3 minute read 8 Apr 2019
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How businesses can harness multiple emerging technologies

By

Mazen Baroudi

EY Americas Advisory Technology Transformation Principal, Ernst & Young LLP

Advisor to technology and business leaders. Passionate about technology and business transformation. Strategist, innovator and thought leader.

3 minute read 8 Apr 2019

The combined value delivered by multiple emerging technologies is multiplicative.

The impact to business innovation and the transformative effect of a combination of emerging technologies is far more profound than that which a single technology can provide alone — we call this the combinatorial effect of emerging technologies.

We recently published a report (pdf) in which we assert that combining multiple emerging technologies can lead to unparalleled innovation and result in creating a significant digital advantage.

For example, in order to harness multiple emerging technologies, it is important that organizations start with the right question. It is not uncommon to hear business leaders ask, "How do I apply blockchain technology to our business?" This technology-led approach does not always elicit the most elegant solution. A better question would be, "How do we make our supply chain more nimble?"

Starting with the business problem will result in a holistic solution. Organizations need to look at a combination of options — blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), advanced analytics and several other emerging technologies will likely emerge as solutions.

Understanding the combinatorial effect of emerging technologies

In our experience, we discovered that certain emerging technology elements, such as data mining and machine learning, were clearly interrelated. Other technology elements seemed disjointed but, much like chemical elements, they could be combined to form new solutions with their own unique characteristics and applications. Our reference frame to understand the combined effect is the Periodic Table of Emerging Technologies, which contains mainstream, maturing and future emerging technology elements.

Based on your business imperatives, the application of emerging technologies within your organization may be concentrated outward, inward or perhaps even a combination of the two, resulting in new business models for your company.

Emerging technologies have the capacity to alter our lifestyle — what we mean by work, business and the global economy. Their practicality is an ongoing journey with continued experimentation and refinements.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

The adoption of emerging technologies has a combined effect on all parts of the business, including IT. As emerging technologies are adopted, several questions relating to the IT operating model and strategy need to be answered:

  • What is our new governance framework as we prepare to adopt emerging technologies (e.g., with RPA, who has decision authority around parts of the process that are automated)?
  • Are our IT organization model and reporting structure still relevant?
  • Are we building the right IT capabilities to enable adoption of emerging technologies?
  • Do we have the right budgeting and recovery/chargeback models around these emerging technologies?
  • Should we change our infrastructure strategy and shift more workloads to the cloud to lower the adoption threshold for emerging technologies?
  • From where should we source talent to support emerging technologies?
  • There are several niche vendors and service providers we need to engage. Do we need to relook at our technology sourcing model?
  • How do I integrate these new technologies with my legacy technologies?
  • How do I manage risks such as cybersecurity and others?

The potential impact of billions of connected people, and increasingly powerful networked devices, all with access to breakthroughs in emerging technologies, is hard to conceive. With these exciting possibilities, emerging technologies have become core to business innovation.

Summary

The combinatorial effect of emerging technologies can have a profound impact, leading to unparalleled innovation and resulting in a significant digital advantage. Starting with the business problem will result in a holistic solution.

About this article

By

Mazen Baroudi

EY Americas Advisory Technology Transformation Principal, Ernst & Young LLP

Advisor to technology and business leaders. Passionate about technology and business transformation. Strategist, innovator and thought leader.