Cerius QBU – Focus on Technology: Gopi Suri
Every quarter, we’ll present insights from top executives from different backgrounds and functions. For Q2, we gathered insights from four business leaders— experts in executive leadership, nonprofit organizations, human capital, and technology—to help you prepare for the next quarter. Here are insights on technology from Gopi Suri.
As businesses advance into Q2 and the second half of 2021, what do you see as the biggest challenges facing business leaders? How are things evolving?
Heading into Q2, businesses must look into workforce transition. The majority of the workforce has been remote and somewhat used to being productive working from home. This will require a transition and careful planning of options. Technology leaders need to respond to potentially bringing the workforce safely back to the in-person and office work environment. By now, companies have learned a lot from virtual work experience, in terms of what areas of business work effectively versus what has been challenging. While most of the technology workforce may remain virtual, some may need to be in the office, and some a combination. Business leaders need to give careful thought about who and when the back-to-office transition should occur. This will be a gradual process, but the future is looking like a hybrid model.
Post-pandemic recovery coupled with potential economic slowdown in the second half of 2021 will mean a shift in priorities and increased focus on business sustainability. Technology leaders need to be prepared to respond with agility to changes in focus and chasing moving targets. Potential budget cuts and the need to preserve funds for strategic investments will create unique opportunities.
Automation, digitalization and e-commerce will continue to transform business models and services. IT organizations are going to be under tremendous stress to test and ensure adequate business support while simultaneously balancing internal IT priorities. Cybersecurity and accelerated cloud transformation will continue to be major driving factors for the rest of 2021 and beyond.
What are a few best practices to help leaders overcome the current challenges? What do you see working well?
Channelize the investments. Particularly, IT leaders should follow the 80-20 model. Ask the question, how good is good enough? Focus on 80% investments and make, for example, 80% of your programs perfect— even if the rest of the programs may have deficiencies.
Review your technology roadmap often and make it a living artifact. Make sure it aligns with rapidly changing priorities. Collaborate with business leaders and improve on expectations from management.
Capitalize on technologies such as content management, CRM and mobile to get closer to your internal and external customers. Develop customized communication channels with customers, specifically in the new contactless world. Mobile technologies will come in handy to deliver intelligent communication based on data gathered at various points, as well as observed behavior patterns. Increase focus on data and cybersecurity. Review and revise remote working policies and safety standards.
Are there any strategies you view to be ineffective?
Not having a unified communication and a common voice from the leadership could cause distrust among the employees. Not managing conflicting priorities well and poor execution of strategy can lead to team burnout.
In addition, lack of clearly defined direction, roles and responsibilities will further exacerbate the productivity loss. Not taking cybersecurity seriously can be costly; and the inability to effectively create organizational- level awareness on security matters will result in unpleasant surprises.
What skillsets do leaders need to navigate through these challenges?
Strategic thinking, innovation, empathy, interpersonal skills and adaptability. Start with strategic thinking
at the senior leadership level. Make sure your top leadership is aligned and invest in training and leadership development. Many IT leaders are married to technology for too long. Keep evaluating alternatives and make wise choices that give the best bang for the buck.
Develop a culture of innovation. Make your organization flat and encourage open-door policies. Listen to your teams, identify and remove roadblocks that stifle creativity. Establishing a reward system and appropriate risk-taking environment will enable path-breaking ideas to your complex problems.
Apart from developing interpersonal skills and building relationships with your peers and staff, it’s extremely important to develop empathy. Establish connections at a personal level as much as possible and show strong leadership. Finally, being adaptive to operational change and improving engagement with stakeholders is a recipe for the successful execution of strategy.
About Gopi Suri
Gopi Suri is a visionary leader with 25 years of experience in utilizing leading-edge technologies to increase profitability and enhance business growth. He is considered an expert in technology strategy, innovation, transformation, and cybersecurity. He holds an MBA from the University of Maryland. He also founded and scaled two IT services companies and a non-profit organization.