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Many business leaders in some of the largest industries think they're prepared for the upheaval that emerging technologies represent. But few are actually ready for the operational, competitive, cultural, and security shifts that are already taking place, according to a newly released report from business and technology consultancy West Monroe Partners.
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Technology presents every organization with unprecedented opportunities to elevate performance, scale, and market impact, the report noted. Those same technologies also present a serious threat to those who fail to adapt quickly.
The report, called Technology is transforming everything: Businesses struggle to change with it, is based on a survey of 300 US senior executives in financial services, healthcare, and energy and utilities conducted in late 2017. It found that company leaders are overwhelmed by the volume of data and technologies their companies have access to -- and what to do with it.
"With the push to be digital and the enthusiasm to chase technology trends like AI [artificial intelligence], robotics, and big data, executives feel the urgency to act and often focus too tactically," said Greg Layok, managing director at West Monroe. "Our clients that have been most successful realize that it is as much about process and culture as it is technology."
Given all the advances in data science and the tools to help businesses uncover insights in their data, "it is shocking that only half of the survey respondents view data as a strategic asset and less than a third are using predictive modeling to drive towards better outcomes," Layok said. "The companies that are investing in their data platforms and driving insights with business analytics are positioned to identify trends better, continuously improve, and innovate faster."
Business and technology leaders need to function as one team, take a product development mindset, and innovate in an environment where failing fast should be encouraged, Layok said. "Many leaders do not realize this is the key to driving value," he said.
A large majority of the executives (94 percent) said disruptive technologies will create business opportunities in the coming years, while 42 percent didn't classify disruptive technologies as threats.
Competitive pressures are not top of mind, the study said, but they should be. More than two-thirds of the executives do not think competitors are successfully leveraging their own data. This is an instinct worth trusting, it said, but it's only effective if combined with action to propel an organization's transformation. And only one-third of the organizations surveyed have technology initiatives underway to augment own customer experience.
Concern about cyber security remains high, with only four percent of respondents not worried about it. But they can't quite identify the root of their fears, with most feeling confident about the security of their data. Many who worry also said they lack a proactive cyber security strategy.
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"Security is top of mind across all industries, with increasing attention to data security from customers and executive boards," Layok said. While more than 70 percent of survey respondents feel they have done enough to prevent a cyber attack, "we have recently seen companies who considered themselves secure suffer a security breach," he said.
"More leaders need to realize that tools and certifications are not enough. Companies must also spend more time creating a security mindset among their employees," Layok added.
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