Technology, no doubt, is a game changer – it has transformed the way business organisations relate and compete. Almost every, if not all, industries have been immensely impacted by technology in the 21st century.
The importance of technology can be seen through the facilitation of new business models, new and differentiated products and services and the reduction in production cost.
It should be noted, however, that despite its goodness and potentialities, technology itself is only a resource and can only add value if strategically deployed. To profit and win with technology, organisations must align technology to the business needs of the organisation. Hence, the need for an information technology (IT) strategy. What then is an IT strategy? An IT strategy is a roadmap that represents how technology deployment supports the other business functions of the organisation in line with the business strategy. Having a clear and well-defined idea of the role technology can play in a business organisation can help guide decision-making in terms of technology choice.
CREATING A GOOD IT STRATEGY
A good IT strategy must provide answers to the following questions below:
- What services do we want to provide?
Business organisations must clearly define the product or services they wish to produce before IT integration.
- How do we succeed/win?
This details the choice of strategy the organisation intends to use, the rationale and how it will be executed. The strategy for creating value could either be through operational excellence, product leadership or customer intimacy. For example, if the organisation’s goal is to win through differentiation, more investment should be channeled towards activities such as research and development (R&D) and new product development that will lead to not just incremental but disruptive innovation.
- What Capabilities do we need?
This is dependent on the product or service the organisation has chosen to provide. For example, an organisation that intends to win through operational excellence would require process improvement, low operating cost, big data analytics and strong collaboration.
- How will IT contribute to success?
The technology types needed to deliver the business needs are outlined, evaluated and the appropriate technology selected.
- What skills do we currently have?
Skill inventories should be taken to identify and assess the current knowledge capabilities and gaps.
- What is the state of our IT services and Architecture?
Business growth and expansion can sometimes have a negative implication on IT architecture of the organisation which serve as the support. Thus, periodically assessing the state of IT infrastructure and making the necessary improvement if need be would do the business more good than harm.
- What do we do in-house and what and how do we outsource?
Technology projects vary in size, complexity and expertise. Sometimes, an organisation can choose to execute projects only in specific areas to build dynamic capabilities and core competence, while outsourcing other projects.
- What ethical guidelines should guide IT decision making?
Ethics (rules of practice in respect single class of action) are important in creating an IT strategy. This is because as technology changes so do the society which raises ethical concern. An organisation should have an IT principle or policy that is responsible, accountable and most importantly, comply with industry best standards.