| Consulting Senior Manager
From PC support intern to CIO, Dan has been in the technology arena for 30 years and counting. He has programmed applications, architected systems, and designed secure data warehouses for oil & gas, hospitality...Go to Dan's bio page »
According to Info-Tech Research Group Inc., only 54% of business leaders are satisfied with their core IT services, 64% believe that IT must better understand their business needs, and 92% of IT departments claim their IT strategies are less than adequate. Rather bleak numbers.
But there is some positive news: business stakeholders are 3.5 times more likely to be highly satisfied with IT if there is an effective IT strategy in place.
So, why don’t more organizations have an effective IT strategy?
What does an effective IT strategy look like?
- Some may not know how. A great starting point is to align technology investments with business goals. IT should be working on things that matter to the business. And the business should establish measurable goals and clear priorities for IT. Given these performance expectations, an action plan can drive toward delivering what the business actually wants.
- Some may be overly technical. “Techno jargon” can be difficult for the business to comprehend, and an emphasis on people and processes is often lacking. It’s critical for the IT strategy to be a collaborative effort among organizational leaders using easily understood terms.
- Some may be focused on just “keeping the lights on.” A cost center mentality typically leads to a reactive IT shop that merely maintains systems and fights fires. Most businesses are forward thinking and aspirational when it comes to technology. An effective IT strategy turns IT spending into an investment in the business with tangible outcomes.
- Some may be trend followers. Technology is full of buzzwords and hype. But technology for technology’s sake is typically an expensive dead end. It may be trendy to move toward cloud computing or social networking, but there needs to be a compelling business driver. Cloud computing is a tactical approach, but the strategic business driver may be agility or responsiveness.
- Some may be resistant to change. Opposite of the trend chaser is the “Department of No.” Shops that cling to legacy systems may be left behind as their competition gains advantage through advanced technology. Effective IT strategy is neither aimless prototyping nor entrenched resistance — it’s putting business goals first and forging a strategic roadmap to get there, which typically involves a tolerable degree of manageable change.
The best IT strategies open with an honest assessment of your current IT situation. Business satisfaction, IT capabilities, technology landscape, and available talent. This is the now. Next is defining
the target state. What does success look like in terms of delivering satisfaction and meeting specific business needs? This is where you want to be. Given the existing current state and ideal future state, what is the strategy or roadmap for getting there? This is the how.
At its core, an effective IT strategy is merely a plan to meet and exceed business expectations. Good plans are revisited and updated periodically, and they also outline anticipated risks, issues, and mitigations. Whether you take on the task internally or seek external assistance, creating and adhering to an IT strategy will greatly increase your likelihood of satisfaction and establish a true business/IT partnership. Let us know if EKS&H can assist.