Tech maturity in 2021 is key to growth, like these trees

Tech maturity models are nothing new and they all say the same thing. They describe the stages an organisation goes through from “have you tried turning it on and off again?” to “we basically work in The Matrix”. Useful benchmarks to be sure but very few explore the challenges you need to overcome to move from one stage to another.

We’re going to describe some of the challenges we see for business tech maturity in the disruptive world of 2021. And we’ll offer a few tips for levelling up your operation. But to start, let’s explore what’s driving the need for greater tech maturity this year to get a bit of context.

Tech maturity drivers in 2021

1. The democratisation of technology

Tech is the biggest disruptor to business strategy and execution and the playbook has changed. To create a competitive advantage with tech, it’s not a question of who owns the best tech, it’s about who uses tech best.

Thanks to cloud technology, any business can access technology or a SaaS application easily and cost-effectively. And if it doesn’t exist already, tools like Microsoft’s Power Platform can enable citizen developers to create their own low-code/no-code solutions.

This is pushing business leaders to collaborate strategically with IT to understand the opportunities and limitations of their current tech stack and discover better ways to work.

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2. Living in a data floodplain

The Internet of Things has reached a point where it’s never been easier to get your hands on data. Businesses are now able to extract more value from the data they collect, analyse and share. This is enabling them to evolve traditional cost centres into new value engines.

This is making waves in supply chains, but it can apply to everything from accounts to customer service. In supply chains, hyper-personalisation of customer data allows retailers to segment their customers based on profitability and service expectation so they know where to overserve and where not to.

But harnessing these insights doesn’t happen overnight. Business leaders need to focus on finding ways to not just capture data, but develop policies and cultures designed to help share information.

3. Learning to play nice with AI

Organisations continue to embrace machine learning and AI. According to Forrester, 53% of global data and analytics technology decision-makers have “implemented or are in the process of implementing some form of AI”. But research from IDC reveals that 28% of AI/machine learning projects fail.

The problem isn’t the AI, it’s the process. Businesses are realising the need for better expertise, better development environments, and a means of successfully getting a project out of the experimental phase.

These are just three of the many things driving businesses to elevate their tech maturity and driving business leaders to have a better understanding of their tech capabilities. So what’s holding them back?

Key challenges to developing tech maturity

  • Setting a benchmark
  • The rush to innovate
  • Internal resistance
  • Maintaining visibility

Setting a benchmark

How do you know where you are today? Without an understanding of your current position, it’s a challenge to know where to head. Tools like our data strategy assessment can help, but a full understanding of your current tech stack and capabilities needs a full audit.

This kind of discovery work can bring plenty of its own value beyond a benchmarking exercise. It can also:

  • help you understand your culture and relationship with technology better.
  • provide insights into process optimisation.
  • tell you what your people really think about your tech capabilities.

The rush to innovate

COVID is a driving force behind this challenge, but even pre-pandemic, the rush to adopt tech or migrate to the cloud has left many businesses in a tricky position: all the gear and no idea.

We see businesses with the latest tech, but only the most simplistic approach to critical areas like security and data storage. It’s either fallen by the wayside as people rush to deploy remote working for their teams, or they’ve made the assumption that since a cloud platform has security tools, their CSP will take care of it. (They will not take care of it)

Having the stuff is only the first step. Knowing how to deploy it effectively at scale in a way that empowers people is the next one.

Internal resistance

Some people don’t like change. Change means uncertainty, challenges, and even job losses. This means that new tech initiatives often struggle to get the funding and support they need. And the bigger your organisation is, the harder it is to get the entire business on board.

Big businesses aren’t agile enough to fail fast as smaller businesses do and the risks of failure look much bigger. So to get buy-in, leaders need to invest so much more resource upfront, which slows innovation down.

Maintaining visibility

The bigger your environment, the harder it is to manage. In the cloud, this creates quality issues that compound into lower tech maturity. Without visibility over your cloud environment and processes, you expose your organisation to a variety of issues including:

  • Shadow IT
  • Security threats
  • Overspend
  • Misallocation of resources

Tips for boosting your tech maturity

  • Short term: Secure BYOD and cloud changes brought on by COVID. Get your house in order and retrace your steps to patch up anything that’s been rushed over the last year. Tighten up security and get processes and policies established and shared.
  • Medium term: Use tech to enable your business strategy. Gather data, engage your IT teams at a strategic level and use it to inform business strategy and direction.
  • Long term: Have a plan to tidy up loose ends. In our experience, even when you’ve moved your value chain operations to the cloud, there’s still 5% of legacy infrastructure that’s on-prem, unable to adapt to 2021’s landscape, yet mission-critical. It might be the legacy accounts database, for example. Updating these systems is usually an entire project on its own, so it’s important to have it road mapped as a long term goal in your business strategy.

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