Most corporate technology strategies sound a little like this: “Hire the best minds and buy the finest equipment that fits our budget, and then use it to excel against the competition.”
While this may outline the very basics of what you want from technology, a vague statement like this won’t deliver success. A truly effective technology strategy clearly conveys how technology fits into — and drives — all functions of the company’s operations, from marketing to finance to IT. Like a detailed road map, the strategy shows where the company currently stands, where leadership wants it to be in the future, and how technology will be used to achieve those goals.
Today, as operations shift toward automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning — and as ransomware attacks become more common and sophisticated — a technology strategy isn’t optional; it’s essential. Ultimately, good technology and an effective technology strategy can multiply your company’s growth, while poor technology and an ineffective technology strategy can cripple an otherwise successful business. And delaying will only cost you; between replacing aging legacy systems and addressing security issues with older technology, the longer you wait, the more money you will spend catching up.
Every company succeeding in the market today is doing so through technology. If you’re ready to drive your company forward through an effective technology portfolio and strategy, start with these seven steps.
1. Find Your Baseline
Before diving in to selecting new technology platforms, analyze what’s currently in your stack and how it’s performing. Identify the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to your company — such as sales growth, cost reductions, or online traffic — and use them to determine if your current technology is generating a positive ROI.
2. Analyze Problems and Opportunities
Now, take a look at your company’s goals for the year, focusing on the problems you need to address and opportunities you want to capitalize on, as well as your long-term vision for the future. How can technology systems help you achieve those goals? Are your current systems adequate to handle those problems/opportunities, or can you do better with newer technology?
For example, a retailer’s legacy point-of-sale (POS) system may be reliable, and IT and sales staff may be well acquainted with it. Based on that alone, you might think that investing in a next-generation, cloud-based solution may seem unnecessary. However, if your goals include capitalizing on customer data and automation, a newer system could help you achieve those objectives — as well as lead to cost savings and higher sales revenues.
3. Prioritize the Work
Right now, your IT department’s work stack is probably filled with a range of pending issues, requests, projects, and other demands. Instead of addressing these on a first-come, first-served basis, prioritize the work by how each task affects the business’s goals. This likely means that repairs to the programs used by large groups of employees and customers will come first, while requests that impact single individuals may get pushed down on the list. Ultimately, you should prioritize the work that pushes your company goals forward.
4. Build the Map
Once you complete the analysis outlined in the first three steps, you should be able to build the draft of your technology roadmap. This will include addressing any technology that is currently producing a negative ROI by repairing it, replacing it, or simply getting rid of it. It will also include a plan for improving or replicating the success of any technology that is producing a positive ROI. And finally, for any problems or opportunities that are not being addressed by your current technology, it will include necessary changes (including new technology, budget, and staff). Keep in mind that this can be a multi-year roadmap.
5. Look to the Future
Your roadmap will address the challenges and opportunities you’re currently facing, but make sure to also consider how those hurdles may evolve in the next two to three years. Some legacy systems that work well now may soon be facing the end of their useful life. Your customer base might change, and the amount and type of data you need could drastically increase as your technology infrastructure widens and becomes more sophisticated. Look to what you’ll require in a three-year period, consider how to address those needs, and edit the draft of your roadmap accordingly.
6. Consider the Landscape
While your strategy focuses on your individual business, it can be helpful to look at the wider industry landscape to make sure your plans are appropriate. Using resources like Gartner and other external industry and technology experts, assess how your competitors and peers are using technology, so you can better understand if your strategy is too conservative, too aggressive, or on the right track.
7. Keep It Moving
A technology strategy shouldn’t be etched in stone. Just as your business changes during the year, allow your strategy to evolve in response to new challenges and opportunities. Aim to review your technology strategy at least once a year, if not more often, to evaluate what you’ve learned and continue iterating. Ultimately, your strategy should be a living, breathing map to your company’s success, and learning from the past can help you develop a better roadmap for the future.
A technology strategy is more than a statement of good intentions. It’s a data-driven guide to managing your organization’s future. By following these steps, you will develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses your business goals and keeps you ahead of the competition. Ready to get started? Contact us to discuss your company’s needs.
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