Focus on business problems, not technology

A new survey by Gartner has found that CEOs in the Asia-Pacific region believe that “conventional technologies” such as cloud, ERP, analytics and CRM will help them to improve productivity, rather than “technologies that support digital transformation such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and robotics”.

“Asia-Pacific CEOs want to increase profit margins while maintaining sales growth, and they expect IT to play a strong role in this,” says Partha Iyengar, vice president and Gartner fellow.

“The problem is that Asia-Pacific firms aren’t moving fast enough to capitalise on this potential. Their focus on conventional technologies will likely have less of a transformative effect than more innovative technologies.”

This is despite their awareness and understanding of the major impact that these key digital business technologies will have on their industry, Iyengar adds.

I beg to differ. While cloud, analytics, ERP and CRM may be deemed by Gartner as conventional technologies, they form the backbone of any modern enterprise that powers the so-called innovative technologies like IoT and AI.

After all, IoT – at its core – is all about collecting data from sensors and devices to generate insights to solve a problem, improve a business process or predict when a milling machine will break down.

How else can this be done without the use of big data analytics – and even AI in more advanced applications? Plus, most of this data sits on ERP systems (including cloud-based ones) that are increasingly being augmented with machine learning capabilities.

Making the distinction between conventional and innovative technologies will not help organisations in crafting their digital strategy. Instead, the focus should be on identifying business problems and applying a suitable combination of technologies to solve those problems.

After all, who is to say that implementing cloud-based business applications will have less of a transformative effect if those investments can translate to improvements in customer experience, employee productivity and, in some cases, open new markets?