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Information Technology as Business EnablerSri Adusumilli, VP & CIO, IT, Centric Parts StopTech Qualis

Providing secure, stable Information Technology (IT) services and infrastructure with an optimal cost is a basic customer expectation. IT technology executives should understand business strategies and collaborate with their stakeholders to showcase how to leverage technology for innovation in their industry to increase profit, enable growth and stay ahead of the completion.

How Does Information Technology (IT) Become a Business Enabler?

• IT executives should earn a seat at the executive table to engage in strategic business decision making.

• Include corporate and business objectives (Example: increase sales, revenue by leveraging technology) as part of IT leadership team performance goals to ensure equal stake in business goals delivery.

• Develop information technology by understanding and aligning with business goals and strategies.

• Encourage the IT team to be innovative (experiment with new ideas, take controlled risks and learn from failures).

• Ensure that the IT team understands the marketplace: business, competitors, customers including critical end users, for opportunities and challenges to develop innovative solutions.

• The IT team should continuously collaborate with business stakeholders to educate them on emerging technologies and identify improvement opportunities.

The pace of technology innovation is fast. As IT leaders and technologists, it is exciting to work on cutting edge technologies such as Internet of Things (IOT), mobile, intelligent agents/bots, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and advanced analytics. It is the job of the IT leaders to understand their marketplace (business, customers, competitors) and provide right technology (not always the latest technology) for the organization with the goal of leading their industry with innovation for value generation while balancing risk and budget.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to Measure if IT is a Business Enabler:

• Number of new or improved business opportunities leveraging technology.
• Cost savings by leveraging technology initiated by information technology department.
• Revenue generated by leveraging technology initiated by information technology department.
• Your organization leveraging technology for competitive advantage.
• Your organization considered a technology leader in your marketplace.
• Your Information technology department considered as a profit center.

IT technology executives should understand business strategies and collaborate with their stakeholders to showcase how to leverage technology for innovation

Challenges and Opportunities:

Disruptive technology transforms the way an existing, established business operates with new innovative products that completely changes the way they operate. Examples of technology disruption include Netflix streaming services to movie rental industry, Uber mobile platform to the taxi industry, Airbnb social collaboration to the hospitality industry, Zillow home price and listings visibility to real estate industry, Waze mobile social to avoid traffic jams to the transportation industry, Tesla driverless connected electric cars to the auto industry and Amazon services to supply chain industry.

IT is a service provider (considered a support function) in most industries. This perception should change and business executives should leverage technology for innovation. We should all learn from the obsolete video rental store chains, book store chains and dwindling taxi companies. We should act as visionaries to understand the future of our industry and lead the marketplace with innovative technology initiatives.

Customers are now expecting enhanced services:

- On-demand buying (24/7) as per their need and convenience from any location or device.
- Fast/instant delivery, less waiting time in lines, delivery to their place of choice.
- Information accessibility, access ordered service information anytime, anywhere.
- Sharing economy, selling and buying of unused resources and sharing service experience via social networks.
- Cost optimization where expectations change based on service. Customers are willing to pay more for convenience and are more conscious of using environmental friendly services and products. 

Business Value Creation 

Current and emerging technologies provide cost savings and efficiencies in every industry. A few opportunities worth mentioning are:

- Minimize travel time by viewing rental homes using augmented reality.
- Leverage machine language to understand and address individual student strengths and weaknesses.
- Improve supply chain accuracy with predictive analytics.
- Proactive monitoring of blood pressure and glucose levels using wearable technology to improve health care.
- Provide training with virtual reality for efficiency.
- Develop engineering prototypes with 3D printing to reduce time-to-market for competitive advantage.
- Use of Internet of Things (sensors) data for optimizing business processes in any industry including manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare.

We are on the journey of technological disruption, with endless business opportunities for business and information technology visionaries. It’s our job as leaders to guide and enable our business to exploit these opportunities to stay ahead of the competition. 

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