Technology has become integrated in every industry in almost every possible, which leads to almost nothing that can be classified as low-tech. In fact, technological forces are re-defining the way a business functions in many different aspects. Management teams are accelerating the speed of innovation in new products and processes are translated into profitable commercial ventures.
It is necessary to plan, take time, and design a strong business technology strategy. Not all businesses get it right immediately, but a right strategy presents clear direction and makes it easy to achieve goals. This strategic plan must be able to evolve continuously as the business and technology keeps changing.
In my experience, building a Strong Technology Strategy is a multi-step process and this is what I would recommend:
Step 1 — Create a Strong Foundation
Business and technology are so closely related that strategies must match like a hand in a glove. The business strategy often depends on technology, especially disruptive technology plans broaden the company strategy to illustrate the digital route.
Below are some action points that effectively set the course on the right path:
Action 1 — It’s always better to start with business goals and plan. After all, the technology strategy is all about the achievement of these targets. If these are not known, you should start with why technology needs to be used by the organization that will make you identify important business factors like margin, share, market etc. Make sure you get agreement and clarity as to why technology is key to future success.
Action 2 — Now you’ve looked at the big picture of where the business is headed, and the next move is to look at the big picture of technology. This is a crucial step because it enables you to see how software fits into the whole framework of the business. Failure to map strategies to the wider context results in disjointed and costly outcomes.
Step 2 — Align Business Goals & Technology
Many companies struggle to maintain a relationship between their business and technology functions because they are not integrated into one another. By integrating your business and technology strategies, your organization will perform better with respect to revenue and competition. Moreover, by planning upfront, you will avoid unnecessary confusion and roadblocks.
These action points will help you carve a proper technology strategy:
Action 1 — You need to take stock of the available infrastructure after identifying business and technology requirements, so that you can find and can work on the unavailable ones. Now, that you got a clear picture, define the necessary KPIs so that your effectiveness can be calculated.
Action 2–After you are done with technology mapping, start with road mapping where you weigh your technology and business requirements. Look at any successful company, they always maintain roadmaps that define the next technologies they are going to pursue and timeline for each of them.
Step 3 –Strategy Should be Designed for Resilience
One of the biggest reasons why a good technology strategy fails is the project operating model that is not modeled for resilience. The digital world can easily trap you and push you to take ad-hoc initiatives that will lead to burning up resources that could be otherwise be used more efficiently and competitively.
Following action points will help you build a resilient and can-be-measured adaptive model.
Action 1 — Start by identifying an overall architecture of technology that consists of the main software, hardware, and other resources you will be using. Then consider any department-specific technology that may be needed, such as specialist financial or HR software, to achieve business goals. Finally, think about how the architecture’s parts fit together, and what processes can control their integration.
Keep all this data well documented so that it gives your architecture a simple visibility of how much you spend and who will use it.
Action 2 — You need to make sure that your IT strategy is efficient and cost-effective, because your IT plan serves your business needs. This is why some key metrics that you can use to benchmark and evaluate the success of your IT strategy over time are important to recognize. Those may include:
Indicators of service level, such as
- Number of calls from the support desk
- Operational metrics, such as utilization of resources
- Indicators at the company level, including budget and customer satisfaction
- Qualitative metrics, including input from end-users and customers
Technology Strategy — Some Good Examples from History
Just as with other business functions, all successful organizations share this common trait of relying on planning processes to ensure growth and operational efficiency. Technology adoption, implementation timing, and rightly utilizing the existing or emerging ecosystem, can have a profound impact on the success or failure of a company.
All effective companies rely on planning processes to ensure growth and operational performance, just as with other business functions. Adoption of technology, implementation timing, and proper use of the current or evolving environment can have a significant effect on a company’s success or failure.
- The Voice over IP (VoIP) technology that emerged in 1990s, used the existing ecosystem of data networks to its advantage to transmit voice, thus cutting costs and enabling integrations with applications.
- The Flying cars, a dream for many entrepreneurs since the early 20th century used variety of flight technologies till date but could not reach production because they tried to build much ahead of their time without a clear technology strategy.
- SpaceX clear strategy in technological innovations and their idea of developing reusable rockets has cut down space program costs multi-fold.
- Walmart who was the king of ecommerce failed against Amazon as their strategy failed to evolve with the changing business and technology needs. They had to go back to the drawing board again.
From my experience of working with many progressive industry companies, the above steps and recommendations will help create a business technology strategy that can guide companies in successfully digital proofing. This will also help to invest in technological areas that will contribute to the future of the business.
These steps are largely applicable to any technology strategy. The speed of digital technology, the need for innovation towards customer experience, and success needs a well-defined strategy, emphasizes the urgency to act NOW. If you need an immediate tech strategy for your enterprise, please feel free to message me directly to figure out what steps are needed to jump into the digital age!
This post was written by Asokan Ashok, the CEO of UnfoldLabs. Ashok is an expert in driving customer insights into thriving businesses and commercializing products for scale. As a leading strategist in the technology industry, he is great at recommending strategies to address technology & market trends. Highly analytical and an industry visionary, Ashok is a sought after global high-tech industry thought leader and trusted strategic advisor by companies.