If you are like most of the leaders I talk to every day, you are following the trends, rolling up your sleeves and implementing new technologies to fix your company’s problems. And it’s worked—but the results have only gone so far.
Maybe you can relate to the story I like to tell of a major apparel manufacturer that developed a wearable device for tracking exercise. Sales were initially strong.
But because the company didn’t build an analytics platform to go with its new product, it failed to generate meaningful insights from the data the device was collecting. Customers didn’t learn much and soon slipped away.
I find that most companies put their heart and soul (and a lot of money) into tech. But like the apparel company, they’re not getting the full return on that investment. Tech is everywhere, but value isn’t. I call this frustrating predicament—the “innovation achievement gap.”
The question I’ve been pondering alongside clients is: How can we close that gap?
Recently, Accenture launched a deep and broad search for answers, conducting a massive survey of IT and business personnel from more than 8,300 companies in 20 countries.
A pattern emerged: While almost all respondents say they’re adopting new technologies, some are also creating what we call Future Systems. That’s an enterprise system built to scale new technology innovation throughout a company and give it the flexibility it will need to keep evolving at the pace of business.
The research concludes that those who are building Future Systems (“Leaders”) are seeing more than double the revenue as those who are adopting tech, but mostly as point solutions (“Laggards”).
Why such a big difference? Future systems enable you to scale innovations across the organization and beyond.
So, what does this look like in practice? We uncovered some tangible differences in how Leaders and Laggards approach technology adoption.
While these aren’t silver bullets, they are smart, research-backed steps everyone can take to start building Future Systems, now:
1. Adopt technologies that make your organization fast and flexible.
Make the move to decoupled data, infrastructure and applications for a flexible and faster-moving business. Adopt DevOps, automation and continuous integration/continuous deployment—all of which will help eliminate dependencies in your systems and processes.
2. Get far ahead in cloud computing.
Cloud computing is essential to Future Systems because it’s a catalyst for innovation that will accelerate your use of other innovations like AI and analytics. Don’t look at the cloud as a mere data center.
3. Recognize data as both a corporate asset and a liability.
Ensure the quality of your data, create security measures that anticipate threats and build ethically responsible frameworks for managing data and AI. That way, you’ll enable a virtuous cycle of data creation and consumption, where quality is constantly improving.
4. Manage your technology investments well across the enterprise.
Get clear visibility into technology investments across the company and establish business alignment so you can transfer innovation between departments.
5. Nurture your talent in creative ways.
Investing in your people is the best way to advance Future Systems. Experiential, flexible and AI-powered learning tools can help your workers get the right skills for emerging roles. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can cut costs and offer more realistic training. And fostering a “fast-fail” culture will ensure that your talent is not afraid to think big and go bold.
Your voyage to the future (systems)
Now we have some clear answers, but systemic change isn’t an easy journey. We recently worked with Carnival to implement a complete tech overhaul on its popular cruise ships. They moved away from legacy systems to embrace a cloud-based property management platform composed of almost 200 microservices designed around guests and their shifting needs.
Now, says John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer of Carnival Corporation, every ship is “essentially a 150,000-ton mobile device that is fully connected.”
This big transformation was crystallized into a small “Ocean Medallion,” worn as a sports band or pendant. It connects guests to a secure Internet of Things network made up of thousands of sensors and digital devices. The guests can do everything—from embarking without paperwork to getting a cocktail delivered on the deck in an instant. But there’s no obvious technology like an on-off switch or a menu.
Here’s the good news. Every company can emulate the leaders’ mindsets and methods to close the innovation achievement gap and get the outcomes they want from their technology investments. How? The research report we wrote is a great starting point, so make sure you check it out.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.