Investments in Technology: Let’s Talk Efficiency and Experience

IT budgets

When the research firm Gartner surveyed Canadian businesses about their expectations regarding technology investments for 2022 and 2023, the response was unanimous: to generate growth. The role of the CIO is to bring new business opportunities and create growth levers for the company. 

In line with the economic and geopolitical instability that marked 2023, the survey results for 2024 present a striking contrast. Indeed, 80% of companies rely on their technological investments to excel in customer service, and 59% to enhance the productivity of their human capital. These statistics reflect a reality deeply rooted in the business world: faced with increased uncertainty, organizations tend to consolidate their gains, optimize their processes, build resilience, and get closer to their customers rather than venturing into unknown territory. 

That being said, the magnitude and speed of this paradigm shift sow doubt in many Quebec organizations. With technology investment capacities increasing by only 4% in 2023 and a growth projection between 6 and 8% for 2024, a question remains for companies: should they maintain their focus on growth objectives or rethink their priorities towards optimizing their gains? 

From our perspective, this period is conducive to optimization, an approach that allows companies to be well-prepared for the next wave of growth. Thus, for the next three years, two concepts are essential to consider when talking about technology investment: efficiency and experience. 

Let’s Talk Efficiency 

Distinct from effectiveness, efficiency concerns the optimal use of resources in relation to the results obtained. In other words, while effectiveness is about taking the right actions, efficiency is about doing actions the right way. In this regard, although both elements are crucial, several leaders agree that up to 40% of resources allocated to daily operations are superfluous. This suggests that there is considerable optimization potential within every organization. 

To use technology as a lever for efficiency, surveyed companies concentrate their investments around business intelligence (72%) and application modernization (65%). Consequently, access to reliable data is crucial to increasing efficiency, as it enables informed decisions related to achieving desired gains. The adoption of data warehouses and cloud-based analysis tools, such as Microsoft’s Power BI, provides the management team with a precise view of the state of activities, in real time. 

On the other hand, when economic growth is sustained over a decade, this often results in putting the improvement of enterprise management systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, on the back burner. In such conditions, these systems become difficult to maintain and prone to security issues. CIOs are increasingly turning to business solutions that use low-code/no-code design and development methods, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 or SAP. 

Let’s Talk Experience 

Once, when it came to the notion of experience, it was the domain of marketing and sales. Today, in a context of specialized labor shortages and digitization of business relationships, companies must maintain a much more holistic view of experience: including that of the customer, the user, and the employee. After all, if a company wishes to thrive nowadays, it is imperative for it to increase the loyalty, engagement, and satisfaction of these three stakeholders. 

In order to optimize their experience, companies concentrate their investments in implementing tools that minimize low-value-added tasks for employees and increase interaction points with customers. To do this, CIOs focus on two elements: the implementation of flexible and automation-savvy systems for customer relationship management (CRM), as well as the launch of pilot projects in generative artificial intelligence. The combination of these two technologies offers the company the opportunity to increase the volume of data on its customers while reducing the analysis burden for its employees. 

In conclusion, although technology can create new business opportunities, companies can make a strategic choice by concentrating their capital on optimizing their activities, notably by focusing on operational efficiency and the experience of customers, users, and employees. It is during times of uncertainty that the most successful companies stand out by maintaining strategic investments adapted to the situation. 

Arnaud Montpetit