How the right technology can give your business a competitive edge

The world's moving at a really fast pace at the moment, especially in the technology world, and your competition are moving, and they are moving forward. The question is, is your technology moving faster than theirs? And do you have the right foundations to keep ahead of them and keep progressing faster than they do.

Transcript

So the world's moving at a really fast pace at the moment, especially in the technology world, and your competition are moving, and they are moving forward. The question is, is your technology moving faster than theirs? And do you have the right foundations to keep ahead of them and keep progressing faster than they do. So a question I ask people quite a lot is how well they actually understand the technology in their business. Most companies I find, especially in the leadership team, there's very few people that really understand the technology and what it's doing for the business. And often the very top leaders of a company feel quite bamboozled by the technology, and that they just don't really understand the intricacies of how it's taking them where they want to go. So in this video, I'm going to talk about three things, the importance of having a good roadmap, the importance of having the right technical quality in your systems and the importance of having the right team to produce it. So by understanding the importance of these three things, you will then be able to understand your technology, what it's doing and how you can take it forward and stay ahead of the competition.

Technology roadmaps

Technology roadmaps. Why are they important and why do we have them? Well, the most important thing for a roadmap is that it really needs to be based on the business goals themselves. That might sound pretty obvious, but actually it does often spark the questions to some companies as to what are your business goals really? Do you have them, are they clearly understood? Are they laid out? Are they shared across the whole business? So that's stage one, really having it really based upon a shared understanding of where you're going as a business. The next important thing about your technology roadmap is, is it realistic and achievable? Can you actually do it? Do you have the right time and budget set aside to achieve everything that's in there? And finally, is it in the right order? Do you understand which things really need to be done before others? You might need to sort your data out before you can really get benefits from that data. You might need to build some backend systems before you can build your front-end consumer facing systems. And often you need to put the investment into areas that don't deliver an immediate return. And then you see that return later when you can build other systems on top of it. The tendency, if you don't have a good roadmap is to just aim for the things which will deliver the quickest, short term return. And the problem is there that you, you tend to run into certain areas before you have an interlinked solution that works across the whole business. So you can end up with little pockets of things that are great for the business, but they're not joined up and they don't operate as one whole. One of the big things that can come out of that is it's a maintenance headache. So you can end up with lots of different systems to maintain. They don't talk to each other, so you end up with siloed, actual functional bits in your business as well. So one team will not be talking to another because they're not actually using common systems. So you've got your roadmap in place.

Technical quality 

The next thing to think about is the quality of what you're going to produce. And at Ghyston, we really believe that technical quality is supremely important in your, in what you do in the technology sphere. And the reason for that is, well, firstly, technical, quality technology is stable. When you make a little change to it, it doesn't break something somewhere else. You can release with confidence and you can use it with confidence throughout the organisation without being embarrassed by little mishaps. Secondly, when you've got really high technical quality in your software, then if you want to make a change to that software, actually you can make that change really quickly and easily, and risk-free. And one measure we sometimes use of the quality of a code base is the time it takes to get from an idea happening to that idea actually being used in practise. And if you can make that journey as quick and easy as possible, that means you've got an agile organisation that can react to market input and can do things that you want to do really quickly, you know, use the expression turning on a sixpence. It's that sort of thing. So being able to do that quickly and safely is really key. And finally, the other really important thing about technical quality is in this post GDPR era, it's about data security and safety of your systems is really closely ingrained with quality. If you're corner-cutting, you're likely to open doors to people who you don't want to have access to your systems and your data. And we all know now that the cost of having any data or breaches or hacking that that could happen to you, the cost of that can be severe, both reputationally and financially.

At Ghyston we've had various rescue missions where we've been handed or taken over code that someone else has written. And often the reason for that is that our clients get frustrated by the poor quality and they get frustrated by how many things go wrong, how long it takes them to make changes and how sort of sluggish and unreactive the whole thing seems to them. And then what we then do is have to take a boy scout, sort of attitude and keep improving it generally over time. Always leaving things in a better state than we found them. And gradually over time we can pull it back, but it's far easier not to get there in the first place. And if you build the quality in from the ground, then the lifetime and the longevity of your software and your systems will really be increased. I think the, the adage of, if you buy cheap, you buy often, actually applies to software just as much as it does to, you know, clothing, sports, equipment, things you use around the house. If you invest in something that's high quality at the beginning, you tend to get a lot longer lifespan out of it, and you also enjoy using it a lot more along the journey. And it's more of a pleasure, and an enjoyable thing to be using as you go. All of this is well and good.

The right tech team

The roadmap, the technical quality, but it's unachievable without the right team. And really, team is at the centre of everything in the modern era, the people that you, that you interact with, and that you use and that are part of your journey really define the outcomes that you achieve. And when I think about teamwork, I don't mean the people that you employ necessarily it's your wider team. So it's not just your in house team, it's your external partners. So effective collaboration is about not putting in clear boundaries between third parties and us and them kind of attitudes. It's everyone working towards the same goal with the same direction and incentives aligned, all driving towards the same milestones, same business outcomes. And what you'll find is if you've got the right people there with the right capability and the right track record and the right experience, then all those things will naturally add together. But there's often an inclination to think actually only looking at the experience in very specific ways as well. In the modern era, and particularly in technology experience isn't about whether I've performed this exact thing before, or whether I've used this exact technology before, the much more important experience is, have I solved problems like this before? Have I been in this problem solving mentality? And have I worked with people like these to achieve these sorts of business outcomes? And if you can find people who can do that and who can buy into those business outcomes, that's when you've got that really high performing team that will really drive you to where you want to go. To really understand your technology, you need to know how it's contributing to your business direction, you need to know where it is on the roadmap, where it's going, what its past looks like. You need to know, you need to look under the bonnet. You need to know how good the quality is. Is it fit for the future? Is it a foundation to keep you ahead of the competition and to keep you moving onwards? Are there any risks in it? Are there security holes? You know, are you exposed anywhere? Is it a liability? And then you also need to know, as part of understanding your technology, if you have the right team on board to actually take your technology, keep taking it forwards and to keep it as the thing that is going to make you stay apart from your competition.

So if you're the kind of ambitious organisation that thinks that technology is the way that you can stay ahead of your competition and distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd, but you're not confident about what you've got and where it's taking you and how it fits in with everything from a technical perspective, then give Ghyston a call and we can help.

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