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How to become a future-proof organisation

The common assumption is that organisations who are investing in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, automation and Virtual Reality are future-proofing themselves. But is that necessarily the case? Is becoming future-proof really as simple as spending big on technology? Or what more can we do to give our business the best possible advantage going forward?

What does it really mean to be future-proof?

Without getting too philosophical, the future is not a single destination, point in time, or endgame which you need to reach. The future is ongoing. And so, to be ‘future-proof’ is less about clambering together IT innovations in order to be ready for a (non-existent) big event, and more about having your finger on the pulse of continual change.

Continual service improvements and digital transformation is a topic covered in a recent ITIL blog, and changing technology plays a leading role in being future-proof. Twofold to this is having a future-proof culture. Equally important as upgrading your tech is developing your team, their skillset and practices establishing a culture of change.

Companies who fail to take steps to change, adapt and future-proof themselves risk losing business. They will be missing opportunities, letting customers down, and losing out to competitors who respond to changing needs more quickly. In order to be future-proof, businesses must be agile and responsive across the board. Pre-empting and adapting to change at speed gives an unrivalled competitive advantage and is the true definition of future-proof.

How to make smart tech investments for the future

Whilst there is some truth in that acquiring the latest tech will future-proof your business, it is essential that any investment is made smartly. There is little use purchasing any gadget, tech or gizmo that impresses you if it does not have clear and defined benefits for your company. Likewise, tech spending can go to waste if you don’t first consider your team’s ability, or desire, to use it. This may sound simple, but a surprising number of leaders fall into these traps.

So how can you make smart tech investments? A good first step is to avoid the technology-first approach. Don’t force your team and your processes into fitting a mould set by the tech. Instead, start by defining the challenges you want to overcome, then research how technology can help you to do this.

Take automation, for example. There are likely areas of your business which you can automate and technology on the market to help you to do this. The pace of business is fast, and it is only going to get quicker into the future. By automating otherwise lengthy processes, you not only speed things along, but also become more responsive – a trait which has proven extremely valuable for companies during the pandemic.

Automation, or in fact, any tech should not be introduced to eliminate or replace employees, but to bring value to the business. IT such as big data, analytics and automation improves accuracy as well as speed, and is best used for making strategic decisions. This is where your team can add real value. Technologies should enable them to direct change, improve customer satisfaction, better and speed up services, and ultimately outperform competitors.

What it means to have a future-proof mindset

The top thing you can build into your team’s toolkit is the ability to adapt to change. This may be a challenge, but by building some clever practices into your company culture, it is achievable. A key reason why many companies lag behind when it comes to the fast-paced world of business is down to their mindset and consequently their practices.

Refine your team’s ability to ‘keep up’ with advances in technology by introducing smart practices such as agile. For businesses using traditional methodologies, agile can seem like a big jump, far removed from what employees are used to. But here at PRINCE2 we offer a professional development course which bridges that gap – PRINCE2 Agile. The course combines the flexibility of agile with the framework of PRINCE2. Change is a key theme within the course, and training will enable your team to become more adaptable and responsive.

Shifting the mindset within your business ultimately starts with leadership. Leaders have great influence over the culture of a company, and it falls to them to initiate change and provide innovative direction. Whether that is getting people across different departments to work together, launching training, or introducing skill sharing programmes. Any initiative which encourages collaboration, strengthens talents, or sparks enthusiasm will benefit change efforts. It will promote agility, responsiveness and go a long way towards improving processes for implementing change faster and with greater accuracy.

The future starts now

To not only survive, but flourish in the tech-focused future, companies must shift their mindset and strategically use IT to bring value to business. Organisations aiming to future-proof themselves should look to become more agile in their practices. They should also have a customer-centric focus and look to become increasingly data-driven.

Reimagining your IT operating models may be part of a digital transformation strategy, but not all changes will happen overnight. Developing a plan for continual improvements which can happen incrementally and evolve over time will lead the business well into the future. Change is happening fast, and to be ‘future-proof’ is above all, about being ready for change. As technology advances, having a talented, agile team will help you find ways to not just keep up, but get ahead. With the right training and mindset, IT leaders and their teams can ride out digital disruption smoothly, adapting to change, and overcoming barriers with innovation and digital best practices. In this way, they can harness IT to create more value, optimise agile decision making and build success.