Technology and business go hand in hand. In order to understand the impact of technology on business, one must first define both. Technology refers to the combination of computer hardware and software that facilitate communication, information processing, management, and data storage. Business, on the other hand, refers to the process of earning profit by using these same techniques and tools. Technology and business therefore are inseparable, as they are intimately connected. Business and technology integration therefore is the relationship between technology and business.
As technology becomes an integral influence on business strategy and on the company’s bottom line, the importance of technology in business begins to transform. As technology functions as an external constraint on business activities, internal control mechanisms are placed under pressure. Furthermore, as the necessity for fast change increases, resources become scarcer. While the pace of change is thus accelerated, the impact it will have on internal controls cannot be underestimated. Consequently, the transformation also causes a shift in internal business strategies toward a more proactive and adaptive posture toward change.
Technology and business often work hand in hand, for executives often view the creation of a new idea or product as a technological opportunity. In doing so, they are inadvertently setting the stage for future disarray. Thus, leaders must take action to prevent the development of bad tech decisions. A key element of effective leadership is knowledge management; understanding how the decisions being made are affecting the company and educating fellow employees is essential.
The third element of the digital transformation is a workforce that is capable of implementing change. This workforce must be empowered to adopt new technologies or to work in a new manner. Digital innovation is usually defined by activities that are implemented by “digitizing” existing processes (e.g., inventory management, purchasing, manufacturing, customer service, etc. ). While specific examples of digitizing activities may vary, these are the typical activities associated with the adoption of a more progressive business strategy.
The fourth element is a strategy for “buy in.” In order for a business to adopt a new strategy or invest in a new technology, it must be both willing and able to embrace the new strategies. Leaders must demonstrate an ability to resist being boxed in by predetermined technology investments and must be willing to adjust their strategies if necessary. Forging an agile, open line of communication between executive leadership and key employees is critical to effectively leveraging technology investments. Also important is creating a culture of innovation in which employees are encouraged to “think outside the box,” as well as to “think bigger.”
The fifth element is more directly related to the other four, but it has to do with what technology-driven activities are being prioritized. A business strategy must make clear which activities are most crucial to the achievement of company goals. For many companies, this element is easy to define: “the most relevant technology-driven activities.” The problem, however, is that there are so many business activities that are not technology-driven that it is often difficult to identify which are truly the most important to company success. This element, therefore, is arguably the most difficult for business leaders to master.