Introduction – 5 for Friday

Welcome to another edition of our ‘five for Friday’ blog! A series of articles we’re posting on a Friday at least once a month! Each presents 5 interesting insights into a chosen topic. We’re covering intelligent technologies, their application, the opportunities, the challenges and the impact they have. Please subscribe to our newsletter in the footer below to receive these articles automatically into your inbox. Alternatively follow us on LinkedIn via our company page, Combined Intelligence, to receive via LinkedIn notifications.

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It’s not all about the technology!

At Combined Intelligence we help organisations realise the maximum benefit from intelligent technologies. Covering technologies such as artificial intelligence, intelligent process automation, augmented analytics, smart devices and more. To be successful with these technologies we recognise that there are many technical issues that need to be understood and addressed but, equally, or perhaps even more importantly, there are many non-technical issues that can make or break an intelligent technologies project.

In this blog we look at 5 reasons it’s not all about the technology when it comes to being successful with intelligent technologies. We’ve picked this topic because, unfortunately, many (>50%) intelligent technology projects fail to achieve the scale and range of benefits expected. These are some of the reasons.

1. Drivers

Firstly, why is the organisation looking to use an intelligent technology. Here are a few bad reasons:

  • Technologies such as AI and RPA currently have a lot of hype behind them. Jumping on the bandwagon or adopting a technology because its new and shiny aren’t good drivers.
  • Too many organisations pick a technology first and then try to find an opportunity to use it.
  • Other organisations just focus on one outcome, for example reducing cost through automation, but fail to consider the wider opportunities to truly transform how the organisation operates.

Ultimately, technology should be an enabler for an organisation to achieve it’s business vision. Whether that’s growth, profitability, customer/employee satisfaction, brand perception etc. So for every programme, it’s important to confirm the real business drivers behind why it’s happening and what it will contribute to the organisations goals. These must align with the vision for the business and also be understandable by everyone in the organisation (board level to front line). This combined with good communication throughout the programme is key to getting and keeping everyone on board.

2. Sponsorship

Programmes and projects, whatever they’re looking to achieve, are rarely successful if they’re not properly and enthusiastically sponsored from above. The intelligent technologies journey isn’t an easy one and there will be challenges.  The sponsors need to appreciate this and be willing to accept the bumps in the road and help to overcome them rather than rapidly become disillusioned and cancel the project.

One sponsor is the minimum requirement, more than one sponsor is much better. CIO/CTO sponsorship is typical for a technology project but it should be delivering transformation and innovation, so having relevant sponsorship across operations, sales, finance and HR is equally important. Although having multiple sponsors can be a challenge to manage (requiring good sponsor management), the benefits outweigh the negatives.

3. Culture

Intelligent technologies will transform both our role in the workplace and how we work (see out previous blog on this topic here). Many organisations, teams and individuals will be sceptical, concerned and fearful about this change which in turn can lead to negativity, resistance and potentially failure to transform. Whereas within other organisations and teams, change is welcomed and embraced leading increasing the potential for success.

The culture and mindset of an organisation and the teams within it will therefore have a big impact on progress, adoption and outcomes. Recognising this is an initial step but then actually doing something about it can be challenging and something that often should be addressed at a wider level rather than an individual programme or project.

4. Inclusion

Intelligent technology solutions will often be implemented using specialist resources with expertise in the key technologies. This does not mean they’re experts in the business area, the product or overall solution the intelligent technology is part of. Additionally, there’s a big difference in the level of acceptance of change when the team most affected by the change is directly involved in making it happen.

Being inclusive by including, throughout the programme lifecycle, representatives (not just leadership) from the relevant operational, product and support teams will increase the chance of successful adoption. Encouraging an open environment (part of the culture) where feedback is welcomed and actioned will also help with this and ultimately the scale of benefits that are received.

5. Skills

It doesn’t matter how good a technology platform is if you don’t have the right mix of skills within your team to make the best use of it. It’s important to have a well rounded team combining the right technical skills, good people skills, knowledge of the business and the drivers behind the programme. Combine this with a good team culture and robust processes will be a recipe for success.

It should be noted that technical skills and processes need to align with the technology platform being used and the particular application of the technology. Artificial Intelligence, for example, has many flavours, models, architectures as well as applications. Being knowledgable in the relevant area of AI application and the processes involved are the most valuable (and hard to find) skills needed.


If you would like to discuss any of the aspects covered by this blog (and how we might help you) or you want to provide feedback please contact us via Please also subscribe below to our newsletter so that you can receive our latest news, blogs and articles direct to your inbox. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.