This is the time of year when many companies develop IT budgets and identify IT initiatives for 2017. As you plan for 2017, here are some of the external drivers that can influence your decisions and help shape your Strategic Information Technology Plan.
Technology is constantly changing and changing quickly. Your response to these changes must be in near real time to be effective. You can’t ignore change, you must continually respond to changes in technology, to stand still is to lose ground.
The economy and competition forces you to take a closer look at the way you run your IT operations. You must be as efficient as possible to remain competitive. All new technology provides a competitive advantage at first. Eventually, it becomes a competitive necessity and finally a competitive disadvantage as it ages out and needs to be replaced. Do you still use older technology that no longer provides a competitive advantage? Consider replacing it.
Social Media and Networking
Social Media and networking have emerged as a way of providing person to person connections and sharing information. Both are critical, customers are changing the way they research and find solutions to their business problems. Don’t write off Social Media as “something kids do”, it is much more than that. Take the time to learn and integrate Social Media into your process.
Smart spending / Cost containment
You need to be smart about technology spending. Some companies use open source hardware and software to cut costs. But it is not enough to simply cut costs, the money saved should be targeted to other revenue generating initiatives. There is a smart way to spend your IT dollars, make sure you’re getting the most for your IT spend. Stop thinking that IT is just an expense or a commodity, hardware and software might be commodities BUT HOW YOU USE IT defines your strategic advantage. IT is more than buying stuff.
Green IT, using less energy leads to immediate cost savings. Being green uses less resources, enables you to produce more with fewer resources, and saves money. In addition, it demonstrates to your clients that you are committed to running your business in a responsible way. Additionally, make sure that your vendors participate and are part of your IT Green Team.
The virtualization of servers drives down business costs. It lowers the total cost of ownership, reduces support costs, increases hardware utilization and stretches your IT dollar. Many companies have already taken advantage of server virtualization. The next logical step is to virtualize your desktops (VDI), you can realize the same benefits for your desktops as you did for your servers.
As users become more tech savvy, they are requesting (demanding) the capability to work anywhere anytime. Many employees personally own newer and better technology than you have in your office. Your technology strategy should support employees to be as productive and efficient as possible. In addition to increased mobility, employees are also working flex hours and working from home as well. As an employer, you need to provide the most flexibility without losing control. This flexibility will also help with staff recruitment and retention.
Cloud solutions and web hosted applications make it easier to collaborate and work together virtually. While there are some security concerns, if well managed, the risk is minimal and the benefits excellent. The cloud is also much more scalable. The cloud is not only scalable up but also scalable down. Your business is not always in a growth mode. When you need to cut back, the cloud makes that easier as well.
Knowledge Management / Data
Knowledge Management is critical in today’s global economy. Knowledge management leverages your most important assets – your people and your information. Your people take information, add knowledge and create value for your business. You can support them by implementing the systems and policies to enable knowledge creation and foster innovation. Also, plan how you will capture, store and share institutional knowledge once it is created. Make sure Knowledge Management is integrated into your work processes.
You can spend an infinite amount of money on security. New threats to your company are appearing daily. You need to decide which to guard against and how much to spend to stay safe. Often the biggest security threat is uninformed employees. Educate your people to recognize the basic ways to keep your business safe and guard your intellectual property. It will be the best investment you can make in your business. Ransomware is the latest security threat. Click for more information on protecting your business from ransomware.
Putting it all together
Your IT Strategy should reflect an understanding of your practice and support the goals and values of your organization. This cannot be an individual effort. You must ENGAGE and ENCOURAGE participation by your entire staff. Clearly communicate your commitments and expectations, carefully manage change and reward excellence and address failure. Take extra time to gain buy-in for your ideas and work with your company leaders to make sure that you have met as many needs as possible.
As an IT leader, you must understand your business, build consensus and synergy among factions, break down the information silos and prioritize IT initiatives to benefit the entire organization. You must align IT Strategy with your business’s core values, guiding principles and goals. To succeed with technology, you must have the support and commitment of company leadership and the financial resources to make these changes.
There is a definite cost to implementing a successful IT Strategy. But the real question you need to ask is “What is the cost to your company if you don’t?”