6 key elements of strategy for emerging technologies

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Over the last 7 days I have done the keynote at the Oracle Impact conferences in Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland on the topic of Technology Leadership in an Accelerating World.

The events were centered around emerging technologies, particularly AI, IoT and Blockchain, and how these can be applied in a business environment.

The central theme of my keynote was the role of the senior technology executives in working with the business leaders to understand and seize the emerging opportunities from new technologies.

The slides to my presentation are below, as always with the disclaimer that were designed to support my keynote, not to stand alone.

As part of my keynote I went through the 6 key elements in developing strategies for emerging technologies from an IT leadership perspective.

Vision
Strategy is meaningless unless you know where you are going. While this is primarily the responsibility of the board and top executive, technology leaders can also inform the company leadership on what possibilities there might be that they are not aware of.

Education
The board, executive team and business unit leaders need to understand emerging technologies and their potential to impact or be used by the organization. However this is as much or more about acknowledging impact and changing mindsets as it is providing information.

Governance
While companies and IT functions hopefully already have effective governance in place, emerging technologies could either raise new issues or require specific structures, for example addressing bias, transparency and safety in AI or emerging privacy issues from data capture or storage.

Roadmap
A clear roadmap needs to be established, framed by the vision, which lays out the steps that will be taken to move towards that. This will include a phased activity plan including immediate activities, subsequent steps, and the outline of how initial pilots and projects will build to higher levels of capabilities and organizational impact.

Exploration
In the field of emerging technologies, no roadmap will be complete or should remain unaltered. The landscape will always be changing. At the same time as planned activities on the roadmap, organizations need to design and undertake experiments to uncover possibilities and develop insights on how applications will be useful. Planning and experimentation are both necessary.

Capabilities
Companies must focus on developing their capabilities on an ongoing basis. These include attracting talent, developing sophisticated data strategies and data governance, testing and selecting development platforms, building a culture of experimentation, and engaging with technology and partner ecosystems. I will expand substantially on capability development in another post.

The key point is that managing emerging technologies can require distinct strategies and capabilities than for managing core systems and basic IT platforms. Both domains need to be managed well in conjunction, requiring adept and visionary technology leadership working closely with the business leaders.

Image: James St John