Posted: 03 Jul. 2020 5 min.

What 1,300 executives can agree on about technology leadership for the post-covid world

Topic: SAP

Now is the time for transformational, not incremental change. Who better than a new generation of technology leaders to catalyse this (r)evolution and create the ‘Kinetic Enterprise™’?

’Kinetic Enterprise’. When you read this phrase, you might think that this is yet another upscale concept introduced by a global consulting firm, and you would be partially right. In reality, however, the concept is very simple and very relevant. The dictionary definition of ‘Kinetic’ is ‘involving or producing movement’. When used in a business context, and how I perceive many companies are today, at least the ones I work with, I would like to define it as “in constant motion.”

The hypothesis of the Kinetic Enterprise is an idea, a vision. Yet, it is closely supported by survey data from Deloitte’s 2020 Global Technology Leadership Study, which includes more than 1,300 respondents across 69 countries. The survey used to be called the ‘Global CIO survey’, but we have changed the name in recognition of the increased scope of technology leadership roles, such as CIOs, CDOs, and CTOs, but also the deeper technology engagement of CEOs, CFOs, COOs and leaders in strategy, innovation and R&D.

What is interesting in the study is that technology leaders today are increasingly being called upon to serve as Kinetic Leaders: supercharged change instigators, pursuing transformation while ensuring resilience at the same time.

To give you an example:

  • In our 2016 study, 55 percent of tech leaders identified as trusted operators.
  • In our 2018 study, 64 percent of tech leaders aspired to be business co-creators.
  • In our 2020 study, now published on the back of an unprecedented global pandemic, 69 percent of respondents expect tech leaders to be change instigators.

I see this shift in perception everyday as an advisor across core business platforms, in particular in companies running SAP® in Denmark and across the Nordics. In essence, SAP is a core business process platform, but it has the potential to be so much more than that. With the new SAP S/4HANA® functionality, SAP has laid the foundation for a much more responsive, intelligent ‘Kinetic Enterprise’ with data that is unlocked and available in real-time, enabling things like the launch of new digital products or efficiently supporting the business with digital intelligent technologies.

In this way, you could say that SAP, too, is moving away from an enabler of stability and efficiency to an enabler of innovation and change.

The road to becoming a best in class Technology Leader, referred to as “tech vanguard” in our survey
Looking at the broader technology picture than just SAP, many companies today are looking desperately for ways to overtake competition and move into the league of the post-corona technology vanguards in their respective industries, having technology play a central role in their companies’ competitive positioning.

Looking into the findings from the 1,300 companies that participated in the Global Technology Leadership Study, we can identify at least four indicators of how this is done by tech vanguards:

  • Firstly, tech vanguards are single-minded in their approach to growth, looking to innovation to capture new revenues and expand to new markets. They are customer-first, leveraging technology to improve customer experiences and even engaging customers in the innovation process. When other organizations are focused on lowering costs and reducing budgets, tech vanguards’ orientation toward growth and customers drives them to continue to invest in the future. This growth orientation will likely encourage them to continue to invest in the future even as they respond and recover from the current adverse events.
  • Second, business leaders in tech vanguard organisations respect their tech functions, perceiving them to be ahead of the competition in understanding readiness and responsiveness to digital and emerging technologies. When called upon to respond to disruptive events such as COVID-19, a mature and trusted technology function is likely able to meet demands for new digital channels and remote work tools at immediate and immense scale. They also play a pivotal role in shaping their organisations’ resilience, recovery and ability to thrive in the long term.
  • Third, enabled by disruptive digital technologies, tech vanguards’ vision and strategy extend beyond the technology function, indicating executive leaders’ belief in technology as a driver of business value. A focused vision and strategy could potentially equip these companies to better evaluate markets as they evolve during the pandemic and its aftermath, enabling them to anticipate and respond to consumer and societal behaviour shifts that are leading to new ways of doing business.
  • And last, tech vanguard board members share a common bold tech-enabled vision of the future with technology leaders; a vision that guides priorities, decisions and investments. They actively champion technology-enabled change. On the other hand, boards of baseline organisations are less likely to be in sync with management on technology issues. Their engagement with the organisation’s tech leaders is more likely to be limited to tactical issues rather than strategic, technology-driven business decisions.

In the current environment, new technologies, including core platforms such as SAP, should set the business up to evolve, not just to survive in the post-COVID-19 world. S/4HANA is just one example of this shift in perception, offering its users competitively differentiating functionality in areas such as real-time business analytics, demand-driven MRP, production to individual customer specifications and support for product servitisation, just to name a few.

In this sense, what is ‘kinetic’ is not the technology platforms themselves – in fact, they are becoming more and more standardised – but how the platforms are designed and used, how they support the business, how they inspire innovative thinking, and how they propel the organisation to search for new possibilities in the ever-changing and constantly evolving relationship with customers.

That is not a smart consulting mantra or a quote of the day. No, that is the true promise of the Kinetic Enterprise run by resilient, agile and future-focused technology leaders working at the heart of transformational change.


Forfatter spotlight

David Colgan

David Colgan


Ask me about: SAP, S/4 HANA, Digital transformation, IT strategy, Program management, Digital Finance function, Cloud David is a partner in Deloitte and the Nordic Lead of our SAP Practice. David has a background as a Chartered Accountant but has more than 25 years of experience with SAP transformation programs, where the underlying theme is SAP and financial & digital optimization. David works with Danish as well as Nordic companies advising on SAP-enabled digital transformations and delivering SAP S/4HANA.

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