This is about putting existing technologies together and using them in a creative way. So, for IT, this is about creatively applying the tools you already have. After all, it’s not always the tool, but how you use it. For example, some people can pick up the telephone, have a short conversation, and make a million dollars. Other people can pick up the telephone, have a short conversation, and lose a million dollars.
The difference is not the phone; it’s what the person said on the phone — how they used the tool. Therefore, the creative application of the tool is often more important than the tool itself.
As you likely know, there are literally thousands of features in Microsoft Word that you can select. Most people are using only seven to ten features. And your competitors are using the same features, which means you’re not getting any true competitive advantage. So IT needs to ask, “What features would be great for our sales group [or HR, or accounting department, or logistics people, etc.] to use — features that are so buried in the software that no one knows they exist?”
Most IT departments don’t ask those questions because they’re too busy making sure everything is connected, working well, and safe.
But there’s another vital role that IT must undertake — the creative application of tools so your company can gain competitive advantage from the tools you already have. Who in your organization is working on that? Who is looking at the tools you already have and asking if they are being underused? Chances are the answer is, “No one.” As such, it’s safe to say that all your tools are underutilized.
Therefore, you need to implement a communication vehicle that engages the different groups you serve in the enterprise such as sales, logistics, purchasing, accounting, HR, etc. and you need to engage them in helping them understand the power of the tools they have access to.
One suggestion is to automatically show them a “feature of the day” and how it can make their life easier. This is about giving them information in short, fun, engaging ways rather than a hundred-page document detailing all the features (which no one will read anyway). Some software programs have such features where you get a tip per day. Perhaps you can customize that idea and apply it internally so that the different groups get information tailored specifically to them and their needs.
Many CIOs and others in the IT department will say they are too busy to address any of these trends. They’re too busy to look at just-in-time training, processing power on demand, or the creative application of existing tools. But if you don’t drive the initiatives, your competition will.
Ultimately, whoever drives these trends within an organization will be perceived as a significant contributor to the enterprise, i.e., someone worth keeping and someone with a high value in the marketplace. That’s why the CIO should own these initiatives and bring value to the organization as it relates to selecting and implementing technology, as well as how the company uses it. In this way, the CIO can drive results to the bottom line and be a key contributor to the organization’s success.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal best seller Flash Foresight: How To See the Invisible and Do the Impossible as well as the highly acclaimed Technotrends.