Close to one-third of IT decision-makers (32%) say that digital business has already helped their organization achieve revenue growth (with an average of a 23% increase) – according to IDG. Are businesses which are not taking care of this missing out on a substantial increase in revenue?
LinkedIn Sales Navigator suggests that there are ~360k MDs/CEOs in the UK, but only 32k Technical Directors/CTOs/CIOs. Based on this, back of the napkin maths creates an assumption that up to 91% of businesses have no one in the leadership team with a technical background. The same search for businesses with a headcount of 11-500 people suggests that 87% of scaleups/SME businesses suffer the same problem.
How does this impact a business? Well, technology can be a complex subject. As businesses, we outsource legal and accountancy services for the same reason.
Does the same happen with technology?
It’s common for scaleup founders to understand their business, and the business strategy they have to drive it forward. However, who is looking after the tech? Who is driving forward a digital strategy to empower your business strategy? Is this creating opportunity cost for the business?
According to Adobe, digital-first companies are 64% more likely to achieve their business goals than their peers.
That’s a hard figure to ignore. Would accelerated digital transformation better able you to hit your objectives? If you already are, would higher adoption allow you to set more ambitious objectives?
How is a competitor likely to compare who is doing this successfully? How will that impact your business?
In terms of day to day problems you may notice, we’ve compiled a handy list of 21 Indicators that lack of tech is slowing scaleup growth, some of these are:
Zooming out, we generally see these problems:
Ultimately, your business objectives.
It is important that a technical strategy empowers the business, to ensure that the execution of this strategy leads to paddle strokes which match the drum beat of the business.
Lack of coordination increases chance of failure.
What should be empowered/achieved?
A digital strategy must not act as an enabler of the blind adoption of technology because it seems like the right thing to do. It must empower business objectives.
We recommend in our DIY Digital Transformation document an approach which considers at least the following:
We have detailed in our DIY Digital Transformation document an approach to achieve this.
Below we’ve listed some excerpts as questions:
Less than 30% of a company’s technology vendors are actively involved in their digital transformations.
A business implementing technology without an overall strategy, and lack of coordination between staff/suppliers, is like a rowing boat where everyone paddles in different directions. It is common in this situation to see the following pitfalls:
To reduce that risk, it’s important the following people are involved:
From here, if there is someone overseeing all projects, and if everyone is aware of the plan, it reduces the changes of failure.
It’s also worth considering who is able to champion this as a day to day activity from within the business? Does anyone have the skillset, or is coachable?
Empowering a person to drive this forward day to day, ensures that it's not just thought and strategy, but that there is action driving the plan forward.
It’s important that there is someone present who understands technology from a strategic perspective, and who is able to bridge that gap between business strategy and technical strategy.
Relatively few SMEs have a CTO/technical director in the business, that person would normally fit the bill.
If that is the case, the following are options:
Hire a CTO
“The median salary in 2019 for the job title CTO was 80,000. A chief technology officer in the bottom 10% of the salary range made 49,000” – CTO Academy
There will be a natural point at which employing a CTO makes sense. If you’re a technology business by nature, that is likely to be relatively earlier in the journey, especially if you’re looking to raise investment.
Hire a Virtual CTO
This may be a good bridge with a lower cost than a full CTO, but you’re paying consultancy rates, so expect to pay around £1-2k per month.
Use an existing technology partner
Providers like Wubbleyou strive to be more than just a software/solution provider. We often input (or lead) on wider technical strategy, simply because we’re the most technically capable entity involved with the client.
We’re able to provide further value, as understanding and shaping long term technical strategy ensures we consider that when executing shorter term projects.
When taking this approach, it’s important that you build a strong relationship with your solutions provider (like us) to ensure everyone is aligned. It’s important to:
IDG lists the biggest obstacles in achieving success with digital business as:
We also don’t know what we don’t know. Without the technical expertise in the first place, how do business owners know what is possible?
Let’s face it, it’s hard – but it has high reward when done correctly. We recommend following a crawl, walk, run approach. At a high level, this looks like:
Technical/digital strategy is hard, but rewarding when executed correctly. Technology is a way to leverage your business strategy, and must be used to empower and accelerate the business towards the achievement of your business objectives.
What are your barriers to creating and executing a technical strategy, and how could we help?
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