How to become an innovative leader in the digital age

Don’t get caught up in using technology for technology’s sake. Achieve your goals faster by investing in the right tools at the right time.

Become-an-Innovative-Leader-in-the-Digital-Age
Credit: Bluewolf

We all like to imagine ourselves as the next Steve Jobs, a pioneer and visionary of the digital era.

But the truth is, many businesses are struggling to keep up with even the most modest technical advances. We are inundated by tech news regarding the latest and greatest developments in data and analytics, the Internet of Things, mobile, and the list goes on.

How can your business move from being dazzled by new tech to taking full advantage of it? Here are the top three ways to change your approach to new technology and inspire innovation, separating yourself from the masses of companies muddling through the digital age.

Business outcomes

Technology should enhance company strategy, not drive it. Your business shouldn’t operate under a Field of Dreams scenario; if you build it, no guarantees that they (customers) will come.

Define clear business goals that support these business outcomes: retention, expansion, acquisition and cost reduction. Without a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, no technology can help your business, no matter how innovative. If you’re unsure of what your goals are or are struggling to understand where your business stands in relation to those goals, begin by digging into your data.

Understand the customer journey

Once you define your company strategy in the context of specific business outcomes, map out the customer journey. What are your customer touch points, pain points, and opportunities? How does this information relate back to your specific business outcomes?

Customer experience ultimately determines the success or failure of your initiatives, so it’s imperative to clearly articulate how your customer relationships are affected by your business operations, down to each individual employee. This granularity will help better inform how a new piece of technology will affect your customers, and as a result, your business.

Vet the tech in context

What is possible is not always what is most profitable. Anchor yourself with a firm understanding of who you are as a company and what you want to accomplish, and evaluate the latest and greatest technologies in the context of those goals.

Ask vendors to create a proof of concept for their product or service. How does their technology help solve a problem, create new opportunities, or enhance the employee or customer experience? Don’t be distracted by flashy smoke and mirror tricks; if vendors can’t articulate how their technology will enable you to reach your goals, then it isn’t right for your company.

One last thing: Think big, but act small. Big ideas and audacious goals help drive us to achieve more, but never lose sight of how to take incremental steps forward. Break your ideas down into manageable chunks and relevant action items to move steadily toward achieving your business outcomes with the aid of not just the latest technology, but the right technology.

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