Safe technology bets during uncertain times

In my first job, the Head of Strategy was obsessed with VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), a technique that develops alternative scenarios of the future based on weak signals and emerging trends to develop corporate strategy.

In my guilty pleasure movie, World War Z, Israel fortified Jerusalem way before the zombies attacked because of their 10th-man strategy.

The strategy dictates that when the first nine men agree on something, it’s the duty of the 10th man to take an opposite view and act accordingly.

People and organizations have always tried to anticipate and predict the future, so they can make the right decisions and be ready when it arrives. But we are rarely right about the future — and experts sometimes get it terribly wrong.

What we cannot foresee are events that truly change the world overnight. That’s why newspapers were full of articles about “why economists failed to predict the financial crisis” back in 2009, and why hospitals and ICUs are bursting at the seams today.

What VUCA and the 10th-man strategy have in common is that they force enterprises and leaders to imagine multiple alternative futures and acknowledge the uncertainty of predictions.

Prepare for the future

The only way to prepare for the future is to admit it may be different from what we expect. To be truly prepared, you need to be agile, resilient, and dynamic.

Like Brad Pitt’s character in World War Z — a poster father who makes pancakes on normal days, and zombie-fighter and co-pilot on other days – technology plays a crucial role in achieving that.

Most companies have not adopted the right technology so far. In fact, IDC predicts that “by 2024, 80% of enterprises will overhaul relationships with suppliers, providers, and partners to better execute digital strategies.” This means that 80% of companies have not implemented strategies that are agile, dynamic, and resilient.

So, what should you do if you are one of the 80% of these companies and you are sitting down to write a new RFP (Request For Proposal) to find a new technology supplier or provider?

Three considerations

There are three key things to consider when ensuring the vendor can support you through uncertainty:

1. The best vendor is one that can be counted on as a strategic partner and business enabler with the right expertise to help you adapt the solution to the time of change to support your business.

2. The best vendor is one with an open approach that well integrates and supports third-party solutions you may adapt in the future.

3. The best vendor is versatile and can support your changing needs. An effective way to figure this out is to look at several analyst rankings because they use different sets of criteria. Because you do not know which set of criteria, the future will favor, it is best to choose a vendor that is recognized as a leader against all of them.

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