Saturday, September 23, 2023

Do you feel overwhelmed by the pace and volume of new technology? You are not alone

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Shreya Christina
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David Nugent – CEO, Next competition

It’s hard to be a digital executive these days.

For starters, many organizations are no longer satisfied with digital technology as a cost item; Executives are often expected to manage a P&L that generates real revenue and ROI. Digital technology executives are also, I would argue unreasonably, expected to have a perspective on every new technology trend that emerges, regardless of whether that trend has an impact on the organization or not. Their offices are usually the first stop a C-suite executive or board member makes with questions about emerging technology. “Hey Johnson, what are we doing?” [insert new tech trend here]†

In sports and media organizations, the person in charge of digital technology is often responsible for “ownership and management” (R&D) tech stacks, which have traditionally focused on how the organization monetized media rights, sponsorship, and advertising through websites and mobile applications. Over the past decade, these digital teams have had to evolve to manage dozens of technologies and vendor relationships, including content and video management, streaming platforms, subscription and identity management, advertising technology, CDN, edge computing, mobile applications, back-end technologies and services, loyalty programs, fantasy and much, much more.

More recently, just as many sports and media executives had laid the foundations for these types of technologies and the processes and people to support them, the focus of the tech ecosystem shifted to new opportunities in sports betting and web3 technologies. There’s a lot to focus on, and it doesn’t get any easier.

As the co-founder and CEO of a technology services company, I have discovered that there are three primary challenges that all executives face: (1) developing a solid strategy that properly positions the organization for growth, (2) developing the people and processes that ensure the predictable and reliable execution of that strategy and (3) the ability to adjust the strategy or execution as needed.

With the current pace of business, driven primarily by the emergence of new technologies, the gap between strategy and execution is widening, while the need for flexibility becomes increasingly critical. So how can an organization possibly develop and execute the right strategy when the world around them feels like it’s constantly changing?

I think the answer is program management.

Where project management is the planning and organization of a company’s resources to bring a specific set of objectives to completion (ideally within a specified budget and time frame), program management is in fact the mother of project management as it is a strategic approach to executing and managing multiple related projects. A well-run program management function ensures teams are focused on working together to realize the company’s strategic vision.

Program management is especially important within a company’s technology units. Since the average company has more than 200 technological solutions and 900 different applicationsWithout a strictly coordinated and operationalized effort to integrate and manage technology, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. In fact, IT leaders estimate that only: 29% of their applications are integrated. This means a lot of technology in silos, technical debt and a lot of risk and inefficiency.

To take a program-based approach to digital technology, align your overall business strategy with a series of initiatives designed to achieve specific goals. I propose that one of these initiatives would be to explore how new technologies can help achieve business goals. For many organizations, a combination of a lack of domain expertise and/or a lack of bandwidth prevents them from investing resources in exploring new technology, primarily because it is an investment that is difficult to match with short-term KPIs.

The same executives who want to make sure their company is up to date and exploring the latest/best technology usually also like high profit margins, and while these two concepts are not mutually exclusive, they are not easy to align. By leveraging a program approach to new technologies, digital executives can provide the evidence they need to request higher budgets and illustrate how investing in new technologies can accelerate business strategy.

Program management is a discipline that requires experienced team members and a thoughtful and rigorous approach to the process. To get started, digital executives must identify projects that contain outcomes that are both urgent (i.e., have business-critical revenue or risk components) and are strategically important to the organization. Some questions you can ask are:

• What technical requirements do the projects have in common?

• Which technologies are already in place within the organization?

• Which of these should be purchased?

With a list of these projects and technologies in hand, start exploring a path to create programs that build both momentum and efficiency.

The good news is that if you’re overwhelmed by the pace and amount of new technologies to consider, you’re not alone. The bad news is that the number of new technologies and the speed at which they emerge will continue to increase. Taking a measured, program-oriented approach to technology is the first step in aligning technology with organizational strategy. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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