Are business leaders putting off their journey to digital transformation?

Business leaders can overcome their lack of interest in boring analysis by thinking about technology in terms of outcomes

LAST year KPMG published research that suggested business leaders consider the next three years to be more important for their companies than the last 50. Few of us would dispute that this is very possible, considering the relentless march towards the all things digital economy.

By the term 'more important', KPMG mean that CEOs, MDs and their peers, will be making decisions over the next few years that will determine the fate of their companies in future years. This could mean preservation in tough market conditions or increased market share. It could of course also mean stagnation even in good times or even business collapse.

Making key and important business decisions may become fewer in number but the impact on making the correct decision will be enormous. Take for example looking at a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution.

This requires your average SME, investing tens of thousands of pounds and possibly up to a few hundred thousand, to upgrade from an old, dated system, to one that is fully compatible, and in line with how a digital business is run today.

Get this decision wrong - or indeed not making the decision to invest - and it could be catastrophic for the survival for the company.

Over my many years in the IT industry, I've seen some crazy unexplainable decisions made on ERP solution investments. The average ERP software solution has around 50,000 viewing screens. When a software consultant demonstrates the software, they probably don't have the time to show more than 200 screens during even a lengthy and intense presentation.

Perhaps the following week, the CEO or MD, as the business leader, will recall maybe five or six screen views that impressed them. What is worrying is that that same person will make a future-defining decision based on remembering those few screen views which could, down the line, lead to all sorts of problems if they get it wrong.

In reality, many successful and energetic business leaders have very little time to look at boring accounts screens, unless of course, it's a healthy bank account view, or a worryingly smaller than expected sales view.

However, use the term “digital transformation” instead of “ERP upgrade”, and the CEOs ears will perk up.

Link “digital transformation” to the real problems business leaders worry about every day, and you'll keep them interested. When they're kept interested, they'll be much more likely to make the right decision for their business.

The most practical way for business leaders to overcome their lack of interest in boring analysis, screen after screen, is to think about technology in terms of outcomes, rather than getting bogged down in the detail.

While ERP software on its own is yawn-inducing for the typical business leader, there's no reason digital transformation should be.

When it comes to IT, Business leaders shouldn't be afraid to admit they don't understand something, most haven't got time to educate themselves on it.

The pace of technology innovation is so fast that trying to keep up even for IT professionals, is like being on a treadmill. There is simply too much information to digest thanks to the internet.

Business leaders should have faith in their team, listen to the right mix of people, but most importantly, don't wait too long to make a decision!

:: Trevor Bingham ( is business relationship manager at ItFuel in Craigavon. Follow them on Twitter @itfuel.

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