Leaders

Even if you are not actively innovating with technology or using the latest and greatest applications in your business, you know that technology is vital to the success of any business today. But how can you establish a roadmap to get IT to a point where it is providing ROI and fueling your success, instead of causing pain or confusion? Knowing and following the four stages of IT maturity will get you there.

You may recall from our recent blog post, “Exposing the Four Types of Business IT,” just what those four stages are:

  • Stage 1 – Break/Fix: Technology is mostly limited to essential functions like email, and the main focus is on keeping costs low and maintaining the status quo.
  • Stage 2 – Operational Management: The business requires technology for operational success and some new IT initiatives are implemented. System management and maintenance demand the bulk of the resources.
  • Stage 3 – Operational Enhancement: Technology is recognized as crucial to success. It begins to generate ROI for the business. Leaders implement new systems and applications to drive success, and augment existing IT to further enhance operations and protect profit. The business drives IT changes.
  • Stage 4 – Business Transformation: Technology is completely integrated with the business model and clearly sets the company apart from its competitors. Technology capabilities drive business model changes.

Before we take a closer look at the four stages individually, let’s get an understanding of what all this means. Let’s focus on identifying what stage your organization is in. What does moving to the next stage mean for you? What factors should you consider when progressing?

Why Do The Four Stages of Technology Maturity Matter?

There is great value in the progression through the stages of technology maturity. This not only ensures you are ready for the next step before moving on, but also enhances technical proficiency within your business. How long your progression takes, and how you move from one stage to the next, also has a huge impact. Additionally, chances are that the IT changes you make will not be the only ones you need during this process. Aligning the maturation of your business processes with your evolving IT capabilities will help appropriately redefine your internal procedures, and will demonstrate the ripple effect that your IT choices have throughout your business.

It is also important to note that your customers will gain value from your technological progression. IT maturity has great internal effects on your business. Make sure to consistently check up on customer expectations. Advancing your overall technological footprint through the stages of technology maturity will help you advance along tracks, such as Forrester’s stages of mobile maturity and social maturity, allowing you to not only keep up with the latest ways your customers are using technology, but to implement the technology they expect (i.e., mobile apps and connected devices) to see from you and your competitors.

Finally, keep in mind that skipping steps in this sequence is very rarely a viable option. The only real exception to this rule is startups with lots of venture capital funding. This often enables them to jump in at stage four. The ones that are successful in making this leap often completely change the landscape of their industry. (Think Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, etc.) This isn’t to say that you can’t achieve the same shakeup as an already-established business. However, keep in mind that doing so takes more planning and a more gradual advancement as you transition between the stages of technology maturity.

How Can These Four Stages Work for Me?

Determining your current stage of IT maturity will help you understand how your prioritization and budgeting of IT impacts your success. This analysis will help you determine what steps you need to take to be even more successful. Have the assumption that your competition is actively working to move through the stages of technology maturity. Therefore, continuous progress is vital to get ahead.

It is important that each step prepares you for the subsequent one. Moving on and implementing new systems and applications just because you “should” is not a great strategy. Each stage can be used as a platform to prepare for advancement to the next. Take the time to identify the best tools and work out the kinks during implementation. Integrate them with your business processes and adapt them to meet your needs. All are vital steps in your move toward incorporating IT as an inextricable feature of your brand and your success.

What’s Next?

next

Photo Credit – https://www.flickr.com/photos/crystalflickr/2317183342

As stated above, the four stages of technology can provide significant insight into your business capabilities.  Use the information above to help to advance the role of IT within your business. Over the next few weeks, we will discuss each of the four stages in-depth, including how to budget at each stage, the staffing levels and types of resources required for success, preparing to advance to the next stage, and understanding when it’s the right time to move on to a higher stage. Don’t miss it!