Making Sense of Emerging Technology
In a time when technology is causing all manner of disruption, let’s state the obvious: IT looks a bit different than it did 10 years ago.
Allow me to explain.
Today, companies are moving towards the cloud and reducing their in-house footprint. Employees are using cloud tools to increase their productivity. And the ecosystem of third parties that delivers and supports technology has expanded significantly. At the root of all this transformation, there is a simple shift that has profound consequences: businesses are treating technology as a strategic imperative.
Technology’s ascension to all-things-strategic has the downstream effect of requiring organizational changes within a company. CompTIA has examined many of these changes in our Building Digital Organizations studies. Now we are focusing on emerging technology, which has quickly become a hot topic in industry circles. Given the acceleration of technological capabilities and ways that technology helps businesses compete, it is natural to focus on future trends (such as AI, VR, or blockchain) that may create huge impacts.
There’s a problem, however, with lumping all these techs together. Trying to focus on “Emerging Tech” as a topic of conversation is not quite focused enough. Think about it this way: cloud computing, as broad as it is, makes sense as a topic because a CIO might talk about strategies for transitioning to cloud-based infrastructure. I haven’t met a CIO yet who would say “I really need to bring in some emerging tech.” They talk in terms of specific plans—and those plans generally fall into three different buckets:
- Various technologies. This is the category that typically comes to mind when people use the term “Emerging Tech;” it’s also the most problematic. When a discussion lumps together many different topics rather than being focused on a single technology, it’s much harder to have the same level of depth in understanding definitions, benefits, and hurdles. Beyond that, a technology that may be cutting-edge to one group may be a standard part of the toolset for someone else. And that will change over time. There will always be a future of technology, but broadly covering too many things at the same time isn’t likely to yield useful results.
- The end result of new technologies. This is a much more focused discussion, and it also ties the IT function to the overall business. If a company wants to be more efficient, it might consider automating certain processes. Automation is not bought off the shelf, but is built from several different pieces. Rather than discussing each of those pieces as means unto themselves, IT pros and channel firms can discuss the higher-level objective and how the solution is built. Agility, collaboration, and cost control are other goals that a company might pursue with new technology.
- Corporate adoption. As we have seen in our research, the most significant and most challenging parts of digital transformation are not bringing in new tech, but instead putting in the right structure and processes to best exploit these new capabilities for business gain. Most companies are showing a desire to be more aggressive with tech adoption. This will likely involve new reporting structures, new processes around technology and new mindsets towards budgets or partnerships. Companies are all starting at different places on their digital journeys, but everyone has a next step they can take—and there are many opportunities in those steps.
In some instances, “Emerging Technology” works well as a catch-all descriptor. Think about a conference with multiple sessions or a magazine with multiple articles on various aspects of emerging technology. In many cases, though, an extra degree of precision makes more sense. Rather than trying to boil the whole emerging tech ocean, IT pros and channel firms will find value by focusing directly on individual technologies, broader effects, or business adaptation. It is a disruptive time for every company and every industry, and the right approach to emerging tech will help everyone navigate to the new normal.