Study: Technology Will Be the Key Driver of Business Strategy

Business strategy and technology have become more increasingly intertwined for many years now, but what corporate executives are learning more than a year in the pandemic is how vital technology is to their businesses. Forty percent of CEOs even said that their technology leader or CTO will be the key driver of business strategy, more than the finance, operations and marketing officers combined, according to a Deloitte study.

Executives are more aware now how underestimating technology has limited their strategic options and business agility. It’s safe to say that the pandemic clearly exposed the technology and business chasm. Now, companies are looking into how they can have a more tech-enabled business strategy optimized for agility. The study backs this up: 75% rated disruptive growth as critical for their companies’ success; disruption happens when companies deploy technology.

Global mobility challenge

This is all easier said than done, of course. The right leaders who can make effective executions need to be in place. Empowered executives need to work together with business-savvy tech leaders to form strategic partnerships who understand critical technologies. Meanwhile, global mobility managers will need to provide companies with these types of leaders.

Critical leadership is needed for organizations to invest in a slew of technology investments, from proofs of concept to emerging technologies to major implementations of proven platforms. Executives need to help make sure the implementation will be driving value to the enterprise. 

After all, everyone has access to similar technologies, it’s only how you use them that makes the competitive difference, according to Joseph Fuller, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School.

Citing airlines as an example, he asked this question about incorporating technology with corporate strategy, “What tech will I use to manage pricing? Flight crew? Maintenance scheduling? Route assignments?”

In the past, some of these questions were baked into office policies, but agile technology can make it possible for companies to make changes on the fly, if it’s necessary. And in most cases, changes are necessary in a world that’s always in crisis.

Technology as strategy, not solution

The challenge for some companies is how management will make use of technology as part of a strategy and not just as a solution. Or even how executives need to know how to ask the right questions so they can determine what problems technology is solving for their companies.

Too often, Fuller was quoted as saying, leaders and technologists succumb to magical thinking– when technology is perceived to answer all problems. “Effective strategies don’t accept the promised benefits at face value, they carefully probe the logic behind the proposals.”

So for Fuller, tapping artificial intelligence (AI) allows for objective decision-making. He said it takes out the human ego out of the equation when decisions don’t work as anticipated. Those who have yet to make use of AI can gather around their tech leaders to explore emerging technologies that support their strategic vision. 

The playbook for using technology for those who are not in the AI space can instead reframe the question “Who owns the best tech?” to “Who uses technology the best?” CEOs know they need to go on a deeper level to understand whether their technology is giving them an advantage. 

Companies can look beyond their organization’s current tech capabilities and competitive landscape for a broader range of future possibilities about how technology can expand where they play and how they win — in advanced analytics, automation, and AI. 

Organizations need to continually identify internal and external strategic forces, inform strategic decisions, and monitor outcomes. By doing so, companies can transform strategy development from an infrequent, time-consuming process to one that’s continuous and dynamic, helping strategists think more expansively and creatively about the wide range of future possibilities.

Other points that were raised in the study included the following:

Cloud migration and low-code options

Modernizing legacy enterprise systems and migrating them to the cloud may help speed up an organization’s digital potential. Some companies use clever outsourcing arrangements, while others are tapping low-code options.

Supply, unchained

Some future-focused companies are exploring opportunities to use robots, drones, and advanced image recognition to make physical supply chain interactions more efficient, effective, and safe for employees. Transforming established supply chains into resilient, customer-focused supply networks will be a challenge, though.

Industrialized AI

Sophisticated machine learning models are helping companies discover patterns, reveal anomalies, make predictions and decisions, and generate insights. 


Sophisticated cyberattacks and shifting enterprise environments undermine many companies. Every access request should be validated based on all available data points, including user identity, device, location, and other variables that provide context to each connection and allow more nuanced, risk-based decisions. 

Rebooting the digital workplace

The world is experiencing the largest unplanned work-from-home experiment but when the dust settles, will remote work become the rule or the exception? Companies may be able to overcome the digital workplace’s deficits and ambiguities by more intentionally embracing its positive aspects, including the data generated by workers’ tools and platforms. 

Bespoke for billions: Digital meets physical

In the next 18 to 24 months, Deloitte said it expects in-person and digital experiences to become more seamless and intertwined. Online and offline interactions will not be separate experiences anymore—the customer’s journey will be made up of in-person and digital elements that are integrated and intentionally designed to create a seamless brand experience.

Diversity tech: Tools for equity 

Many organizations are embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion as business imperatives. Over the coming months, enterprises are expected to adopt new tools that incorporate advanced analytics, automation, and AI, including natural language processing and machine learning, to help inform, deliver, and measure the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion.