By Phil Keoghan, Chief Executive, Ricoh UK

Technology is one of the leading forces that will drive further change in the workplace, therefore it is startling to hear that almost one third (31 per cent) of business leaders worry that new technologies and not business needs, will dictate the future direction of their company and how it will be managed.

IT services and technology was recently rated by global business leaders as one of the top three macro trends that will do most to change how businesses operate over the next decade1. Also, according to recent research from the Economist Intelligence Unit, more than one third (37 per cent) believe that by 2020 their organisation will be unable to keep up with technology and they will lose their competitive edge.

Business leaders should be provided with the right tools and expertise to ensure that they are maximising it to implement innovative business processes for the future. Optimised processes in turn will enable them to react more quickly to customer needs, support employee knowledge sharing and ensure an agile and flexible business structure.

The majority (70 per cent) of global business leaders do acknowledge that that there are still plenty of gains to be made in using technology to improve operating efficiency. They also expect technology advances to deliver greater speed and responsiveness toward customers and, through ever more sophisticated data analysis, the ability to tailor products and services to an unprecedented degree.

So how can CEOs ensure technology meets their expectations and that the business’ operations are future proof and agile enough to ensure the organisation remains competitive in the future?

Start at the right place. Analyse the journey critical business information travels before it is turned into knowledge or is adding business value. Information is one of an organisation’s greatest assets.

It gives competitive advantage; it defines the purpose and focus of a business. Employees should be able to access the right information quickly to support their core business roles. Start with an audit of the core information processes that are at the heart of the organisation. Typically these include sales transactions, invoicing and customer engagement processes.

Challenge the norm to uncover the bottlenecks. Assess the efficiency of the core processes by challenging the traditional ‘way of doing things’. There is no doubt the processes were efficient when first implemented but are they meeting business needs in today’s big data environment? Questioning the status quo will enable organisations to uncover bottlenecks that are impacting business agility.

Keep an eye on the target. The workplace will continue to change but if the core business processes have been optimised and performance is reviewed on an on-going basis, the organisation can keep its focus firmly on meeting business goals. On-going audits to identify further areas for optimisation should be included in any service agreement with a third party expert. The end result will mean that businesses information processes are led by business needs, instead of the all too common pitfall of a technology lead process that isn’t used to its full capacity and isn’t adding value to the core business.

As business leaders look to the next decade of business challenges, many (six out of ten) acknowledge that the markets where they operate will be significantly altered between now and 2020, bearing little similarity to today. There is no doubt that the successful organisations of the future will be those that embrace change and harness the benefits that are to be gained from innovative technologies and ensure that they maximise them in order to future proof their information infrastructures and create competitive edge.

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