New Year, Same Old Challenges, Fresh Opportunities

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While we’ve begun a new year, enterprise leaders are faced with the same old challenges. Is there an opportunity for a fresh take?

Despite my utter distaste for end-of-year recaps and new year predictions (I used to have to write one and absolutely hated it!) — and don’t even get me started on the futility of new year’s resolutions — I admit that I love the fresh start that a new year engenders.

I always try to take time at the end of the year to reflect on what has just transpired and make aspirational plans for the one about to begin.

But for most enterprise leaders a new year represents nothing more than more of the same old challenges.

During some recent conversations with a number of enterprise IT and contact center executives, I was struck by just how little seems to have changed. I even commented in a group meeting that the issues we were discussing were the same ones I faced over 20 years ago — and got disheartened chuckles in response.

Recent surveys by the Wall Street Journal and others looking at 2023 priorities point to many of the usual suspects: modernization, dealing with technical debt, speed and agility, attracting and retaining talent, and so on.

As an enterprise leader, it can feel like you’re on a treadmill: constantly moving, but going nowhere.

But are you stuck in your own version of Groundhog Day, relegated to perpetually dealing with the same issues, or is there another way to look at things?

The Truth of the Enterprise’s Changing Landscape 

For most enterprise leaders, your work is a bit like George Bailey’s life in It’s a Wonderful Life: you just can’t see all the impact you’ve had.

The truth is that it only seems as though you’re facing all the same challenges because the landscape is continually shifting all around you.

Today’s enterprise moves faster, demands more technology to operate, is fundamentally more complex in everything it does, and functions in a world in which customer, employee, and partner expectations grow and shift like desert sands.

While the challenges may be the same, the context is radically changed. And it is this radical shift in both context and complexity that make the challenges something altogether different.

But that’s still not the whole story — and it’s where (and why) many enterprise leaders go astray.

Fresh Opportunities for the New Year 

I have the privilege of spending a lot of time speaking with enterprise leaders who are having a significant impact on their organizations. These are the leaders who are successfully leading their teams and organizations into the bright (and sometimes scary) uncharted future we are all creating each day.

These leaders seem to have one thing in common: they realize that while these may be vastly different times in terms of expectations, pace, and complexity, the solution to responding to them is as old as time itself.

While it is tempting to trot out the need for digital transformation or some other technology-rooted buzzword (something far too many enterprise leaders are guilty of doing), the underlying solution always comes down to a tried-and-true triumvirate: leadership, communication, and a focus on people.

Even my recent conversations on the topic of technical debt show this fact. Those enterprise executives that have the best handle on dealing with it are doing so by creating exposure, communicating clearly, and having peer-level conversations about the investments they are and are not making.

So, as we enter the new year, I hope that you too had time to reflect and are looking forward hopefully and aspirationally. And as you read the endless predictions and trend pieces remember that your ultimate success will have little to do with the specific technologies you choose or the flair with which you launch a splashy new transformational program. Instead, it will have everything to do with how well you execute the fundamentals.

It may be the same old challenges, but it’s a whole new world. Enjoy the ride.


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About the author 

Charles Araujo

Charles Araujo is a technology analyst and internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise, the Digital Experience and the Future of Work. Researching Digital Transformation for over 10 years, he is now focused on helping leaders transform their organizations around the digital experience and to reimagine the future of work. Publisher and principal analyst of The Digital Experience Report, founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation, co-founder of The MAPS Institute, and author of three books, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and advisor to technology companies and enterprise leaders.

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