Technology leadership and the corner office

By L S Subramanian, CEO, NISE

LS SubramanianIn today’s hyper-competitive world, technology is the key to business disruption, traditional brick and mortar business are being driven to the ground by fast, agile, cost effective technology solutions which has changed our lives.  Traditional retail distribution, retail banking, retail broking, customer retention, collaboration and management are being disrupted by innovation with technology as the backbone for their success.

In this changing landscape, the successful companies are those where the technology leadership is from the Corner office, where the business owner/leader us hands on in driving innovation and disruption by use of technology enablers.  Companies where the technology leadership is delegated to a CIO or CTO are doomed to be stranded in today’s world since more time will be spent in enabling the buy-in for technology innovations rather than hitting the ground running with innovative and disruptive solutions.

When the Corner office refuses to use technology tools and still insists on email being printed and a secretary transmitting the replies the writing is clear on the wall, the business is walking into the sunset. Better companies with faster response times with technology savvy corner office leaders will rule the roost with an every demanding and hyper active clientele.

The old approach of the corner office to technology as an EDP data processing engine will further accelerate the business downfall to predatory and competitive business who come armed with better technology tools and solutions to deliver effective and quicker results.  There are some corner office leaders who believe that having the servers and data center under their desks is a good control, little do they realize their vulnerability to a insecure digital world and also the costs that they incur with this approach. These leaders have a large army of well paid technology professionals who are not used to their full potential but rather used to keep the lights on.

Another leadership fallacy is make it for us, bespoke solutions takes years to be completed and if at all completed the business needs are different from the original set of solutions that were needed. So this spirals into an unending cycle of build, repair, change, upgrade, and keep pouring money down the drain with no significant benefits to the business.

Rather the technology team is targeted as a cost center with no tangible results and the technology leadership then moves on to greener pastures. This cycle goes on and the Human Resources head is kept busy in filling in the vacancies created by the technology employees departures. This ensures that the business never gets cutting edge technology and when delivered no one wants to use it since their business needs are changed.

These issues can only be set right if the corner office takes on the mantle of technology leadership, the leader has to drive by example.  Many decades ago, a large financial institution tried to replace their circulated notes with email for agility and better communication, the notes kept piling even after implementation of the email solution and the technology leader was frustrated and so was the corner office. One fine day the corner office told the team that he would not read any more printed notes and all notes will be processed by email. There was flurry for senior employees to learn the use of email, and trust me this organization was transformed and today is a leader in its space.

There is ample evidence to show that technology has to be married with business strategy and has to be owned by the corner office for making an impact on the business’s bottom line.  Many established business will collapse this decade if they do not embrace technology and the corner office does not take the lead in driving and using technology innovations. Is the corner office listening ?

Fortunately for India, the government’s corner office lead by the Prime Minister is driving change through digital innovation and empowerment. It is time that the corner office business leaders learn from the CEO of the country.

The author , L S Subramanian, is CEO of NISE.  LS (as he is called) is also a respected thought leader known for his innovation in information technology for business. He is the architect of the OTC Exchange of India, India’s first online trading national stock exchange and has advised NCDEX, Power Exchange, CRISIL, Exchange Next  and other companies in trading solutions and processes.

Other articles by L S Subramanian

How a solar mobile phone can transform banking for the poor in India

Bharat Badal – Why rural India needs a national cloud computing plan?

Why India needs to build 100 new smart cities from the ground up

Can Indian banks do a Flipkart in customer service?

 

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