New technology, new skills challenges

The first wave of digital transformation has hit and your business now needs to prepare for a second surge in advanced technology. Organisations that regularly assess their skills base will be best placed to succeed as new systems and services enter the workplace.

Think, for example, of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and virtual reality. Industry experts are keen to stress how spending on these technologies will increase rapidly during the next few years.

Some of the figures are startling1. The International Data Corporation (IDC) says spending on AI will rise from nearly $8.0 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion in 2020. The researcher also expects global IoT investment to reach $1.29 trillion during the next three years.

That rapid rate of growth seems incongruous with the current approaches to advanced technology taken by most executives. Few businesses are making the most of the new types of connectivity promised by the IoT. Even fewer are building AI into their production cycles, let alone working on prototypes and experiments.

However, early preparations are likely to be rewarded. Think how the early adopters of the first wave of digital technologies reaped the benefits. Fast-moving start-ups and innovative enterprise created an advantage by using cloud, social mobile and big data to create new business models.

Executives in these creative organisations assessed the market and realised they needed to develop capability in fast-growing digital areas. Experimentation will once again prove crucial as IoT, AI and VR enter the workplace.

Internal research can provide great results but the costs can be high for cost-conscious CIOs. One alternative way to build experience is through partnerships. Talk to IT companies who are already pioneering developments in advanced technologies.

Reach out to innovative start-ups. Just as you can benefit from their fresh ideas, they can benefit from your enterprise experience. Think outside your sector, too. You can build knowledge by sharing best practice with business leaders in non-competitive industries.

The simple message is that IT decision-makers must continue to focus on knowledge and capability as new technologies emerge. Executives who match a long-term business strategy with training and development requirements can help their organisations to grow.

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December 2017
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