Fujitsu: why businesses must embrace failure

- Leadership - Mar 10, 2017

Driverless cars, high-tech robotic assistants and voice-enabled devices like Google Home are just three examples of the many new, innovative ideas transforming the business world. It cannot be disputed that technology is entirely revolutionising the way businesses interact with consumers and collaborate with other organisations. As technology continues to influence how businesses operate, organisations will have to adjust, be more innovative and implement digitally-driven ideas to survive. Industries will continue to be disrupted by fast-moving organisations that are born in the digital world and can scale up with ease. 2017 will be a year where even more innovative and unique ideas come to fruition; to realise this potential, organisations must take the right approach to digital transformation now.

Coupled together, agility & entrepreneurship can eliminate the narrative of failure

Success cannot be achieved without failure, and the concept of ‘Fail fast but fail forward’ is key. Business leaders must be prepared to make mistakes when striving to develop the business. Every entrepreneur has failed – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerberg to name just a few! It is impossible to be innovative and lead in the technology space if you are not prepared to slip up from time to time. The perception that failure is an instant defeat is one that must change. And this attitude will not change unless a business can be as agile as digitally native start-ups and SMEs that created the fast-paced, digital era and benefit from being able to scale up with ease.

Take the Internet of Things for example – there is clearly huge potential to connect the different devices that consumers rely on and, as a result, offer a comprehensive and unique service. However, the IoT industry is in its infancy and thorough research and testing will be required before any business can even consider creating a network that provides a service of this ilk. Also, no break-through has been made yet in terms of using IoT to link sectors from financial services to retail and automotive, for example. Thus, organisations need to start embracing smart risks. Being prepared for failure can ultimately lead to success in the IoT marketplace; it’s just a matter of your approach as a business to be bold and take the necessary chances.

The age of the Chief Digital Officer

A culture of ‘Fail fast but fail forward’ is crucial for a business to secure its place in the future. It would be easy, and quite frankly save time, to simply pop into a DeLorean car and look into the future. Unfortunately, CEOs do not have this power (yet). However, one can make predictions and 2017 will be the year of the CDO.

If 2016 was the year that the Chief Executive became intrinsically paired with the Chief Information Officer, it’s now the turn of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to drive innovation and ideas in the business. The CDO will rise to power in 2017, as businesses look to ignite all functions towards digital services. The CEO is integral to this and will need to encourage innovation, and give the CDO the tools that foster transformation.

Research from Fujitsu discovered that the majority of business leaders (52%) said that digital disruption meant their organisations will not exist in their current form by 2021. Almost every single executive of the 1180 asked (98%) said they are already starting to see the impact of digital on their company. If you operate in the retail or automotive industry it’s clear to see the impact of technology – Amazon is driving retail businesses to shift online as consumers look for greater convenience, while Tesla is completely revolutionising the way we experience driving. Digital transformation will clearly be central to success.

It’s important to remember that, although the CDO and CEO will be vital, it is the role of the entire workforce to transform the organisation. Having a digital culture is now intrinsic to all businesses looking to evolve and deal with the transformative impacts of technology. Every single day a new start-up, SME and disruptive company is born with the intention to entirely revolutionise an industry. There is a very ruthless business nature and companies must be prepared to tweak their strategies instantly, but it will be just as important for the entire business to embrace change. Being able to do this will be the difference between leading an industry and fading away like many businesses do.

What impact will politics, society and economics have on the way businesses implement technology?

While it’s true that organisations must visualise failure in an entirely different way, and put faith in the CDO to drive their response against digital disruption, businesses will increasingly have to make decisions that are designed to secure a competitive advantage. New digital arenas – the shift away from traditional sectors to one big, hyper-connected world – are part of the reason why businesses will have to find an approach that puts innovation at the forefront.

A perfect example of this is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s firm has moved on from being a simple social networking site, is now involved in drone technology and rumoured to be developing a driverless car to combat the likes of Tesla. Businesses will continue to diversify their offering, and as a result look to secure a bigger share of unfamiliar and emerging markets in an attempt to grow its reach, while also garner better customer satisfaction.

As the shift away from traditional markets occurs, organisations might find that the societal impacts will become even more difficult to deal with. 58% of business leaders might see digital disruption as the biggest challenge their company faces but there is another, much louder issue that cannot be ignored. Countries around the world are becoming more and more polarised and businesses will find it more challenging to implement a universal attitude and culture, particular as they diversify their offering. Embracing digital is a collaborative process and that is the message that needs to be voiced.

Financial markets are moving faster than ever before and global events continue to impact businesses around the world. Not only will it become crucial to align the entire business digitally, but businesses must strive to kick-start innovation and disrupt their sector. Having a digitally aligned plan will be a huge task in 2017 but one that is crucial. What does the future hold? It is true that there will be challenges, but also huge technology-driven opportunities, so you need to ensure you are fit for digital.

By Ravi Krishnamoorthi, Senior Vice President & Head of Business Applications Services, Fujitsu EMEIA

Read the March 2017 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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