Technology within business has never been more important than in this digital age. As IT is now a critical part of day to day business it’s important to think about how new technologies such as Digital Transformation, Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence can fit into your IT strategy and release the full potential of your business.
What is an IT strategy?
An IT strategy for your organisation is like a roadmap that helps to align your IT with your future business plans. A well-planned IT Strategy enables your organisation to plan long term, evaluate your IT needs and priorities before making any significant investments in equipment or new solutions, but the strength of your IT strategy can have an incredible impact on your organisation’s success.
Developing a business IT Strategy has become a critical element for organisational leadership in recent decades due to the growing importance of technology in the workplace. This importance has been amplified over the past few years as organisations focus on making the journey into the cloud through Digital Transformation and thriving in the digital age.
Creating business models, products and services; enhancing customer service as well as customer experiences; increasing sales; enabling workers and improving productivity; and supporting interactions with vendors and other business partners are all important factors in developing a business IT Strategy.
The difference between a standard IT Strategy and an agile IT strategy
What is a standard IT strategy?
A standard IT strategy is usually a structured and ordered process in which produces a long-term view of the technological requirements and a plan for meeting those needs. Traditional IT strategies will typically plan for three to five years and also begin to identify an organisation’s capabilities over this period of time in order to achieve that particular businesses’ goals.
Technology naturally becomes the focus next, and during this step an assessment will be carried out by a specialist IT Consultant. They will address gaps in your organisation’s IT Infrastructure and identify if there are any gaps between your organisation’s current IT Infrastructure and the target one. A technological roadmap can then be created to address these gaps, prioritising in terms of which technology architecture is most critical for achieving the organisation’s vision.
What is an agile IT strategy?
Similar to the standard IT strategy, an agile IT strategy follows in some sense the same framework.
However, rather than planning for several years ahead an agile IT strategy focusses on a much shorter term and lays out an IT strategy for 6 – 24 months. During this kind of time period, an agile IT strategy will cover topics that are dependent on how stable the market the organisation operates in is. Dependent on the stability of the organisation’s market, these businesses may need to work on either a 6-12 month or 12-24 month planning period.
A roadmap for developing an agile IT strategy will be delivered during a planning period and at the end which the organisation can evaluate and adjust, giving adaptability to identifying new priorities and the technological initiatives required to support the business.
The fast-changing nature of a digital world provides organisations of all sizes with an added sense of flexibility in which they can adapt to new challenges and burgeoning opportunities and therefore need an adaptable IT strategy. This cycle should continue until the original strategy and vision for the business have changed and updated, at which point your organisation should start thinking about developing an IT strategy from the very beginning.
Implementing an agile IT strategy for your business is much more beneficial due to the fast changing nature of digital technologies and the need for IT Infrastructures to be more scalable.
Below we take a look at five things to include when your organisation is developing a business IT strategy
1. Outline your business goals
The first step in developing a business IT strategy is to make sure that it is aligned to your overall business strategy. This is because the primary function of an IT strategy is to support your business and help you to achieve your short- and long-term business goals. You should begin by outlining your business needs, goals and high-level objectives.
Key areas to look at will include:
- Your current sales pipeline and future sales targets
- Future plans regarding business partnerships, mergers or company acquisitions
- Growth strategies and plans for your organisation’s future
- Any other “action plans” the departments in your organisation are working towards
2. Define your scope and timeline
Everyone in your organisation must be on the same page regarding the purpose of your business IT strategy, which key people are responsible for the delivery of the IT strategy and to who in your organisation the IT strategy applies. During this part of the process, its beneficial to meet with key members of each department to see how they use the technology your organisation already uses.
As technology is changing at such a rapid rate, it’s important that the agility of your incoming IT Infrastructure matches the speed you do business at and are able to flexibly match this with developing your IT Strategy
3. Review your existing IT Infrastructure
It’s important to review any existing IT Infrastructure your organisation to identify any problems you currently have, what resources are currently being used and how, and most importantly to see what is working and improve upon that. You should also take into consideration how your employees in different departments use the technology that’s available and ascertaining what they use and what they don’t.
Thinking critically about how your organisation’s IT is being used and analysing this will deliver the best value and give your organisation the ability to develop a business IT strategy that utilises the resources you already have in the most effective manner.
4. Create a roadmap
Creating a roadmap in the development of your IT strategy may appear to be the largest and most difficult step, however, if planned properly it can be relatively easy to define resource allocation.
Defining the overall technology architecture should be the first step, as this is made up of the major software, hardware and other tools your organisation will be using. Breaking this down to department specific technologies and considering how these different parts of your architecture fit together is also a huge advantage.
5. Establish your metrics
You need to make sure that when you are developing a business IT strategy that it is functional and also cost effective. KPIs should be identified to help analyse performance over time, not only is this important but also tracking the range of metrics is important too. This can help your organisation be more proactive in the identification and the solving of underlying issues before they impact your end users.