Given the environment of rapid technological development, ever-changing consumer expectations and new disruptive entrants to the market, what role does technology play in change – enabler or inhibiter?

Without technology, you die.

– Executive, retail

High change-ready businesses recognise the positive impact of technology and how technology is an enabler to be change-ready.

Impact of Technology on Change

Almost all businesses with high change readiness see the positive impact of technology on their business with 45% stating it has a ‘strongly positive’ impact. one in four businesses with low change readiness feel that technology is a hindrance.

High change-ready businesses
High change-ready businesses
High change-ready businesses
High change-ready businesses
Low change-ready businesses
Low change-ready businesses

I believe that technology today is at a point where we no longer need to look at what's available to make a decision. We need to imagine what the most perfect solution would be and then use technology to figure out a way to get there.

– Jodie Fox, Co-founder, Shoes of Prey

Can you keep up with technology?

As little as one in five (21%) of the total businesses we surveyed are very confident they are keeping up with changes in technology. There is a large group that still see room for improvement with three in five (58%) showing a moderate level of confidence they are adjusting to the technology changes around them.

44% of low change-ready businesses have low confidence in their ability to keep up with changes in technology around them.

High change-ready organisations aren’t constantly upgrading to new systems. Rather, they are choosing robust, flexible systems that enable change – and invest in maintaining their ongoing capability for change.

'How quickly can I change this once I put it in?’ So you’re not choosing the best technology, you’re choosing the technology that will enable you to change in the future. We will not choose the best technology vendor if we are not able to move with it and adapt it the way we want.

– Executive, banking and finance (enterprise)
Business confidence in keeping up with technology
Business confidence in keeping up with technology

We are happy with our current platform and we are always making changes to improve it. But it takes time to train people up and get them comfortable with the new way of working.

– Executive, retail and wholesale

The wrong technology can restrict change

While technology can be a powerful enabler of change, it can also be a massive roadblock. The chief offenders are legacy systems, and it can be challenging to change these systems without causing major disruptions to the business.

We work with legacy systems, and we can’t just change them whenever we want. It takes years to put a system in place, so we need to be able to modify and adjust what we have.

– Executive, finance

Forty-one per cent of high change-ready businesses consider restrictive technology to be a barrier to change. By comparison, just 7% of the least change-ready businesses view restrictive technology as a barrier to change.

How does restrictive technology affect change leaders?
How does restrictive technology affect change leaders?

This gap between the most change-ready and the least reflects the largest difference between the two groups on any barrier to change. The more change-ready businesses get, the more frustrated they experience with legacy systems.

We have thousands of stores, a number of different organisations in the group and offices everywhere. Getting all of the businesses on one platform was a huge task, but now we can all communicate on the one platform.

– Executive, retail and wholesale

What change leaders want from technology

Key benefits of technology identified by decision-makers we surveyed:

  • Reduce costs - 78%
  • Better distribute knowledge and information throughout the business - 77%
  • Improve collaboration - 73%
  • Engage and interact with customers in more targeted ways - 72%

There is a clear difference in the benefits from technology once we compare high vs low change-ready businesses. High change-ready businesses focus on knowledge sharing (84%) and collaboration (83%), meeting customer needs (83%) and improving their systems (82%). Only then do they focus on cost reduction as a benefit from technology.

The importance of technological benefits for change
The importance of technological benefits for change

Technology is absolutely integral to the way retailers meet customer needs. It’s all about understanding and harnessing the data. Whoever does that the best will win with their customers.

– Executive, retail

How systems enable change across the business

Processes and systems is the area of the business where technology is seen to be playing the greatest role in helping to implement change, followed by Products and Services.

How systems enable change across the business
How systems enable change across the business

Without technology, you've got geographical barriers, hierarchical barriers and time barriers – technology can eliminate all of these barriers and make collaboration a whole heap easier.

– Dr Jason Fox, motivational strategy and design expert

Industry Expert Spotlight

Craig Ryman – CIO AMP

Q. What is the role of change in business, and is it becoming more or less important?

A: The role of change in business is definitely becoming more important. Change is now a constant in business. If you're looking to compete and grow, and you're not up for a constant change agenda, then you will ultimately fail.

Q: What is driving the need for change?

Customers and customer expectations are driving change. Digital disruption is actually changing the way customers behave, changing what they expect and lifting requirements around how we compete and engage with them.

Cloud is also fuelling innovation and disruption in many industries. By leveraging cloud technologies, organisations are focussing on building new and disruptive solutions. And those are then being put into the market through distribution channels like app stores or through the internet.

We are seeing the beginning of a fairly significant change agenda going forward because not only does Cloud give you access in reduced costs, it's also providing platforms, it increases the productivity of technologists to deliver these disruptive solutions. The digital disruption as well has brought the global market to the consumer and so not only are they accessing regional solutions and capabilities, they are also able to access global in a very easy and straightforward way. And so your competitors of today are probably not your competitors of tomorrow and customers themselves now have a broader choice around products, solutions, services.

Q: What is the role of technology in a change-ready business, and what will the role be in the future? Will it be different?

A: I think technology is more pervasive now than it ever has been. Thinking about how you may compete in new channels, create new products, deliver greater efficiency...engage with your customers better, create platforms that make it easier to do business with and be a... business of choice for consumers. All of those capabilities are underpinned or enabled by technology. Technology now is a critical part of all change.

Technology is now playing a greater part in enabling better interactions with customers as well, and even through our face-to-face interactions, technology has a role to play around better engagement with customers. I think technology is critical now and will become more critical going into the future.

Q: What makes a change-ready business different to a business that isn't?

A: The leadership of an organisation, government structures and how easy or hard it is to get things done and get things approved and the autonomy that is provided through the layers of the organisation are real indicators about how easy it is to effect change.

How ready a company is for change needs to start also from the top down as well. And so the leaders that are externally focused, that are driving innovation programs, that are focusing a lot on their people and their culture are, for me, indicators outside in that that company is preparing itself to be a change-ready organisation.