A Future Fit Tech Strategy, with Guest Speaker Allen Bonde
You can learn more about the Future Fit technology strategy in the full webinar, available now on demand below:
Enterprises are finding that their traditional technology strategy isn’t holding up. Ageing infrastructure is starting to crack, old tools can’t adapt fast enough, and digital feels more like a burden to creativity than an enabler. It’s time for a new approach to tech.
In our recent webinar, the MACH Alliance welcomes guest speaker Allen Bonde, VP & Research Director at Forrester, to discuss the market drivers behind changing enterprise needs and introduce Forrester’s new Future Fit technology model.
You can read a quick recap of our conversation with Allen below, or hear the full story via the onDemand webinar: A Future Fit Tech Strategy requires the right platforms, practices, and partnerships.
It’s Time for a New Model
“This is the right time to have this conversation because a lot of people are taking stock of what they’ve been doing over the last year.” said Allen on the webinar, “We’re looking at this past year, which has been a challenge for lots of us, for individuals and for businesses, and assessing if the technology was up to the task.”
While technology investments of the past decade gave many businesses the momentum to get online, the payback of these investments is starting to stall. This is partly due to the notion of digital sameness. As industries started to follow a shared playbook of digital experience, creating an expectation experience was no longer a differentiator.
“Even when businesses are more progressive and they’ve invested in mostly the right technology, the best they can do is look like their peers.” said Allen.
A tension between falling productivity, pervasive digital sameness, and an accumulation of tech debt is pushing companies to seek out new models. Companies are seeing that their digital engines can’t keep up, but they have to be able to change these engines without slowing down.
“That seems to be the primary focus when we talk to people about Future Fit.” said Allen, “They’d like this dual benefit of can I move faster with the new engine, as we’re going to move from propeller to jet engines, but also can I retire some of that tech debt? Because it turns out the old engines are really expensive to maintain.”
Future Fit Technology Strategy
Allen and co-author, Bobby Cameron, introduced a framework to address these challenges in the Forrester October 2020 report: Your Future Fit Technology Strategy: Adaptive, Creative, And Resilient.
The model emerged from the conversations they had this past year with technology leaders who were reflecting on the business impact of Covid-19. “It was consistent that the big strategies weren’t changing.” said Allen, “It’s not like they were doing different things at the strategic level, but all of the tactics changed, and the pace of innovation changed.”
“We heard, consistently, different tech leaders express these needs or outcomes as some combination of adapting, and being resilient, and being creative. That basically is the foundation for Future Fit.” said Allen.
Adaptivity has been especially crucial during the Covid-19 crisis, but Forrester research has long shed light on the benefits of an adaptable enterprise. “The leading edge companies who could recreate their core concepts, who could restructure, and reorient and reprioritize, grew three times the rate of their peers.” said Allen, “So this notion of being adaptive is a really good thing.”
Resilience has also been put to the test this year. For many companies, an infrastructure that performed OK in routine situations was found to be relatively fragile when handling an increased load or volatile spikes.
Creativity was on display in all the ways businesses have responded to new customer needs that didn’t exist prior to lockdowns, such as curbside pickup and using retail stores as fulfilment centers. The right technology brings these ideas to life and also enables more creative thinking by automating the mundane day to day tasks.
“The best technology people don’t notice,” said Allen, “When it works, it just works and it’s just in the background. Of course, that frees up time for our front line staff and for our engineers and for our marketing folks to get more creative.”
Shift from Technology to Ecosystem
“The way people invest in their platforms, their practices, and their partners is the key to unlocking this Future Fit strategy.” said Allen, “If you just have a focus on adaptive, creative, and resilient, maybe you can get the team rallying behind those ideas, but most of the heavy work happens at the platforms, practices, and partners.”
“The idea of platforms is as much about ecosystem partners and how to get them to align towards certain outcomes than it is about the core technology.” said Allen.
Companies can use this ecosystem to create a curated stack of capabilities tailored to their needs making it possible to design bespoke stacks for industries, or sub-industries, that can be reused and customized at scale.
Adopting Future Fit platforms requires adopting new business processes to get the most out of them. “Core to this model is the notion of needing more agile, more jointly owned practices.” said Allen, “This is the replacement of classic tech process, or even classic marketing process or classic sales ops process - there’s lots of process that businesses have accumulated - and replacing it with more of these agile, jointly owned, jointly funded practices.”
As companies evolve their approach to platforms and internal processes, they are also reevaluating their approach to sourcing technology. Through his conversations with enterprise leaders, Allen said, “It was really clear that leaders were increasingly getting pickier with their strategic providers and they were choosing what we would call these preassembled bundles to deliver on a specific outcome or experience that they wanted. In some cases, they were paying for these solutions based on value, not in traditional ways.”
“I think this is a compelling idea,” said Allen, “that you stop buying products and you start buying outcomes. We hear that across the board.”
As companies go from thinking of partnerships as technology providers to outcome drivers, the relationship is elevated. “We heard this so clearly from these tech leaders,” said Allen. “That they want to have more strategic, connected partners to accelerate their transformation. So they may have a smaller set of vendors, but they expect those vendors to have lots of friends.”
As the way companies buy technology changes, such as through marketplaces, buying groups, and curated bundles of services, the role of technology partners also changes. Partners need to be willing to collaborate with the entire ecosystem, being transparent about their strengths and knowing how to team up with others to innovate and drive outcomes.
In the webinar Q&A, Allen was asked how businesses can identify which partners are ready for this co-innovation type of partnership. He said that, increasingly, he’s seeing Future Fit partners start to take a hybrid approach to project compensation, with a percentage attached to the success of joint outcomes. “That’s often a good measure of if they can operate as a co-innovation partner.” he said, “Are they willing to put their fees at risk and be a proper co-innovator with you? Some companies just can’t work that way.”
Golden Era of Best-of-Breed
“I've long thought that we’re sort of entering this golden era of best-of-breed.” said Allen, “There are so many reasons, because of technical advantages, because of buyer needs, because of the power of ecosystems and marketplaces, that we’re getting into this era where the overhead you would pay traditionally for best-of-breed is basically minimal.”
Not only are modular technologies becoming more available and increasingly cost-efficient, but this past year has catalyzed the use of external talent and expertise.
“I think we’re in the early stages of more and more firms outsourcing big chunks of their business because to move faster they have to get focused.” said Allen, “If you look at Ted Schadler’s work at Forrester on the future of services he’s seen that there’s just this profound sort of realization that with Covid people have to get really lean and focused and they’re realizing that there’s a lot of things that they don’t need to do really well and they’ll just give that to a third party.”
“I think this is going to enable a golden era of best-of-breed,” said Allen, “but also a new return of business process outsourcing powered by these, I’ll say it, MACH-ified platforms that enable people just to mix and match and deliver solutions very specifically for business needs. With the economy of scale that it’s 80% standard and 20% custom because you can mix and match the pieces so easily.”
See the Full Story
You can learn more about the Future Fit technology strategy in the full webinar, available now on demand below.
MACH: Business Technology for 2020 and Beyond
”66% of developers find that maintaining and “paying for” technical debt (aka the money, flexibility, and opportunity lost to a bad technical investment) associated with outdated technology is bad for their productivity at work." State of the Developer report 2109, Devada