In my last post I wrote about three attributes that Leaders have but Laggards don’t.

The top 10% of companies don’t only have a winning mindset. They also take action. Our research showed five key actions that Leaders consistently take to close their Innovation Achievement Gap and capture the full value of their technology.

1. They adopt technologies that make the organisation fast and flexible. They build architectures that can quickly respond to market demands. One example is seamless customer payments.

Laggards find it difficult to move rigid IT architectures, which leaves them unable to maximise investments in innovation. I will talk a bit more about architecture in the next article.

2. They implement cloud computing. Cloud computing is essential to Future Systems because it enables companies to capitalise on other technologies, including AI and analytics. Laggards tend to treat the cloud as if it were a cost-effective data centre. But Leaders treat the cloud as a catalyst for innovation.

My colleague Jigyasa Singh has written extensively on cloud computing.

3. They recognise data as being both an asset and a liability. Data is notoriously unreliable. That’s what 64% of Laggards say. They don’t trust that their data is reliable enough to drive business change.

What if you knew that your data was reliable and used it to drive business change? You’d almost certainly be a Leader. That’s the attitude of 94% of them. Leaders enrich their data, and put security measures in place to anticipate threats. They build ethically responsible frameworks for managing data and AI. For example, Leaders use AI itself to spot biased algorithms.

4. They manage technology investments well — across the enterprise.

AI needs to gain the confidence of the people who use it. Users need to be sure it won’t affect business performance, brand equity or regulatory compliance negatively.

Some 94% of Leaders track the ROI of automation and bots across the organisation, not just in IT. Contrast that with only 47% of Laggards.

For example, many Leaders use visual dashboards that track how much time bots are saving daily or weekly. These dashboards serve as visual aids to persuade skeptics and help employees buy-in to the culture change that automation brings.

Leaders also implement innovation centres to create pipelines for innovation transfer.

5. They find creative ways to nurture talent.

A workforce immersed in yesterday’s technologies is one of the biggest obstacles to creating the flexible, human-centric systems necessary for success.

Leaders understand that investing in talent is the best way to advance Future Systems. As these systems evolve, so must the IT workforce.

In three years, our survey respondents said, 52% of their IT workforce and 47% of their non-IT workforce skills would be obsolete.

That’s half your skills base who will have skills that you no longer need. They will be telex operators in the age of the Internet.

Leaders are far outpacing Laggards in skills training: They use experiential learning at three times the rate of Laggards (73% versus 24%) and they launch apprenticeship programmes at more than double the rate of Laggards (79% to 36%). Nearly 90% of Leaders are using AI and advanced analytics to personalise learning, predict skills needs and match workers’ skill requirements with appropriate training modules. Only 35% of Laggards use these techniques.

By taking these five action steps, you can transform your organisation and emulate the 10% of Leaders in your industry.

For more on the boundaryless organisation and Future Systems, feel free to contact me directly. I would be happy to chat through how we have helped organisations become Leaders. Or you can also download the Future Systems report for yourself by clicking this link.