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What comes first for SMEs – Business strategy or Technology strategy?

In my professional experience, having worked at technology, applications, and business layers, it has been established repeatedly that it is easier to tailor technology to business needs than vice-versa. So, in response to innovative technology, I would always opt for Business strategy first, a view that was again supported by a group of 200 senior executives who play an active role in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) scene in Australia.

Last week,I was fortunate to attend the IIoT summit in Sydney, with the key theme being ‘Building the Digital enterprise’. It had a jam-packed agenda with a good mix of speakers from Industry associations & consortium, established vendors, start-ups, IIoT end users, media, academics& business advisors.

Firstly, the summit had representation from all industries be that Primary, Secondary, or services industries rather than Manufacturing industry only. A good set of IIoT use cases and implementation case studies were presented for all industries.

There was a notable absence in the summit from major IT vendors that may be explainable from the latest Gartner’s IoT hype cycle positioning most of the IoT technologies on the hype curve or trough of disillusionment part of the curve leading to further prediction of 5-10 years before digital transformations. Instead, the summit was presented with some examples and case studies of IIoT usage both in large and SME (small to medium enterprise) companies. I am keen to see Gartner’s updates for IoT hype cycle and predictions in the next iteration.

While some companies have embraced the innovative technologies, and are already on the business transformation journey, many companies are still trying to make sense of these technologies and understand their impacts. There were a variety of deep dive sessions and round table discussions to discover the impacts and the way to address these impacts.

I attended the Manufacturing deep dive session, where the following business values, challenges and impacts were work-shopped by over 100 participants to address the IIoT innovation impacts.

The final question posed near the concluding moments was “Should businesses create IIoT strategy?”

There was a robust discussion among the participants throughout the session. Based on the captured notes above, the conclusion of the workshop was that “Digital Business Strategy” is imperative before working out “IIoT technology strategy”.

You see, great minds think alike!

In current times, as we have already embraced digital Eco-systems in personal consumer lives and have experienced the digital life through smart phones, tablets, fit-bits …. Now, it is becoming obvious that businesses, no matter its size large or SME, would need to embrace the ubiquity of digital Eco-systems to stay afloat in the mid-to-long-term and to excel in the long term.  Every business would need a Digital Business Strategy – wouldn’t you agree?

So, what would an executable digital business strategy for SME companies look like? Well, that is a topic of another post –if interested ‘follow me’ to keep updated.