Are you keeping up with your Business Technology needs?
The Head of IT is between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, senior executives ask what steps IT is taking to equip company IT systems to meet the challenges of malware, WiFi, VoIP, social media and the Internet. They are asking on a regular basis about the operational and financial benefits of outsourcing IT Support Services. They ask about moving the company IT infrastructure to the Cloud with Managed IT Services. Internal and external users are clamouring for anytime, anywhere access to company systems, to social media, to company information and to personal data spaces.
On the other hand, they are exerting pressure to reduce IT budgets. In short, IT is being asked to do much more with less.
There is a clear imperative for an IT leader to keep up with the technology needed to support the organisation’s business strategy and if possible to influence that strategy. Are you keeping up?
It used to be so simple. Businesses could plan on a cycle of looking at refreshing their hardware and software infrastructure every two or three years. The original Moore’s Law put forward the notion that micro-processors will halve in size and double in processing power every eighteen months or so. It has driven a corresponding increase in the complexity and range of software applications, which in turn has enabled a quantum increase in the speed of applications development and deployment. It is not feasible to take two years to replace a system any more.
The landscape over which IT operates has dramatically changed and become immeasurably more complex. The Internet, and more recently, the Internet of Things has brought hitherto hidden areas into the ICT environment. Social Media has changed the way in which users expect to be able to interact with business. VoIP has brought great cost savings and increased flexibility to internal and external communications. The Cloud has offered new and exciting possibilities for deploying the operation and support of corporate applications and data.
That background will persist and intensify.
Unless a business keeps its IT infrastructure up to date with those changes, then it is in grave danger of being left behind. Customers expect to be able to interact with you online from anywhere and anytime. They expect to be able to use a variety of different devices and portals. E-Commerce is now the name of the game. Losing a customer or prospect is just one click away.
Keeping abreast of the latest trends, both in IT in general, and in the market niche the commercial enterprise occupies is now a vital task for the IT leader. They need to do so to be able to assess at a business level what will be useful to the enterprise and what can be safely ignored. They need to be able to plan for the introduction of new innovations and keep ahead of their competitors. Are you keeping up?
The IT leader needs to keep abreast of the broader industry trends, both generally in IT and in the technologies specific to the business. Some industry sectors, particularly finance, are subject to Government oversight and regulation. Do you have a good handle on the upcoming technologies and how they could apply to your business? Are you aware of and planning for any regulatory changes? If not, you aren’t keeping up.
Are you a member of the organisation’s strategic planning function? Being part of that group provides insight to the long-term business strategy, and helps you make the corporate IT strategy an integral part of it. Senior executives are comforted by seeing that you are proactively addressing the challenges of the marketplace. Hopefully, you can then include upcoming technologies into the business strategic plan. If you aren’t or haven’t, you aren’t keeping up.
A useful measure of whether you are keeping up or not is to find out what your direct commercial competitors are up to, and what technologies they are using and planning to use. You can then plan to at least match them. It’s no coincidence that the top companies in a market segment often have similar ICT profiles. Are you keeping up with them?
A current trend for a top IT leader is to switch off from managing day to day operations and focus on the longer term strategic needs of the organisation. That allows you to monitor trends and to become a fully-fledged part of the organisational strategic planning function. This can be accomplished by an internal reorganisation and delegation of day to day operational duties and responsibilities, or by outsourcing IT Support Services to an external Managed IT Services provider and you and your staff focussing on development and strategy. Is this in your planning?
It is an absolute no-brainer that an IT leader needs to keep up with trends in Technology. The difficult and most essential part is in ensuring that the corporate IT strategy is an integral part of the business strategy.