White Paper

Why technology should drive your business strategy—not the other way around

By Pluralsight    |    August 29, 2017

A few decades ago, the person responsible for IT in most organizations was the same person who ran the help desk, installed Windows on everyone's PCs and made sure the office phones worked. There were few true IT departments, and no Chief Technology Officers or Chief Information Officers.

Fast forward to today and the person responsible for IT now carries the title of CTO, CDO or CIO (and sometimes all three titles at once). These roles are more strategic than ever. Corporate technology officers are not only responsible for managing software purchases and information technology; they now play a growing strategic role on most company leadership teams, driving innovation and guiding business strategy in ways no one predicted just a few years ago.

This development has not only taken place in technology-driven companies, but also in organizations not traditionally thought of as tech companies, in industries like healthcare, manufacturing and retail.

You know the pace technology has moved well beyond server rooms and software development teams. It now plays a major role in marketing and sales initiatives. It drives customer acquisition and retention. It plays a critical part in corporate support functions like HR and finance. No matter the industry or size, organizations around the world depend on fast-changing technologies to outflank their competition.

As innovation accelerates, it poses a major challenge for technology leaders.

What's more, the pace of technology is accelerating. Though many try, it’s almost impossible for business leaders to accurately plan for the next 3-5 years. Long-range, multi-year business plans have become a thing of the past. Technology is changing so quickly, predicting what software, services and platforms will be available in the future can be a fruitless exercise. Many of those in use today didn't exist five years ago. And the technologies that will be used five years from now have yet to be invented.

Design cycles that used to take years now take months or less. Customer expectations have sped up product release cycles. As change accelerates, new technologies come online and are adopted more quickly than ever.  What organizations need today is a more flexible, forward-thinking approach to strategy and future planning.

All of this presents a massive challenge to fast-moving companies. Thanks to lower barriers to entry, new competitors are entering almost every industry, creating market uncertainty and volatility we've never seen before.

Where can business leaders turn for guidance that accurately informs business strategy?

Today's leaders need better resources to help them stay ahead of the latest developments in technology. Advances in tech continue to move faster and faster, but the way business leaders adapt their strategies is often stuck in the past. Most of us are still learning technology the same way people were two generations ago— peers or in the classroom. This is creating a critical skills gap as technology races ahead of an organization's ability to understand and adopt it. And the gap continues to grow with each new innovation.

You can no longer rely on current employees whose skills are calibrated for the challenges you face today, not those you'll face in the future. Moreover, it's not likely you'll get it from peers in your industry—many of their skills are out-of-date as well, and what they do know may not apply to your unique business challenges. And what about blogs or articles published in trade magazines? So much of the information is contradictory and confusing—who has time to sort through it all to find the truth?

Some leaders in the C-suite still use traditional methods for learning new technology and skills. But it's a losing game. Information gleaned in a classroom is almost immediately out of date when you get back to the office. Classroom training and seminars aren't available until months or even years after the technology is in use. And this type of training is necessarily "one-size-fits-all." It's designed to meet the needs of a large group and can't address the individual needs or skills gaps of each participant, so everyone moves at the same (slow) pace. Perhaps most concerning, there's no reliable way to measure the effectiveness of the experience. Did employees learn anything applicable to your business? What's the returnon investment?

Pluralsight helps CIOs and CTOs take technology strategy into their own hands. 

The only way leaders are going to solve this problem for good and take control of the future is to fundamentally change the way their organizations learn and adopt new technology. Pluralsight's technology learning platform gives your employees the skills they need to keep up with emerging technologies and drive your business strategy. With our platform, you can keep ahead of the pace of change with thousands of courses on the technologies impacting your industry today and the ones you need to look out for tomorrow. To help you build an org design to support your strategy, our assessments and analytics tell you which skills your teams have expertise in, which ones they need to develop and how they improve over time. It's all to help inform technology decision-making, so you can move faster and drive real business growth.

To truly lead, the C-suite must ensure their organizations evolve as quickly as technology evolves. Outdated learning methodologies have been replaced by a platform that provides up-to-date knowledge to meet business challenges as they arise and before they become a problem. By making this critical information available, Pluralsight helps CIOs and CTOs drive market leadership in their industries.

About the author

Pluralsight is the technology skills platform. We enable individuals and teams to grow their skills, accelerate their careers and create the future.