The most common mid-market hurdles to digital innovation | Forte Group

The most common mid-market hurdles to digital innovation

Coming to grips with software delivery obstacles is the first step any business must take if it wants to become a leader in digital innovation. This can be particularly challenging for mid-market organizations, which face unique challenges with fewer resources than their enterprise counterparts.

But these challenges aren’t insurmountable. Over the last several years, enough research has emerged to identify three key areas where mid-market companies struggle the most with digital change. Many organizations face more than one of these challenges, if not all of them.

In this article, we’ll examine these hurdles and the steps mid-market leaders can take to overcome them.

Being the disrupted instead of the disrupter

One of the things that makes business today both exciting and terrifying is the ease with which market dominance can be won or lost because of digital change. Even if you’re in the business of manufacturing heavy machinery, the quality of your hardware may not be enough to keep your customers happy. Any competitor could disrupt your industry simply by introducing a new digital user interface or online support system that makes their products easier to use or maintain. This is why being the first to market with innovative digital solutions is essential if you want to be (or remain) a market leader.


So, why aren’t all companies innovating in this way? For most, the biggest obstacle is a lack of in-house IT muscle. Either teams don’t have the skills to work with the latest technology or they can’t afford to recruit and retain the talent they need. Even if a team has high-performers, more often than not, the tools or processes aren’t in place to properly leverage their skills. That or a company has only a handful of rockstar developers instead of an entire team of IT leaders who can disseminate best practices across the organization.

It’s possible to solve this problem by building a state-of-the-art, in-house development team, but such a solution is one of the costliest investments a business can make. Finding a trustworthy digital development partner is often the most cost-effective way for mid-market companies to add IT muscle without the overhead of adding full-time staff or spending millions on expensive technology.


1):BDO 2019 Mid-Market Transformation Survey
2):CX Excellence in Growing Mid-Size Companies: Challenges and Path to Success, November 2018

Getting stuck in maintenance mode 

If your IT team doesn’t have the bandwidth for anything except the maintenance of the digital products or systems you already have, finding time to innovate can seem like a pipe dream.

Tight budgets and the accumulation of technical debt are some of the more common reasons companies find themselves in this predicament, but they aren’t the only reasons. Some companies actually become victims of their own success by building digital products that need to scale so fast, it takes most of their IT muscle just to keep them stable and performing.

Then there is the issue of getting everyone in an organization headed in the same direction when it comes to innovation.  Maybe the corporate culture dictates that a product’s features should be customized for its best customers, but are those legacy customers or the customers of tomorrow? Unless there is a unified vision for who the target is, no IT team will be able to move forward and innovate.

Most CTOs want to get out of maintenance mode so they can be drivers of innovation and not just systems managers. By defining, then driving innovation, the role of CTO becomes essential to an organization’s future.

This is where an outside resource like a development partner can be invaluable. They have the expertise to assess your IT organization from a 10,000-ft perspective, identify the pain points, and help you build a plan that moves your business forward.


Getting stuck in survival mode

In the last couple of years, the business world has seen once-big names like Toys-R-Us, RadioShack, and iHeartMedia file Chapter 11, partially because they couldn’t adapt to digital trends fast enough.

If your company has fallen behind the digital curve, the good news is that recovery, while difficult, is not impossible. Finding solutions is the easy part. The hard part is convincing investors, board members, or your CEO to risk capital on these solutions when everyone’s sole focus is on surviving the next quarter.

One of the best ways to escape survival mode is to look past the monetary woes of the moment and refocus on the customer experience. Again, this may require a fresh perspective from an outside partner—one who can immerse themselves in your customer practices and help you evolve them.

You don’t have to go it alone

Disruption by digital technology is a fact of life for every business. This is why investment in digital innovation is so important. Finding the right development partner will help a mid-market business break free of its most common IT hurdles and become an innovation powerhouse. If you would like to learn more, download our white paper, The Mid-Market CTO’s Guide to Driving Digital Change.

Get your full report here.

Glenn Eckstein

by Glenn Eckstein

Glenn oversees and advises the robust engineering practices at Forte Group, ensuring that our development proficiency maintains its industry-leading standard of quality. Throughout his 20-year career working in enterprise software, Glenn has worked in the trenches as an engineer, solutions architect, agile practitioners, and technology consultant for some of Chicago’s top technology companies.

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