Future proofing is all about enhancing a business’s ability scale, and creating the agility to change direction quickly. There is not much debate that technology plays a big role in both of these areas. So, it is important to approach your technology strategy with these both in mind. How does your business view technology investments? What systems are you picking to run your operations? What tools are you adding to optimize and automate process? All decisions can have long-term implications. Today we must view technology as an investment in the business that increases long-term profit margins and adds flexibility to business operations. In that regard, there are a couple of approaches to consider when building your strategy.
Technology with Operational-only Focus
This is a very common approach, to view technology as a cost of doing business that is to be managed and minimized. This usually translates into a short-term, operational focus. One that’s specifically designed to provide operational support, but reduce investment over time. Key attributes of this strategy include:
- Short-term monthly, quarterly, period-based focus.
- Strategy around what is required to operate and deliver services like the competition.
- Operational spend as more of a consideration than operational return.
- The primary thought is that minimizing spend results in greater profitability.
This short-term strategy builds a type of technical debt that is difficult to “pay back” later on. Although this strategy supports operations for today, it does little to enable scale, and even less to promote agility.
Technology with Operational and Long-term Strategic Focus
On the other hand, strategic IT is not just about maintaining operational activities, it also focuses on optimizing, automating and altering the processes in place that support the operational activities. Although the difference may seem subtle, the outcome is dramatically different. Driving automation, greater productivity, increased capabilities, or even creating new ones, has a substantial impact on the long-term potential of the organization. Key attributes of this strategy include:
- “What if” questions that have potential for significant business gains — what if we automated that process? What if we reduced the time for that process by 50 percent?
- Looking at ROI over years, not months or periods.
- Ability to scale and grow revenue at a much faster pace than operational costs.
- Evaluating (PPP) profit per person, or other metrics that focus the business on doing more without always adding more.
This alternative approach requires a platform to build on, therefore foundational technology investments are required. They will allow for businesses to better automate, innovate and scale within their industries while also increasing agility.
Nothing provides businesses the agility and ability to scale like technology. All businesses use technology is some ways to deliver services and operations, but today’s companies need to be strategic and long-term focused. Start by evaluating your strategy, and put systems in place to give you the flexibility when you need it.