Technology has changed dramatically over the last few decades. And its role in driving business development continues to expand. Making technology a central part of your business planning is now vital to commercial success.
Flashback forty years and the most high-tech piece of equipment most businesses had in their offices was a fax machine.
Indeed, thirty-five years ago, the mobile phone was the preserve of only the very few. The brick-like machine would set users back around £3,000.
A lot has changed since then. The smartphone is now ubiquitous; with more than 2 billion smartphone users around the world. Research shows the average user unlocks their smartphone 110 times each day.
Technology has moved on: only this week, the former secretary of state for digital, culture media and sport (DCMS), now health secretary, Matt Hancock banned the NHS from buying fax machines and has ordered a complete phase-out by April 2020. The announcement is just part of the minister’s ambitious digital plan for the NHS. Hancock clearly subscribes to the view that technology has to be a key part of future development.
It’s a clear indication that today, whatever sector you operate in, organisations succeed or fail on their technology strategies.
In many sectors, technology is now central to success; not just a supporting function. A whole generation of technology businesses that disrupted marketplaces and turned the business world on its head now dominate the market.
For those sectors where this isn’t yet the case: you have the most to fear – because you are most ripe for disruption. A key plank of your technology strategy must be to prepare to be disrupted.
The impossibility of the five-year plan
Planning ahead can sometimes be difficult.
Given the speed with which technology is advancing – whether robotic processes, AI, machine learning, mobile connectivity, security threats and solutions, or the IoT (Internet of Things) – the possibility of developing a five-year technology plan seems, at best, optimistic.
How can businesses plan when the technology landscape is changing so rapidly?
Ironically, it is precisely because of the speed technology is changing that planning ahead becomes essential.
The only way to deal with this challenge is to ensure that your technology plan is a “living document”. Approach planning with the knowledge things are going to change – and be ready to adapt when necessary.
Most importantly, lay firm technology foundations for your business that give you the ability to develop your plans or pivot when you need to.
The technology roadmap
Like any other form of strategic planning, your technology or digital plan needs to begin with an audit. The “where are we now” is the vital first-step in plotting the journey.
The next step is to define the “where we want to be”. This will come from your strategic business plan.
From here, you can begin to define the technology roadmap that will enable you to join the dots between where you are now and where you want to be in five years’ time.
Most likely you will already have agreed goals over this five-year time period. Possibly, you have specific targets agreed with investors or other stakeholders regarding business growth.
Your technology roadmap needs to match up with these goals and milestones too. This means laying the groundwork to facilitate the necessary growth and/or other goals. Technology can be deployed very rapidly, but that doesn’t negate the need for careful planning. And that planning must cover the following areas:
- Communications and connectivity
- Disaster recovery planning
- Flexibility and scalability
Choosing the right software
Choosing the right software for your purposes has an immediate impact on efficiency and productivity. We always advocate clear needs analysis prior to purchase decision.
One need that should always be added to a software wish list is scalability.
Always give yourself the option to add new users when you need to – the ability to scale services up and down to meet business needs will save you money in the short term. Most importantly, it will save a great deal of cost and disruption in the long term.
Indeed, choosing the right partner is at least as important as the software and hardware decisions you will make.
Make IT a core element of your business plan
Over the last few decades, those businesses that have successfully integrated technology into their strategies have benefited. Indeed, in recent years, many of the businesses that have been most successful have put technology at the heart of their business strategy.
Today, there is no escape: every organisation must integrate technology into their wider business plans. Of course, this is a two-way process. Your business plans must inform your IT strategy.
To find out more about how to align your technology to your business strategy and help your company grow, get in touch with us here.
Or call us on 02036 574 489.