I’ve been doing “tech” for a pretty long time. From the first computer my mom bought for our family when I was 7 until today, I have been involved in some form or fashion with technology. I’ve been a customer support representative, systems administrator, systems engineer, application developer, systems architect, software consultant, web marketing consultant, and technology strategist. Maybe it’s because I get bored easily, or because I enjoy every aspect of the technology field; but whatever it is, this experience has given me a somewhat different perspective on how companies use technology. I have dealt with implementing tech strategies on every level, from conception to front line execution. And in doing so, I have learned a thing or two about the characteristics of companies deploying successful technology strategies. Although these fundamentals may seem somewhat simple, they take effort and a lot of commitment. But, if you focus on these three major areas, you will put yourself in a much better position to succeed. No only at building great technology strategies, but also executing on them.
Getting Focused for Success
Creating and executing successful technology strategies is directly related to the foundation you build to support the process. With the proper setup, you’ll be able to allocate the necessary resources to develop and foster your ideas. But to build the right foundation you need to start by changing the current environment. Spend your time and energy doing focusing on these three thing before you jump to heavy into long term tech planning.
1.) Eliminate access and stability issues. Whether that is hiring internal talent, or working with an outsourced team, you should be basing your payments on access to your applications, not the effort to support them. Try and create an internal reward system on availability, or contract with an outsourcer that provides an SLA (Service Level Agreement) based on system uptime. Break fix contracts make money when issues arise, this is counterproductive. If your goal is to always be up and running, then the payment system to your vendors should be based on the same goal. When they differ it will eventually create a adversarial relationship. This is the same with an internal team. Technology has advanced to the point where delivering access to software is something that can be virtually bulletproof. Your goal should be to have access to your systems at least 99.99% of the time. This includes backup and recovery efforts. It is necessary and should be included in the equation.
2.) Change the internal conversation from management and maintenance to strategy. If your internal IT team, or your external partner, is spending any time discussing or managing technology, they are wasting your time, and even worse derailing your progress from a technology innovation standpoint. The fact is that management and maintenance do not provide an ROI for a business. They are the ante to play in the game. Given that most companies are spending 65%-80% of their time on tasks related to M&M, it is a very expensive ante. Take the steps necessary to push those conversations outside of the business so your internal activities and conversations are focused on strategic discussions related to the use of technology.
3.) Correctly align the budget. Similar to the point above. Analyze how you are spending your IT budget and make plans to allocate more to strategic initiative and less on running the system. Most companies are spending roughly 75% of their IT budget on management and maintenance, which only leaves 25% for strategic initiatives. This should be flipped upside down. Your long term plan should be to identify the current ratio of your IT spend, and make the necessary moves to shift budget to the strategy side of the fence.
Technology is reshaping the way we run our businesses, and for good reasons. It is enabling us to do more, offer more, and even make more money in the process. But you can’t build a strong technology strategy if you are playing by the old rules. Business that are driving forward today are doing it because they have been able to successfully shift their focus, attention and budget to harnessing the power of technology, not running it. Taking these steps will put you ahead of most; but ignoring them could eventually lead to some very tough times.