Technology: Opportunity to Grow or Potential Risk? Yes!

July 10, 2014
# min read
Janice Giannini

As an Board member for several organizations, periodically I'veI attended the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Annual Leadership Conference. The NACD is a nonprofit dedicated to helping Board members confidently navigate business challenges and enhance long-term shareholder value. They are constantly balancing todays' needs with insights to position for tomorrow's success as well.

During a particular conference, one of the most discussed topics was Technology; It presents a huge opportunity for growth for many companies. Along with the opportunity there can be risk. One reason this was highlighted was the feedback that few Board members truly understand technology and therefore the risks it can pose.

Whether your company is a public, private, government or not-for-profit, these opportunities and risks are ever present. The degree to which your company chooses to engage may vary; the reality of the risk-reward equation is in play competitively.

So, if your Board or your Executive team do not all speak "technology" fluently, how do you:

1. Understand the opportunities?

2. Understand and manage the risks?

3. Clearly articulate the full potential of leveraging technology

4. Get your arms around the challenges posed by the unintended consequences of leveraging that technology?

As a former Corporate Executive and CIO, I see huge potential to grow business through leveraging technology, within your own company as well as across your partner network.

Highlighting just one area in this article is the growth opportunity if you can leverage the massive amounts of data now available. Understanding that data can potentially create new products and services; it can also streamline your processes to become more effective. Understanding that data and being able to positively leverage that data instantly cause you to question - how does this:

1. Change our strategy?

2. Change how we view our business?

3. Impact our product and services?

4. Motivate or de-motivate our internal associates and partner network?

5. Improve our value proposition for our customers?

Paradigm's experience over the years indicates that successful leaders recognize that all of these questions must be objectively addressed at the outset. Furthermore, the process of thinking through the business impacts requires the executive leadership team as well as the all leaders across the company to be open minded and positive about the opportunities and the ability to confidently identify and manage the risks.

It has been opinioned that perhaps the greatest risk of all for leveraging technology might well be the people risk and not the technology risk.

As you look around, assess your competition, and think about where you want to be in 5 years, are you positioning yourself, and your company for success?

Are you openly addressing the risks including the human side of the equation? If the answer is not really, or I'm not sure we are doing enough, I invite you to think again and take action now.

This is an area where I ask you to trust your gut. You can go ask the "right people the right questions and get the right answer" frequently. But in the end- if your gut says in spite of the "data driven" response that you are addressing the human side of the equation, if you don't feel you are addressing it effectively - you probably aren't. Experience indicates that hoping it will go away- won't make it so.

If you are not confidently looking people (including yourself) in the eye, then in the words of Hillel the Elder "If not now- when?

Read the next article in the series:
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