writing a to do list - nothing is checked off yet
PHOTO: Glenn Carstens-Peters

If you’re like me, you sit down at the beginning of every January and outline your new year’s resolutions. (And if you’re like me, chances are you’ve already given up on half of them.)

But have you done the same for your business? If not, there’s no better time than the start of the new year to take stock of where you are as a company and resolve to take the steps necessary to achieve your business goals. After all, resolutions are nothing if not a road map to a happy and successful year ahead.

In the digitally-driven era in which we now live and work, a happy and successful year is determined, above and beyond all else, by the extent to which you achieve digital excellence, as characterized by your ability to develop and deliver both great products and flawless digital experiences to your customers. Develop great products, deliver them to market on time, and do so within the context of a user experience that your customers love, and you’re likely to have the happy and successful year you desire.

Thus, your technology resolutions for 2019 should be all about accelerating your journey down the road to digital excellence. Here are five resolutions that will help your business do just that.

Just Use It

Large or small, chances are your business has technology investments that it’s not truly maximizing. Whether it’s the data lake you’re not using, the open-source framework you’re not taking advantage of, or the software-as-a-service platform with features you’re not using, make 2019 the year you put your technology investments to work. If you haven’t already, consider forming a center of excellence made up of cross-functional business and IT leaders, and task them with assessing the current state of your technology investments and delivering recommendations for how to get the most out of them. Reaching across the cubicle aisle and learning more about your projects and business objectives just might get those underutilized investments humming, justifying and rewarding all the hard work that went into the implementation, care and feeding of those systems.

Related Article: Confessions of a Martech Tool Underachiever

Unleash Your Best and Brightest

Unused technology may not be the only asset you have sitting on the sidelines. Chances are there are untapped reservoirs of creativity and domain expertise just waiting to be unleashed throughout your organization. Resolve to unleash those resources in 2019 in the name of achieving digital excellence. Empower team members, especially developers, with the freedom to creatively explore new ideas and approaches. Whether it’s building a new application, automating a manual process, or anything in between, ideas are worth pursuing. As Wayne Gretzky once said, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. (General rule: It’s worth heeding the advice of someone nicknamed the Great One.)

Infrastructure as an Advantage

Somewhere along the road from “everything must be on premises” to “everything must be in the cloud” to “OK, fine, a little of both,” the term infrastructure took on an unjustly negative connotation. Infrastructure has unfairly become synonymous with expensive hardware maintained on premises. That’s flawed thinking, and it’s likely holding your business back. Resolve instead to make 2019 the year you think of technology infrastructure, wherever it resides (because wherever it resides, it’s still infrastructure), as something that, if leveraged correctly, can drive your business to new heights.

If you’ve read any of my previous writings, you know I’m a big believer in the power of cloud infrastructure. For a great many use cases, the cloud delivers a combination of agility, scalability and cost-control that you simply can’t achieve with an on-premises implementation. But every business is different, and the point here isn’t to suggest the “right” form of infrastructure. It’s simply to encourage you to stop thinking about infrastructure as a cost center and start thinking of the right infrastructure as a potential accelerant along the road to digital excellence.

Related Article: Is a Hybrid Cloud Right For You?

Speed and Quality, Not Speed or Quality

Fast, cheap and good. You can only pick two, right? Wrong. At least, not if you want to run a successful business in the digital era. In fact, this is in many ways the absolute essence of digital excellence — the ability to quickly and continuously deliver flawless web and mobile applications to your customers (and do so without incurring excessive production costs that then have to be passed on to your customers).

A digitally excellent organization never has to choose. Releases and updates are never delayed in the name of improving the user experience. The user experience is never compromised in the name of getting a release out on time. If you’re a business or technology leader in 2019, this should be your mantra, and you should repeat it daily for all in your organization to hear. Neither speed to market or product quality will ever be compromised. Repeat on loop.

Of course, to truly make that happen, you’ll need the help of another mantra ...

Always. Be. Testing.

To steal two-thirds of Alec Baldwin’s legendary line in the film “Glengarry Glen Ross,” always be testing (although, “always be closing” is pretty good advice, too). The breadcrumbs are pretty easy to follow on this one.

If you want to succeed in the digital age, you need to achieve digital excellence.

If you want to achieve digital excellence, you can never sacrifice speed to market in the name of quality, or quality in the name of speed. (Frankly, the latter has been true for as long as commerce has existed.)

And if you want your development team to deliver speed and quality without compromise, you need to always be testing.

Continuous testing prevents the costly delays that occur when a bug is uncovered at the end of a release cycle (there’s your speed), and it prevents unsavory performance or functional issues from ever making it to production (and there’s your quality). It is an essential and often overlooked element of digital excellence, one capable of turning lost customers into delighted advocates.

Related Article: Ditch Your Traditional Testing Tactics to Improve DX

No Single Lever

As with almost anything worthwhile in business, there’s no single lever to pull in order to achieve digital excellence and build a thriving enterprise. It takes the right mindset, the right people, and a willingness to invest in and use the right technology. But you can achieve digital excellence, and there’s no time like the present to resolve to make it a reality.