plugging their skills gaps by partnering with external developers. And they’re not just partnering with tried-and-true professional developers: Nearly 80 percent are also turning to citizen developers for skills transfer and training – twice the rate of non-leading companies. Also consider using academics, start-ups or clients to train your staff.
Treat innovation as a team sport
The Business Tech Trends leaders are also partnering creatively – using less-conventional partners like citizen developers, clients, start-ups and academia – to drive innovation. Compared to non-leaders, leading companies are twice as likely to turn to academia for help with product development, and 70 percent more likely to bring in start-ups for project execution. And they look broadly for expert help with their IT direction – they’re about 2.5x more likely to turn to academia, clients, start-ups and even citizen developers for help with IT decisions. In an interview with the IBM Center for Applied Insights, Gina Waldhorn, the COO of Evol8tion, talked about how established companies are teaming with start-ups to get an edge on the competition — learning how they can act more nimbly, go to market differently, and become more appealing to their customers.
The creative partnering strategy seems to be working. Leaders’ responses indicate they’re more than 5x more likely to be significantly accelerating innovation of products and services with cloud, analytics, mobile technology and social business.
So, what about bringing in clients or academia to help with product development? Have you consulted clients or start-ups when making strategic IT decisions?
Build analytical muscle
Our study Inside the mind of Generation D: What it means to be data-rich and analytically driven found that a majority of enterprises now recognize that data and analytics are transforming their industries and the way they work. Savvy enterprises are moving beyond conventional data analysis and are starting to use advanced analytics, such as video/audio analytics and natural language text analytics.
The study identified Generation D enterprises – those that employ more advanced data sources and more sophisticated analytics – and the benefits they’re reaping from their approach. Compared to other organizations, Gen D enterprises are 3x more likely to excel at developing insights regarding their customers and marketplace, 2.5x more likely to improve interactions with their customers, 3x more likely to achieve operational efficiency, and 2.6x more likely to manage risk effectively.
With differentiators like that, are you going to spend 2015 being content with your enterprise’s current analytical tools and capabilities? Will you take the plunge into new data sources like unstructured data (e.g., social media)? Build more sophisticated capabilities (e.g., predictive and prescriptive analytics)?
Act on insight, not instinct
It’s not enough to just build up a strong analytical foundation, though. Does your organization have the right mix of technical and business skills to use your analytical toolset and interpret results? Gen D organizations recognize the need to cultivate analytical skills throughout their organizations: They’re 2.7x more likely to educate employees on the use of data and analytics.
And in the C-suite, some organizations are welcoming a new role – the chief data officer (CDO). Your chief data officer: Re-imagining the business of data explores how CDOs act as change agents, mobilizing their organizations around an enterprise-wide data and analytics strategy, using data in new ways to deliver greater business value, and building more analytically driven cultures.
This last point is crucial: Insights that sit on the shelf are useless. The hallmark of an analytically fueled enterprise is having a culture that’s conditioned to act on analytical results, not instinct. The Business Tech Trends leaders we studied are turning into insight-driven enterprises, with nearly 70 percent saying analytics are integral to how their organizations make decisions.
Are your employees skilled in using your enterprises’s data and analytics capabilities? Have you seriously considered having a CDO? Has your organizational culture embraced use of evidence-based insights – rather than gut instinct – for decision making?
Improve your enterprise’s social strategy
Business Tech Trends found that the use of social capabilities and tools has more than doubled from 2012 to 2014, with significant deployments of social almost tripling over that two-year span. Further, two-thirds of enterprises plan to increase their investment in social by 2016. Against this enthusiastic adoption landscape, though, our study Charting the social universe: Social ambitions drive business impact found that only 8 percent have an enterprise-wide social strategy in place (with 45 percent planning to have one within a few years).
If you’re currently social but rudderless, the first step is to determine your enterprise’s most pressing social ambition. Organizations tend to deploy groups of social capabilities together to achieve a specific goal. The study identified five “social ambitions”:
- drive internal and external collaboration
- build, educate and protect the workforce
- understand and engage customers
- mine community expertise
- improve business processes
Once you’ve determined which of these best describes your objectives, you can start crafting a social deployment plan that focuses on employee adoption, and you can identify and engage social leaders across the business. The study gives insights into how to achieve each of these goals.
These five resolutions, should you decide to commit to them, will keep you plenty busy in 2015!
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