It’s always challenging to take a critical look at your business and identify why things aren’t working. And a lot of the time this means many steer clear of IT strategy.
There are several reasons for this, from a skills gap to how engrained technology has become in your organisation. For many, the thought of making such changes when things are just working fine can be very daunting.
But to help your business achieve its visions and goals, your IT strategy must be well-considered and planned. It’s also important to understand some of the key reasons your strategy may fail.
1. Your IT strategy and business strategy aren’t aligned
For your IT strategy to be successful, you must’ve considered the business needs. The business strategy must always drive the IT strategy. All too often, IT can implement new systems or solutions that conflict with the longer-term goals of the organisation.
When defining your overall IT strategy, it’s helpful to identify 4 or 5 broader business goals and ensure that your IT strategy will complement them. These may span departments or underpin everything the organisation does, but ensuring the IT can deliver for each will pay off in the long term.
2. Emerging technology could be a game-changer
Almost every day, we see new technology emerging that may have vast business benefits. IoT, 5G, robotics and automation, all could have long term advantages for your business. To remain ahead of the competition, you must be able to keep up to date with the latest developments, especially those that will have a profound effect on your industry.
It can be challenging to assess the impact these new technologies would have on your business, especially as they aren’t likely to be many examples of similar companies who’ve adopted these technologies for a sufficient amount of time. But, your business must understand that it needs to adapt and be agile, so you’re not left behind while your competitors move ahead.
3. You don’t have the necessary digital skills for the future
IT leaders are no longer siloed away from the rest of your team. They need to be involved with the broader business leadership team, gaining a deep understanding of the business. Your IT strategy will fail if they don’t understand your business.
The ability to change and adapt is vital for your technology leader. For example, can automation help you process orders with fewer errors or mistakes? As anyone will testify, we’ll make mistakes from time to time. You’re at a higher risk of error if you’ve got a manual keying process for orders.
It’s essential to ensure your team anticipates technology changes, whether internal, external or a mix. If you aren’t getting any guidance on new technology, it may indicate that you don’t have the right people with the right skills in place.
4. Adopt best practice
As your business evolves, so does the technology that you’ve access to. While it may seem easy to swap to a different software or infrastructure provider, it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. You need to develop best practices for each area to deliver results long term.
How you use your systems will directly impact your proposition. Making your internal processes as good as possible will also provide you with a competitive advantage over your rivals. Similarly, if you work with an outsourced provider, check they’re approaching things with best practices at the heart of what they do. It’s best practice for a reason. Microsoft recommends best practices as it’s the right way to do things in different environments.
It’s easy to cut corners but not so easy to recover when it goes wrong.
5. You haven’t reviewed your strategy for years
It’s easy to criticise when people haven’t reviewed the overall IT strategy for several years. Other pressures on the business may have taken precedent, or you just haven’t felt the need to do it.
If you haven’t gone through the process, it’s time to start. You’re likely missing out on productivity gains, increased resilience or heightened security. The current demand for remote working is a good case and point. With today’s technology advancements and changes in working culture, there should be no restrictions on where and how you work. Access to critical systems and data should be available to anyone at any time in your organisation.
Remember, if you aren’t consistently assessing your technology position, your competitors will be.
The process of aligning business and IT strategy is an iterative and continual process. It should be reviewed by your leadership team regularly, with an open and honest assessment of how it’s delivering for the organisation. It’s always challenging, but the insight and knowledge you will gain will help the business achieve its future goals.