How to Future-Proof Your IT Organization

Change is inevitable. That’s why it’s important to prepare your IT team to successfully address and embrace emerging challenges and opportunities.

John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author

September 26, 2023

4 Min Read
Future proof written by hand on transparent board
totallyPic via Alamy Stock Photo

At a Glance

  • Leadership Building
  • Collaborating for Success
  • Future Planning

Today’s cutting edge is tomorrow’s dull blade. Keeping pace with technology advancements is essential for both IT leaders and their teams. Future-proofing is the only way to ensure that your organization is prepared to grab and leverage the next big tech trend.

Technology change has always been a source of possibility for organizations, observes Andres Velasquez, a principal with EY Technology Consulting. He adds that today’s rapid pace of technology evolution spurs motivation, prompting team members to transform how they think and work together for value creation. “Successful IT leaders leverage this dynamic as the basis for preparing their teams for technology change,” Velasquez says.

Building Leadership and Investments

Effective future-proofing begins with strong leadership support and investments in essential technologies, such as the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI). Leaders should encourage an agile mindset across all business segments to improve processes and embrace potentially useful new technologies, says Bess Healy, senior vice president and CIO at financial services company Synchrony.

Fostering an innovative culture, investing in technology and talent, and forming strategic partnerships are all important steps necessary to prepare teams for technology change, Healy advises. “IT leaders should actively seek out emerging trends and continuously adapt to the evolving technology landscape to ensure their organization remains competitive and innovative.”

Related:Building an IT Roadmap Today for the Future

Important technology advancements frequently emerge from various expert ecosystems, utilizing the knowledge possessed by academic, entrepreneurial, and business startup organizations, Velasquez observes. “Successful IT leaders encourage team members to operate as active participants in these ecosystems, helping reveal where the business value really is while learning how new technology could play a role in their enterprises.”

It’s important to educate both yourself and your teams on how technologies are evolving, says Chip Kleinheksel, a principal at business consultancy Deloitte. “Educating your organization about transformational changes while simultaneously upskilling for AI and other relevant technical skillsets, will arm team members with the correct resources and knowledge ahead of inevitable change.”

Carefully studying technology innovations as they arrive will unlock the next chapter in driving enterprise value, Kleinheksel says. “Proper education can also help leaders and middle managers effectively communicate with their teams and implement well thought out plans to adapt to future states of operation.”

Related:Bridging the AI Strategy Gap in the C-Suite

Collaboration Leads to Success

Innovation should be a cooperative, enterprise-wide effort. Connected and efficient collaboration spanning all business units is necessary to understand technology change’s impact, uses, and approaches, Velasquez says. “Ideally, the organization will focus on ways to streamline business, technology, data, and change management teams experiment with and learn from new technologies.”

Healy says that Synchrony has found that establishing innovation stations is crucial to continuous learning and growth. Innovation stations are a global network of enterprise employees, committed to innovation and engaging in activities, such as hackathons and crowdsourcing. The purpose of these activities is exploring and discovering potential real-world applications of promising new technologies.

Building a dedicated, cross-functional incubation team is also important, Healy notes. The group, operating independently, is responsible for creating and launching new products and capabilities into the market. The team focuses on emerging trends, identifies promising innovations, and identifies an appropriate market need and/or fit for each product.

Related:Business Leaders: Asking the Right Questions About Generative AI

Avoiding Missteps

A critical mistake many IT leaders make is failing to foster a culture of innovation. “As technology rapidly evolves, resistance to change and complacency can lead to stagnation,” Healy cautions. IT leaders should avoid becoming too focused on the status quo and not investing in new technologies or skills development. “Overlooking external partnerships and failing to leverage emerging trends can also hinder an organization’s ability to stay competitive,” she adds.

As they plan for the future, IT leaders risk falling victim to tunnel vision, focusing on a single emerging trend, such as generative AI. “Although not every new industry trend is as compelling as others, it’s necessary to keep a holistic view of the technology landscape to understand all potential areas of impact,” Kleinheksel says.

Planning for the Future

Harnessing technology change leads to business clarity, connectivity, and execution, Velasquez says. “IT Leaders are in a great position to transform how organizations leverage the innovation that new technologies create, but doing so successfully requires dealing with change and new ways of working.”

Staying on top of emerging trends can be challenging, especially in today’s world, in which new discoveries arrive rapidly. “Staying as up to date as possible on new trends, leaning into key business alliances, and collaborating with industry peers is a top priority,” Kleinheksel says.

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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