Facing FOMO: invest in technology based on results, not fears

Mar 10, 2020

The fear of missing out (FOMO) affects us all at one point or another. But it’s been on the increase recently because of technology. Namely the shift towards the cloud, mobile-first, digital transformation, automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. There’s a mountain of shiny new tech available to would-be buyers, but in all the hype, the business value is often forgotten. It’s vital for business leaders to let go of their fears when investing in new tools, as that’s the only way to effectively link your technology to your bottom-line.

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Delivering returns

Ultimately, all technology investments are made to deliver value. Be that through greater efficiency, productivity, improving operations, reducing risk, decreasing error - the list can be endless. What matters, however, is that the outcome of your technology investment links to something tangible that your board appreciates.

Start with your strategy

The easiest way to go about this is to always start with your business strategy and goals. If you use this as your North Star, then your technology investments won’t go off-course. Their results will have a clear link to your strategy, making it easy to prove value to your board. As Walter Riviera, an AI technical solution specialist at Intel explains, “Start from a business need. What problem are you trying to solve? What data do you have available that could address a business need? Start targeting what you need and build on top creatively. The first step is theory, the second is data, and the third is compute and resources."

Know technology’s limits

It’s also worth focusing on the current opportunities and limitations of technology like AI. At the moment, AI primarily completes a limited set of actions, using machine learning and deep learning. Experts currently predict that AI won’t reach artificial general intelligence (AGI) until 10 to 80 years from now.  

Consider what AI is already achieving now, however. Machine learning is able to sift through thousands of documents at a time, far faster than a human team could. AI is now better at detecting breast cancer than doctors, far earlier and with greater accuracy. Meanwhile, in-demand healthcare workers are being intelligently matched to opportunities based on their experience and skills, using machine learning algorithms.  

Even with AI that’s limited to a specific set of actions, your organisation can achieve significant returns. Plus, many of these tools are available now. You don’t have to wait over a decade to invest in AI solutions that’ll streamline your operations.  

Consider the end-user

Putting yourself in your users’ shoes is another good tactic. That way, you can examine existing systems, products and services from your end-user’s perspective and use these insights to inform your technology investments. If a tool will add value to their daily lives, then it’s worth exploring. If it’s a ‘nice to have’ then it can fall lower down the priority list.  

Address other fears early-on in your implementation process, as fears around job losses due to emerging technology could hinder its uptake in your organisation. It also doesn’t create a positive, tech-centric workplace culture. For example, AI and automation will augment many roles instead of fully replacing them.  

Monitor competitors

Finally, consider what’s happening in your wider industry and what your competitors are doing. This can really trigger FOMO, however, so tread carefully when benchmarking your company against others. Being slow to adopt emerging technology can potentially give competitors the upper-hand. Yet, investing too soon can be a distraction and waste of resources. The best way to navigate this is to always have a clear business reason, a use case, for your technology that links to a business goal.  

Value instead of fear

In business, you cannot let your emotions rule your decision-making. By taking a well-considered approach that begins with your business strategy and includes the end-user, you can steer clear of technology FOMO. Ensuring every investment you make is driven by value and not fear.

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