IT Leadership And Growth-Limiting Challenges For Midsize Businesses

Daniel LoPolito

Part 1 of the three-part series “How IT Drives Growth for Midsize Businesses

One of the most nerve-racking moments for technology leaders of growing businesses face is a boardroom full of business leaders with big ideas for growing their business. From acquiring another company to creating new business models to responding to disruptive threats from competitors, bold moves to drive growth are increasingly essential for survival. And the two words that no one in the room wants to hear is “we can’t.”

Without the right digital platform to support those strategies, technology leaders know they are between a rock and a hard place. In fact, the IDC InfoBrief, “The IT Role in Best-Run Midsize Companies: Driving Value from Embedded Intelligence,” sponsored by SAP, revealed that midsize companies of all growth trajectories view complex legacy systems, disconnected business processes, and an inability to consolidate and analyze information in real-time as the three most significant barriers to growth.

Barriers of Growth for Midsize Companies

Source: The IT Role in Best-Run Midsize Companies: Driving Value from Embedded Intelligence,” IDC, sponsored by SAP, 2019.

When overburdened IT landscapes reach their breaking point

The IT landscapes of most growing companies are reaching a breaking point that likely can’t be fixed with the “duct tape and glue” approach used in the past. These short-term solutions such as further customizations, or the addition of still more bolt-on solutions, are creating greater complexity and making it more difficult to get the information needed to make timely decisions. Such tactics only introduce more risk to the core business as processes and decision-making increasingly rely on connected intelligence, automation, and real-time data collection.

However, the idea of transforming a spaghetti landscape of patchworked applications into a simplified digital landscape can be intimidating. From significant investments to concerns over potential business disruption, business leaders have a variety of reasons to be cautious. But their employees may not have the patience to wait for the modern, consumer-like experiences they expect in the workplace and need to get work done.

As more and more companies confront this challenge, there is a greater need for open and honest discussions on balancing the boardroom’s vision and the technologies and tools that the digital environment needs to achieve it. Benefits and risks must be carefully analyzed to help the leadership team understand how technical capabilities and limitations can impact future business growth. Furthermore, this exercise can help shape a clear road map for implementing their digital transformation vision with tangible steps that are feasible, viable, desirable, and scalable.

How to turn “we can’t” into “we can”

The more data-rich and analytics-driven that embedded and intelligent technologies become, the greater the opportunity for IT to play a critical role in enabling business growth, rather than limiting it.

But first, IT leaders must make a case for shifting attention away from short-term solutions to a more thoughtful conversation about digital transformation. Only then can IT effectively support business leaders and embrace the business capabilities and process simplicity that they want.

How can technology leaders foster this business transformation conversation? IDC research indicates five best practices that have been successful for those from best-run midsize businesses:

  1. Become an active leader of digital transformation by following a centralized approach that eliminates existing silos and prevents new ones from forming.
  1. Strengthen ties with internal business partners with ongoing communication as well as collaborative planning, funding, and review efforts.
  1. Align interest in next-generation intelligent technologies – including digital assistants – with the need to infuse artificial intelligence and machine learning throughout the IT architecture to support improved data management and analytics-driven decision-making.
  1. Assign dedicated data intelligence and governance staff to empower people to make decisions that drive company-wide agility and adaptability.
  1. Prioritize investments in partner solutions that augment the expertise, skills, and capabilities of the internal IT team and already-deployed applications.

Engaging in such a collaborative partnership between IT and the business can make the prospect of digital transformation less overwhelming for everyone in the boardroom. Business leaders will appreciate the advantages of ensuring cybersecurity of organizational data and simplifying and integrating the application landscape company-wide. And the next time a strategic and digitally dependent idea arises, IT leaders can confidently replace “we can’t” with “we can.”

Get more expert insights and recommendations on how investing in advanced technology can help address the IT challenges of growing businesses. We invite you to bookmark our series landing page, “How IT Drives Growth for Midsize Businesses,” and check it for new insights and best practices. 

In the meantime, read the IDC InfoBrief, “The IT Role in Best-Run Midsize Companies: Driving Value from Embedded Intelligence,” sponsored by SAP, for real-world findings on opportunities that can help IT organizations in midsize companies pave the way to long-term growth.



Daniel LoPolito

About Daniel LoPolito

Daniel LoPolito is Vice President and Head of SAP Business Transformation Services in North America. He is on the front lines of digital transformation working closely with CEOs, CIOs, and business executives from many different industries and draws on over 25 years of experience to define and build customers’ digital transformation strategies. He has successfully led large, multiscale transformation projects for many large and midsize businesses. With the help of Dan’s team, SAP customers are guided on how best to consume the technology that will enable them to successfully transform to a digital enterprise.