The unpredictability of 2020 showed that to succeed and even thrive in this era, companies need to be able to adapt and innovate at speed and scale. The good news is this is not a surprise to anybody, at this point. In fact, according to a study by McKinsey back in 2018, only 8% of companies believed their business model would remain economically viable through the next round of digital transformation.

The not so good news is that although 2021 hasn’t brought any massive abrupt change to the business landscape, a new set of technology challenges have been brought to the equation.

In the next sections, we’ll look at 6 technology challenges that executives should be familiar with to be better equipped to overcome them and succeed at their digital transformation initiatives.

1. Developing Custom Code Is Hard

It’s a fact that the vast majority of digital transformation projects are done on custom code. But developing custom code is harder than ever, and a lot of projects end up failing because of that. The reasons why it’s so hard to build custom code are many:

  • Technical complexity has exploded over the last ten years, and so there’s much more code to be written.
  • Managing and maintaining existing code absorbed most of the developers’ time, leaving little to no time to focus on creating anything new.
  • It’s getting harder to meet the most basic non-functional requirements, namely security. A quick look at analyst inquiries and you’ll see that the big majority is around how to manage security.
  • Lack of development talent, which leads me to the next challenge.

2. Skills Gap

It’s hard to find enough developers to do the projects companies already have on the books. As the Speed of Change: How Fast Are You report showed, no matter the digital and agile maturity levels, most companies are affected by skill shortages and talent gaps that hinder the rapid adoption of the modern IT architectures needed for agility.

Even the Silicon Valley elite struggles with hiring developers fast enough. And the complexity only increases when talking about companies that are not so enticing from a developer's career perspective.

3. Technology Silos Within the Company

This challenge is very common among companies that are in the first stages of their digital transformation strategy. They pick the first project -- most first digital transformation projects are related to improvements on the customer experience--and look for a specialized tool to handle that particular type of initiative.

Then, a different team in the company starts thinking about a back-office project and chooses a different tool. Then, another team wants to create operational dashboards and chooses yet another tool.

This is a very common scenario, where, instead of choosing from the very beginning, a more robust technology to handle the different business initiatives, organizations end up with a bunch of disparate and disjointed tools that often solidify into independent silos, and lead to dead ends.

4. Technical Debt

Technical debt is the technology that was implemented for short-term benefits. It usually results from the process of prioritizing fast over building it right. The outcome is apps that end up consuming resources, time, and energy, and that rob those companies of the ability to compete, innovate and adapt for the future.

According to a recent study, technical debt is estimated to cost businesses $5 trillion in the next 10 years, money that is spent on rewriting and maintaining code that was written with a short-term mindset. Looking at it from a different angle, it’s $500M+ a day that could be spent on innovation, and on new ideas before your competitors can.

5. Cloud Computing

Cloud computing offers amazing benefits to organizations-- from scalability at the push of a button, accessibility from any device at any location, pay-per-usage pricing. However, moving to the cloud isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and it can cause disruption in the way organizations plan to move their business forward.

In addition to that, there are still a few concerns that haven’t vanished and that executives still need to have in mind. The list includes security and privacy concerns, management complexity, vendor lock-in, performance, and access speed. These are just some of the questions that executives should consider when choosing the best partner for their cloud initiatives.

6. Keeping Up with Constant Technology Evolution

We’re all aware of the disruption the pandemic has brought to the way business is done. But, COVID-19 is not the only business disruption going on today. The pace of change is accelerating and the opportunity to disrupt markets is only expanding. As technology evolves, companies need to start thinking about the implications that can have on the way people use technology.

A good example is the ubiquitous 5G and the opportunity it brings to create new types of applications in the business space. Industries that rely on field services or distribution, that can be completely disrupted with 5G.

Another good example, this case for a further future, is the work of Elon Musk around man-machine interfaces. His company Neuralink Corporation is currently researching ways to connect people’s brains to their computers-- one can only imagine the massive disruption that can bring to the world.

The challenge is for companies to be able to innovate and keep up with new technological advancements. Although today they seem further out, they can be the new normal tomorrow.

Overcoming Technology Issues

If you want to learn more about how your peers are dealing with and overcoming these challenges, I invite you to join us in our upcoming conference, NextStep. This free, virtual conference is designed for IT leaders who want to accelerate the digital transformation of their organization while delivering innovation as fast as the business demands.