Firms often scramble to spin up new customer and employee experiences during times of crisis or when the economic outlook is unclear. During the pandemic, for example, leaders accelerated existing digital transformation plans and spending and adapted their plan, making it happen in a matter of weeks. But for other firms, it was more of a scramble. They were caught off guard and implemented technology options that may not have been on their original technology strategy roadmaps. And in many cases, they made choices in the moment that often deployed the best available option for customers’ most immediate needs. They stitched together existing systems with APIs and did the bare minimum to get their remote workers access to the tools they needed.
After any crisis of that magnitude, the question technology leaders should be asking themselves is, “Are the decisions we made during the crisis still the right decisions for the business today and in the future, or do we have some digital regrets that we need to address?” Forrester analysis shows that productivity from tech investments has been falling for the past 20 years. Imagine what has been happening during the pandemic — another less-than-desirable result: digital sameness. Digital sameness is when you invest in digital solutions only to find that your offering is highly similar to your competitors.
If you’re now looking to evaluate your tech with an eye toward a more volatile future, here are some suggestions:
- Be customer-obsessed in tech decisions. Being customer-obsessed means looking at everything through your customer’s eyes. And that applies to technology evaluation and consolidation. Whether it’s a front-end customer-facing experience or a back-end internal system, evaluate its worth and value based on the customer’s needs first. That means building solutions that engage customers on the devices and channels they choose, so it’s vital you understand your customer’s preferences and behaviors.
- Strive for resiliency, creativity, and adaptivity. Your broader technology strategy should help your firm become more resilient to deliver on your brand promise no matter the crisis, become more creative in your delivery of experiences to customers, and become more adaptive to reconfigure your core business concepts when needed.
- Think platforms, not point solutions. One of the underpinnings of Forrester’s future fit technology model is the use of technology platforms — bundles of enabling technologies and services preassembled to deliver a specific customer experience or business capability. Yes, that includes a cloud-first mentality, but it goes much deeper. When new business opportunities occur, businesses can use these platforms to rapidly assemble new, unique value propositions for customers that drive significant business for the firm.
Of all the lessons learned during the pandemic, perhaps the most important lesson has been to expect the unexpected. Shifting to a 100% remote work environment wasn’t on most CIOs’ radars. Restrictions of in-person dining and shopping weren’t, either. As a technology executive, your role is to ensure that your technology strategy not only adapts to future disruption but allows your firm to make the most of unexpected change.
Forrester’s future fit technology strategy prepares you to deliver excellent customer and employee experiences and drive growth regardless of the changes coming at you in the market. And we have the data to back it up: Our analysis shows that future fit leaders grow up to 2.8x faster than their peers.