Businesses can learn something from Toronto Raptors, says Salesforce evangelist, Inc. suggests companies that are hesitant to adopt new technologies need only look at the Toronto Raptors for guidance.

In a recently released report focused on tech adoption in Canada by Salesforce, respondents said cost was the third biggest roadblock. And yet, of those who have made the jump to adopt new tech, it is reported they are twice as likely (27 per cent versus 13 per cent) to have seen significant growth over the last three years.

And in a very similar vein, staffing issues was listed as the second biggest roadblock. And yet, of those who have taken the risk to try out new tech, they are 2.3 times more likely to say they’re facilitating growth by training or upskilling employees.

But many companies aren’t willing to make that leap. A lack of expertise and budget constraints remain the biggest barriers, according to the report. Vala Afshar, the chief digital evangelist for Salesforce, spoke with and said that companies stuck in this situation should look to the recently crowned 2019 NBA champions for a lesson in necessary risk.

Vala Afshar says companies must be willing to take risks with tech. Credit: Salesforce

“When I think about accountability, and bold leadership and vision, I think professional sports,” said Afshar. “They have a way of teaching us what it takes to have radical transparency, accountability, and the tough decisions necessary to win.”

When speaking of the risk that organizations must take to integrate new technologies into their existing business practices, Afshar likened it to the risk the Toronto Raptors took when they traded DeMar DeRozan, their most valuable and most consistent asset, for an (at the time) injured Kawhi Leonard, who ended up being all they could have hoped for and more. There were additional pieces in the trade, but for simplicity sake, let’s focus on the centerpieces.

“To me, that’s a perfect example of what it takes to combat this chicken and egg scenario,” said Afshar. “Do you have the courage to invest in potentially better assets, processes, talent, culture, even if it means walking away from your most comfortable, most valuable thing that has got you to where you are today?”

In other words, if you’re a business owner who has been managing a steady but perhaps unspectacular business (Toronto Raptors) in a certain way for many years, would you be willing to throw out the old way of doing things even though it is your most proven and valuable commodity (DeMar DeRozan)? While the new way of doing things brings its own risk (Kawhi’s injury), what if there was a chance that what you replaced your old practices with (Kawhi Leonard) could bring your business everything you could only dare to dream about before? Would you do it?

Salesforce data showing what business moves can lead to the greatest growth. Credit: Salesforce

Afshar seems to think you should, and said if you don’t, you may not be around long.

“I believe that companies that don’t make radical pivot towards embracing innovation, embracing a culture where trust is your core value, embracing digital transformation with customers at the center of every decision they make, they’re not going to win championships. And unfortunately, unlike the NBA, where the teams have the privilege of staying in a league, they may not be around much longer to compete. Fifty-two per cent of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since the year 2000. So even the biggest companies in the world are not immune or not susceptible to disruption.”

And when it comes to indecisive business leaders, Afshar is quite blunt.

“Indecisive business leaders in Canada, or anywhere else for that matter, will not be here to compete.”


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Buckley Smith
Buckley Smith
Staff writer for IT World Canada. Covering the world of technology as it applies to business. Buckley is an avid sports fan who loves travel, food, and music. Can be contacted at [email protected] or 416-290-2000.

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