Information technology strategy is an important element of most businesses, large and small. Within many companies, it is vital to everyday operations. However, relatively few companies have or understand the benefits of an IT strategy.
Business owners and directors will derive many benefits in thinking about what information technology strategies are required in the business, both now and in the future. Organisations can unlock many benefits by integrating IT strategies into the overall business plan. These IT strategies encompass a holistic approach to technology implementation and management, addressing not only current needs but also anticipating future requirements.
What Is An IT Strategy?
An IT Strategy is a document that outlines a detailed plan for how the IT infrastructure will support the overall business objectives and strategy over a set period. This could be the next 12 months or 3 or 5 years.
It might be part of the overall business strategy or plan but is often a separate document. The other business plan or strategy will outline the business goals the company wants to achieve; the IT Strategy will outline how technology will help the business achieve those goals. All departments should be involved in order to gain the biggest benefits of an IT strategy.
Related Article: IT Strategy Plan – The Need For IT Strategic Planning
Why have an IT strategy?
As businesses grow, IT infrastructure, hardware, software and applications are often added on an ad-hoc basis. The company can end up with a mismatch of operating systems, old infrastructure that runs slowly and software from multiple vendors that doesn’t work well together. Putting in place an IT Strategy, investing in IT resources and keeping on top of the industry’s best practices over time can alleviate these issues and increase efficiency in the business. These are some of the areas that implementing a technology strategy will help with.
Developing a Long-Term Vision
By defining your technology strategy, you are contributing to the shape of your long-term business outlook. The fact is that numerous technology endeavours necessitate time for assessment and implementation. This means you must strive to anticipate your organisation’s future requirements while considering the broader market landscape and competitive environment.
Crafting a long-term vision holds great value because it equips you with all-around preparation. This means thinking about all possible situations so you’re well-prepared for the future. Remember, you can’t do everything in your tech plan all at once. You’ll need to choose what’s most important and reach your business goals step by step as your business grows.
Who Takes Responsibility?
The first part of the strategy will identify individual responsibilities. This is vital both internally and externally. Relationships between businesses and IT support providers can often fail where there is confusion over who has responsibility for what. Some businesses will want their IT Service Provider to take control of their IT strategy. Others would rather keep the strategy part in-house, simply requiring fixes, software upgrades and new equipment from their provider. Regular meetings and good communication are key here.
Even if there is no outsourced element, then everyone in the organisation must know what is expected of them and who takes ultimate responsibility for IT. This should help to improve collaboration and prevent duplicity of software solutions, vendor management and unnecessary spending.
Identify Duplication and Potential Bottlenecks
Once you’ve identified who’s responsible for what, you’ll need to audit and identify what you already use. Often, the first benefit of an IT strategy can be eliminating multiple pieces of software that are doing the same or a similar job. Each piece of software may have a cost to it, but even if they are free, having multiple products is inefficient.
One of the areas where this kind of duplicity is rife is with the many available communication tools. We have found many businesses and organisations that have departments using WhatsApp groups, Messenger, VoIP, email, Slack and Teams – all for a company of less than 50 people!
The reason this has happened will be down to the personal knowledge and preferences of the people involved – not very strategic!
During the audit, you should also be able to identify any potential bottlenecks. These are areas where the business resources or current technology isn’t going to cope with the business’s planned growth. There may be potential storage issues. Your CRM system might not be able to cope with additional salespeople coming on board. Do you need to look at remote working and, therefore, remote access? Even the number of printers required needs to be considered.
An IT strategy will help you identify areas of your current technology infrastructure that may pose a risk to your business goals. For example, old servers, faulty backup systems, and even day-to-day operations may be outdated or unable to support modern technological updates and applications, potentially creating vulnerabilities that cyber threats can exploit.
It is vital to understand what technology in your business could pose a risk before it costs you in the future. Without a well-structured IT strategy, it’s only a matter of time before these vulnerabilities become glaring weaknesses, exposing your business to security breaches and data breaches.
Your best efforts should be directed towards proactively aligning your IT strategy with your business goals and security objectives, ensuring that your technology infrastructure not only safeguards your current operations but also fortifies your long-term resilience against evolving threats. By doing so, you can make strategic investments that protect your business and position it for sustained success in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.
Control Planning Costs
Controlling cost is one of what many organisations call the main benefits of an IT strategy. A planned approach to the purchase of hardware and software is more cost-effective in the long term and allows for effective budgeting.
Most software is now available on a subscription basis, reducing the need for large outlays on licensing. Hardware-as-a-Service reduces capital expenditure on IT equipment, a fast-depreciating asset. HaaS solutions also ‘future proofs’ business strategies due to their in-built IT refresh plans.
Subscription-based models allow scalability, efficiency and flexibility for business growth whilst keeping capital in the business and available for other things.
Keep up With Change & Gain Competitive Advantage
Another reason is the speed of technological change. Planning ahead forces the business to look at technological developments in their field. Becoming early adopters of new technology solutions can give a business a real competitive and strategic advantage.
A well-crafted IT strategy incorporates short-term and long-term objectives and a framework for regular reviews and updates. This dynamic approach ensures that opportunities arising from new technology innovations are promptly identified and capitalised upon to drive growth. By leveraging the latest technology, businesses can expand their business reach, enhance their support services, and refine their operational strategies.
The result is a tangible benefit that propels them ahead of competitors and empowers them to offer innovative products or services that meet evolving customer demands. An IT strategy serves as a roadmap for keeping up with change and harnessing it to gain a distinct competitive edge in the market.
How We Can Help
Often, business owners do not feel they have the knowledge required to put together an IT Strategy. For these businesses, outsourcing should definitely be explored. A professional outsourced IT company will possess the business knowledge and technology skills required to realise an IT strategy’s full benefits and objectives.
Whether you are Your IT Department client or not, we’d be happy to undertake a review of your own strategy and current systems business processes and suggest ways to develop your IT Strategy. Get in touch with us today for more information!
We’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions for IT strategy benefits, which will hopefully answer any further queries.
What Is Technology Strategy?
An IT strategy is a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the strategic utilisation of technology to achieve both IT and overarching business objectives. It serves as a meticulously crafted blueprint detailing how technology can seamlessly align with and bolster the company’s broader business strategy. This strategic framework ensures that technology becomes a potent enabler, propelling the organisation towards its goals and enhancing its overall competitiveness.
What Is The Difference Between IT Strategy and Digital Transformation Strategy?
In straightforward terms, digital transformation places the customer at the forefront, concentrating on their preferences and satisfaction. It encompasses a broad approach to reshaping various aspects of a company’s operations, aiming to deliver an outstanding digital customer experience.
Conversely, an IT strategy is predominantly centred on the enhancement of the organisation’s IT infrastructure and capabilities. It involves planning and implementing technology solutions, resource management, and the establishment of security measures.
Why Does Every Company Need An IT Strategy?
Every company needs an IT strategy because it provides a structured plan for how technology can support and align with the company’s business objectives, optimising resource allocation, managing risks, and enhancing competitiveness.
What Are The Key Elements Of An IT Strategy?
Utilising strategic management provides a range of benefits, including improving the quality of decision-making, increasing operational efficiency, nurturing stronger interdepartmental cooperation, and ensuring better alignment with an organisation’s overarching objectives. Additionally, it equips organisations with the capability to foresee market trend shifts proactively and swiftly adjust to evolving circumstances.