6 Tips to formulate and execute a Tech-Influenced Business Strategy
Building the Digital IT function of the future requires the implementation of transformation strategy capable of engaging business leaders and convincing them of the benefits moving towards a more digital business can have on an organisation.
Having worked with CIOs that are grappling with this task in all manner of organisations, we understand the difficulty in challenging the status quo, putting a case forward and delivering measurable benefits to the business. When we work with these organisations, we put forward a 6 point approach to formulating and executing a Business Technology Strategy, informing strategic decisions and seamlessly executing technology transformations to deliver real business value.
So, what does our 6 step plan include?
1. Engage Business Leadership Early:
Make it very clear that the Business Technology strategy will inform the business strategy and not the other way round. The CIO needs not only to fully understand the problems that the business is trying to solve but also needs to identify possibilities that were simply unattainable before technology considerations. A team of business and technology strategists will have to collaborate and iterate intensively to identify such possibilities and build an actionable strategy around them.
2. Envision the enterprise's strategic target state from the beginning
Do not dwell on current state issues and limitations. Naturally, the CIO must understand the relationship between the strategy and the current state operations (i.e. the value chain and business capabilities) and how one impacts the other. The CIO should then determine if the target state contains appropriate operational responses to the impacts. What they cannot do, however, is overanalyse obstacles to the point where paralysis prevents the business from achieving the strategic target state.
Taking this new approach, strategic decisions come down to deciding which gaps between the target state and the current baseline an enterprise chooses to close. Few organisations can afford to close all the gaps. Decisions have to be made with the most care to determine which areas to prioritise to maximise strategic benefits.
3. Understand the value of taking calculated risks
It is now expected that IT will challenge the business to consider innovative ways when implementing strategic measures through technology. These measures are no longer just risk-averse and mainstream. A technology strategist must construct a balanced portfolio of technology decisions and related investments which carefully consider innovative and measured risk-taking for a greater return on investments.
4. Consider a broader spectrum of traditional domains of back-office IT
CIOs should pay special attention to how technology will a more strategic use of enterprise information asset. How do and will new technologies benefit the end-user to drive efficiency?
5. Regularly review the strategic target state:
The technology landscape is one of constant change. CIOs will need to often reconsider the target state on a continuous basis for its impact on the current state and whether or not organisations should consider newer technologies.
6. Develop an actionable roadmap for implementing the business technology strategy:
Even with a strong link between strategy and outcomes, we find that many technology/business strategies provide few actionable items and often go into too much detail around functionalities, missing the overarching objective. Sometimes, senior business leaders set high-level objectives and request that business unit leaders flesh out the details instead, often translated into misdirected activity.
Structured workshops that cover the necessary details in a decision-orientated fashion provide a great opportunity for the CIO to engage business peers in discussions about what the business needs to accomplish and what technology brings to the table. The CIO can educate the business about disruptive technologies may impact the business.
With an actionable business technology strategy, the strategic planning activities can begin in earnest. The correct approach defines the strategy target state across multiple aspects of the organisation to describe, in high-level terms, a three-year vision to enable the business model, operations and technology architect that will achieve the business objectives stated.
Many CIOs realise the dual nature of their mandate. On one hand, they are tasked with keeping technology solutions running reliably without disruption. On the other hand, a CIO has to think of the bigger picture, help the business innovate through technology and enable a greater degree of agility, efficiency and productivity in the process.
Today, almost all business processes are either enabled by some form of technology or could benefit from some form of digitisation. A fit for purpose Business Technology Strategy development process provides a platform for technology to play a critical role as a business enabler.
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